December 03, 2021
By Garry James
Question: I recently purchased what I believe to be a needlefire pistol, the needle being 2 inches long. It's about .32 caliber, in great condition and nicely engraved. It has a Belgian proofmark and the name “RISSACK”. How rare is this gun, and what is its value?
-D.W. of Owatonna, Minnesota
Answer: Jean Jacques Rissack was a maker who maintained an establishment in Herstal, Belgium, around the midpoint of the 19th century. Among other items (such as Flobert-type pistols), he produced multi- and single-barreled needlefire pistols such as your pistolet de salon (i.e., “saloon” or “gallery” pistol). As the gun's name implies, it fired a self-contained cartridge that was discharged by means of a needle that pierced the rear of the round, striking a primer. A variant of this system was used most prominently in the Prussian Zundnadelgewehr military arms of the 1840s, ‘50s ‘60s. Rissack also made rook rifles and experimented with needlefire revolvers. Your piece is, as you say, quite nice and typical of his best work. Determining value is tough as I haven't seen too many come up for sale. Based upon similar pieces and the rather tepid market for arms of this type currently, I'd price it between $1,000 and $1,250.
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