April 05, 2022
Question: I like reading about all the old guns and history in Guns & Ammo. I have this boxed set of Auguste Francotte dueling pistols. They are in a wood box with no name on the brass plate on top. They look to be unfired and complete, right down to the key that locks the box. Each compartment has a small wood cover, and even the box is in great shape! I’m not sure what they would be worth, when they were made, or what caliber the lead balls are. I’ve seen shotguns made by this name, but not many dueling pistols. I’m looking for some info and maybe a value. Thanks for your time and information.
-R.S. of Bismarck, North Dakota
Answer: Your pistols are not duelers but shorter percussion back-action greatcoat, or traveling pistols. Auguste Francotte is a respected French firearms firm that began operation in 1805 and is still in business. I’m afraid the container your guns are housed in is not original, but one made, probably, from a cutlery box, which is a not-uncommon modern practice done to increase interest and value. Early Francotte guns would have more than likely been French-cased, that is, the guns and accessories housed in cutouts that were specifically shaped to them. This casing is more in the English style. Too, it is unusual to find two powder flasks in a double-casing and, though close in appearance, the flasks don’t match. The other components look as though they were assembled from elsewhere. I would date the pistols from around 1850. They are a bit on the plain side, though condition seems to be decent. I’d value them at $700 to $850 for the pair, and the flasks at around $65 to $100 apiece. The case and other accouterments have little worth.
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