The Wallace Collection

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Flint-lock blunderbuss with ramrod
  • Flint-lock blunderbuss with ramrod
  • Johan Adolf Grecke (*1755)
  • St Petersburg, Russia
  • 1780
  • Steel, gold, walnut, silver and wood, blued, damascened, chased, engraved, gilded and carved
  • Length: 91 cm, overall
    Length: 50.1 cm, barrel
    Height: 4.8 cm, calibre
    Width: 3.1 cm, calibre
    Weight: 2.79 kg
  • Inscription: 'JOHAN ADOLPH GRECKE A St. PETERSBURG ANNO 1780'
    Inscription: 'GRECKE'
  • A1124
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Flint-lock blunderbuss, the barrel octagonal at the breech, then round, flaring to a flattened trumpet-shaped muzzle. The surface has been deeply blued and inlaid in gold at the breech with the inscription:

    JOHAN ADOLPH GRECKE A St. PETERSBURG ANNO 1780

    Gold foresight surrounded by gold inlaid scrolls. The false breech of bright steel has a sighting notch and is inlaid in gold floral ornament. Gold disk at the vent.

    Lock of bright steel inlaid in gold with scrollwork and foliage, with the name of the maker on the lock-plate:

    GRECKE

    The screw-heads and springs are blued. The steel is so arranged as a pivot to one side against a spring as a safety precaution, a survival of a 17th-century device. Gold-lined pan. When the steel is turned to the side, its lower part remains in position to cover the priming. There is no external bridle for the pan-cover. The whole lock is very finely finished, even the bridle of the inner mechanism being engraved and gilt.

    Walnut stock delicately carved on the butt and by the breech-strap with rococo scrolls and foliage. Silver mounts chased with acanthus scrolls and trophies, the ground gilt. The oval scutcheon-plate of blued steel, inlaid in gold with the crowned cypher of the Empress Catherine II, surrounded by a silver wreath. The butt has a cheek-piece, under the overhanging edge of which is screwed a silver plate carrying a narrow tube, which probably carried a pricker for cleaning the touch-hole. A sling loop by the ramrod socket is pivoted, and on the underside of the butt is a large, blued, steel stud for the opposite end of the sling. Butt-trap with sliding cover. Silver fore-end cap. Wooden ramrod with silver tip.

    Russian (St. Petersburg), dated 1780.

    Provenance: Empress Catherine II of Russia; possibly lot 88 in the sale of the collection of Prince G* * *, Escribe, Paris, 25 January 1869.

    Johan Adolf Grecke (b. 1755) was one of his distinguished family of Swedish gunmakers. For a considerable period he worked in St. Petersburg, where he was a court gunmaker. He is recorded from 1755 to 1790, and then again in St. Petersburg in 1779. He was the son of Johann Joachim Grecke of Stockholm, court pistol-maker to Adolf Fredrik, King of Sweden (N. Støckel, I, p. 456).

    A very beautiful gun which belonged to Stanislas Poniatowski, King of Poland, and later in the Army Museum, Warsaw, is inscribed: Fait á St. Petersburg l'année 1786 par Jean Adolph Grecke Maître des Armes de la Vénerie de S. M. Impériale. A pair of pistols lent by Mr. G. Diderrich to the Loan Exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, 1933 (no. 260), were inscribed Grecke á St. Petersburg, and bore the same monogram as A1124.

    There are many pieces by J. A. Grecke in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, including a pair of pistols bearing the Empress's monogram, and signed and dated 1780, which appear to be en suite with A1124 (Z.O. nos. 146 and 818). Z.O. no. 5634 is a rifle signed and dated in the same year almost matching A1124, but with a brown rather than blue barrel. (See Tarassuk, 1971, pls. 291-3.)