The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Match-lock rifle
  • Match-lock rifle
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • 1598
  • Steel, copper alloy, gold, pear-wood, antler and mother-of-pearl, etched, gilded and engraved
  • Length: 123.9 cm, overall
    Length: 97 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 4.505 kg
  • Maker's mark: Five maker's marks (one of which a unioncorn between the letters L.H. occurs three times), and the initial N (for Nuremberg?). Stamped
    Maker's mark
    Inscription: '1598'
    Inscription: 'N'
  • A1072
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Match-lock target rifle, the barrel of octagonal section, the planes being changed at a point eight inches from the muzzle and so representing an edge to the line of sight instead of a flat plane. The surface of the barrel has been etched to give a crystalline effect, probably by binding it irregularly with narrow strips of some impermeable material before applying the mordant. It has then been engraved at breech, muzzle, and a point midway between, with conventional foliage. Brass foresight. The backsight takes the form of a peepsight; on the top is a sliding plate, which is engraved with scrolls and gilt, to the underside of which is attached a small vertical plate pierced with two sighting apertures, one above the other. At the breech are stamped five maker's marks (one of which a unicorn between the letters L.H. occurs three times), and the initial N (for Nuremberg?). Pivoted pan-cover. Rifling of twelve grooves.

    The narrow, strap-like lock-plate is lightly engraved with arabesque foliage en suite with that on the barrel and bears a maker's mark. The slender match-holder is ornamented with turned mouldings. The lock mechanism incorporates a tumbler, to enable the lock to be cocked and work with a snap action. A cord passed through a hole situated towards the rear of the lock-plate, and when pulled effected the action of cocking, and behind this is a screw which provides an adjustment for the pull-off. The trigger is missing.

    Stock of pear-wood, inlaid with engraved antler with an intricate ornament of foliage and strapwork involving amorini, fauns, birds and grotesque figures of men and animals. On either side of the breech strap are the figures of Venus and Mercury; on the fore-end Jupiter, Chronos, Apollo and Mars; on the heel of the butt, Diana. On a small panel of mother-of-pearl on the underside is engraved the date 1598, while just above the lock-plate is stamped the letter N. There is no trigger-guard, but to take its place the butt is stepped underneath on the right side to accommodate the fingers.

    German (possibly Nuremberg) dated 1598.

    Of the highest quality. Match-lock rifles of this type were used for target-shooting.

    A few small shreds of the green silk cord for setting the tumbler still survive. The straight slender trigger was originally screwed into place. No ram-rod has ever been fitted.

    Guns with similar stocks and locks are in the Royal Armouries, XII. 10; at Windsor, no. 351; Musée de l' Armée, nos. M 9, M 23, M 24, and one was in the Whawell Sale, Sotheby's, 4 May, 1927, lot 249.
    Hoff, 'Late firearms with snap matchlocks', TøjhusMuséets Skrifter, 7, 1963, pp. 9-30, fig. 8; Hayward, Art of the gun-maker, 1962, 1, pp. 34-5 and 278, pI. Ic; Blackmore, Guns and rifles of the World, 1965, fig. 60. A wheel-lock rifle, also dated 1598, with comparable decoration on its stock and with the same marks struck on its barrel, is in the Odescalchi collection, Rome, inv. no. 5. The lock is by a different Nuremberg maker (Carpegna, Firearms, 1975, cat., no. 8, illus.). A rifle very similar to no. A1072, with a stock dated 1581, apparently from the same workshop, and with a Nuremberg barrel, was formerly in the collection of S.V. Grancsay and thereafter in the Clay Bedford collection (Hoff, op. cit., pI. 5; Lavin and Gussler, 1977, pp. 120-1). Of the comparable rifles in the Musée de l' Armee, Paris, mentioned in the 1962 Catalogue, no. M.23 is by Christoph I Dressier of Dresden and is dated 1607, while no. M.24 has a stock possibly from the same workshop as no. A1072. The rifle of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol is at Abbotsford (Norman, Apollo, LXXVI, pp. 525-9, figs. 10-11). An example in the Tøjhusmuseum, Copenhagen, is dated 1613 (cat., no. B288); and another made by Gabriel Dorn of Prague, as late as 1625, was sold at Sotheby's, 6 December 1965, lot 149, repr. in cat.

    The first mark on the barrel, which is not in N. Støckel, occurs with the Nuremberg town mark on a pistol barrel sold at Sotheby's, 17 December 1974, lot 70, repr. in cat. N. di Carpegna (loc. cit.) pointed out that it resembles the mark attributed in N. Støckel, I, p. 522, no. a 4935, to Hans Herl (Herelt, Herold or Höroldt) of Nuremberg, active from 1566 to his death in 1608. This man had a son Lorenz Herl, active from 1572 to his death in 1622. The mark could therefore be that of the son, although N. Støckel gives his marks as a falchion and a falchion flanked by the letters LH (I, p. 522, nos. a 5814 and a 529 respectively). See also under nos. A1073 and A1152-3.
    The second mark was tentatively identified by C. Bosson as that of Michael Wiedemann of Augsburg, active 1572-81 (Genava, 1953, p. 159), an identification followed by N. Støckel (II, p. 1382, no. a 8535). This identification is, however, not apparently borne out by the Augsburg archives (letter of E. Heer, 19 April 1982). Neither the third mark, a man between the letter IB in a shield-shaped compartment, nor the fourth mark is in N. Støckel. The fourth was tentatively identified as that of the Neuburger Gewehrkammer by Hayward (op. cit., p. 278), in which case this rifle presumably belonged to Wolfgang Wilhelm, Pfalzgraf von Neuburg (1578-1658).

    The mark on the lock-plate is not recorded in N. Støckel.