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A fine mid 18th century Scottish Scroll Butt, also known as “Rams Horn” Butt, pistol by James Michie of Doune. The pistol is of elegant proportions, well balanced and crafted in the best traditions of the Doune gun makers. It is also in unusually fine condition and with a crisp lock mechanism.
James Michie was one of a number of gun makers working in Doune in the middle of the 18th century. Whilst pistols by this maker are not excessively rare they do not come to the market very often. The lock plate is clearly signed IA MICHIE.
The pistol is made entirely of steel with its original ramrod, pierced pricker and trigger. The cock, and the area behind the cock on the lock plate, is engraved with scrolling foliage. The spine of the butt, the fore end and underside are extensively engraved with scrolls, acanthus leaves and Celtic ropework. The belt hook is attached with a pierced double roundel engraved with designs similar to those present on high quality Scottish basket hilted sword hilts of the time.
The four stage 24 bore barrel has an octagonal sided fluted section near the butt and a flared muzzle with octagonal sides boldly engraved with detailed scrolls. The middle sections of the barrel are rounded and engraved with foliage. The pistol is slightly offset for right hand use.
Although the proscription of weapons in the Highlands after the failure of the ’45 Rebellion reduced demand for Doune pistols from the Highland clans, Doune experienced a hiatus in the period after the ’45, supplying the wider gentry, government contracts and commissions for army officers. Many known pistols by Michie are of plainer form manufactured for the military. Ultimately, Doune could not compete with the other gun making centres in England to supply government contracts and cheap imports from abroad. By circa 1770 Doune was in decline as a gun making centre.
The overall length of the pistol extremity to extremity is 11.5 inches (just over 29 cm) and the barrel is just over 7.25 inches (just over 18.5 cm).