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    Description

    Magnificent Matched Pair of Silver Mounted Pennsylvania/ Kentucky Pistols by William M. Sheetz of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Inscribed to John Blackford of Ferry Hill Plantation, Maryland. Exceptional not only for their superb quality and extreme rarity but also their exquisite condition. John Blackford (1780 - 1839) was the proprietor of the prosperous Ferry Hill Plantation on the Maryland side of the Potomac opposite Shepherdstown. Blackford was a wealthy and astute businessman owning the plantation and the ferry, while holding stock in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Baltimore insurance Company and numerous other commercial ventures. Blackford served in the War of 1812 and commanded a company that, because of its less than exemplary conduct at the disastrous Battle of Bladensburg, was dubbed "The Bladensburg Racers". Despite the poor performance of his troops, Blackford's reputation did not suffer, and he was promoted to a Colonelcy, doubtless using these pistols in his later military exploits.

    The Sheetz family of gunsmiths had their origins in Shepherdstown with Phillip Sheetz in 1768, who made muskets for the state of Virginia both before and during the Revolution. William Sheetz was Phillip's grandson and continued the family's gunsmithing tradition in the early 19th century, producing this beautiful pair of pistols, commensurate with the elevated status of John Blackford, ca. 1815 - 20. The 8" octagonal barrels are 13/16" across the flats with deeply rifled approximately .40 caliber bores. The faces of the muzzles are punch decorated with stars and circles. Beautifully figured American walnut stocks. All mountings are coin silver including the wedges. The iron rear sight and German silver front sight are decorated with line engraving as is the face of the wedge. The scroll shaped silver side plates are engraved "John Blackford - Maryland" respectively. Each gun also utilizes an oval silver wrist escutcheon. The guns are signed in hand engraved manuscript "W. M. Sheetz" on the top flat of the barrel behind the rear sight. High quality roller frizzen locks marked "T. Ketland & Co.". Wide triggers with scroll cut decoration. The original hickory ramrods incorporate a hand fashioned iron worm. Although silver mounted American holster pistols from this period do occasionally surface, the emergence of a matched pair, in this superb untouched condition, identified as to both maker and owner, is indeed a rare occurrence in the field of American arms collecting.

    Condition:
    The condition of the pistols is exceptional. All silver perfect with nice light patina. Barrels and locks sharp and crisp with absolutely no rust or pitting and smooth even patina. The signatures are as sharp as the day they were cut. Stocks retain much of the original varnish with a pleasing rich patina on the grips. Just some very light, really negligible, hairline scratches, otherwise perfect. Mechanically crisp.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,172

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