The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock gun with ramrod
  • Wheel-lock gun with ramrod
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1620
  • Steel, gold, copper alloy, walnut, antler and wood, chiselled, gilded and engraved
  • Length: 127.4 cm, overall
    Length: 100.3 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.6 cm, calibre
    Weight: 5.47 kg
  • Inscription: 'IVSTICIA'
  • A1093
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock gun, with an octagonal barrel, the upper plane chiselled in low relief for their entire length with conventional patterns of fruit, terminal figures and strapwork, the design broken by four oval panels bordered with silver dots, containing scenes from Roman history: Romulus and Remus, Marcus Curtius and Horatius. The panel at the breech which represents a combat of two horsemen is chiselled in high relief and the succeeding panels in progressively lower relief until that at the muzzle is on the same scale as the surrounding decoration. The ground is gilt throughout. An unusual feature is that the circumference of the barrel is reduced on the underside to accommodate the stock. Steel foresight and large tubular peepsight chiselled with a grotesque mask. Lock with external wheel covered with a gilt-brass case engraved with winged terminal figures. The plain steel lock-plate is covered with characteristic pierced ornament in gilt brass, chiselled with a cherub's head, terminal figures and scrollwork. The pan-cover draws back with a downward motion, the gap which is left when it is in the closed position being covered by a plate of gilt brass engraved with foliage and pierced with tracery. The release button of the pan-cover catch is formed as a cherub's head of gilt brass and a bridge of similar material, formed as a bear or monkey, joins the pivot of the cock to the screw of its spring. Cock engraved with monsters (compare the locks of A1088-9).

    Walnut stock of German fashion, profusely inlaid with engraved antler in the form of strapwork cartouches, human heads, monsters, birds, animals and terminal figures, with occasional inlays of mother-of-pearl and green stained ivory. On the cheek-piece of the butt is a representation of Neptune seated on a shell drawn by sea horses. On the underside in front of the trigger-guard is a warrior in classical dress. The sliding cover of the butt-trap is formed of a single plaque of antler engraved with a figure of Justice, inscribed ‘IVSTICIA’. Antler heel-plate engraved en suite and furnished with a steel knob chiselled with acanthus foliage. Trigger-guard of gilt steel with finger indentations. Hair trigger. Wooden ramrod with antler tip.

    German (probably Saxon), about 1620.

    L'Art Ancien, IV, 564, 565, 566; Musée Rétrospectif, 1865.

    Provenance: Frédéric Spitzer.

    Diefenthal, 'Typical Firearms Forgeries . . .', American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin, 28,1973, fig. 17.

    Exhibited: ? Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1978 (F. Spitzer).

    J. F. Hayward in 1963 pointed out that the barrel was originally from a match-lock musket and was decorated in the 19th century. The deep cutting of the scene of Horatius Codes on the Bridge, immediately over the chamber, must have dangerously weakened the barrel.

    In 1972 C. Blair pointed out that the inlay of the stock is 19th-century, and that the rotary pan-cover is of a type much favoured in the Spitzer workshop (personal communication).