Liegoise Percussion Pistols Showcase 'Old World Quality'

It seems that every person has a different definition and/or assessment of the term "old world quality." For many Americans, both 19th and early 20th century upper crust domestic artifacts such as furniture, glassware, fine china, bronzes, clocks, etc. are the best representatives for this category. Auction houses have made a formidable business in purveying these mainstays of Americana to their well-heeled customers.


In the collectible firearms industry, "old world quality" can mean a lot of different things. Some shotgun collectors are now referring to Parker Reproductions shotguns manufactured in Japan during 1984-1989 as "old world Japanese quality." These early Parker Reproductions may represent the best quality firearms Japan has recently produced, and in that regard, pricing on some of the rarest higher grade 3-gauge sets has reached $50,000!



For this scribe, "old world quality" means European manufacture, and in the case of guns, nothing represents it better than a cased set (brace) of European percussion or flintlock pistols.

This exquisite cased set of .34 caliber Liegoise pistols was manufactured in Liege, Belgium, circa mid-19th century. As spectacular and ornate as the guns are, the elaborate accessories are breathtaking in both design and construction. Of special note are the carved ebony mallet and one-of-a-kind highly decorated solid sterling silver powder ladle with detachable fluted ebony handle.


Even the descriptive terminology used on an antique pair like this is unique. Most of you may not recognize some of the older verbiage in the following catalog description, since these words are certainly not used when describing most modern guns. The following description from Bonham's auction catalog is published verbatim:

Each pistol has a blued 10¼ inch .34 caliber fluted barrel, the alternate flutes with pale gilt finish, the faceted muzzle and breech sections etched and engraved with foliage. Side flats of barrels with Liege proofs, the undersides numbered 573 and marked with L Liege proof, the Liege perron mark and with the initials EB and LB, possibly for Eugene and Lambert Bernard. '¨'¨Breeches and tangs etched and engraved with scrolls and foliage in-the-white on a dark pebbled ground and numbered I and II respectively, Tangs with adjustable rear sights. Set triggers. Detented locks and spur triggerguards decorated en suite to breeches. Domed buttcaps and darkened finish and chiseled in high relief with stems and leafage around turned tapering finials. '¨'¨Ebony half-stocks finely relief carved with C-scrolls, shells, and foliage, barrel channel of No. 2 with stockmaker's mark JNI. Complete with original brass-banded mahogany case, the lid inlaid with engraved brass scrollwork in the Boulle style and centering a vacant escutcheon, fitted blue velour-lined interior. Retaining the complete group of highly decorated accessories including: steel bullet mold, wad cutter, loading rod and powder measure, all with engraved and chiseled panels of leafy vines, spring vines, nipple pick and rear sight key, all decorated en suite, the bows pierced and chiseled with viticulture, screwdriver, nipple wrench, and ladle, all with fluted ebony grips, the ladle with baluster-form neck engraved and chiseled en suite to the set; ebony charger flask, oiler, patch box, and cap box, all finely carved with leafage, ebony mallet with fluted handle, the head relief carved with viticulture and blossoms, the faces set with silver panels cast and chased with leaves and tendrils.


Condition: NRA Antique Excellent

So what's this one-of-a-kind cased set worth? Good question, and an auction may be one of the few ways to realistically obtain an accurate value. Bonham's recently sold this pair at its June 11 auction in San Francisco for $26,910, including the 17% buyer's premium. The pre-auction estimate was $30,000-$40,000. In this writer's opinion, this gavel price almost seems undervalued — maybe even a bargain. Maybe the best thing about such a unique set is that if/when the new buyer decides to sell, there will be no competition!

The author wishes to thank Mr. James Ferrell, Paul Carella, and Laura King from Bonham's & Butterfields for allowing Blue Book Publications, Inc. to use these images and information for this article. For more from S.P. Fjestad, check out his blog at BlueBookOfGunValues.com.

Recommended for You

I often hear stories about this or that instructor. They range from awesome to keep it positive Tactical

Finding the right shooting instructor

Kyle Lamb - September 22, 2017

I often hear stories about this or that instructor. They range from awesome to keep it...

OSG's Lynn Burkhead spends some time at the Beretta booth during the 2019 NRA Annual Meetings to talk about the new Beretta 92X Performance. NRA Show

The All New Beretta 92X Performance

G&A Digital Staff - May 28, 2019

OSG's Lynn Burkhead spends some time at the Beretta booth during the 2019 NRA Annual Meetings...

Is the new Rise Armament RA-315C race ready? Reviews

Rise Armament RA-­315C Review

Chris Cerino - May 28, 2019

Is the new Rise Armament RA-315C race ready?

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

Beretta

Beretta's New 92X

The 92X Performance model from Beretta was created to satisfy two requirements: Speed and accuracy. Beretta's new competition pistol is uncompromising and aims for top performance.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Whether you're going hunting or to the range; you want to hit what you're aiming at, so the first step is to make sure your rifle scope is properly zeroed. Here's how to dial in your rifle-scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps. How-To

How to Zero a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range; you want to hit what you're aiming at, so the...

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough. How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

Here's the latest competitive intel on the what are the top ARs in 3-Gun today and why. Rifles

The Top ARs in 3-Gun Competition Shooting Today

James Tarr - May 14, 2019

Here's the latest competitive intel on the what are the top ARs in 3-Gun today and why.

See More Stories

More News

Attention Collectors! Walther has released the PPK/S First Edition; the one-time run is limited to only 1250 units, serial numbers 101-1350. Handguns

Walther First Edition PPK/S Pistols Announced

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - September 04, 2019

Attention Collectors! Walther has released the PPK/S First Edition; the one-time run is...

The Swabian town M'ssingen (Baden-Wuerttemberg) will be celebrating a double anniversary in 2019 Industry

Double Anniversary for Karl Nill and Ergosign EvoComp

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - January 31, 2019

The Swabian town M'ssingen (Baden-Wuerttemberg) will be celebrating a double anniversary in...

Walther's new program, Shoot It. Love It. Buy It., shows how confident they are in their flagship model, the PPQ series of handguns. Industry

Walther Introduces 'Shoot It. Love It. Buy It.' Program for PPQ Handguns

G&A Online Editors - February 15, 2019

Walther's new program, Shoot It. Love It. Buy It., shows how confident they are in their...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×