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Antique Flare Gun

I can't find much information about this flare gun beyond that it's of French manufacture and has a percussion cap ignition system, thus dating it to probably the Nineteenth Century. The cup at the end, I gather, is used for the flaring material. But I'm at a loss to figure out how the flare would be propelled.

How do you think this flare gun works?

Link | Photo: Charles Miller Ltd.

It probably doesn't fire a flare at all. I think it's designed to be ignited then held aloft by a sailor to signal the shore or another ship.
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There were similar flare guns used during the Civil War. They did not shoot a projectile as modern flare guns do today. A preloaded cartridge containing compounds that would burn in different colors or sequences of colors. The user selected the appropriate cartridge, loaded it into the gun, held it high overhead and pulled the trigger. It was essentially a pyrotechnic version of a flashlight.
There are a few Civil War examples here:
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