The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Crossbow
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • 1683
  • Steel, cord, ebony and antler, inlaid and engraved
  • Length: 78.7 cm
    Length: 82.2 cm, span of bow
    Weight: 8.45 kg
    Thickness: 1.6 cm, maximum thickness of bow
    Width: 5.3 cm, maximum width of bow
  • Inscription: '1683'
  • A1042
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Crossbow, the steel bow of unusual size and strength; it is secured to the tiller by two powerful straining screws. Bow-string of twisted cord; small loop at the top for suspension.

    Stock or tiller veneered with ebony inlaid with antler, the latter richly engraved with scrolled foliage, with hunting scenes along the sides, and near the butt with an achievement of arms; at the top is the date 1683. The arms (quarterly 1-4, two lions passant; 2-3, two bends; on a shield of pretence an arrow in bend between two mullets; crest: three ostrich feathers) are those of the Counts von Promnitz of Silesia. The stock is furnished with a foresight (permitting of lateral movement to allow for windage), a nut of horn, a pin for the claw of the cranequin, a safety-catch, trigger-guard and slight folding-trigger. There are two shallow notches at the top for the thumb to rest in when the piece was being discharged.

    German, dated 1683.

    The cranequin, no. A1055, fits this crossbow.

    The von Promnitz family graduated as Barons in 1559 when their arms were marshalled per fesse; the quarterly coat was a 'rectification' of their arms effected on their creation as Counts in 1652. The family became extinct in 1791.

    One of the cords for setting the trigger mechanism survives. p. 483: The term 'prodd' first appears as a misreading of the word 'rodd' by Francis Grose, in his A treatise on ancient armour and weapons, 1785, p. 59. The correct rendering is given in Archaeologia, XIII, 1800, p. 400, from an inventory of 1547: 'Crossbowes called Rodds 98' (A. Credland, letter of 6 May 1982). It is not clear that it refers specifically to a crossbow designed to shoot stones, bullets, or pellets.