Artifact of the Month

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May’s artifact of the month is a pair of French Signal Pistol’s, pretty unique and interesting little weapons.af167-01While we do not know much about these pieces, we did discover that the maker is the Royal Armory at Tulle.  Most of the marking has been worn away, but “M …..De Tulle” is still visible.  There is also an anchor on the butt of the handle of both pieces.

Original accession photo
Original accession photo

For those who are not familiar with how these pistols would work (like me until today) magnesium or other flammable powder would be put into the flare cup at the end, as well as the channel.  Once the lever was pulled back the flint would create a spark that would travel down the channel and into the cup, creating a very bright and short-lived flame.  Depending on the chemicals one used in the cup, you could even change what color the flame was.

This type of signal pistol appears to be quite rare and so I have not been able to find any more information for it.  If anyone out there has more information that they would like to share, please let me know.

4 thoughts on “Artifact of the Month”

  1. The French armory at Tulle during the 18th Century made the weapons for the French Navy. If you are interested, there is a fine booklet available titled “Les Fusils de Tulle in New France 1691 – 1741” by Russell Bouchard.

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