A pair of flintlock pistols owned by both the Marquis de Lafayette and Simón Bolívar could set a new auction record at Christie’s later this month.
The silver-mounted rifled flintlock pistols will be offered as part of the Christie’s Exceptional Sale in New York, where they’re expected to sell for $1.5-$2.5 million.
The pistols were originally owned by the French aristocrat and military officer Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, and were manufactured by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, who made guns for both Louis XVI and Napoleon.
Lafayette is known as "The Hero of the Two Worlds", for the important roles he played in both the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolution.
He sailed for America in 1777 and served as a protege of General Washington, earning himself the rank of Major General. He later returned to the U.S in 1825 to tour all twenty-four states in the union, where he was received as a war hero.
Both Lafayette and Washington were known admirers of Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan military and political leader who fought the Spanish monarchy and won independence for several South American nations including Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia (which is named after him).
In 1825 Lafayette sent Bolívar a series of gifts on behalf of the Washington family – a portrait of the late President, a lock of his hair, and a medal with his likeness. He also sent this pair of his own pistols, a gift to a man carrying the revolutionary torch he had once carried himself.
"Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to work with something at Christie’s that connects us to the giants of history, so that they jump off the pages of the history books and seem alive," said Christie’s specialist Becky MacGuire. "These pistols are a perfect example, serving as a link between three revolutionary heroes: George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Simón Bolívar."
"These are treasures of a kind that we see really rarely. These men shared a real zeal and a commitment to their ideals, which changed the world forever; these pistols are an embodiment of that."
The current auction record for a set of antique pistols was set in 2002, when a pair of saddle pistols gifted by Lafayette to George Washington sold at Christie’s for $1.98 million.
The Christie’s Exceptional Sale takes place in New York on April 13.