Page 272 - 4090-BOOK1
P. 272

LOT 357
Extremely Rare and Highly Desirable 18th Century Austrian Military Model 1780 Girardoni Repeating Stock Reservoir Air Rifle, Like the Kind
Believed to Have Been Carried on the Lewis & Clark Expedition - Serial no. 1356, 11.5 mm , 32 3/4 inch octagon bbl., blue/bright finish, walnut stock. Reportedly,
less than 1,500 Austrian military Model 1780 Girardoni repeating air rifles were manufactured in Penzig, Austria, and notably used by Austrian sharpshooters in military service circa 1780-1815; only less than 25 of these rare military pattern Girardoni rifles are known to exist today. The Girardoni (sometimes spelled “Girandoni”) is easily the most famous early air rifle, or “windbuchse,” largely thanks to the fact that for many years it has been associated with Lewis & Clark and their famous Corps of Discovery Expedition. It is widely believed that Meriwether Lewis carried either a Girardoni or a very similar design by Isaiah Lukens of Philadelphia. The expedition carried some advanced weapons of the time to display their military firepower, in which they performed demonstrations in front of Native American tribes, including with a “magic” airgun. This extremely rare Austrian military Girardoni repeating air rifle offered is of the exact kind believed to have possibly carried on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, making this a highly desirable rifle today that would be a prized centerpiece in any advanced firearms collection or Americana collection, and is worthy as a prominent display piece/attraction in any museum. Page 599 of the book “Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition” has another example of an Austrian Military Model 1780 Girardoni repeating air rifle (not this example offered) photographed above the caption, “There is strong evidence in the Lewis and Clark Expedition journals suggesting that this specimen is the air rifle carried on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Many arms and historical experts consider the Lewis Airgun, ca. 1790, as the world’s most important and most valuable airgun.”
The Girardoni was designed by Bartolomeo Girardoni around 1779 and is also significant as one of the first widely used repeating martial arms, with a magazine tube
on the right side of the barrel for use with lead balls and a breech block that is able to
be pressed sideways against spring pressure for loading/repeating capability. These advanced air rifles were considered to be far ahead of their time when compared with the muzzleloading flintlock long arms then the standard in widespread military use.
Because the air tanks took around 30 minutes of pumping by hand to bring to full pressure, the riflemen had assistants that repressurized the reservoirs initially and
later also had more efficient wagon mounted pumps.

   270   271   272   273   274