Telegraphic Night Pistols

1864 Display Board with Sixteen Coston’s Flares for Use with the U.S. M1862 Army Signal Pistol. Each flare is different, held in place by a copper wire loop, and identified by a number or letter, that were apparently keyed to a legend which no longer accompanies the display. 14″ X 19″ nicely mounted in a gilt lined period walnut frame. The display heading, executed in water color and ink espouses, “Coston’s/ Telegraphic-Night-Signals/ U. S. Army Signal Service/ Signal-Pistol And Cartridges”. The signal pistol depicted is also executed in ink and watercolor as is the 1864 date. Attached below the pistol is a factory label for M. E. Coston’s flares, Patented April 8, 1859. All flares in perfect condition, the backboard with some toning and a few water stains, but very sound and bright.

Martha Jane Hunt Coston eloped with an American naval officer at the age of sixteen. Benjamin Franklin Coston, only twenty-one, became director of the U.S. Navy’s scientific laboratory in Washington, where he experimented with color coded signals to allow communication between ships. Upon his death, in 1847, Martha struck out on her own, perfected the flare system, and found a manufacturer to produce them. Sadly, she was never compensated for the flares she produced, at cost, for the Union Army during the war. Her perseverance after the war, however, led to the adoption of the Coston Maritime Signals on an international level. Source: auction. Sold for $8,962.50

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