Despite the fact that Spain controlled nearly two thirds of what is now the modern United States until well into the 19th Century, modern collectors tend not to think of Spanish weapons when they consider "American Colonial firearms". While Dutch Fowlers, French pistols, and British Brown Bess muskets, all fetch large sums on the modern market, Spanish guns tend to remain over looked. This is likely because "New Spain" primarily covered the Southwest portion of the U.S.; an area that remained quite "wild" until well into the 20th Century. Because of this any Spanish weaponry that was utilized in this area was used often used for generations, as it was difficult to obtain modern replacements in remote regions like the American frontier. There are numerous accounts of early White Settlers in America's western territories during the mid 19th Century who encountered Indian warriors wearing Spanish armor and carrying Spanish escopetas that dated as far back as the 16th Century. Naturally the incredibly long service life of these Spanish colonial pieces meant that they eventually degraded to the point of becoming unusable and were simply discarded. By comparison, the Eastern portion of the U.S. was settled rather quickly; meaning that Colonial guns from this region were generally used for sporting purposes rather than subsistence or self defense; meaning Eastern pieces are often found in barely-used condition.
This particular piece is an excellent example of a late 18th Century Spanish Colonial fowler. Its relatively simple adornments suggest that it was likely made for commercial sale to one of Spains many colonies. Originally a miqulet flintlock-type lock, this 20 gauge fowler was very nicely converted to percussion sometime in the 1840's-1850's.
The stock and architecture are all very characteristic of a commericial-grade Spanish gun - it is lightweight, with a long smoothbored barrel, and lightly carved stock. In typical Spanish style, the barrel is secured to the stock via two small barrel bands; and the ram rod channel is completely enclosed - an impressive feat when you consider the builder of this fowler would have needed to drill a nearly 40" long hole through the stock with laser-accurate precision in order to accomplish this (there's a reason most countries didn't enclose their ram rod channels).
The stock remains in very good condition; although there is some obvious beetle damage in the butt stock. Despite these holes, the stock remains very sound and can be handled without fear of causing further damage.
The lock remains in perfect mechanical condition with a reliable half and full cock. The cock has a repair to the hammer spur which is very sound and appears to be period.
The barrel remains full length and the bore has some uniform scattered pitting. The original Spanish "fleur de lis" proof marks are still visible on the breech. The furniture is all intact and in good condition. The ram rod is still full length. The use of Spanish fowling pieces in New Spain is well documented; and they are mentioned in numerous reference materials including the excellent book, Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821 by Sydney Brinkenhoff and Pierce Chamberlain. What's also interesting to note is that Brinkenhoff and Chamberlain write that these commercial fowlers were built for the purpose of export; meaning that not only does this pistol date back to the era of Spanish colonial control in North America, it's also very likely that it was in America during that same time period.
This is the perfect arm for a Colonial American/18th Century buff. Sure everybody has a European fowling piece in their collection but who has a Spanish fowler? This one is sure to be a conversation starter.