The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Crossbow
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • 17th century
  • Steel, wool, antler, cow's horn, cord and ivory, engraved and inlaid
  • Length: 78.7 cm
    Length: 60.9 cm, span of bow
    Width: 5.5 cm
  • Maker's mark
  • A1041
  • European Armoury III
Further Reading
  • Crossbow, the strong steel bow attached to the stock by a bridle of cord ornamented with tassels of red and green wool. On the inner side of the bow is stamped a maker's mark. The cord remains.

    Wooden stock or tiller, the upper surface inlaid with oblong plaques of antler bordered with dark horn, possibly cow. This latter material is also applied to the underside and to the end of the butt. The sides are inlaid with engraved antler in the form of foliage interspersed with hounds and game. At the forward end is a steel loop for suspension. Antler nut secured by a cord of cat-gut. The horn spring which held the end of the bolt in place is missing; see also A1037. There is no groove for the bolt, apart from a hollowed horn cross-piece at the forward end. Immediately in front of the nut is a circular inlay of ivory engraved with traces of a crest, now obliterated. Immediately behind the nut is a projecting, round-headed screw which probably replaces the original peg for setting the sears. A similar peg is on the underside. Steel lugs for a cranequin. A hole in the upper part of the stock near the butt possibly held a backsight.

    Long trigger-guard, the top bound with cord, and a gun-type trigger, which is hinged and can be folded into the stock so as not to interfere with the loop of the cranequin. Close to the base of the trigger-guard is a pivoted safety-catch.

    German, 17th century.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, pl. 11.

    Provenance: Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    The mark on the bow, or variations of it, is a frequent on and is even found on crossbows of different nationalities (see for example Stockholm, no., 123, and Musée de l' Armée, no. L 118), suggesting that the steel bows were obtained from a common source.

    Immediately behind the nut is a projecting round-headed screw which originally retained the cow-horn spring (now missing) used to steady the bolt. On the underside, in front of the long lever, is a small hole, angled towards the rear, for the probe to set the tumbler which acts on the nut. The hole on the upper side of the tiller behind the nut is not for a back-sight, but is for the probe to set the rear lever into the trigger. The wing-nut underneath the stock is intended to lock the action as a safety measure. The mechanism resembles that illustrated by Alm, Europeiska armborst. fig. 36, but the trigger-spring is mounted separately in the stock. The spring supporting the rear lever is missing, due to some alteration which has been carried out on the mechanism. A steel collar has been fitted round the stock in the area of the nut, presumably in order to strengthen it. The mark is not recorded in Neue Støckel, but see p. 1473.