This is a prostitute’s pistol.
In days gone by it was known somewhat incongruously as a “Ladies’ Muff Pistol”. Because
of its small size it could easily be carried inside a ladies’ handbag. It’s fame stems from the latter part of
the nineteenth century when Jack the Ripper targeted ladies of the night.
To protect themselves in the event of an encounter with the Ripper or other unsavoury customers, most London streetwalkers
of the time carried one of these pistols modestly concealed about their person.
The advantage of the prostitute’s
pistol was that it made a noise louder than a normal handgun. Though this would have frightened off most would be assailants
(which was the intention), because of the gun’s small calibre, the chance of seriously wounding someone was minimal.
Original examples of these pistols are rare although there is a
steady demand for replicas mainly from North American and European collectors with prices starting at around $100.00.