This pair of Model 1842 pistols were made by the Middletown, Connecticut factory of Henry Aston, later owned by Aston's business partner Ira N. Johnson.
The Model 1842 was a .54 caliber smoothbore muzzle-loading single shot pistol generally made of walnut with brass furniture. Despite its name few of these guns were made until 1845, when firearms maker Henry Aston was contracted by the Springfield Armory to start production for the U.S. Army.
Both of the pistols in this set have maker's marks in front of the hammer- one of the pistols bears the mark H. Aston & Co. and the other I.N. Johnson, with both marked MIDDtn behind the hammer. There is a proof mark on top of the H. Aston gun's barrel, US, J... with a second letter that is unclear.
The H. Aston & Co. marked pistols were all made between 1851-1852, so it was likely that pistol had already been made and marked when the company was sold. The I.N. Johnson marked guns were made starting in 1853, so that pistol in this pair was likely one of the earliest produced under that name, the pair being put together one of the new stock and one of the old.
Guns of this type were issued in pairs to mounted dragoons and carried in holsters in front of the rider's saddle. This pair has seen obvious seen use as the marks have wear from hands and there are powder marks near the cap and barrel. While many were produced, most were discarded for the newer technology- the Colt Revolvers, and a cased pair is more unusual to find.
The Model 1842 Percussion Pistols were the last single shot percussion handguns in US Army service. They were used extensively during the Mexican-American War with some still in use in the Civil War.
These guns are 14 1/4" inches long overall with an 8½" round barrel. The case measures 19 x 9 1/2 x 3 inches. The barrels have been reblued at some point in their history.
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