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
  • c. 1650
    19th century (Chiselling of the barrel, overlay to the lock, bridle, wheel-case, engraving of butt-trap cover)
  • Steel, gold, copper alloy, antler, walnut and wood, chiselled, gilded and engraved
  • Length: 129.8 cm, overall
    Length: 100.4 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 4.28 kg
  • Stamp: '22'
    Stamp: A small mark
  • A1101
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock rifle, with an octagonal barrel widening slightly towards the muzzle and decorated at breech and muzzle with ornament chiselled in low relief, the ground formerly gilt. It takes the form of strapwork, fruit and foliage interspersed with satyrs and caryatid figures, and on the upper plane near the breech is a small oval panel containing a classical warrior. The angles of the planes of the barrel between the two groups of ornament are enhanced by engraved lines, and the planes on either side of the top one are slightly concave. Rifling of eight grooves. There are no sights.

    Lock. External wheel with gilt brass case decorated with conventional ornament in relief. Lock-plate engraved with floral scrolls, and in an oval panel, Orpheus charming the beasts. The engraving is overlaid with tracery in gilt brass, chased and pierced with the usual cherub's head and scrollwork (compare the ornament on the lock of A1093). A small bridge of gilt brass which joins the pivot of the cock to the screw securing its spring takes the form of a harpy. The arm of the cock is decorated with flutes, the jaws engraved with a monster and the angle filled with a pierced design of a harpy. There is a large cocking ring on the back of the upper jaw.

    Stock of walnut, inlaid throughout with a design of fine, interlacing, floral scrolls interspersed with birds, squirrels and grotesque terminal figures, all of engraved antler. Butt-plate of antler with steel knob. The spring catch of the sliding butt-trap cover is turned over and shaped as a scallop shell. Stamped on the stock beneath the end of the butt-trap cover is the number 22 and a small mark. Steel trigger-guard with finger indentations. Wooden ramrod with antler tip.

    German (possibly Saxon), about 1650.

    The decoration of the stock, which is of fine quality, closely resembles the work of Elias Becker of Augsburg (d. 1679). Among the examples of Becker's work are a rifle in the collection of Prince Liechtenstein, Vienna, and another formerly in the same collection is now in the Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Metropolitan Museum (Kienbusch and Grancsay, no. 190).

    The absence of sights on a rifle is highly suspicious. The chiselling of the barrel appears to be 19th-century. The gilt brass overlay to the lock, the decorative bridle and the wheel-case are all probably 19th-century. The engraving of the cover of the butt-trap is also 19th-century. The trigger, which is of later type, emerges from a simple hole in the stock instead of via a trigger-plate.

    Elias I. Becker (N. Støckel, I, p. 74) was an Augsburg gunmaker active from 1633 to 1674. He married the widow of the gunmaker Georg Hagmann. She was dead before 1635 when he married again. After the death of Hieronymus Borstorffer, Becker, although working in Augsburg, seems to have become the principal supplier of gun-stocks to Caspar Spät at Munich (Hayward, Art of the Gunmaker, II, 1963, pp. 178-9). A stock signed E.B., with Spät decoration on its metalwork, is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, no. 04.3.180. A comparable but unsigned stock, mounted with a barrel signed C.S for Spät and dated 1668, is also in the Metropolitan Museum (no. 29.158.668; Kienbusch and Granscay, no. 190, pIs. LX-LXI).