English duelling pistols will always attract interest but this pairmay have belonged to a highwayman.
Made in 1795 the pair are signed H. W. Mortimer London. Gunmaker to His Majesty’ and have 10in slightly swamped octagonal smooth-bore barrels. The stocks are walnut with chequered, bag-shaped butts, one slightly damaged. Both retain original horn-rimmed ramrods.
Tradition, within the vendor’s family, maintains that the pistols were once the property of James Snooks. Snooks robbed a post boy in Berkhamsted and was, in 1802, the last highwayman to be hanged at the scene of his crime.
A notice of the crime in the London Chronicle, May 1801 describes the perpertrator romantically as being ‘mounted on a dark-coloured grey horse’ him as having left home in ‘velveteen breeches’.
Holt’s estimate the pistols will realise £1,800-£2,200 when they go under the hammer at Princess House, 190 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7DJ