Page 228 - 4090-BOOK3
P. 228

     LOT 3396
Desirable Documented Relief Carved and Engraved Girardoni System Repeating Stock Reservoir Dual Caliber Sporting Air Rifle/Shotgun
by Stormer of Herzberg - NSN, 10 mm/8 mm , 27 1/2 inch octagon
bbl., bright/blue finish, walnut stock. 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. The military variation was 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. “Stormer
Herzberg” signed on the lock. Multiple members of the Stormer family of gunmakers were active in Herzberg in the 18th
and the 19th centuries, including Ernst August Stormer who was known to manufactured air guns. This attractive sporting rifle features an octagon barrel with 8-groove rifling chambered in approximately 10 mm and with a removable brass barrel insert with a smooth bore for use with shot that measures approximately 8 mm, blade front sight, dovetail mounted two leaf notch rear sight, a walnut stock with incised carving along the edge of the ramrod channel, relief carving on the bottom with a checkered grip area, and a metal buttstock reservoir. Features high quality floral border engraving on the top of the gold finished frame and trigger guard. Circular brass collection tag marked “R.D. BEEMAN/PRIVATE/COLLECTION/2917” hanging from the trigger guard. More information on Girardoni air rifles can be found on pages 598-601 of the book “Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition” with this exact example photographed on page 600.
CONDITION: Very good with bright iron surfaces, most of the gold finish on the brass, some case coloring
visible at the top of the cocking lever, slightly lightened signature on the lock, and a mix of brown and
gold patina on the metal buttstock reservoir. The wood is fine with defined recut carvings, a spliced
replacement section around the lock with an area of light separation visible on the bottom edge, scattered
light scratches and handling marks, and fine overall figure. The trigger must be set prior to cocking the
lever, and the trigger does not properly release the hammer. By design, it requires the barrel insert to be
removed for functioning of the breech block mechanism. Rock Island Auction Company has only ever had
the privilege to offer a handful of Girardoni system rifles of any kind, and we cannot stress enough how
rare of an opportunity this is to acquire hands down the most desirable type of air rifle ever made!
Provenance: The Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection.
Lewis and Clark are believed to have carried a similar air rifle on their expedition to explore the American West
  226 Estimate: 7,500 - 12,000

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