The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Combined match- and wheel-lock gun with ramrod
  • Combined match- and wheel-lock gun with ramrod
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1565
  • Steel, gold, etched, walnut, antler and wood, chiselled, gilded and engraved
  • Length: 116.7 cm, overall
    Length: 86 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.5 cm, calibre
    Weight: 4.46 kg
  • Inscription: 'HERCVLES'
    Inscription: 'HECTOR'
  • A1073
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Gun with a combined match- and wheel-lock, barrel of round section etched with interlacing strapwork in low relief, with three broad bands of chiselled ornament representing at the muzzle a winged female half-figure holding a cartouche, midway along the barrel a horned and bearded satyr and a horned merman, at the breech figures of a nymph and satyr above a grotesque mask holding in its mouth a ring. The decoration is of fine quality. The whole surface of the barrel was originally gilt, of which considerable traces remain.

    Lock with external wheel enclosed in a steel cover engraved with foliage. Lock-plate etched with arabesque strapwork en suite with the barrel. The entire surface of the lock is gilt. Trefoil-shaped release button for the pan-cover catch, and safety-catch. The cock, which has a concealed spring, is engraved with a monster's head. Slender match-holder with screw to tighten the jaws. The match-holder spring is in one with the guard over the sear extension for the safety-catch.

    Walnut stock of German fashion, inlaid with ornament of engraved antler, in the form of heavy strapwork enclosing panels of animals and foliage. On the cheek-piece is a rectangular plaque engraved with a combat of antique horsemen, and above is inscribed HERCVLES. Further forward by the lock-screws are two oval, sunken panels representing bear and stag hunts, while a panel on the right side of the butt shows a boar hunt and another on the underside by the ramrod socket a warrior in classical dress inscribed above HECTOR. The heel of the butt has a sunken panel engraved with a similar figure and is furnished with three flattened knobs of antler.

    Indented trigger-guard etched with strapwork and gilt. The trigger is furnished with a screw to regulate the pull-off. Wooden ramrod tipped with antler.

    German, about 1565.

    Blackmore, Guns and Rifles of the World, 1965, fig. 109. L'Art Ancien, IV, 564-6; Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1977 (Spitzer); Lièvre, Musées et Collections; Musée Graphique, p. XVIII.

    Exhibited: Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1977 (Spitzer).

    Provenance: Frédéric Spitzer.

    There are two guns in the Royal Armouries, nos. XII. 4 and .43, with bands with similar chiselled decoration.

    The barrel is twice struck behind the back-sight with a mark of a small falchion, its cutting edge to the left (Støckel, nos. a 5812 and 5813, 'possibly Augsburg, about 1580'). N. Støckel, I, p. 30, tentatively attributes this mark to an Augsburg gunmaker, Christoph Arnold, active 1547-73, on the grounds that the Arnold family used crossed falchions as their arms. A rather similar mark has been attributed to Lorenz Herl of Nuremberg (N. Støckel, I, p. 522, no. a 5814; see also under no. A1072).

    The wheel-cover is domed. The lock-plate is edged with engraved laurel foliage.
    The match mechanism is unusual. A lug projecting forward on the pivoted end of the match-holder rests on a hook projecting through the lock-plate. Pressure on the trigger pushes the hook outwards against the force of its spring, clear of the plate, thus allowing the lug on the end of the holder to pass between the lock-plate and the hook, and the match-holder to pivot forward to fire the priming. Although the pull of the trigger can be regulated, it is not a set-trigger.

    A rifle by the same group of makers, working to similar designs, and with the same marks on the barrel, is at Konopiště in Czechoslovakia (Hayward, Art of the Gunmaker, I, 1962, pI. 14b). The same mark occurs on a gun barrel in the Royal Armouries dated 1546, no. XII.4; on a double-barrelled wheel-lock pistol in the Musée de l' Armee, Paris, no. M.I 639; and on a pair of wheel-lock pistols in the W.G. Renwick collection (sold Sotheby's, 18 March 1975, lot 49, repr. in cat.), later in the G. Bedford Collection (Gussler and Lavin, 1977, pp. 112-13, no. 42).

    W. Glage considers that the lock of no. A1073 is of typically Brunswick type (personal communication 1983).