Cased Pair of C. Slotterbek Lakeport, CA Pistols

These may well be the most important pair of pistols ever made in the State of California. They are the unique cased set of gold enhanced target pistols made by Charles Slotterbek in his Lakeport, California shop about 1877. They are of quality that is unsurpassed, and are enhanced by decoration and accoutrements that are the equal of any of the most renowned European gunsmith. The pistols are single shot percussion pistols with unique Slotterbek designed sights on their breeches and muzzles. The breeches and muzzles are banded with gold- two gold bands at each breech, and one at each muzzle, as well as gold clean-out vents on the percussion bolster. There are gold plates on the side plate areas. The stocks are walnut, finely checkered, with silver bands set into the butts and forends. The rear sights have gold windage points. The beautifully blued barrels are7/8ths of an inch across each flat. The mounts are blued and engraved steel. The butt plates and forend caps are horn. The muzzles are turned for a straight starter, The pistols have single set triggers, and the lock plates have safeties. They are .36 caliber, and are marked, "C. SLOTTERBEK LAKEPORT CAL." They are cased in a fine walnut case with brass fittings. It is lined in green baize, and has compartments for bullets and wads. The central compartment contains two screwdrivers and a brush. The pistols have a long provenance. They have been documented in at least two books, Lawrence P. Shelton's California Gunsmiths 1846-1900, and Brian and Brad Witherell's California's Best: Old West Art & Antiques. The guns were in the Hugh E. Hayes and the Bedford collections, and were discussed by James E. Serven in his article for the American Society of Arms Collectors, Early Guns and Gunmakers West of the Mississippi. Charles (or Karl) Slotterbek was born in Wurtemburg, Germany to a family of gunsmiths. By 1847 he and his brothers had emigrated to America, and were employed by James Golcher. By 1852he was working for Henry Deringer, who made Slotterbek his shop foreman. In 1858 he left Philadelphia for San Francisco, where he began working for A.J. Plate. In 1859 he was joined by his brothers, and they began their own business, which included manufacturing a number of "simulated" Deringer pistols for Plate. He also made fine rifles for a number of San Francisco's most renowned shooters. He formed a partnership with Joseph Villegia in 1868 that lasted until Slotterbek moved to Lakeport, in rural Lake County, where these pistols were made, along with many other fine guns. He died in 1886 as the result of an accident. Dimensions: 16.25" overall length with 9.5" barrels each. Case measures 18.5"l x 9"w x 2.5"h Processing and shipping within the continental U.S $55 plus a 1.5% replacement cost insurance fee. Discounts given on combined lot shipping.

Provenance:Hugh Hayes Collection, Stockton, CA. Brad Witherell, Elk Grove, CA. Private Collection Laytonville, CA.


About mint, with only the most minor handling marks. The bore is excellent, with very deep rifling. There is a small scratch on the sideplate area of one pistol, and some bubbling and minor wear to the varnish on the other, also on the sideplate area.

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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Witherell strives to provide as much information and photographs as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Condition statements are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Witherell. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms and Conditions. Methods of payment are cash, check, money orders, or wire transfer for foreign payments. Please note we do not accept credit cards. This auction has a buyer's premium of 15%.