AN EXCEPTIONAL CASED PAIR OF 'BEST' PERCUSSION MULTIGROOVE-RIFLED TARGET PISTOLS COMPLETE WITH AN INTERCHANGEABLE PAIR OF SMOOTH-BORE BARRELS, BY J.PURDEY, 314½ OXFORD STREET, LONDON, BOUGHT BY JÉRÔME NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1805-1870), ELDEST SON OF JÉRÔME BONAPARTE, FORMER KING OF WESTPHALIA, AND NEPHEW OF THE EMPORER NAPOLÉON 1
Nos 3284/5, completed in 1839
Very finely engraved throughout, each with browned twist octagonal barrel with multigroove rifled bore, signed 'J.Purdey London' in gold 'Old English' letters within an elaborate frame of gold scrolls and foliage, blued fore-sight, case-hardened breech inlaid with an engraved gold line and a band of gold fleur-de-lys, engraved platinum plug and fitted with blued back-sight, scroll engraved case-hardened breech tang, numbered case-hardened lock signed 'Purdey', engraved with a further scrollwork pattern bead and husk borders, and fitted with engraved sliding safety-catch, darkened bird's eye maple half-stock, chequered butt, the trigger-plate, trigger-guard, butt-cap and fore-end cap all engraved with scrollwork patterns matching those on the tang and lock, with differing border ornament and case-hardened throughout, blued set trigger, engraved gold escutcheons impaled by a blued barrel bolt, border-engraved gold ovals, and the pair preserved in near-pristine condition, almost certainly unfired, London proof marks, barrel forger's mark of James Purdey: in original contour-fitted brass-bound mahogany case lined in bright burgundy silk velvet,the lid with brass circular flush-fitting handle and escutcheon, the latter engraved with the owner's initials 'J N B', retaining almost all of the original complement of accesssories, including a fine flask covered in tooled red morocco, and burnished steel bullet mould and sprue cutter each serial numbered, the set complete with its original interchangeble pair of browned twist octagonal smooth-bore barrels, each with the maker's engraved full signature, blued fore-sight, case-hardened breech inlaid with a beaded gold line, engraved platinum plug, blued back-sight, and in near-new condition, numbered, marked and proved en suite with the rifled barrels (the case lid with minor cracks and some shrinkage at the frontal corners, the lock damaged and the key missing, the lining with small areas of very light wear at the high points of the partitions).
Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte (7 July 1805-17 June 1870), son of Jérôme Bonaparte (also styled Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte), Prince Français and former King of Westphalia (died 1860), by his first wife Elizabeth Patterson (divorced 1815).
The Purdey Cash Ledger states that these pistols were completed in 1839 and sold to 'Prince Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte', 21 July, 1840, for £81 paid in cash.
It is most likely that the Bonaparte referred to was the younger Jérôme. The latter was known in 1840 by his mother's maiden name, following the annulment of her marriage, and prior to the reinstatement of his right to the Bonaparte name by Napoléon III. It would also appear that the title of Prince was either self-styled or else a courtesy on the part of James Purdey.
Presumably by descent through his son Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte II (5 November 1830 - 3 September 1893).
Thence through the Bonaparte family resident in the United States of America, to Jérôme Napoleon Charles, who died without issue in 1945.
Aquired by the late husband of the present owner in about 1981.