A Pair of Flintlock Turn-off Pocket Pistols by R. Allen, Birmingham, 1800

2957 3

Item ref: 2957

  • England, Birmingham
  • Steel, silver, paktong and walnut
  • 16 cm / 6.3 in


Private collection, USA

'R=Allen' with marks of private proof houses in Birmingham; on the flank a maker’s mark of a crown over TA

These are good examples of the type of pistol carried for self-protection and their slab-sided butts and rectangular section box-lock action and turn-off cannon barrels suggest a date for their manufacture of the late 18th or early 19th century. The barrels and actions are made of a high-nickel copper alloy popularly known as ‘paktong’, whose use became fashionable in the 18th century for the manufacture of many types of domestic and decorative metalwork. The left-side of each action is engraved R=Allen, but no gunmaker of this name has yet been found listed as working in London or the provinces at the time these pistols were made. They were likelier to have been made in Birmingham and then engraved with the name of their retailer. The marks stamped beneath each breech are the view and proof marks of private proof houses in Birmingham and they flank a maker’s mark, a crown over TA, which also has so far defied identification.