An untouched flintlock overcoat pistol with belt hook by J. Harding of Mail Coach pattern, either for Inspectors of Mail Coaches or Post Boys. With octagonal barrel stamped ‘BOROUGH LONDON’ along the top flat, decorated with a band of geometric design toward the breech, border engraved tang and screw, stepped bevelled lock, fitted with a sliding safety catch and signed ‘HARDING’, full-stocked in walnut with brass furniture including trigger guard decorated with a shield on the bow and pineapple finial, brass ramrod pipes and brass tipped ramrod. With steel belt hook fitted to the side. An interesting pistol.
There are various references to pistols by Harding of this size and style. See, "Those Entrusted with Arms” by Frederick Wilkinson, Appendix 4 pages 257-258. The ark of a crown above a broad arrow often appears on barrels and locks of this pattern. However, as Wilkinson states, this, "special mark is found on many, but not all, of Hardings coaching weapons”.
A very similar overcoat pistol is in the Postal Museum, exhibit 2009-0060/1 which is attributed to being carried by a Post Boy. Also see the 89Th London Antique Arms Fair Catalogue, Autumn 2012, article pages 48-49.
James Harding, Gunmaker 4 Blackman St. Borough 1810, 38 Blackman Street 1811-24; 99 Blackman Street 1825-7; 82 Blackman Street, 1828-33. Gunmaker to General Post Office (brass barrelled mail coach pistols and blunderbusses); Union St. Police Office, Southwark, form 1816.
Howard L. Blackmore (1986) Gunmakers Of London, 1350-1850. George Shumway Publisher. USA.