Wednesday, May 27, 2020


These pistols are of great importance in American history due to the provenance associated with them. They came directly from a descendant of Colonel James Chambers and are accompanied by a notarized document signed by Suzanna Misner. The document outlines the descent of the pistols through the family. According to the notarized statement, they were handed down through her late husband's family. They descended from Colonel Benjamin Chambers, founder of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to his son (listed in will, copy included) Benjamin Chambers, Jr. They then passed through the family (complete list included in provenance) to the last owner's mother-in-law, Luct Chambers Foust Benchoff, who passed them to her late husband John Krebs Benchoff. The pistols were made circa 1775 and are marked on the right sides of the boxlock actions “T. Ketland” for well-known English gunsmith Thomas Ketland. The left sides are inscribed “London”. The breeches are both stamped with private British view and proofmarks. Both have threaded cannon barrels and scalloped boxlock actions engraved with scrolls. Both pistols were converted to the more popular percussion ignition system during the period of 1830-1850. Both have walnut “Queen Anne” style grips with solid silver grotesque mask buttcaps. Both grips are profusely inlaid with silver wire designs. Colonel James Chambers was the Captain of a company raised in 1775 of riflemen in Cumberland County (now Franklin County), Pennsylvania. They were attached to William Thompson’s Battalion of Riflemen. In 1775, the company of infantry under his command marched to Boston where the Royal Army was besieged. He was also with the army in the Jersey Campaign as well as at Brandywine and Germantown. James Chambers was the Colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade organized in July of 1775. The brigade also participated in the New York Campaign, Defense of Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton, and Monmouth. James Chambers also went by the name of Benjamin, which was his middle name. The provenance and quality of the provenance is the most important part of these pistols. According to the 1887 publication of “History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania”, after the Battle of Long Island, Pennsylvania troops were assigned to the task of covering the movement. “While assisting in this delicate and perilous maneuver, Capt. Chambers had the great good fortune to arrest the attention of Gen. Washington, win his commendation, and receive from him a handsome pair of silver-mounted pistols which have always been treasured as a precious heirloom in the family, having recently been bequeathed to Benjamin Chambers Bryan, a great-grandson of the original done.” In a more descriptive account elsewhere (, “In recognition of the Chambers family’s service and support during the Revolution, Washington gifted the family with a pair of silver-inlaid pistols”. The pistols did not leave the family descendants until 2010. In conclusion, they are an extremely important pair of pistols and are one of only a few pistols with proven George Washington association. There is a great deal of associated documentation including family provenance, copies of Chambers’ military records, and written excerpts from historical publications regarding Chambers and the pistols. Complete with a binder of provenance showing family descent of the pistols, information on the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, copies of wills, photos of grave markers, and information on Chambers' Revolutionary War service. The notorized document from the family is included. Also included is an original leather hardcover first edition 1887 printing of "History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania", where these pistols are discussed. 

CONDITION: The pistols have been cleaned bright and have some losses to the wire inlay in the grips. One action is tight, while the spring in the other, which was probably used more, is weak. The included book is loose with the binding detached and some scuffing. They are one of the best-documented pairs of pistols with a Washington association and have excellent provenance.

Minimum Bid: $25,000.00

Current Bid: $50,000.00

Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000

Number Bids: 12

Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.

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