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NY Post
New York Post
6 Jan 2024


NextImg:Blast from the past: Alexander Hamilton’s pistols up for auction at Christie’s

A set of pistols belonging to Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is up for auction by Christie’s starting Jan. 18 — and could fetch an eye-popping $500,000.

The pocket Flintlock pistols, which were for personal use, are not the guns Hamilton used in his ill-fated 1804 duel with Aaron Burr, where he died from his injuries.

“They are small enough so they could fit one in each pocket, that’s why they’re sold two at a time,” said Martha Willoughby, a specialist in Christie’s Americana department.

“They are ideal for close-range defense … if you’re accosted by a thief or something, that’s when they would come in handy.”

Hamilton, the New York Post’s founder, was a Revolutionary War officer and the nation’s first treasury secretary.

He was living in the Big Apple when he got the guns, which are steel-mounted with gold and copper alloy on walnut.

Hamilton, the New York Post’s founder, was a Revolutionary War officer and the nation’s first treasury secretary. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

They are engraved with Hamilton’s initials, “A.H.,” but it is not known whether he bought them himself or they were gifted to him.

“He was the most sought-after lawyer in New York, so he had a lot of business and a lot of French clients,” Willoughby explained. “He was connected to the upper echelon of political figures from [Marquis de] Lafayette to [Charles Maurice de] Talleyrand. This very well could have been a diplomatic gift.”

FOR SUNDAY HAMILTON - CREDIT : Christie⿿s

The pistols are engraved with Hamilton’s initials. Christie's

Their lock plates are engraved with “Jalabert/Lamotte/St Etienne,” which stands for the French gunmaker Jean-Louis Jalabert and his wife, Marie-Anne Lamotte, and the city in France they were based. The guns date to sometime between 1798 and 1804.

Willoughby explained that for their small size, the firearms have a high caliber, which refers to the width of their openings, and can hold relatively large bullets.

Christie’s acquired the pistols through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which purchased them from Hamilton’s great-great grandson, Schuyler Van Cortlandt Hamilton, in 1950. The items were on display at the museum from 1956 through the early 1970s.

They will be sold at a live auction at Christie’s Rockefeller Center location in midtown.

Another pair of pistols owned by Hamilton, which he carried during the Revolutionary War, sold at auction in 2021 for $1.15 million.

His most famous guns — the ones from his duel with Burr — were owned by Hamilton’s brother-in-law John Barker Church and were purchased by JPMorgan Chase, formerly The Manhattan Company, which Hamilton and Burr both helped to found, in 1930. They are now housed in the bank’s Park Avenue headquarters but are not on public display.