Boissy P.

Arms manufacturer with Saint Etienne (Loire). Present pistols of luxury at the World Fair of Paris in 1855. 34, street of Badouillère (1879).

Many thanks to “CWSLAGLEANTIQUES” for the photographs.


The St. Etienne gunmaker Boissy was known for his fine pistols made during the mid 19th century. At the Paris Exposition of 1855 he presented luxury pistols, and in fine auctions till today his pieces, especially in pinfire but a few in centerfire, are still found. This Boissy pistol was found in Uruguay in South America, and it shows a bit more wear than do some recently offered in well-known auction houses. But it is wonderfully unique in the odd profile of the grip – this is the first pinfire I have ever seen like this. On top of the barrels is a safety-sight mechanism that is moved back to insure that the pinfire cartridges are not accidentally discharged. Since all of these safety-sight mechanisms on pinfire pistols slide back and forth with some play (otherwise they would not slide), I have always wondered how anyone could shoot these contraptions with any kind of accuracy. The original one-piece grip was made in this very unusual shape, but the pistol feels quite good in the hand. The St. Etienne proofs are faintly seen at the top rear of the barrels. The barrels measure 6 3/4 inches (170mm), and overall the pistol is 11 3/8 inches long (288mm). For size comparison we have shown this pistol with a Smith & Wesson 1st Model DA Revolver in 44 Russian. From the “Corsican Brothers” by Alexandre Dumas comes this mention of another Boissy and a serious matter concerning firearms: "Here we are, gentlemen," said MM. de Châteaugrand and de Boissy, "but you know our conditions, that is, that this duel shall be the last, and that whatever may be the result, Mons. de Château-Renaud shall not incur any further responsibility." Almost certainly they did not use pinfire pistols like this one in the ensuing duel (fiction, remember), because the fatal wound was surprisingly accurate.