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A Mystery to Solve

   We recently received a letter requested any information pertaining to an artifact that is believed to have belonged to Captain Forbes. The letter is as follows;
   Hi there, I am doing some research on an old gun that is for sale (see atachments). I note from information on your web site that this gun must have been owned by the famous "bully' Forbes. Its certainly an interesting piece. Engraved on it is a picture of a sailing ship, which I presume is the Marco Polo and above and below the ship are the words "HELL OR MELBOURNE' and the name "Capt.J.N.Forbes" It was made in England, but as I don't have it in front of me, I can't remember the makers name. I am an antique dealer and specialize in clocks so its a bit out my league. You can view my web page @www.nrg.com.au/~smyrk/. I would appreciate any information you might have on it.
Many Thanks,
Phil.
   Any information you may have on this piece would be greatly appreciated. Email @ marcopoloproject

Click to view larger image
Click to view larger image

The Mystery is Solved

   This piece was known as a "Duck-Billed Pistol" or "Boarding Gun". Many British gunsmiths made similar weapons from the 1840`s onwards. The gun was designed obviously to fire a spread of shots in the direction of advancing pirates or mutinous crewmembers. A similar device made to be mounted on a swivel on the ground was also manufactured for landowners to protect their estates from trespassers and poachers. Each barrel was loaded separately with powder and ball or shot, then a primer was placed on the priming nipple with the hammer at half-cock. Later variations had the action reversed, with the hammer under the barrels, striking upward against the primer. This allowed the maker to put a large spring clip on top of the barrel arrangement so that the weapon could be carried on a belt or waistband. In the annals of clipper ship history, Capt. FORBES, sometimes referred to as "Bully" FORBES, was known to stand the deck with a pistol or pistols as terrified passengers begged him to trim the sails during particularly high winds.

The information above was sent to us by Keith Facey, thanks Keith!

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