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STRANGE ANCIENT WEAPONS - DUELING PISTOLS - THE JUDAS PAIR

Should a “gentleman” feel that his honor had been offended, he would call on the offender to take part in a duel to remedy the offense. Formerly fought with swords, with the advent of the gun, duels would now take place with pistols. The wealthy families would be able to commission fine sets of dueling pistols which would be passed on from father to son.

The duelists would meet discretely, usually just after dawn. With them they would each have their own “seconds.” (A term which is now carried on in the boxing world.)

The duties of the seconds were several fold. Firstly they were there to try to settle the dispute verbally before the parties resorted to the duel. They were also to attend to any injuries resulting from the duel.

Another duty was that they were supposed to check that neither of the weapons contained rifling. (Grooves manufactured into the inside of the barrel to make a bullet travel more accurately.) This was supposed to be “ungentlemanly”. It has been suggested that on some occasions one of the pair may have been rifled and the other not.

It is possibly this that led to the story by Jonathan Gash called the “Judas Pair”. A pair of dueling pistols that, where one fired honestly, the other pistol had a mechanism which released the shot backwards to kill the person using it. But that’s just a story…isn’t it?

Dueling was finally banned in England in 1810.
 

STRANGE ANCIENT WEAPONS - DUELING PISTOLS - THE JUDAS PAIR






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