The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snaphaunce pistol with ramrod
  • Snaphaunce pistol with ramrod
  • Lazarino Cominazzo (1631 - c. 1660)
  • Brescia, Italy
  • c. 1670
  • Steel, walnut wood, chiselled and carved
  • Length: 47.8 cm, overall
    Length: 32.4 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.3 cm, calibre
    Weight: 0.78 kg
  • Inscription: 'LAZARINO COMINAZZO'
  • A1195
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Snaphaunce pistol, a pair with A1196. The barrel is octagonal at the breech and incised with longitudinal lines, on the upper plane is inscribed:

    LAZARINO COMINAZZO

    Lock chiselled in relief with monsters and floral scrolls. The screw for tightening the jaws of the cock has been damaged and shortened.

    Walnut stock, slightly carved in low relief round the mounts with ornamental scrollwork. Steel mounts chiselled in relief, with interlacing flowers and foliage, incorporating monsters, en suite with the lock. The rear lock-screw also secures a long steel belt hook on the left side. Wooden ramrod with moulded steel tip.

    Italian (Brescian), about 1670.

    The Cominazzo family is the most celebrated of the gunsmiths of Brescia. Several of its members bore the name of Lazarino, consequently their pedigree is not easy to disentangle. The founder of the business at Gardone in the Val Trompia, some fifteen miles north of Brescia, where there are iron mines and the firearms industry is still carried on, seems to have been Lazarino Cominazzo, who worked for Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua in 1593, and signed his name Lazari(no) da Gardo(ne) on a receipt in the Archives at Mantua. C. R. Beard states that he died in 1611. John Evelyn mentions in his diary that when he passed through Brescia in 1646 he purchased of 'old Lazarino Cominazzo' his fine carbine which cost him nine pistoles. He possibly represented the second generation, and could hardly be the Lazaro Cominazzo who died in 1680, or the Lazarino Cominazzo who died of a gunshot wound in 1696. These latter may have belonged to the third or fourth generations of the family. Bonaventura Pistofilo in his Oplamachia writes in 1621 of 'le canne dette a tempi d' hora Lazarine fabbricate a Cardone nel Bresciano', and Antonio Petrini, writing in 1642, stated: 'There was also an illustrious man called Lazarin Cominaz, who was one of the greatest masters there has been in any century, on whose barrels there is written as below' (here follows a blank). 'His son signs in like manner, but it is not written in the same way, whilst the father wrote Lazar Cominaz, the son writes Lazarino Comenazzi (sic) and if his are still very good, those of the father were much better forged (tirate), but those of the son are better bored. These Lazarine barrels are greatly renowned all over the world.'

    There are in existence many barrels signed ‘Lazari Cominaz’, but it is not safe on Pistofilo's statement to attribute them all to the elder Cominazzo, as the name was widely forged. This is borne out be Isidro Solér, gunsmith of Madrid, in his book, Los Arcobuceros de Madrid, 1795: 'His (Lazari Cominaz) barrels were esteemed in all Europe and still are so, for their surety, but very few are the true ones and owing to the fame which they deserved in his day, numberless are the false ones.' A few barrels are signed Lazaro Lazarino Cominazzo, of which a fine pair is at Stockholm, and one was in the Hermitage, which is now in Cav. Marzoli's collection. Later members of the family were Angelo Lazarino Cominazzo, who in 1698 contracted, together with Girolamo and Bernadino Pedersini, to supply gun-barrels to Vittorio Amadeo II of Savoy. Bartolomeo Cominazzo was working at Gardone and Barghi between 1698 and 1703. He signed the barrel of a pistol at Madrid (K 219) which belonged to the Cardinal Infante Don Fernando. Vincenzo Cominazzo signed pistols at Stockholm (no. 771) and a pair from Schloss Ettersburg, sold by Fischer, Lucerne, 1927. There was possibly another Lazarino Cominazzo who was working early in the 18th century. In 1843, Marco Cominazzi published a book, Cenni sulle fabbriche d' ar medi Gardone in Val Trompia. The family was still in existence when Angelucci, to whose researches most of our knowledge of the family is due, was writing. The line is now extinct.

    In Madrid (K 239-40) and in the Wallace Collection (OA2005) are pistols with Oriental mounts, the one dated 1804, the other 1788, with barrels signed: 'Bortolo Cominaz(z)O', but possibly the name in these instances is a forgery. A pair of pistols which belonged to King Charles XI at Stockholm (no. inv. 710) are signed: Gio. Lazarino Cominazzo. The Cominazzo family seems to have been exclusively barrel-makers, and the pistols which bear their name are fitted with locks signed by other makers.

    The late Baron de Cosson did not accept Böheim's view (repeated by Gelli) that Lazaro Lazarino, whose signature appears on barrels sometimes as Zaro Zarino, was a member of the Cominazzo family. He held that the name Cominazzo was so famous in the trade that no one entitled to it would willingly have dropped it. For other pistols in this Collection signed by Lazarino Cominazzo, see A1187-8, 1192, 1223-6.

    The tumbler operates a long, slender bar which slides to open the pan. The fore-end of A1196 has been replaced.

    Gaibi, Armi da fuoco, 1962, p. 127 and pI. 143B; and Armi da fuoco, 1978, fig. 389; Boccia, Rossi and Morin, Armi e armature Lombards, 1980, pI. 337a.
    The history of the Cominazzi family of Brescia was discussed at length by A. Gaibi in 1960 in Armi Antiche (pp. 75-124) and subsequently in Vaabenhistoriske Aarbøger, IXa, 1962, pp. 5-23.

    In 1960 Gaibi attributed the barrels of A1195-6 to Lazarino Gominazzo II who died in 1696 (Armi Antiche, 1960, p. 97). Gaibi (op. cit., 1962, p. 127) attributes the decoration of the stocks of A1195-6 to Francesco Garatto of Brescia, on the grounds of their similarity to a signed pair of pistol stocks in Turin (Armeria Reale, nos. N55-6, Gaibi, op. cit., 1962, pI. 144A, B, and C). See also under A1223-4. Francesco Garatto is documented in the period 1660-80 (Gaibi, op. cit. 1978, p. 250).