Functional art is hardly a new concept. Consider the antique gun pictured here, a French flintlock fowling-piece (or bird-hunting gun) that dates to 1760. “It’s a piece of male jewelry, but a very practical one, which would have reflected the wealth and power of its owner,” says Peter Finer, the British antique arms and armor dealer who features the $75,000 item in his latest catalog.
Its most captivating feature is the delicate swirls of silver wire that grace the butt. To achieve such an effect, the craftsman would typically cut a narrow channel into the wood stock and lay silver wire inside it. This technique allowed little room for error. “There’s no second chance in making a gun like this,” says Finer.
Peter Finer, 800.270.7951, www.peterfiner.com