Going to buy miniature firearms? Then this article is written for you. In order not to drown in the variety of miniature guns for sale, and not to spread yourself too thin, you should first determine what is a miniature arm, in classical sense, and which aspect of this topic you are interested in.
Generally speaking, a miniature is a copy of an original version that is reduced in size several times, but completely repeats its appearance and functions, and is made of the same materials using the same technologies. Thus, it becomes obvious that mock-ups, stamped on conveyors by Chinese manufacturers and offered for sale for cheap prices, can’t be called this word. The copies made on the scale of 1:2 also can hardly be called miniatures, even if all other requirements are met. The matter is that the evaluation of such products is based on the same principles as the evaluation of works of art. An intricate gun mechanism is more difficult to reproduce if its size is small. Therefore, each step in the scale of size reduction increases the value of the model, because it requires much more talent, time and efforts from its creator.
It should be remembered that the concept of «miniature arms» does not include armor and military devices: tanks and other equipment. Also, most fanciers usually leave aside copies of swords, rapiers and daggers – they are not as effective and complex in production as firearms. Therefore, we advise you to focus on operating copies of guns, accurately made on a scale of 1:3, 1:4 and less.
And then the choice depends on your personal goals and preferences. Perhaps you are interested in some period in history – let us say, the World War I, or some particular culture – American, French, English. Among the collectors there are those who are fans of a certain master and set the goal to gather the most complete collection of his works. There are adherents of a certain caliber, model, even material. Somebody makes an accent on exclusivity, and is trying to get the rarest samples, that can be considered «the only one of its kind». And maybe you are interested in experiments with size, and want to collect all the most miniature models of guns, made on an extremely small scale.
Although for most buyers the main thing is the beauty and elegancy of souvenir firearms. And it is not so important in what context they are realized.
What does the market offer for sale in the category of «miniature souvenir guns»?
• The most affordable option is the Austrian pistol called «Berloque». They are having been produced for a century. A tiny gilded or silvered pistol can be worn on a key chain. At the same time it shoots 2 mm pinfire cartridges. However, in the complete set there are only blank cartridges and signal rockets provided. And the low price (70 euros) corresponds to the quality: the parts are cast from brass by stamping, so the products are more like a child’s toy than a work of art.
• More solid and impressive options are the works of private masters. Their cost is usually several thousand of dollars. But you get a high-quality exclusive product made by hand, and perhaps even personalized according to your wishes.
• The third category – souvenir models of mass production, oriented, however, not on price, but on quality. They also have a very exquisite appearance and are designed for people who like stylish and original things.
The second item can be illustrated by the work of the Colombian master Antonio Rincon. To date, he is the undisputed leader in decorating of his miniatures. He has made six pairs of dueling pistols in one third and one fourth scale (as well as many other types of pistols and rifles). To show his attention for details and ornamentation, here is his description of a pair of dueling pistols that he made, patterned after a pair that the ancient master Boutet made. Boutet was the special gun maker for the French Emperor, Napoleon. Rincon makes guns of great beauty, fashioned after the period of Napoleon and he makes their firing system the same as it was in that days.
«The precision in the details of these miniatures is admirable. The total length of each pistol is 5.12 inches. The stocks are made of maple from the United States and alone them are beautiful inlays and engravings with scroll designs as well as a Greek frieze and the silver fleurs-de-lis that adorn the butt-plates. The steel barrels, 3.15 inches long, are octagonal and «swamped», meaning that they open out at the mouth. Two gold rings decorate the mouth and inlays of gold and silver ornament their whole length. Diamond shapes, floral designs and other designs let the matt blue of the barrels stand out and contrast with the darkness of the wood that supports them, making these pistols special collection pieces.
A wooden case 6.69 inches long, lined in red leather, guards: the pistols; a canister for oil to lubricate the mechanisms; a bullet extractor; two ramrods; and a mallet to drive the balls into the barrel, as they were an exact fit so as to avoid the escape of gases. Also forming part of the accessories were: an additional ramrod for cleaning powder residue from the bore; a hammer with a cutting edge to sharpen flints; a silver powder flask with automatic measuring device and engraved baroque designs; a screw-driver decorated in the style of Boutet with a fleur-de-lis of silver on its African ebony handle».
An example of miniature guns for sale made by Antonio Rincon
This carbine was exhibited in the NRA show held in Saint Louis Missouri, April 13-15 2007. It was offered for sale at Greg Martin Auctions of New York and San Francisco. It was totally hand made by Antonio Rincon using the finest gold, ivory, silver, ebony, tortoise shell and silk filament velvet cloth materials.
The over-all length is 15 inches, with a 9 inch octagonal hooked-breech barrel, poly groove rifled to approximately .18 caliber, and stippled to a fine granular ground along the entire length. It is decorated at the breach with an elaborate damascened panel of engraved gold-work depicting panoplies of arms, crossed canons and flags, classical motifs of Grecian-styled urns ushering forth clouds of incense, and Masonic symbols of flaming orbs. It is struck six times with the cartouches of Nicolas Boutet, Jean le Clerc, and BC (unknown), LC B LC NB BOUTET BC.
At the muzzle are two gold panel sections connected by an orderly array (semee) of 398 five-pointed gold stars, of one 32 of inc, and numbered on the right-most flat between two stars 216. The touch-hall is lined with a large oval panel of gold. The barrel is finished with a finely polished steel fore-sight and blade rear-sight, and has an engraved, polished-steel breech tang with high-relief gold work. The lock plate is polished steel and inscribed: Boutet a’ Versailles, with a high relief gold work depicting sphinx and classical faces. The pan has gold drapery, and the lock set a swan necked cock with gold high-relief putti carrying a smoking torch. There is a screw-adjustable set-trigger. The gold counter-plate depicts a medieval boar hunt with three mounted riders and one man on foot thrusting boar-spears into the defeated boar while attendants hold hunting dogs off to the site. The stock is carved from Zaire, Ebony with molded borders, foliate flourishes and intricate scrolls. It is extensively inlaid with engraved gold panels. The butt stock has complicated panels depicting a mythological bare-breasted sphinx issuing forth fire and smoke, and surmounted by a flaming orb, within a surround of gold-work panels forming delicate scrolls, meandering foliage and decorative embellishments. A gold escutcheon plate at the wrist is set within a frame of carved ebony. The pistol-grip is formed as an elaborate carved ivory female dragon form (wyvern or sea-serpent) beast breathing fire over a scroll which forms the base for the trigger guard strap. A cheek-piece carved with high-relief scrolls is surrounded by an intricately carved doughnut-shaped insert of ebony at its terminus and embellished with finely carved rope and floral molded borders. A gilt-silver butt plate is decorated with a Medusa Head, Classical Armor, Small Dragons and Foliate motifs, and is struck three times with silver-maker’s hallmarks. It is set off by an elaborate brocade of pierced gold concentric circles. The butt plate mounting screws are polished and engraved.
The solid gold trigger guard, is struck with maker’s hall marks and the rear strap is decorated with the Medusa Head at bow, a pair of pseudo-ancient Egyptian dogs’ heads at the juncture of the bow and strap lead to a figure of the goddess Diana, who with her bow and hunting dog completes the trigger guard fore-strap. The gold fore-end cup is decorated with a fox with its paw caught in a trap (after paintings by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1686-1755). The oval medallion-form held within an eagle’s upswept wings form the frame for that panel.
We don’t know how much this work of art was sold for, but for sure the master will not be able to repeat such a masterpiece in short time, and certainly he will not sell it cheaply. Even serial models of miniature guns for sale can cost tens of thousands of dollars if they belong to well-known manufacturers and are produced in a souvenir version – using precious materials.
As an example we can mention a revolver called «SwissMiniGun». This is a copy of the famous model «Colt Python», turned by Swiss watchmakers into a beautiful accessory. If you order this tiny pistol (its length is 5 cm) in gold, with diamond inlays, then you will have to pay up to $ 50,000 for it. And in addition to that, you will have to wait for a year or more, as the manufacturer accepts orders from collectors around the world.
Do you want to buy a gold miniature gun at an affordable price?
Then we advise you to pay attention to the model that is shown below. This pistol reproduces a classic American Derringer of the late 19th century. At the moment it is the most miniature operating gun of all existing on the market. Its length is only 25 mm, and its height is 15.
The caliber of the barrel is 1 mm, but it doesn’t make the gun just an inoffensive «clapper»: the power of its shot is high. In its cartridges a special explosive mixture is used, which works very effectively even in ultra-small quantities. The kit includes 10 live cartridges with bullets made of hardened steel. These bullets do not deform contacting any surface and are can pierce even a metal target.
Two types of 14K gold were used in the manufacture of the pistol: yellow and white. This combination of materials is dictated not only by aesthetics, but also by functionality, since white gold has a high hardness and wear resistance. Like steel, it can be successfully used in moving parts. Therefore, all the details of the weapon are made of gold, except the handle and the inner springs. The springs are made of special Swiss watch steel. As for the handle, it contains not only precious, but also very unusual material: mammoth bone that was found during paleontological excavations.
As you see, this product can become a valuable exhibit in any collection. And its price, in comparison with the other options, offered for sale, is not so high: only $ 1200. If you make an order, you will receive it within a month. To find out the details and leave a request click here.
Resources: Miniature Arms Journal, 2005-2008