France, Paris. Steel, gold, platinum, wood, horn and velvet.
Private collection, USA
The firm of Lepage-Moutier was founded in 1842 by the gunmaker Louis Moutier who succeeded in that year to the business established by Henri Lepage. The business is recorded at 8 Rue de Richlieu, Paris, 1842-1865. Louis Moutier was in turn joined and succeeded by his nephew Emile Henri Fauré Lepage in 1865 and the new business continued until 1913.
As is evident from the signatures on the present pistols the firm of Lepage-Moutier were gunmakers to King Louis-Philippe (r.1830-1848). The outstanding technical and artistic accomplishment of Lepage-Moutier is revealed in the firm’s history of prestigious awards at the so-called Industrial exhibitions which were held in Paris and London within the firm’s period of activity. Silver medals at the Paris Expositions of 1844 and 1849, and a 1st Class medal at the exposition of 1855. Further Silver medals at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and again in 1862.
With octagonal matted stippled barrels retaining almost all of their original grey case-hardening colour, the upper barrels signed LEPAGE MOUTIER ARQer in gold, in the distinctive Gaudy Text characteristic of the maker and fitted with gold bead fore-sights, each decorated with bands of scrolling vine or ivy foliage heavily damascened in yellow gold on a low relief design, heightened with small designs of gold beadwork and all arranged within gold segmental lines and borders, the breeches, the breech-tangs and the trigger-plates all decorated en suite, and the former with chiselled fenced bolsters inset with platinum plugs; back-action locks decorated en suite with the barrels and signed LEPAGE MOUTIER and ARQ. DU ROI respectively on each pistol, each fitted with folding trigger damascened with framed gold beadwork, with octagonal figured walnut butts profusely decorated with a bold silhouette pattern of scrolling foliage inlaid in pink gold, and each fitted with case-hardened cap drawn-down to a pierced forward-curling scroll and damascened en suite with the barrels and locks: in their original hardwood case contour-fitted and lined in plum velvet, the lid and the sides overlaid with elaborate iron banding and shaped escutcheons etched with interlaced patterns of scrolling vine tendrils, and retaining the full original complement of accessories, comprising powder-flask, cap-box and cleaning rod each of translucent horn, the latter also combined as the ramrod, combination nipple-wrench and turnscrew, and case-hardened iron bullet mould etched en suite with the pistols and signed on the respective arms LEPAGE-MOUTIER and ARQer DU ROI. ; the base of the case bears a 19th century French hand-written inscription recording the year of manufacture together with words REFAIT EN 1867 TEMOIGNÉ (sic).
The typically officious and alarming literal translation of the inscription on the base of the case is “remade in 1867 testified”, but in reality it is merely a commonplace gunroom record of maintenance. The inscription almost certainly comes from the Paris workshops of the firm Fauré Lepage, which succeeded Louis Moutier of Lepage-Moutier in 1865. The inscription records the date when the pistols were returned by the owner for refurbishment, much as the practice continued today by best-quality gunmakers.
Size: The pistols 19.7 cm / 7 ¾ in, The case 25.2 cm / 10 in x 16.5 cm / 6 ½ in