* TULA ARSENAL, RUSSIA
A MAGNIFICENT PAIR OF 16-BORE FLINTLOCK SILVER & GILT-MOUNTED HOLSTER PISTOLS,
dated for 1742, with maidenhair damascus slightly swamped 10in. barrels, applied short silver sighting ribs with floral terminals and surrounded by thickly applied gilt scroll-work, the fore-sights formed from applied raised and carved silver grotesque masks with further gilt scrollwork fore and aft, silver covered top-tangs engraved with borders, an arrow crossed with a quiver and scroll engraved tips, curved and radiused locks with carved raised borderlines, the pointed tails each engraved with the head of a mythical beast, both locks signed in cyrillic and dated, white metal lined rainproof pans, engraved swan-necked cocks with carved and raised borderlines, moulded frizzens with feathered terminals to their stops and springs, burr-walnut full-stocks carved with tear-drops behind the locks and sideplates (one cracked through at wrist and repaired), raised carved floral borders around the top-tangs raised carved plain borders around the edges of the fore-ends and ramrod channels, relief carved floral detail behind the ramrod throats and above each thimble, relief moulded and engraved silver long-spurred butt-caps with central grotesque masks, moulded silver trigger-guard tangs, bows and finials, moulded silver ramrod throats and ramrod thimbles with rolled ends, vacant silver rococo escutcheons to each wrist, carved and pierced silver trophy sideplates and probable original silver faced wooden ramrods
Provenance: Tula Arsenal, the most prestigious of the Russian State arsenals was founded in 1712 by Czar Peter 1 (Peter The Great) to provide arms for the citizens of Tula in order to defend against nomadic invasions. At that time all state weapons were being produced in Moscow, and supply to the Tula area was difficult. The factory was equipped with state of the art equipment such as water-powered boring machines, special forging hammers and processes for embellishment. The Tula Arms Plant was soon recognized as setting the standard for Russian Arms Production. In 1720 alone, the plant produced 22,000 light infantry and dragoon rifles along with flintlock pistols for the Russian army. By 1749, the plant had started mass production of edged weapons, knives, sabres, and broadswords as well as more traditional edged weapons. The armoury flourished in the second half of the 18th century, as demand for artistically decorated weapons increased and the Tula Arsenal developed a unique and elegant "Diamond Line" metal embellishment technique together with many other closely guarded secret metal finishes. By the end of 18th century, it was home to such renowned gunsmiths as Ivan Pushkin, Ivan Lialin (creator of the double-barreled breech-loading flintlock), and Ivan Pauline, the designer who created one of the first repeating-firearms manufactories.
Re-named The Tula Arms Plant during the Soviet era, the arsenal continues to operate to this day although the manufacture of sporting weapons has been vastly overshadowed by the production of military arms.
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