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Two of them were high-pedigree London percussion pistols. These not only bore the names of the two best known makers – Manton and Purdey – but they both last appeared at auction at the sale of one of the most respected of all collectors, W Keith Neal.

Keith Neal purchases

Purdey was first to show with a cased pair of 56-bore rifled target pistols with saw-handle butts. They were delivered to their first owner by James Purdey in March 1829.

Keith Neal acquired the pair in the 20th century and could not have written more enthusiastically about them: “So perfectly is this weapon designed to fit the hand that one has only to look at the target and bring the weapon up to find the sights correctly aligned…This weapon is the culmination of all that was good in the design of the many types of weapons produced before.

“It is just the right weight; it is equally good for snap-shooting or slow target work and is by far the finest duelling pistol the author has ever handled.”

Offered here with a full set of accessories, the pair sold at £19,000 at the auction on May 26.


Pair of Manton percussion duelling pistols – £25,000 at Bonhams.

Next lot up was the pair of 32-bore duelling pistols made by John Manton & Son in 1836. Once again they were in exceptional condition with a full set of accessories and they also came with an illustrious earlier provenance.

Keith Neal bought them from the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle in 1967. This pair reached £25,000.

Both these lots sold for a little less than they made in the heady atmosphere of the W Keith Neal sale back in November 2009.

Twigg snapped up


A seven-barrel flintlock pepperbox by John Twigg – £25,000 at Bonhams.

The third pistol lot was a weapon of a very different character, but it was also blessed with a Keath Neal provenance having made £28,000 at the first sale from the collection in October 2001.

This was a fine 88-bore seven-barrelled flintlock pepperbox revolver made by John Twigg of London in the 1780s. Neal originally bought this gun at Christie’s in 1969 for 1750gns. It then found its way into the celebrated Clay Bedford collection in America before returning to the Keith Neal stable at Christie’s in 1991 for £12,600 (including premium). This time out it took £25,000 hammer.

Equestrian full armour


Away from the pistols the most eye-catching lot in this sale was a highly decorative equestrian full armour for a man and horse in late 16th century German style. Complete with a rearing caparisoned horse in black fibreglass, this sold for £22,000.