The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock rifle
  • Wheel-lock rifle
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1620 (barrel and lock)
    c. 1570 (stock)
  • Steel, silver, antler and wood, encrusted and engraved
  • Length: 104 cm, overall
    Length: 79.3 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 4.6 kg
  • Inscription: 'H W' inlaid in silver
  • A1091
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock rifle, the octagonal barrel decorated for its entire length with silver ornamental incrustations in the form of cherub's heads, terminal figures, foliage, etc. The stippled groundwork was formerly blued (see also nos. A1094, 1164). On either side of the backsight are the letters H W inlaid in silver. Rifling of six grooves, the bore being almost hexagonal.

    The lock has an external wheel covered by a steel casing shaped to take the screws securing it, and drawn to a point at the bottom, the surface blued and roughly engraved, as is also the cock. The surface of the lock-plate is decorated with encrusted silver in a design en suite with the barrel, of winged harpies framed in a double line of herringbone. The fence of the pan has been broken off.

    Stock of German fashion inlaid with antler in a close-set pattern of involved foliage with birds at intervals, the background of wood scarcely appearing. The bands framing the butt are engraved with scrolls, masks and scale ornament (see also no. A1078). Steel protective knob on the bottom of the butt. About 3/4 inch has been cut off from the muzzle end of the stock. The ramrod is missing. Hair trigger and plain, steel trigger-guard with finger indentations.

    Barrel and lock- German, about 1620; stock- Saxon, about 1570.

    There was a wheel-lock rifle in the Magniac sale, Christie's, 1892, lot 1028, and later in the Zschille sale, Christie's, 1897, lot 19; and Lepke sale, 1900, lot 192, which had a barrel with very similar decoration and the same initials H.W., stamped on the underside, together with the date 1624 (the date is wrongly given by the Magniac sale catalogue as 1628).

    Carpegna, Firearms, 1975, no. 18.

    The comparable rifle mentioned in the 1962 Catalogue as being in the Zschille and Lepke collection is now in the Odescalchi Collection, Rome (inv. no. 1526). It does not appear to be the same as the example in the Magniac collection, which may be the one later in the Kindig collection (see below). The work of the encruster 'HW' has been discussed by N. di Carpegna (op. cit., p. 80, including n. 11, and p. 84, n. 4). Examples of barrels signed by him are in the Odescalchi Collection, Rome, dated 1624 (inv. no. 1526); and the collection of J. Kindig, dated 1628 (Schedelmann, Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 1962, pp. 1-7, no. 2, fig. 1). A detached barrel, dated 1623, was formerly in the Malengret Lebrun collection.

    J. F. Hayward examined A1091 on a number of occasions and concluded that the lock had been decorated to match the associated barrel, presumably in the 19th century, and that the stock had originally been longer.