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
  • North East France, probably
  • c. 1620
  • Steel, wood, mother-of-pearl, antler and copper alloy, inlaid and engraved
  • Length: 84.7 cm, overall
    Length: 63.9 cm, barrel
    Width: 1 cm, calibre
    Weight: 1.529 kg
  • A1179
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock pistol, with a long, slender barrel ornamented at the breech with three shallow flutes, and finished at the muzzle with a sharp moulding. A small sighting slot is cut into the long breech-strap, and behind it is engraved the number 128.

    Lock with external wheel held in position by a semi-circular bearing-plate shaped as a fish. The end of the lock-plate takes the shape of an acorn, and the underside of the pan is gadrooned. Release button for the pan-cover catch. The lock is of French type with the mainspring secured inside the stock. Trigger set over towards the right side. The sear is of exceptional length and protrudes through a slot on the left side of the stock, showing by its position if the lock is cocked. The pivoted safety-catch, which locked the end of the sear where it protrudes on the left side of the stock, is missing.

    Stock of the French form, of dark wood with faceted, oviform butt. Surface richly inlaid with engraved mother-of-pearl and antler; on the butt are medallions of male and female heads, and on the rest of the stock monsters' and cherubs' heads, birds and animals; the background filled with floral ornament in brass wire, brass florets and small mother-of-pearl inlays. The plaques of antler engraved with flowers. On the end of the butt a small, star-shaped, copper ornament. Trigger-guard of pierced steel. Single brass ramrod pipe. Wooden ramrod with antler tip. Much of the mother-of-pearl inlay is replaced, as are the guard-plates for the rear-barrel pin.
    The lock and stock are both marked 'III' inside.

    Probably North-Eastern France, about 1620.

    Lenk, Flintlåset, 1939, pl. 105, no. 2.

    Provenance: Demidoff, Prince of San Donato, sold Paris, April, 1870, lot 657, 500 fr.

    Similar pistols are in the Farquharson Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (M 488-1927); in the Musée de Cluny, Paris (no. 5586); in the Musée de l' Armée, Paris (M 643 and M 1649); in the museum at Berlin; in the Livrustkammer, Stockholm (several, e.g. nos. 323; 1, 325; 2, 326, 328); at Madrid (no. K 84). One was in the Spitzer Collection (L' Art Ancien, pl. 575, 1865). A gun of similar type is in the Scott Collection, Glasgow. These pistols belong to a well-defined group, examples of which are to be found in most large collections, and sometimes have fish-tail butts. They often have a mark on the lock in the form of I P over a star, or P P crowned.

    The whole group is discussed by C. Blair with reference to a similarly decorated powder-flask at Waddesdon (1974, under no. 172 and also under no. 134). He cites many comparable pieces. A1179 is apparently illustrated as lot 656 in the catalogue of the Demidoff sale, Paris, Mannheim, 5-8 April 1870. It was in fact lot 657, and, according to a marked catalogue in the library of the Collection, was purchased by the dealer Maillet de Boullay for 500 fr.