The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock rifle with ramrod
  • Wheel-lock rifle with ramrod
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • 1579
    c. 1670 (lock)
  • Steel, ivory or bleached cow's horn, wood and antler, chiselled and pierced
  • Length: 156.4 cm, overall
    Length: 127.7 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 4.885 kg
  • A1076
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock rifle, with a barrel of circular section chiselled with decoration in relief along its entire length. At the breech is a reserve containing a figure of Justice, and two similar panels further along the barrel contain the figures of Venus and Fortune (or Fate). The rest of the surface is covered with an intricate pattern of flowers and foliage involving animals of the chase and monsters. At the muzzle is a groove for a missing foresight. The backsight has a wide deep notch, and has hinged on one side a small plate pierced with a sighting aperture, which on being lowered across the notch converts it into a peepsight.

    Lock, with an internal wheel with geared winding mechanism. The extension for the winding key is not part of the wheel spindle, but is connected to a large cog-wheel engaging in the wheel proper, the spindle for which appears on the outside of the lock-plate in front of the winding key extension. Lock-plate entirely chiselled with conventional foliage containing the representation of a deer hunt. Cock with pyrites-guard chiselled and pierced with foliage and a sea monster, and a small plate joining the screw of the cock to that securing its spring is similarly ornamented.

    Stock of German fashion, inlaid with antler, forming running foliage interspersed with hunting scenes. On the cheek-piece is a representation of a bear hunt with a gentleman and lady mounted. The single ivory or bleached cow's horn ramrod pipe at the fore-end is engraved with a figure of Venus with flaming heart and dart, and a similar figure appears on a antler plaque at the ramrod socket. On the underside just in front of the trigger-guard is a halberdier in a corselet. The sliding cover of the butt-trap is formed of a single plaque of antler engraved with figures of Venus, Fortune and Justice, and another figure posed like the corresponding figures on the barrel. Several other motifs including the bear and a conventional mask are common to both stock and barrel. On a horn panel behind the breech strap is engraved the date 1579. Steel trigger-guard chiselled with foliage. Trigger with screw adjustment to regulate pull-off. Wooden ramrod with antler tip.

    German, dated 1579, the lock about 1670.

    The chiselling of the barrel is later (J. F. Hayward, personal communication 1982). Diefenthal, 'Typical firearm forgeries…', American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin, 28, 1973, fig. 13.

    A very similar lock, made for Anselm Franz von Ingelheim, Prince Archbishop of Mainz (1679-95), is in the Odescalchi collection, Rome (inv. no. 908; Carpegna, Firearms, 1975, cat. no. 98, illus., with a list of comparable examples).