The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Wheel-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, possibly Brunswick
  • c. 1560 - c. 1570
  • Steel, silver, ebony, antler and wood, blued, overlaid, inlaid and engraved
  • Length: 52.8 cm, overall
    Length: 32.3 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.6 cm, calibre
    Weight: 2.6 kg
  • A1137
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock pistol, one of a pair with A1136, the barrel octagonal at the breech, and widening slightly at the muzzle, the surface blued and overlaid in silver with fine running foliage.

    Lock with external wheel entirely enclosed in a steel casing. The spring for the cock is on the inside of the lock-plate. Safety-catch and release button for the pan-cover spring. Surface of the lock-plate blued and bordered with a band of silver. Wheel-case overlaid with foliage like the barrel. Pan-cover engraved with a lion's mask, and the cock with foliage. The heads of the two screws retaining the lock are on the right side.

    Stock of ebony, with flattened onion-shaped, octagonal butt, profusely inlaid with biblical and mythological subjects in engraved antler. Three panels on the underside of the fore-end show the death of Saul and his standard-bearer, Joshua and two other warriors, and Samson and the lion. Along the sides of the fore-end are scenes of combat. Round the collar immediately above the butt is the story of Esther and Ahasuerus, and above this the judgement of Paris. The rest of the decoration consists of foliage interspersed with figures of children and animals, terminal figures, etc. On the left side of the stock is a belt hook of blued steel overlaid with silver, the trigger-guard being of the same material. Wooden ramrod with antler ferrule and steel tip, blued, hatched and overlaid with arabesques in silver, and internally threaded to take a cleaning implement.

    Hayward (see below) compares a 16th-century, etched design for a pair of pistols in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    German, possibly Brunswick, about 1560-70.

    Hayward, Art of the gunmaker, I, 1962, p. 281, pI. 10a; Glage, Das Kunsthandwerk der Büchsenmacher im Land Braunschweig, 1983, pp. 34-5, pI. 28; Skelton (details), pls. CXX and CXXI; J. F. Hayward, The Connoisseur, CXXIII (1949), 17.

    Exhibited: S. Kensington, 1869, nos. 370-1.

    Provenance: Sir S. R. Meyrick; Frédérick Spitzer.

    Sir S. R. Meyrick recorded a tradition that these pistols had belonged to Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Città di Penna, who was murdered in 1537, a date too early for this attribution to be correct.