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Matching cased pair of French .50 calibre duelling pistols with accessories, used by Sir Thomas Mitchell in Sydney in 1851

Object type
Duelling pistols

Object number

A wooden case containing a matching pair of French .50 calibre duelling pistols marked 'ACIER'. Each pistol is rifled and has a percussion lock. Each walnut butt has flutes carved in it, and there is foliate carving to the fore stock. The octagonal barrel is heavily etched and engraved around the muzzle, lock and trigger guard. The walnut case the pistols are housed in is fitted with an engraved bullet mould, a powder flask, a screw driver, clearing rod, a 'worm', 28 bullets, a circular metal tin of percussion caps and a wooden mallet.

A circular tin of percussion caps and a mallet are missing from the set. The pistols are believed to have been used by Sir Thomas Mitchell (1792-1855) in a duel with Stuart Donaldson in Sydney on 27 September 1851. This was one of the last duels fought in Australia. Each protagonist fired three shots but, despite a close call on each side, neither was hit. The duel came about after Donaldson had made an "inaccurate public statement" about Mitchell at a time when the government was trying to ensure Mitchell followed its instructions more closely. Mitchell is best known for his roles as surveyor-general and for several explorative expeditions into what is now New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria in the 1830s and 1840s.

Collection name
Royal Australian Historical Society collection no. 2

Acier might not be the maker's name or a part of it. It seems it means 'steel' in several European languages

Place made
Paris, France

Sir Thomas L. Mitchell
Surveyor-General and explorer of New South Wales

Associated person
Sir Stuart A. Donaldson

Place of use
Centennial Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Approximate location of the duel

Date of event
Major Thomas Mitchell duelled with Mr Stuart Donaldson (later Sir) in Sydney in September 1851

Steel, Wood

Length: 475mm
Width: 255mm
Height: 294mm

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