William Pritchard 34 bore
William Pritchard 34 bore.
This gun sold at the Holts auction in September 2017 for £1,600 hammer.
"A SCARCE 34-BORE PRE-CHARGED BALL-RESERVOIR AIR-RIFLE SIGNED PRITCHARD, no visible serial number,
circa 1840, with round twist iron 30 1/2in. smooth-bore barrel, bead fore-sight, acanthus scroll engraved squared action with tap-action loading and external 'hammer', chequered walnut butt-stock, smooth walnut splinter fore-end, wood under-barrel ramrod and iron ball air reservoir with moulded central band, untested
Other Notes: This air-rifle is almost certainly the work of William Pritchard (later & Son), who traded at various addresses within Birmingham between 1828-1860."
William Pritchard video from Forgotten Weapons
Sold for $4,313.
William Pritchard was a Birmingham gunsmith in the mid 1800s who offered both firearms and air guns, and this particular ball-reservoir air gun is a fine example of the latter. Air guns have existed in Europe nearly as long as firearms, although they have never had the popularity of their powder-burning cousins. Air guns offered a cleaner, quieter, and more rapid firing option than firearms (and also one that would work in the rain), but at the cost of power and cost. That is not to say that early air guns were weak; they were not. A large-bore air gun like this one would have held 700 or 800 psi in its tank, and produced a muzzle velocity probably around 550-600 feet per second (170-180 m/s). A round ball of .50 caliber at that speed was certainly lethal with a well-placed shot, and these weapons were just fine for hunting as well as sport shooting.