British Coast Guard Percussion Pistol by B. Woodward & Sons
Victorian British “COAST GUARD” Pistol used by the British Coast Guard/Customs Service
British Tower percussion pistol, made circa 1846 by B. Woodward & Son. Benjamin Woodward was a gunmaker in Birmingham, England, from 1838 to 1842, and his son ran the business from 1842 until it ceased operation in 1883. This pistol dates to the early 1840s and was used by the Victorian British Coast Guard and Custom’s Services along with much of the Royal Navy. Her Majesty’s Coast Guard was established in 1822 and had the primary responsibility saving the sailors and property when a shipwreck occurred. The Coast Guard also patrolled the entire UK coastline to prevent smuggling. By the 1850s, smuggling was on the wane, and so the responsibility of protecting the coastline from smugglers was transferred to the Royal Navy, putting the Coast Guard’s primary duty once again to assisting with wrecks and rescue operations.
This model saw service during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The rise of the revolver made pistols such as this somewhat outdated, and by the late 1850s, it started to fall out of favor due to the increasing popularity of percussion revolvers, although examples continued to be produced into the early 1870s and were used side by side.
This pistol is also known as the Short Sea Service pistol. Its lock is dated “1842” and the stock is marked “B WOODWARD & SON”. The barrel has several proof marks including Ordnance proof for Government issue 1838-1868 London and Birmingham Trade, proof a crown over TP over a broad arrow, view a crown over a broad arrow. In addition a crown over 7 over R or B. Along the top of the barrel are multiple proofs of crown over B variations.
The overall condition is very good. The metal surfaces have a dark gray patina. The markings are clear and legible. The stock is in great shape. The bore is smooth and in great shape. The action is excellent.
Barrel is 6 inches. Caliber: .65 Overall length is 12 inches. Brass trigger guard, ribbed ramrod ferrule, butt cap and stock fore end. Outlined iron lockplate with VR over Tower 1842 in front of double outlined cock. Large engraved crown and crown over broad arrow proof mark on lockplate. Rear of lock plate has a nice down step cut. Cut on top of back clamp and barrel for sighting, no front sight. Iron belt loop on the left side, nice and tight. B. Woodward * Sons is stamped on left side of stock under belt loop. Swivel ramrod with button ends. Stock has a beautiful aged patina to it. Three plugs in stock behind back clamp. Lanyard loop is iron.