This exceptional Spanish flintlock sporting gun is dated 1739, but both the gun and case bear the arms of Pope Pius VII, whose papacy was dominated by the Vatican’s troubled relationship with France during the Napoleonic period nearly a century later.

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The Spanish flintlock presented to Pope Pius VII – €50,500 (£45,910) at San Giorgio in Genoa.

Faced with this dating conundrum, the auctioneers concluded that this was indeed a royal commission, made in Madrid for Charles III of Spain in the early 18th century, but subsequently presented to Pius by his son Charles IV, who lived in Rome following his abdication in 1808.

It was sold for €50,500 (£45,910) bySan Giorgioin Genoa on March 25.

The buyer's premium was 25%.