The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Wheel-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Wheel-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Giovanni Battista Francino (1580 - c. 1646)
  • Brescia, Italy
  • c. 1600
  • Steel, walnut wood, inlaid, pierced, engraved and chiselled
  • Length: 28.8 cm, overall
    Length: 15.7 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.1 cm, calibre
    Weight: 0.42 kg
  • Inscription: 'GIO . BATT . FRANCINO'
    Inscription: 'G.A.G'
  • A1185
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Wheel-lock pistol, the pair to A1184, the barrel octagonal at the breech and incised with double longitudinal lines, towards the muzzle incised with a chevron pattern, the muzzle and breach finished with a narrow moulding. The upper plane at the breech is inscribed:


    Rifling of five grooves.

    Lock with external wheel and ring-shaped bearing-plate, the ends chiselled as a bird's head and a female terminal figure. Lock-plate bordered with an engraved pattern of foliage and at the rear end a double-headed eagle. The arm of the gracefully shaped cock is chiselled with acanthus ornament, and its spring with a female terminal figure. On the inner side of the lock-plate are the initials G.A.G.

    Stock of walnut, slightly carved at the end of the lock-plate and on the underside, and decorated with inlays of steel flush with the surface and pierced with delicate scrollwork, monsters, etc., in the Brescian manner, with as central motive a single-headed eagle displayed. Steel butt-cap decorated with foliage pierced à jour. Small button chiselled as a pomegranate. Steel trigger-guard chiselled with acanthus leaves and pierced with intricate scrollwork and an eagle. Steel belt hook. Wooden ramrod with steel, baluster-shaped tip. A small portion of the wooden fore-end is missing at the muzzle.

    Italian (Brescian), about 1640.

    The collection of R. T. Gwynn (dispersed 2001) formerly included a pair of pistols with barrels by Giovanni Battista Francino, which also bears the initials G.A.G. inside the locks, which are signed on the outside by Acqua Fresca. Captain Støckel ascribes them to Giovanni Antonio Gavaccioli, who worked at Brescia, c. 1635-50.

    After Lazarino Cominazzo, Giovanni Battista Francino is the next most celebrated gunsmith of Brescia and Gardone. John Evelyn endorses this statement in his diary under the year 1646:

    'We came this evening to Brescia which next morning we traverst according to our custom in search of antiquities and new sights. Here I purchased at old Lazarino Cominazzo my fine carbine, which cost me 9 pistoles, and that workman with Jo. Bap. Franco, the best esteemed.'

    Mr. S. V. Grancsay, in an account of a pair of flint-lock pistols in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, has listed 19 examples of barrels signed by G. B. Francino. In the Royal Armoury at Turin a fine pair of wheel-lock pistols with barrels by him and locks by Carlo Bottarello of Brescia, bear the dates 1665 and 1666. Other examples of his work are in this Collection (nos. 1186 and 1229); in the Royal Armouries (XII. 732, .733); Musée de l' Armée, Paris (2 guns, 1 pistol); Madrid (K 88-9); Berlin (2 pairs with one lock by C. Bottarello); Metropolitan Museum, New York (snaphaunce pistol, lock by Cavallin); Vienna (snaphaunce gun, No. 168); Moscow; and Mackay Collection, U.S.A.
    Other members of the family whose signature is found on barrels are Antonio (Royal Armouries, XII. 872), Alisandro, Annibale, Bartolin, Giocotto, Giovanni Maria and Girolamo Matteo Francino. Alisandro Francino signed the locks of a pair of pistols with barrels by Lazarino Cominazzo in the Swiss National Museum at Zurich.

    Gaibi, Armi da fuoco, 1962, p. 105 and pI. 48a; and Armi da fuoco, 1978, fig. 108.

    A. Gaibi dated these pistols about 1600, and attributed the barrels to Giovanni Battista Francino il Vecchio (1580- about 1646). For a brief history of this family see Gaibi, 'I Franzini', Armi antiche, 1971, pp. 95-116, particularly pp. 102-3. Here the date of birth of G. B. Francino is given as'? 1564'. N. Støckel, I, p. 391, dates him 1579 to his death in 1653. A gun of about 1630 in the Victoria and Albert Museum (no. M. 7-1962) has a barrel signed GIO. BATT. FRANCINO, and a lock signed with the initials of Giovanni Antonio Gavacciolo. Many of the weapons cited in the 1962 Catalogue and listed by S. V. Granscay (Art Bulletin, XVIII, pp. 240-6) must have been by G. B. Francino II or III, for example the Turin pistols dated 1665 and 1666 (Armeria Reale, Turin, nos. N41-2, see Bertolotto in Mezzini, 1982, pp. 94-5, figs. 1-6).
    Gavacciolo is recorded by N. Støckel, I, p. 424, who gives his dates as about 1635-50. He was apparently a pupil of Battista da Paratico or Paratici (1589-1627).