One Of A Kind
Today, few antiques evoke the same emotion as duelling pistols, which have come to be emblematic of the strength and gallantry inherent in the late 18th and early 19th century ritual of duelling.
Seen then as the mark of the true aristocrat, duelling was a way to secure honour and reputation, by demonstrating the willingness to risk one’s own life for the preservation of personal integrity. Against this extravagant backdrop, duelling pistols were required accessories for the affluent wardrobe.
This marriage of danger and beauty was the inspiration for Sid Forman, master South African jewellery designer, when commissioned in 1964 by a lover of historical weaponry to craft a set of pistols.
Forman poured his creative intensity and renowned talent into over four years of labour, yielding a true masterpiece. But when the time came, he found himself unable to part with the stately firearms, and so – with the blessing of their original commissioner – they have remained his possessions since 1969.
These magnificent duelling pistols are now available to acquire on auction in South Africa for the first time. They are truly an artwork that must be seen to be believed.
Evidence of ingenious design, together with opulent decoration and presentation, this collectors’ item is composed of an ornately housed pair of gold, ivory and diamond flintlock duelling pistols, together with original accessories. The pistols feature intricate detailing and exceptional craftsmanship, combining the delicacy and opulence of exquisite jewelry with the exacting accuracy required of functional weaponry.
Two single-shot flintlock pistols with elongated barrels
Inlaid with 18ct gold and encrusted with diamonds
Feature 18ct white gold for the internal mechanism
Have a hand-carved 100-year-old ivory tusk exterior
Portray scenes of hunting, including deer and wild dogs
Contain functional firing systems (but are intended for decorative purposes only)
Total weight of 18ct gold: over 1kg per pistol
A carved ivory, gold and diamond gunpowder keg or flask
An ivory and 18ct gold bullet clipper (bullet-forming pliers)
Three round 18ct golden bullets
The Box and Case
An original, custom-fitted inlay box
Hand-carved from Honduras mahogany to feature woodland hunting scene
Framed by ornate outer panel, inlaid in gold
Interior lined with ermine and mink
Housed in buffalo hide case, with 18ct gold lock, key, hinges, handles and studs
Total weight of 18ct gold in the set: 3.5kg
Unique in the world, the pistols are the work of a master craftsman, involving fine metal fabrication, highly skilled engraving work, decorative gemstone setting, and painstaking woodwork and ivory carving. It is a true once-off; a genuine masterpiece; of consummate provenance. This artwork cannot be replicated and will never be attempted again. All of the materials used are indigenous to Africa.
Estimate on request