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Alas, pictures were all gone. The thread is still very interesting, though.


John Wallace
Posted - 11/08/2004 : 3:50:04 PM
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I make no apology for finding, on this board, a foster-home for topics relating to Belgian firearms. The relations of the French and Belgian makers and retailers were complex in the extreme. The French were more inventive when it came to revolvers, with a larger domestic market, but the Belgians were better at economical large-scale manufacture. I doubt if the customer often knew just how much of his purchase he owed to one country or the other.

I've already mentioned this revolver, which was on its way to me from the excellent Australian auction house on http://antiquearmsauctions.com.au . I wondered then whether it was liable to be French or Belgian. I now find, however, that it bears no proofmarks, and is stamped on the breech face with the name of Marazzi e Fusi of Lecco, in Italy, plus a MFL stamp in a couple of places. Lecco, my atlas tells me, is a town on the southern end of Lake Como, just a little north of Turin, which was probably Italy's only major factory-style manufacturing area at the time.

The question has to be whether Marazzi and Fusi made the revolver themselves, or bought it in from some anonymous maker in Belgium or Turin. It was common practice, and a source of disappointment to many a proud owner who has to be told this, for small-town retailers to stamp their names, or have them stamped, on firearms they didn't make themselves. Greener claims that some of the continental gunmakers would stamp any name you liked the sound of, even if it was already in use. It's difficult to believe, though, that they would have done this in a place which is normally concealed. So the case for Marazzi and Fusi being gunmakers, or at least finishers, is fairly good.

The revolver is exactly in the style of the civilian Lefaucheux pinfires, and yet it is a centrefire, not a conversion. It was catalogued as a .450, which wasn't on the British government's list of freely ownable antiques, but that seemed a very unlikely chambering for this revolver, and enquiries revealed that the chambers were unstepped, meaning it was a heel bullet round. It turns out to be chambered for the 12mm. Perrin Thick Rim cartridge.

It is quite small and light for a 12mm. revolver, and if I had bought it to shoot, I would have approached it with a lot more caution than the French military 1873. But the Lefaucheux design is not quite as weak as it might seem, since the barrel unit screws onto the front of the axis pin. This should be only a little weaker than the wedge of the cap and ball Colts which were its contemporaries, and less likely to accidentally work its way loose. It is very well-made, with an entirely unnecessary hairline joint to the loading gate, and considerably better engraving than is usually found on the cheaper Belgian revolvers.

The design dates from the 1860s, and while cheap pinfire revolvers lingered many decades after centrefires were available, this wasn't likely to included use of the Perrin cartridge. The firing-pin protrusion and sharpness are very excessive, which wásn't an uncommon situation before this was well understood. That apart, a man wouldn't be badly armed with one of these. The grips, as is usual on French-designed revolvers of the period, are ergonomically excellent, but would suit a smaller hand than mine.

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Edited by - John Wallace on 11/11/2004 07:28:32 AM



DocAV
Posted - 11/11/2004 : 5:15:55 PM
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Thank you for sharing your recent acquisition, and damnation for reducing further the now sadly depleted population of Collectibles in Aussie.

From my view of your photos, I would say that it is a Kingdom of Piemonte& Sardinia/ Kingdom of Italy piece( 1860s)...Italy came into being in 1861, and Rome was included in 1870.

As to centres of Industry in Northern Italy, Turin, Milan, the Como Area, Brescia and Coastal Genoa by the 1860s already had a large and varied metal industry bases, producing locomotives, warships, heavy machinery and all types of ordnance.Other industries relying on this machinery base, such as spinning and weaving, were already well established in the area between Turin and Milan.
Lecco (also the Home of Giulio Fiocchi Ammunition) is North of Milan ( about 1 hour's drive, and about two hours from Turin)

Whilst a latecomer to the English-Driven Industrial Revolution, the Piedmontese and Lombards were not slow in coming up to general European levels of Industrialization.

Secondly, by the time this pistol was made, Belgian made pistols, even for second party marking, were all proofed and marked with the typical "ELG" ands "perron" marks. The abscence of any indication of Belgian marks almost rules out any Belgian involvment other than the general design.

Thirdly, the design of the markings (in relief within a cartouche) is typical in Turinese/Milanese stamp making practice ( inherited from Napoleonic France); it was carried on well into the 1950s with Military Firearms in Italy.
Le Faucheaux designs were very popular in 1860s Italy, both Pinfires and Rim/transitional centrefires.The 1863 LeF was the issue Pistol to the Piedmontese Carabinieri till the advent of the M1874 Glisenti.

As to the genuineness of the name "Marazzi & Fusi, Lecco" the solution is simple: An enquiry (via Web) to the Chamber of Commerce or the Public City Archives of Lecco should show up the existence of such a firm and maybe its history.I will proceed to this, as Italian makers history is one of my areas of interest.
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Edited by - DocAV on 11/11/2004 5:32:16 PM



DMala
Posted - 01/08/2005 : 4:18:48 PM
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Dear John, I read your interesting post, made a little research in my books, and found a reproduction of a page of a 1800s magazine called "La Caccia" (The Hunt), where Marazzi & Fusi has a small ad. Note how it refers to "privileged" revolvers! Just thought you may be interested in it. Unfortunately I found no other information about this firm.

http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/DMala/200518161837_Marazzi_Fusi.jpg
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