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The stock is inlaid with silver hearts, roundels, expanded flowerheads and scale patterns, the butt, pricker and unguarded trigger are formed as silver balls and the pommel designed as a stylised ram’s horn while the prominent and profusely decorated belt hook suggests that the pistol was carried not only for combat but also as a display of status.

If these aspects together were not enough to point the firearms historian in the right direction, then the scrolling Celtic foliage engraved to the breech and lock and the fact that the pistol is crafted entirely of steel is evidence enough that this piece was made in Scotland.

Conclusively, the lock is signed THO - CADDELL, indicating the pistol was the work of that famous family of Doune gunsmiths. Unfortunately, many Scottish guns were decommissioned and records of active makers destroyed following the ’45 rebellion – one of the reasons that so little is known about the history of firearms manufacture in Scotland – and because there were five Thomas Caddells in Doune from c.1660-1775, it was difficult to say which of them had made this pistol.

The earliest known Caddell pistol is a doglock example dated 1678 and signed by Thomas the second in flowing script rather than Roman lettering. Examples by Thomas the fourth (c.1725-50) and Thomas the fifth (c.1750-75) are signed in Roman THO:CADELL or Thos Caddell in script. The hyphened Roman signature of this example and the distinctive style of the silver inlays suggested that this pistol was the work of Thomas the third.

Sold at Sotheby’s South on July 13, the flintlock sold to a private collector at £15,000 (plus 15/10 per cent premium).