Alexander Hamilton’s Pocket Pistols Just Sold For Over $800,000

This pair of Founding Father flintlock handguns is a true American treasure.


Collector-grade watches, cars and spirits generally fetch lofty sums thanks to a combination of quality, rarity and brand recognition, but in the firearms world, the X factor that pushes value into seven-figure territory is provenance. And with Founding Father lineage, these Alexander Hamilton-owned pocket pistols practically sold themselves at Christie’s recent Important Americana auction.

Hamilton’s significance in American history can’t be overstated: “He served on George Washington’s staff during the Revolutionary War, rose to the rank of Major General in the Continental Army, was a delegate to Congress in its pre-constitutional form, served in President Washington’s Cabinet as the first Secretary of the Treasury, and famously lost his life in a duel with Aaron Burr,” as Christie’s notes.


This is one of only two known surviving pairs of Hamilton’s pistols—the other was sold by Rock Island Auction Company for $1.15 million in May of 2021. As opposed to those full-size flintlock handguns, these pocket pistols, aka pistolets du voyage, were designed for concealment.

Their maker, Jean-Louis Jalabert, produced them sometime between July of 1798 and the July of 1804, the month in which Hamilton died. Jalabert was married to Marie-Anne Lamotte, who came from a family of revered gunmakers, thus the pistols are engraved with Jalabert-Lamotte on the lock plates. Hamilton’s “A.H.” initials, which appear on the mounts, are among many other ornamentations that are typical of elegant French weapons from this time period, including inlaid gold decorative vases on the breech and the steel pommel button, which is chiseled in the form of a flower.


The pistols have descended directly through Hamilton’s family to his great-great-grandson, Schuyler Van Cortlandt Hamilton (1882-1951), who sold the pair to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1950.

The New York Post (which Hamilton founded) initially reported that Hamilton’s pocket pistols could fetch $500,000. They obliterated that estimate when they cross the block at the auction house’s Important Americana sale, going for a final bid of $819,000.