Two historic South Carolina dueling pistols were auctioned off Monday by Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco for nearly $50,000.
According to the auctioneer's catalog, the guns were made in 1825 by gunsmith James Purdey, and owned by Charles Baring-Gould, an English immigrant who had settled in Charleston at the time.
The .52-caliber pistols were placed in a mahogany-fitted case bearing a rare label from Purdey's business address.
Being described as "fine" and in excellent condition, the pistols have walnut-checkered stocks with 9-inch octagonal Damascus barrels, blued and scroll-engraved tangs, buttcaps, locks, lower ramrod thimbles and trigger guards. A full range of accessories were included in the case, as well.
"Based on what the catalog said, the pistols show very little use, perhaps suggesting that any arguments in the Baring-Gould household were resolved without the use of these pistols," said Levi Morgan, the public relations consultant of Bonhams & Butterfields.
Morgan said another West Coast gun collector had owned the pistols before the auction, but there was no way to know how the collector could have gotten them from South Carolina.
"Whether it was over 10 years or 100 years, the guns would have changed hands during all this time," he said.
The opening price was set at $10,000, and the auctioneers had expected the weapons to be sold for $25,000 to $35,000 during the Antique Arms and Armor auction.
"The guys love to duel when it comes to gun-bidding, for it started between five to six bidders and went down to two," Morgan said. The final bid was set at $42,500, with the fees and taxes bringing the price to $49,725. Information on the buyer was not available.