HISTORY: Before the advent of dueling pistols, affairs of honor were fought with swords. Fortune favored the more skilled and agile swordsman, but even a bad swordsman could by chance land a crippling or lethal blow. Pistols were a great equalizer in the matter of duels, as they were to later become on the battlefield or in man-to-man encounters of the Old West. It took much less time to master the skills of firing a pistol than to become proficient at fencing. While marksmanship was, of course, important for success in pistol dueling, skill was of less importance with pistols at twenty paces than it was in an up-close-and-personal combat with swords, and speed mattered not at all, as combatants either fired pre-primed and loaded pistols in turn, or together, at an agreed signal. Once pistols became the weapon of choice in most duels, fatalities declined accordingly, though many injuries were still inflicted. In many cases, tempers had cooled enough by the time the duel actually took place that only token shots--not intended to strike their targets--were exchanged and honor was satisfied.
Famous duelers include the Duke of Wellington while he was Prime Minister of England. The United States' President Andrew Jackson--a hot-tempered individual with a marriage to a divorced woman that scandalized the nation--fought at least a dozen duels. Perhaps the most famous American duel was between sitting Vice President Aaron Burr and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
The originals on which this pair of 1825 Italian percussion non-firing replica dueling pistols were based were manufactured in Brescia, an Italian gun manufacturing center renowned for elegant, beautifully decorated dueling pistols. These handsome replicas are an impressive 15 inches long, with wood stocks and ornately engraved barrels, locks, lockplates and buttplates, antiqued silver finish. The 2-pistol set comes packed in a wood-grain cardboard box with a vintage engraving of a dueling scene.