Exceptional Pair of Scroll Butt (Ram’s Horn) Scottish All-Steel Flintlock Belt Pistols by Thomas Murdock of Doune and Leith, Circa 1770
Four stage 20 bore barrels with gold lined vents and with fluted breeches, trumpet octagonal muzzles, round mid-sections, and aside from the breeches, deeply engraved with bold, flowing foliate scrolls, the locks with engraved cocks and frizzens are signed T MURDOCH, stocks engraved with arabesques and profusely inlaid with silver strap work, butts with vacant oval silver escutcheons, silver ball triggers and screw-out vent picks, each engraved as the sepals on the underside of a flower head, solid silver pierced and engraved belt hooks, and retaining their original ramrods engraved with flower heads.
These pistols are preserved in immaculate condition, all engraving on stocks, locks and barrels is sharp and silver exhibits virtually no wear, crispness such as this is rarely found in all metal firearms.
Bls. 7 3/4’ 19.68cm.
O.A. 12 1/2’ 31.75cm.
Provenance: Collection of the Dukes of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle
Thomas Murdoch was born in Doune in 1735, and seems to have begun his career there. In 1774 he is recorded as a pistol maker in Walk Side, Leith, the port of Edinburgh. Murdoch’s obituary in the Edinburgh Evening Courant (22 September 1791) states that in the previous year (1790) “he sent, at his own expense, a pair of pistols of the old Highland construction” to George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales (1762-1830) who ruled as King George IV from 1820. That Thomas Murdoch should have been chosen as the maker of pistols for presentation to a distinguished foreign commander and that he should feel confident enough to present a pair to the heir to the throne suggests that he was held in very high esteem.