Finding Lefaucheux on my Trip to Paris!
I recently took a trip to Germany and France with my wife and I took the opportunity to trace down some Lefaucheux and pinfire related things!
The trip started with a visit to the European Cartridge Research Association international show in Aerzen, Germany where I was able to meet some friends who I had previously only conversed with online and others who I had not seen for a couple years due to COVID. We stayed at a fancy castle and really enjoyed the pristine landscape and atmosphere of the area.
I was able to pick up some great cartridges for my collection including a 13x52R Pinfire carbine cartridge made by the Ottoman Empire. It dates to around the 1880s and was probably made in the Tophane Factory in Constantinople. The headstamp is a tughra (a calligraphic signature of the Ottoman Sultans). This particular one should be of “His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful” who reigned over the Ottoman Empire from 31 August 1876 – 27 April 1909. It is possible it was made during the time of the prior Sultan as well.
I also picked up a 28g cartridge made for a Czech military pistol made by Anton Vincenz Lebeda that was issued to cavalry officers as well as a 4g Eley pinfire shotshell.
But the highlight would have to be a Pichereau-patented percussion nipple used on his Pauly system rifles. These were also used on the first rifles Lefaucheux made after buying the company from Pichereau.
Off to Paris
After the cartridge show we flew to Paris and spent many days visiting the typical museums and landmarks of the area. On our third day there I rented a car a drove an hour and a half outside the city into the French countryside to visit my friend who runs the CasimirLefaucheux.com forum with me, Guillaume van Mastrigt.
Guillaume van Mastrigt is married to Perrine Lefaucheux, the great great granddaughter of Eugène Lefaucheux and has written a few books on the life and guns of Lefaucheux, including his brand new one which I picked up while at his house, Eugene Gabriel Lefaucheux Nineteenth-Century Arms Manufacturer in Paris and Liège. This new book is his first published in English and is a fantastic source. They can be purchased from him at Lefaucheux.net, Delcampe or Naturabuy. We talked for many hours about pinfire guns and cartridges and I admired his wonderful collection.
Finding the Lefaucheux shops
I thought it would be fun to trace down the different locations Casimir Lefaucheux had shops so we took a couple hours visiting these locations. First up was No. 5 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau where Lefaucheux first got his start. It is a block from the Louvre and is currently a little antique shop.
We talked to the couple who owned the shop and told them about our little project. They were familiar with Lefaucheux and said he is pretty famous. But they had no idea that their shop was where Maison Pauly was located and where Lefaucheux got his start.
I shared with them some original documentation showing it such as the 25 Feb 1828 issue of Le Constitutionnel and they seemed pretty pleased to learn this information.
The next location is where Casimir Lefaucheux spent most of his career is 10 Rue de la Bourse. It is currently a restaurant.
This is the location that Lefaucheux would sell to Jube during his short-lived retirement and then later buy back from him as well.
In 1850, two years before his death, he would move to a larger location a couple blocks away at 37 Rue Vivienne. This location would be where Maison Lefaucheux would stay located for many decades while owned by Casimir’s widow, and then his son-in-law, Laffiteau. And then by the successor, Rieger, and then his successor Verney-Carron, and then still today by their successor, M. Obriot & Goletty. We stopped in the shop, which is called l’Armurerie de la Bourse and talked to one of the owners who was familiar with the earlier connection to Rieger and Maison Lefaucheux.
They had a nice SFM cartridge board on the wall but I decided not to try to buy it from them!
This map from the time period gives a good overview of these locations.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
I was hoping to find some nice pinfire guns at some museums and found none at the Musée de l’Armée. I thought that the Lefaucheux model 1854 would be notable enough to show up there as it was the first cartridge gun adopted by a military when the French Navy put it into use in 1858. They did have a centerfire Lefaucheux model 1870 on display.
Next trip I will check the Musée national de la Marine if they are reopened.
I heard really good things about the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and it was definitely a fun little museum. They had many early guns including a handful of pinfire shotguns.
They also had an early circa 1828 Casimir Lefaucheux percussion gun based on the Pauly system though they have it incorrectly attributed to Eugène Lefaucheux. This is an example of a gun that used those percussion nipples like I recently acquired and showed above.
They had a handful of other pinfire shotguns by Eugène Lefaucheux, Devisme and others as well.
Foire de Chatou
We took an Uber over to the Foire de Chatou which is the longest running fair in France. They hold it for 3 weeks each spring and fall and there were hundreds of vendors set up with showcases full of nice antiques. My wife picked up some jewelry but I kept my eye open for the chance to find some pinfire guns! And we actually found quite a few. There were probably 6 booths that had at least one with maybe a couple dozen variations. There were maybe 5 other non-pinfire guns there.
I ended up buying a beautiful cased Lefaucheux 7mm self-cocking revolver from 1857. I haggled a bit on the price and feel like I was able to get it for a very good price.
The Lefaucheux Mortuary Chapel
On our last full day there we walked around the Montmartre area and visited the Montmartre Cemetery to view the Lefaucheux mortuary chapel which has a perpetual concession since 1849. It is a very beautiful area full of history. The Lefaucheux chapel lies on the south-east side of the cemetery at plot number 100.
It was hard to photograph the inside but I managed to get a few pictures and combine them together in Photoshop.
And this concluded my Parisian trip of finding Lefaucheux. It was a great experience and next time I will continue on with the retail locations and workshops of Eugène Lefaucheux!