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       LOT 1360
Rare Documented Cased Engraved Girardoni System Repeating Stock Reservoir Sporting Air Rifle by Mortimer of London with Accessories - NSN, 11.5 mm , 32 3/4 inch octagon bbl., blue/bright finish, walnut stock. “->Mortimer 21 St JAMES’s STRt LONDON<-” marked on the top barrel flat at the breech, “MORTIMER” signed on the lockplate. This is likely gunmaker Jackson Mortimer (born 1762), the youngest brother of gunmakers Harvey Walkate Mortimer and Thomas Mortimer (not to be confused with Thomas Jackson Mortimer, son of Thomas Mortimer, who was subsequently located at the same St. James Street address). The included fitted green felt lined walnut rifle case has an original trade label on the underside of the lid that reads “MORTIMER & SON/Gun Makers,/To His Royal Highness/The/PRINCE REGENT,/21 St James Street,/London” in seven lines, which indicates this impressive set was manufactured sometime between Jackson’s appointment to the Prince Regent in 1811 and his departure from London in 1818. 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 they either had a Girardoni or a very similar design by Isaiah Lukens of Philadelphia. 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. They were notably used by Austrian sharpshooters from 1787-1815. 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. “Wind guns” had several advantages over conventional firearms including that they were quieter, smokeless, quicker to reload, and relatively unaffected by rain. They also required less cleaning since they did not require corrosive black powder. This attractive Mortimer made sporting rifle shares similarities with the Austrian military pattern 1780 and is chambered in .46 caliber/11.5
mm with an octagon barrel with 12-groove rifling, dovetail mounted blade front sight, dovetail mounted two leaf notch rear sight, a full length walnut stock, brass cleaning rod with a ball shaped horn end beneath the forend, and a leather wrapped metal stock reservoir. Features
high quality floral and border pattern engraving on the brass surfaces, lock and hammer, with martial motifs engraved on top of the receiver, trigger guard and sideplate, and the initials “HCM” inscribed in fancy Gothic font in an oval on top of the receiver below the motif. An Austrian style double headed eagle is also stamped on top of the receiver. Circular brass collection tag marked “R.D. BEEMAN/PRIVATE/COLLECTION/2906” hanging from the trigger guard. More information on Girardoni air rifles can be found on pages 598-601 of “Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition” with this exact Mortimer made example photographed on page 600. More information can also be found on pages 75-77 of the book “The Mortimer Gunmakers 1753-1923” by H. Lee Munson, with another example of a Mortimer made Girardoni air rifle photographed, and the book states, “The Girandoni design was copied by a number of continental gunmakers, especially Contriner of Vienna, but in England copies seem to be very rare.”The included fitted case contains two extra buttstock air reservoirs, a bullet mold, air pump with combination wrench/pump handle, an extra trigger, and a canvas bag containing .46/11.5 mm lead balls.
CONDITION: Fine, retains 90% plus period refinished brown finish on the barrel, the majority of
the attractive gold finish on the brass, and crisp engraving overall. The walnut stock is also fine as lightly refinished, with some light handling marks. The leather on the buttstock reservoir is very good with general age related flaking and wear. Mechanically fine. Absent latch on the magazine tube cover. The case is very good with some separation on the lid, scattered mild scratches, general age related wear to the interior lining, and a very good interior label. Girardoni system rifles of any kind are very rare today outside of collections such as Dr. Robert D. Beeman’s, and we are honored to be able to offer this impressive cased Mortimer made Girardoni!
Provenance: The Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection.
Estimate: 9,500 - 16,000

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