CASED Brace of EM REILLY British DUELING Pistols Engraved Gold Heraldry
Gorgeous Matched Pair of Pistols for Nobility
Here we present a cased pair of E.M. Reilly & Co. Dueling Pistols, made circa the 1860s in London, England. Edward Michael Reilly, son of Joseph Charles Reilly (1786-1864), followed in his father’s footsteps as a gun maker. Joseph had been a jeweler and silversmith for part of his career, but around 1833, the family business had begun to be known as “Gun-Makers.” The family had a unique business model for the time, and it remained unchanged for the entire life of the company. The Reilly’s provided a high-quality hand-made product for a fair price while keeping production times as low as possible. It is no wonder the family business survived for 81 years (1786-1867). Nothing was off limits to the Reilly’s, as their products ranged from pistols, long guns, and shotguns.
- This was the year, after all of his dedication and hard work, E.M. Reilly became a full partner in the company at 23 years old. The company had added a new product during this time, “air cane guns,” and E.M. started to see larger roles in advertising and sharing his expertise with the public. As the company grew they required more space and moved to 502 New Oxford Street from the High Holborn area. The company name switched from being “J.C. Reilly” to simply, “Reilly.” Business was good for the foreseeable future; the father son combo dominated the industry with their custom products. Father, J.C. Reilly, retired in 1857 and returned home to his country estate where he eventually died. J.C. was a very wealthy man and very much enjoyed the final days of his life. It is speculated that serial numbers in the “7000” range, he kept for himself in a private collection. J.C. left quite the legacy for himself and his family.
Two short years after his father’s death, with the business still growing E.M. purchased another large store front and called it, “The Armory House.” This shop also included a 50-yard shooting gallery! It is estimated that in 1860, the name of the company changed to “E.M. Reilly & Co.,” which gives us an early date for these pistols. This example is addressed at the Oxford street location on the barrel top.
This set of pistols was customized for some particular nobility. Each pistol has a golden placard set into the stock above the grip, monogrammed with the initials “NDI” (from foremost to rearmost) as well as some heraldic symbolism of a rampant lion and a rampant antelope. The antelope has a series of five 5-pointed stars along its body with a cross botonny between its outstretched forelegs. These symbols have meaning in heraldry: the lion for nobility and courage, the antelope for peace, and this specific style of cross may have originated during the Crusades.
“E.M. REILLY & CO OXFORD STREET. LONDON” is engraved atop each of the octagonal barrels. These pistols are also equipped with single set triggers for precision shooting. The fitted case includes a key, lead balls, cap tins, nipple wrench, rod, and powder flask.
The overall condition is fine. The action is excellent on both pistols. The nipple cone of one of the pistols has come off. The bores are in very good condition with sharp rifling. All markings are clear. The checkering on the grips are in great shape with minimal handling. The case itself is solid, and while it does have a couple cracks in the lid, these are stable and have been repaired. Any abuse that these pistols may have suffered over the years the case has absorbed for them. This is a fabulous set that would be an incredible showpiece for the office, library or mancave.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrels are 10 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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