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
  • North Italy
  • c. 1620
  • Steel, silver, walnut and wood, chiselled and engraved
  • Length: 111.7 cm, overall
    Width: 1.3 cm, calibre
    Weight: 3 kg
  • Inscription: 'M.S.'
  • A1074
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Gun with combination match- and wheel-lock, the barrel octagonal at the breech, the rest polygonal, separated by a chased silver band. At the muzzle an applied silver moulding carries the foresight. A silver mount at the breech is chased with a cherub's head. The backsight is made of silver, and takes the form of a woman in relief, lying on her back, and oriented so that the shooter sights between her spread legs.

    The lock is a combined wheel-lock and match-lock, both mechanisms being actuated by a single trigger, the first pressure releases the wheel-lock mechanism; the second pressure operates the match-holder. External wheel with ring-shaped bearing-plate chiselled with winged terminal figures. The pan is decorated with silver appliqué acanthus ornament. The cock is chiselled with fine mouldings, and is further enriched by a small applied silver plate chased with a dolphin's head. The match-holder is formed as a dragon's head with open jaws, and works against a coil spring which is attached to the exterior of the lock-plate. The surface of the lockplate is unornamented, save for a double line of silver inlaid around the edge, and at the rear end a silver ornament chased with a grotesque mask. Two engraved rosettes, resembling maker's marks, are in fact the ends of screws on the inside of the lockplate.

    Stock of Italian walnut, the graceful butt being curved on the underside approaching the shape of a modern stock. It is decorated with inlaid silver wire and with engraved insertions of the same metal in the form of recumbent female figures, amorini and explicitly erotic subjects. The socket of the ramrod and the single ramrod pipe are of silver, pierced and engraved, and there are panels of similar decoration on either side of the breech strap, on the comb of the butt, and applied to the steel heel-plate which bears a representation of Venus and Cupid. The gracefully curved trigger-guard is chiselled with acanthus ornament and inlaid with engraved silver. Attached to the left side of the stock is a steel sling swivel, and a steel loop at the muzzle end is for a sling. Roughly branded on the left side of the fore-end are the letters M.S. Wooden ramrod tipped with engraved silver, the opposite end having a steel ferrule threaded internally to take a cleaning implement.
    Italian, about 1620.

    There is a tradition that this weapon, which is of the finest workmanship throughout, belonged to King Louis XIII of France.

    There are three somewhat similar guns in the Musée de l' Armée, nos. M 70, 71, 142.

    The decoration of the heel-plate includes a seeded lily, a device used by a number of families of which the Farnese were the most prominent.
    Hayward, Art of the Gunmaker, I, 1962, pp. 53 and 286, pI. 22b; Blackmore, Guns and Rifles of the World, 1965, fig. 102; Hoff, Feuerwaffen, II, 1969, fig. 83; Gaibi, Armi da fuoco, 1978, figs. 46-7; Carpegna, 'Brescia, o Milano, o Firenze? Molti interrogativi e qualche proposta', Armi e cultura nel Bresciano, 1420-1870, 1981, p. 85. A. Gaibi (loc. cit.) suggested that no. A1074 might be Lombard about 1620, while N. di Carpegna (loc. cit.) suggested extremely tentatively that it might have been made in Milan.

    Since there is no sign of a French Royal Inventory stamp on this gun and it cannot be identified in any version of the French Royal inventories, the tradition that it belonged to Louis XIII should be regarded as apocryphal.