The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Combined walking-staff, sword and wheel-lock pistol
  • Combined walking-staff, sword and wheel-lock pistol
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Augsburg, Germany
  • c. 1580 - c. 1590
  • Ebony, mahogany, bone or antler, gold, bronze, mother-of-pearl and steel, etched and engraved
  • Length: 127.3 cm, staff
    Length: 107.4 cm, blade
    Length: 17 cm, barrel
    Width: 2.3 cm, blade
    Weight: 1.125 kg, sword
    Weight: 0.375 kg, staff
  • Stamp: Probably a setting mark indicating whether or not the lock is spanned
  • A1240
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Combined walking-staff, sword and wheel-lock pistol. The walking staff (which forms the scabbard of the sword) is of wood, circular in section, made of vertical strips of ebony and mahogany, separated by bone or antler lines; the locket and ferrule of gilt bronze of cylindrical form, the locket chased with quatrefoil strapwork panels of conventional fruit, the ferrule with an imbricated ornament. The head of the staff, which forms the hilt of the sword, is topped by a gilt bronze pommel cast and chased to the form of a bearded head wearing a helmet of fantastic shape; the grip of ebony and mahogany bands like the scabbard, but of octagonal section, inlaid with a lozenge of mother-of-pearl on four sides; octagonal sockets of gilt bronze at either end chased with conventional flowers and a ragged-cross on alternate facets; the guard is merely a bronze disk engraved with running foliage.

    The blade of flattened diamond section with ricasso, etched with trophies, the double-headed Imperial eagle and the arms of Jerusalem on a granulated ground; on the reverse side the arms of Jerusalem are replaced by a shield charged with four fleurs-de-lys; below, a face on a shield.

    To the ricasso and right-hand side of the blade is screwed a small wheel-lock pistol discharged by means of a small knob beneath the lock; the dog-head, which folds back when not in use, is reversed, lying behind, and not forward, of the lock; on the wheel-case is a maker's mark; the plain steel barrel, of octagonal section towards the lock, formerly carried a ramrod (now missing). The pan-cover is semi-rotary. The dog is associated.

    Augsburg, about 1580-90.

    Skelton II, pl. CIII, figs. 9 and 10.

    Provenance: Sir S. R. Meyrick; Frédéric Spitzer.

    A gilt bronze head of like design was once in the possession of Sir James Mann.

    Cf. Forrer, von Schwerzenbach Collection, pl. XXXIV, 3, 5 and 5b.

    A similar combined weapon is in the collection of the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (ex-Pauilhac Collection; M.Po.685, stamped with the Augsburg town mark on the lock-plate).

    Provenance: D. Colnaghi; A1240 was no. 53 of the swords and daggers in the list of arms and armour acquired by Samuel Meyrick from Domenic Colnaghi, about 1818 (now in the Library of the Royal Armouries).

    Exhibited: ? South Kensington, 1869, no. 637.

    Hayward, 'Augsburg Swords', Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 1980, pp. 3-14, fig. 11.

    The maker's mark on the wheel (not on the wheel-case) is probably, in fact, a setting mark indicating whether or not the lock is spanned (see Hoff, Vaabenhistoriske Aarbøger, XXII, pp. 73-86).

    J. F. Hayward (loc. cit.) has shown that a whole group of walking staves with blades and pistols attached, such as A1240, and swords combined with pistols, such as A1241 here, were made in Augsburg. For instance, a comparable staff in the Tøjhusmuseum, Copenhagen (cat., no. C105/42), bears the same mark as the barrel of the pistol on no. A1241, which also bears Augsburg town marks. The example in the National Museum, Copenhagen, came from the Oldenborg armoury (inv. no. 10165; F. Askgaard, Vaabenhistoriske Aarbøger, Xc, p. 265). Another example, with an apparently associated scabbard of the correct form, but too narrow, was sold at Sotheby's, 10 July 1967, lot 125, repr. in cat. A. R. Dufty (letter of January 1970) suggested that the pommel might be a good deal earlier, comparing it with the fantastic heads illustrated by Heinrich Vogtherr in his Libelus artificiosus, Strasbourg 1539. The similar pommel, formerly in the collection of Sir James Mann, is now in an English private collection. The one in the von Schwerzenbach collection is now in the Voralberg Museum (Thomas, Wegweiser durch das Voralberger Landesmuseum, IV, Waffen, n.d., pI. 12).