Happoldt, John Michael
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
walnut –steel –silver
MAKER: John Michael Happoldt (1802-1881) was one of Charleston’s most prominent gunsmiths. According to an advertisement in the Charleston Courier newspaper, from the shop he shared with his brother at 153 Meeting Street, he sold, “dueling pistols, derringers, percussion rifles, and shotguns.” This particular example is very similar to the “practice pistol” that James L. Petigru purchased from Happoldt in 1826 for $100. This pistol, as well as the Petrigu pistol at the Charleston Museum, are notable for their use of percussion locks. Though percussion locks were more reliable, many duelists preferred flintlocks because of their unreliability: according to dueling scholar J. Grahame Long, a misfire still counted under the Code Duello.
DESCRIPTION: Half-stock pistol with percussion lock. Walnut stock, silver (German silver?) mounts. Grip with checkered panels. Lock signed “J. M. Happoldt / Charleston S.C.”.
Loan courtesy of Philip and Corbett Toussaint