A French Nobleman’s Exquisite Pair
This very fine pair of naval flintlock pistols were owned by the Marquis Jean Barthelemy d’Exea (1765-1850) who served in the Army of the Princes , a counter – revolutionary army made up of people who emigrated from France under the French Revolution
Between 1789 and 1815, about 140 000 people, “The Emigrants”, left Francefearing the collapse of royalty. Many of them were noble, rich bourgeois or prelates. Some of them emigrated to fight the revolution from the outside, including Jean Barthelemy d’Exea and his wife and son (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine-Achille_d%27Ex%C3%A9a-Doumerc#Famille)
The pistols are fully stocked in carved walnut, are of brass in 14 mm calibre and feature ornately cast sterling silver side plates, trigger guards and butt caps; iron belt hooks and white metal tipped ramrods. The exceptional octagonal two-stage cannon barrels are engraved and bear the Marquis’ name and life years.
They were inscribed after his death and possibly by his son, General Antoine-Achille d’Exea. The pistols may also have accompanied General d’Exea to the Spanish campaign or to Greece during the expedition of Moree in 1828.
The maker is renowned French gunsmith Cassignard of Nantes, whose name is engraved on each pistol’s lock. Cassignard also made fusil flintlock rifles, many of which found their way to American revolutionaries fighting the British, in 1776. One such fusil by Cassignard was carried by Lt Daniel Allen, an officer who
served with the Connecticut Continental Line from 1775 to 1779.
Der Neue Stockelf, Vol I, page 195, documents Cassignard of Nantes from 1774 to 1812 in “Maitre fourbisseur du roye e maitre arquebusier” a French tome on gunmakers to the king and famous gunsmiths of the day.
These are a magnificent and historic matching pair of flintlock pistols and a rarity among collectors. Until 2019, they had resided in private collections in France and Spain. This pair would take centre-place today in the collector’s portfolio.