The Mermaid's Pistol

The Gael

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
I do not know what to make of this pistol. I acquired it about 25 years ago in a trade. I am told that it is a belt/sash pistol of the type used by mid-nineteenth century sailors... any ideas? The only markings are C & M Baltimore
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John Davison

Retired User
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Location
Guffin Bay, NY
I do not know what to make of this pistol. I acquired it about 25 years ago in a trade. I am told that it is a belt/sash pistol of the type used by mid-nineteenth century sailors... any ideas? The only markings are C & M BaltimoreView attachment 34210View attachment 34211 View attachment 34212 View attachment 34213
That's an interesting looking little piece of work. Looks like the mermaid and the ship etched on the bolster might have been added by the owner.
 

The Gael

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
Yes, the artwork was probably done by a sailor bored during long sea voyages. It would be grand to know if he was on a clipper ship or whaling ship. The bore measures to be about 52 caliber.
 

cwtalker15

Private
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
We have all seen unusual looking guns, but yours is a fascinating piece! Like nothing ever seen before. I would suggest taking it to several of the big gun shows and finding the best, big names out there and getting their take on it..

You could also send some pix to the www.nra.org and ask them about it. I would think that they could direct you to knowledgeable experts.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
It really is quite interesting. At first I was going to speculate that the entire stock was "home made" by the owner. But, looking more closely, I now agree that it is probably the original stock with only the carving added. I have a hunch (but nothing more than a hunch) that the grip dimensions were reduced all around to leave the flat knob on the end. I guess it was sort of like the concealed carry piece of its time. I would definitely not want to be on the receiving end of this little pistol.
 

John Winn

Major
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
As suggested, I'd contact the NRA. They regularly analyze such pieces and have very good resources.

Once again, you've provided some interesting material. I'd love to come to your house.
 

The Gael

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
Thanks for the suggestions of where to inquire regarding this pistol. I will give them a try. I got this pistol and a maple bodied drum with both heads, rope and pulls still intact for 2 NCO swords and 2 Ft Officer swords... I do not recall how many still had their scabbards. I was happy and so was he.
 

John Davison

Retired User
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Location
Guffin Bay, NY
It really is quite interesting. At first I was going to speculate that the entire stock was "home made" by the owner. But, looking more closely, I now agree that it is probably the original stock with only the carving added. I have a hunch (but nothing more than a hunch) that the grip dimensions were reduced all around to leave the flat knob on the end. I guess it was sort of like the concealed carry piece of its time. I would definitely not want to be on the receiving end of this little pistol.
I found that flat butt a little different. Once you use your one shot all you have left is a club. Maybe there was some advantage?
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
John, I hear you loud and clear. The knob might also have guaranteed a quick, positive grip while pulling the piece from one's coat pocket. Who knows? I certainly don't know. I'm just speculating. One thing is for sure: In any shooting situation, if you were down to the last shot from your last firearm, you certainly would NOT want to drop it. The knob reminds me more or less of the end of a baseball bat. Did anyone else notice that?
 

Southron

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
In the 19th Century, piracy was an ever present danger to merchant ships. When pirates would take over a ship, the Captain, crew and any passengers were often murdered so there would be no witnesses to testify against the pirates IF they were ever captured. Hence, even merchant ships carried arms that could be issued out to the crew in an emergency to "repel boarders" if their ship was overtaken and grappled by a pirate vessel.

Typically, some of the sailors were armed with four or five single shot pistols in addition to their cutlasses-as I said, it was usually a "Fight to the death." Ship Chandlers often sold inexpensive pistols and muskets to equip ship armories on merchant vessels. My guess that this pistol was at one time, part of a ships armory.

My, My, how "times have changed." About 20 years ago there was a meeting of British ship owners with members of the government along with Nautical insurance companies representatives in London. The topic of discussion was how to stop piracy of British flagged vessels off the coast of Africa and in the waters off of Southeast Asia.

The idiotic "solution" reached to repel pirates was the recommendation that the crew of the vessel being attacked use FIRE HOSES to repel AK-47 and RPG armed pirates. My opinion is that bringing a Fire Hose to a Gun Fight is worse than bringing a knife to a gun fight!!!
 

The Gael

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
The explanation given to me was that this was a sash/belt pistol. You will note that in the 1st & 3rd images there is a long narrow arm/tab. The pistol would be placed between the sailors sash and his person with the arm/tab on the outer side of the sash. That arm/tab would prevent the pistol from falling through to the deck. I have seen similar pistols of British & French origin dating to the 1840s.
You might also notice a brass door on the brass end cap on the base of the grip. Opened, it revealed a place to store percussion caps.
 

The Gael

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
The explanation given to me was that this was a sash/belt pistol. You will note that in the 1st & 3rd images there is a long narrow arm/tab. The pistol would be placed between the sailors sash and his person with the arm/tab on the outer side of the sash. That arm/tab would prevent the pistol from falling through to the deck. I have seen similar pistols of British & French origin dating to the 1840s.
You might also notice a brass door on the brass end cap on the base of the grip. Opened, it revealed a place to store percussion caps.
There is also a Baltimore in Ireland... so the pistol may not even be an American firearm.
 
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