The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock rifled carbine with ramrod
  • Wheel-lock rifled carbine with ramrod
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1590
  • Steel, copper, walnut, antler, mother-of-pearl, ivory and wood engraved and stained
  • Length: 83.1 cm, overall
    Length: 56.4 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.3 cm, calibre
    Weight: 2.64 kg
  • Maker's mark
    Inscription: 'H.B.'
  • A1084
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock rifled carbine, the barrel of twisted steel, octagonal from the breech to a point midway along its length, then circular in section. Copper blade foresight, the backsight is missing. Rifling of eight grooves. On the side of the barrel opposite the vent is stamped a maker's mark.

    Lock with external wheel in a ring-shaped bearing-plate. The arm of the cock is fluted and the flat surface of the jaws engraved with a monster's head. The cock is large in proportion to the rest of the lock, and possibly may not belong although it is of the correct length. There is a release button of cockle-shell form for the pan-cover spring, but the safety-catch has been removed and the holes filled in.

    Walnut stock of German fashion, richly inlaid with engraved antler, mother-of-pearl set in cow-horn and stained ivory (green and yellow). The ornament includes female heads, demi-figures and an abundance of fruit and flowers, and on the fore-end are cartouches containing nude warriors reclining. The intervening spaces are filled with foliated arabesques. On the cheek-piece of the butt is a larger plaque containing a medallion of a man in profile in Turkish dress in mother-of-pearl. Another Turk is engraved on the antler cover of the butt-trap. Below the end of the breech-strap are the initials HB (H.H.B.?). Wooden ramrod with antler tip. Both trigger and trigger-guard are missing, as is also the steel knob of the heel-plate.

    German, about 1590.

    The late Dr. Hans Stöcklein, in his book Meister des Eisenschnittes, attributed the stock of this carbine to Hieronymus Borstorffer of Munich, from the presence of the monogram HB. This attribution must be accepted with reserve, since the decoration, though of fine quality, shows no marked resemblance to Borstorffer's usual style. It is possible, however, that it may be an early example of his work, and that his manner developed later.

    The hole in the stock for the trigger is an inaccurate restoration and the present piece of bone or antler inlay probably covers the holes for screws securing the original trigger-plate.

    The barrel mark is N. Støckel, I, p. 260, no. a 3235. It also occurs on the barrel of a wheel-lock pistol, dated 1591, in Paris (no. M.Po.840; Reverseau, Musée de I'Armee, 1982, p. 37, pls. 54 and 173).

    The signature on the stock of no. A1084 differs from that given for Borstorffer by N. Støckel, I, p. 126, no. 87. This is apparently an early example of a twist barrel of European manufacture.