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Call for help to date coachman’s flintlock pistol

A flintlock pistol, used to deter highwayman from attacking coaches in Somerset, has been discovered while clearing a storeroom at a coach company.

A flintlock pistol, used to deter highwayman from attacking coaches in Somerset, has been discovered while clearing a storeroom at a Weston-super-Mare coach company.

The Thomas flintlock pistol was discovered among old files and awards in a room that was once used as a Chapel of Rest when Bakers Dolphin also carried out funeral transport.

Marketing director Amanda Harrington said: “The old Chapel of Rest has been used as a storeroom for many years. The pistol was mounted on a board with a note saying it had been used by coachmen around 1895.

“We believe the pistol may be much older than that and would be interested to hear from anyone who knows more about the history of firearms.

“It was mounted in a display case and we believe at one time was on the wall in the offices. It must have been put into store at some point with other items and had been overlooked.”

Bakers Dolphin has a history dating back to 1889 when Charles Theodore Baker borrowed £25 from his elder brother and set up business in Weston-super-Mare with a pony chair for hire. He was just 21 years old.

He provided a transport service to local doctors and residents and the business expanded. He tendered for – and won – Royal Mail contracts to deliver the post by horse-and-cab on a twice daily Cheddar Valley service from Weston-super-Mare.

Records show that the Royal Mail contract required coachmen to carry firearms as the service was in danger of being waylaid by highwayman as it went through the Somerset lanes.

The gun is to put on display for people to view, the company said.

5 Responses to Call for help to date coachman’s flintlock pistol
  1. Peter Roe
    February 25, 2012 | 9:18 pm

    From the overall shape and fixed barrel, this example looks like a cheap mass produced pistol (often made in Birmingham or imported from Liege) probably made between 1845 and 1860. There will sometimes be a makers name on the side of the lock housing and proof marks on the base of the barrel, that some careful cleaning with an oil-soaked plastic scourer would reveal.

    By 1895, modern type revolvers such as the Webley were the standard personal defense weapon – this pistol would be a complete joke by that time. In any case it would have been very difficult to find powder, percussion caps or lead ball ammunition by this date. The mail had traveled by train for 50 years by this time, and there hadn't been any highwaymen around for over 60 years. In short, the suggested use of the gun and the date given on the label are not accurate – to put it mildly.

  2. user
    January 26, 2012 | 12:22 pm

    hi
    its a percusion box lock pistol.quite common in its time,pitty about the condition.
    interesting but not very valuable.minty ones are about £150–£200.unless they are engraved with sliver and brass bits then they can be quite a tad more.
    if kris is looking in i had to smile at his revolver description!
    now wouldn't that be something.

  3. JohnR
    October 11, 2011 | 4:21 pm

    The words "flintlock pistol" are on the caption from whoever mounted it years ago so that is where the term has come from in the story. I've no idea but if Dru and Kris are right maybe it was an antique even in 1895 when used

  4. Kris
    October 11, 2011 | 1:53 pm

    This is what happens when you strip a people of any thought of self defense or knowledge of firearms. No clue what they're looking at. Sigh…at least they didn't call it a semi-automatic 40 mm assault revolver.

  5. Dru
    October 11, 2011 | 11:35 am

    It looks like a cap lock pistol, not a flintlock; which would date it as probably post-1830. Just sayin'.

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