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
  • France
  • c. 1615
  • Steel, gold, walnut wood, silver, copper alloy, wood and horn, blued, gilded and engraved
  • Length: 57 cm, overall
    Length: 39 cm, barrel
    Width: 1 cm, calibre
    Weight: 0.63 kg
  • A1177
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock pistol, the barrel of round section with long breech-strap reaching to the butt. Blued surface.

    Lock with external wheel. There is no bearing-plate proper, but a small projection on the underside of the pan served this purpose. The pan, pan-cover, cock, cock-spring and the edges of the lock-plate show traces of gilding, the surface of the lock-plate and wheel being blued. The screw of the cock is shaped as a six-petalled flower, one petal being broken away. The lock is of the French type with the mainspring attached inside the stock (see also A1176, 1179). The lock-plate is very lightly engraved near the top in front of the wheel with two letters divided by a small star of five points. The second is certainly a P while the first could be read either as a T or an F.

    Walnut stock of French form with hexagonal butt, the angles of the planes are outlined with silver wire inlay, with bands picked out with small annular inlays of steel and brass. Small grooved butt-cap of steel, gilt. The remainder of the stock is plain. The trigger-guard is ornamented with incised parallel grooves, and is blued and partly gilt. Two steel ramrod pipes formerly gilt, wooden ramrod with horn tip.

    French, about 1615.

    Provenance: possibly, like A1179, from the armoury of King Louis XIII.

    A pair of very similar pistols is in the Royal Danish Collection at Rosenborg; they belonged to Queen Anna Catherine of Brandenburg (1575-1617), who married King Christian IV of Denmark in 1597; another pair, unsigned, is in the Odescalchi Collection in Rome; a gun signed by‘F. P.’on the lock-plate and dated 1613, is in the Musée de l' Armée at Paris (M 95). It comes from the collection of King Louis XIII.

    J. F. Hayward tentatively attributed the mark on the pistols at Rosenborg, Copenhagen, to a French gun-maker Francois Poumerol (1956 Cat., nos. 5 and 6, pls. 48 and 46.4; Art of the Gunmaker, 1962, I, p. 139). These pistols must date from before 1612, when Queen Anna Catherine died. This attribution was followed by C. Blair, with reference to the pistols in the Royal Armouries which are also signed FP on the locks (no. XXI.1263-4; Pistols of the World, 1968, figs. 66-7).

    The pistols in the Odescalchi collection are also signed in this way (inv. nos. 49 and 50; Carpegna, 1975, no. 17, with a list of further signed pieces). A signed pistol was sold at Sotheby's, 20 April 1982, lot 121, repr. in cat. The gun in Paris dated 1612, which was no. 40 in the royal inventory, is signed 'F.P.fait au Montel'. J.-P. Reverseau has suggested that this might refer to Monteille near Lisieux in Normandy (Musée de l' Armée, 1982, pp. 97-8, fig. 14 top). Also by the Master F.P. is a gun, no. 50 in the French royal inventory, now in Paris (Musée de l' Armée, no. M.I 44; Reverseau, op. cit., pp. 97-8, fig. 14 bottom). A pair of signed pistols for a youth have recently been reported in a Dutch private collection.

    Francois Poumerol was born in the Auvergne, apparently about 1580. He never received a royal appointment, in spite of presenting a gun to Louis XIII in 1631 and accompanying it with a poem. He was, however, appointed gunmaker to Gaston, due d'Orleans, the King's brother.