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
  • Suhl, Germany
  • c. 1570 - c. 1580
  • Steel, antler and wood, engraved and chiselled
  • Length: 55 cm, overall
    Length: 32.6 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 1.87 kg
  • Maker's mark
    Stamp: Possibly a horse shoe
  • A1144
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock pistol, the barrel chiselled with ornament in low relief for its entire length, including four pairs of symbolical female figures (possibly representing the Muses), the intervening spaces being filled with conventional foliage interspersed with birds and animals. At the breech is a maker's mark and another mark is stamped on the underside.

    Lock with wheel enclosed in a steel casing. At the forward end an extension to the lock-plate carries the spring of the cock. The wheel-case is chiselled in relief with animals and the lock-plate with foliage en suite with the barrel. The pan-cover is engraved with a lion's mask. Safety-catch. The lock is secured to the stock by four screws.

    Stock with large spherical butt, the whole surface so thickly inlaid with engraved antler plates that the wood is almost completely covered. The design consists of interlacing scrolls and annular ornament freely interspersed with scenes of bear hunting, animals and birds, the last appearing only on the butt (see also A1078 and A1091). The underside of the forward part is shod with a strip of antler engraved with animals, lions' masks and strapwork, at the side is a pair of lovers, and prominently displayed near the trigger-guard is the portrait of a man with flowing moustaches. Wooden ramrod with antler tip.

    The bridle of the cock and belt-hook are missing.

    German (Suhl), about 1570-80.

    There was a very similar pistol in the Whawell sale, Sotheby's, 4 May 1927, lot 300, and there is another in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden. Compare also the barrel and lock of A1082. There is a pistol with a similar stock in the Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 612-1893. A gun in the Musée de l' Armée, no. M 107, has a stock with similar decoration and the same mark on its lock as that on the barrel of A1144.

    Spencer, 'An archaic wheellock?', J.A.A.S., X, no. 5, 1982, pp. 176-81. A pair of pistols with very similarly inlaid stocks appear in a portrait of Herwart VIII, Freiherr von Auersperg, dated 1573 (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. 3800).

    The first mark resembles N. Støckel, I, p. 174, nos. a 2778 or 2767, the device of which is a bear, attributed tentatively to Wasungen, Saxony, about 1580-1610. The second mark, apparently a horse-shoe, does not correspond precisely with any of those in N. Støckel.

    The same mark occurs on the barrel of a wheel-lock pistol chiselled in the same style, apparently by the same hand, and probably by the same stock-maker, inscribed on the barrel PODOR.ERASMUS.MARCOW (?). M.D.CX., in the Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm (no. A22). The mark is there attributed to Hans Beyer of Dresden. The same mark on a pair of pistols in the Electoral armoury at Dresden was tentatively identified by M. Ehrenthal to a man called Bär (1899 cat., no. F216). D. Schaal, Suhler Feuerwaffen, 1981, figs. 13 and 15-17, illustrates a pistol similar in every detail to A1144, which he attributes to 'Meister H.B., Suhl' (inv. no. H.M.D.J55). inv. no. H.M.D.J274/5 form a pair of pistols with barrels and locks chiselled in exactly the same style but marked with the letters WH over a star. A pistol very similar in every feature to A1144, and which could be its pair, was sold from what was then the Historisches Museum, Dresden, at Sotheby's, 23 March 1970, lot 66, repr. in cat. A very similar pair of pistols with the same mark on the barrels was on the London art market in 1967. A wheel-lock gun at Bern, with the same mark on the barrel and decorated on both barrel and stock in the same way as A1144, is signed on its stock KLAVS HIRT BVCHSEN SCHIFFTER ZV WASVNGEN 160 (Wegeli, Inventor, IV, no. 2223). Wasungen is a small town near Suhl, in Thuringia. A carbine in the W. G. Renwick collection with very similar decoration to both stock and metalwork, and bearing the arms of Saxony and of the Arch-Marshalship of the Empire, was sold at Sotheby's, 19 March 1973, lot 49, repr. in cat. It bore different marks on barrel and lock, while the chiselling of the barrel was signed with the letters H.W. Some of the barrels decorated in this way are in fact not marked at all; for example, a gun-barrel in the Victoria and Albert Museum, no. M.491-1927. The association of one signed barrel with one signed stock is insufficient to prove that the Master H.B. actually worked at Wasungen.

    Spencer (loc. cit.) suggested that the rather antiquated dog-spring fitted to the lock of A1144, which is of unequal length and overlaps the stock in front of the lock, is a deliberate piece of archaism.