The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Flint-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Flint-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Attributed to Claude Chasteau (active between: c. 1670 - c. 1729)
  • France
  • c. 1720
  • Steel, gold, walnut wood and silver, damascened, chiselled, blued and carved
  • Length: 54.3 cm, overall
    Length: 35.6 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.6 cm, calibre
    Weight: 1.195 kg
  • Stamp: A mark
    Inscription: 'CHASTEAV A PARIS'
  • A1215
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Flint-lock pistol, the barrel of round section. At the breech chiselled in low relief, is a standing figure of Mars under a canopy on a ground of matt gold. A slender tapering rib runs as far as the silver foresight and is engraved with the maker's name:


    On the breech-strap, at the beginning and end of the rib and at the muzzle, scrollwork is overlaid in gold. A mark is stamped on the underside.
    Lock. The lock-plate is chiselled with a cartouche engraved with the maker's name:


    also a cupid, a sphinx and scrollwork, the chamfered edges being also chiselled with small scroll ornaments. The steel is chiselled in relief with a trophy of arms and the arm of the pan-cover with a mask. The pan-cover spring has arabesques overlaid in gold. The cock is of plain steel quite free from decoration and is probably a replacement. The circular cap of the retaining-pin is chiselled with the head of a classical warrior. The decoration throughout is blued on a ground of matt gold. The lock has no external bridle. The side-screws fit into sleeves on the inside of the lock-plate.

    Walnut stock richly inlaid with silver wire and carved round the breech-strap and ramrod socket with masks and strapwork. Between the scutcheon-plate and the butt-cap is a dragon in silver wire. The steel mounts are chiselled en suite. On the end of the butt-cap is a medallion with the head of Minerva in profile, on the sides cartouches overlaid in gold with trophies of arms, and a head in a Phrygian cap. The openwork screw-plate is chiselled and pierced with interlacing strapwork and serpents parcel gilt, the scutcheon-plate similarly treated with a blank oval cartouche surmounted by a crown and surrounded by foliated scrolls. The trigger-guard and the lower ramrod pipe are chiselled and overlaid with trophies and other ornament. The trigger-plate is overlaid with flowers. The front ramrod pipe is missing. Wooden ramrod with steel cap.

    French, about 1720.

    C. Chasteau worked at Paris in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and became arquebusier du Roi to King Louis XV. A breech-loading fowling-piece in the Musée de l' Armée (Bernadac, M 899) is signed: C. Chasteau à Paris 1718. A pair of pistols with barrels by him are at Windsor Castle (Laking cat., p. 118; inv. nos. 381-2); these barrels were remounted, probably for the future George IV, by John Tow, the London gunmaker (about 1770-95). Another pair is in the Historisches Museum at Dresden, together with six long guns (nos. 1251; 1314-20). There are a set of guns and a pair of pistols signed by Chasteau in the Tøjhusmuseet at Copenhagen (B 960, 961) (Lenk, Flintlåset, pl. 79). Other examples of his work are in the Musée de l' Armée, at Paris (M 591); at Vienna, (G. & T., p. 237); in the Armée and Bayr. National Museums at Munich; at Schwarzburg (nos. 999 and 1000); at Emden; and in the Esterhazy and former Scheremetew Collections. The Scheremetew gun-room is now in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad. The Esterhazy example is illustrated in J. Szendrei, 1896, no. 3061. Two pairs of pistols signed ‘Chasteau A Paris’, from the armoury of Peter the Great, are in the Moscow Kremlin (Weapons of the Petrine period shown in the Moscow Kremlin, 1983, nos. 51-4).

    Kennard, French pistols and sporting guns, 1972, p. 38.

    J. F. Hayward pointed out that there were two gunmakers called Chasteau, father and son (Art of the gunmaker, II, p.45). It is the elder who is the maker of this pistol. P. Jarlier gives his name as Claude, and states that he was received as master in the Paris Gunmakers' Guild comme venant des faubourgs on 24 September 1675. He was Jurand of the Guild in 1683-4. His last known date is his marriage in 1700. His earlier address was 'de faubourg St Germain'; his latter one was 'rue des Saints Pères'. (2e Supplement, cols. 55-6.) An Alexandre Chasteau, presumably his son, recorded in 1714, 1729, and possibly 1747, succeeded him at the second address, which was subsequently used by Francois-Alexandre Chasteau, arquebusier du roi, recorded from 1741. This last man retired from business on 23 December 1751, but lived until 1784 at least (Jarlier, 2e Supplement, col. 56).
    A list of the works of C. Chasteau I is given by Schedelmann, 1972, p. 176. The mark on the barrel is that of the Paris barrel-maker Halin, who died about 1755 (Magne de Marolles, La chasse au fusil, 1788, p. 82; Støckel, I, pI. VI; N. Støckel, I, p. 737, no. a 2748).