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Ahtagot 4th October 2012 12:40 PM

interesting breech-loading petronel-looking for additional info
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Hello all.

I found only one image of breech-loading matchlock petronel,
Maybe who has additional info about this petronel or same firearms ?


Ahtagot 4th December 2012 05:47 PM

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Another photo.
C 1580, Nurenberg. form Deutsche history museum

fernando 5th December 2012 04:49 PM

Interesting theme, Ahtagot :cool:
Surely extemely rare pieces, such breech loading petronels. I wander whether there are more of the kind :confused:

Marcus den toom 13th April 2014 08:21 PM

I also wonder if there is more information on this subject... i have a feeling that a well accomplished scholar mostliky can tell us more about it, only where to find one :o :cool: :rolleyes:

Matchlock 14th April 2014 12:08 PM

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Hi Ahtagot,

Humbly guessing that I am that certain person Marcus alluded to, I will do my best.

All the b/w photos of 1967 you posted show guns that are preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg (GNM), W 412. The inventory states that its provenace was the armory at Veste (fortress) of Coburg in Northern Bavaria.
The photo at the bottom also depicts the same GNM petronel, not a sample from the Historisches Museum Dresden.

The first attachments accompanying this post are photos of that very same gun, W 412; I took them in 1987.

The gun you are inquiring about is a 'military' breechloading matchlock petronel indeed.

Please see my thread

It can be dated to ca. 1590-1600 and was made in Suhl/Thuringia, Germany. The shape of the lock plate and, especially, of the serpentine (match holder), with its head engraved as a stylized smiling sea monster, both are characteristic of the Suhl style of manufacture.
The locksmith's mark, the initials VR above a hammer and two stars, is identified as 'Old' Stockel, Haandskydevaabens Bedĝmmelse, #4714.
A former small iron reinforcing mount is missing from the forestock below the muzzle; otherwise the blackened full stock had, due to his early date, no iron mounts. I cannot make out the kind of wood as no grain is visible but walnut would be typical of the second half of the 16th century, while beechwood was normally used by ca. 1600.
The term petronel traces back to the French poitrine, meaning that the buttstock was downcurved heavily and intended to be held before the arquebusier's breast when fired.
The long and slender tiller trigger, curved to follow the shape of the buttstock, is missing from the GNM petronel but is preserved on another, amost identical specimen that still is in the collections of the Veste of Coburg - see last two attachments.
As we know of two petronels we may assume that originally a small series of these breechloading matchlock muskets was oviously ordered in Suhl by the Coburg armory to equip a small number of 'elite' arquebusiers/musketeers.
And here is what the loading procedure was like:
The rear sight on the barrel was spring loaded and, when pushed backwards, allowed the breech section of the barrel to snap open (the long single-armed leaf spring is now incomplete). A paper cartridge was taken from a patron:

please see my thread

The arquebusier/musketeer opened the cartridge with his teeth, took the lead ball and shoved it into the barrel; then the powder was poured from the cartridge into the open breech, with a small portion filling the igniting pan, and the breech was shut and bolted. Maybe the paper was crumbled and put in the barrel first, before the ball, just to prevent the latter from rolling out when the gun was lowered.
Of course, and technically speaking, the ramrod of breech-loading guns actually was a cleaning rod.

This principle of breechloading was kept almost unalteredly through four centuries of the black powder era but was inherently bound to cause considerable gas loss. This problem was the main reason why opening the breech never made it to the 'maturity phase' and was limited to very few pieces, no matter what principle of ignition it was used with respectively.

Author's photos.


Matchlock 14th April 2014 12:17 PM

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Two more photos of the GNM petronel, and two others of its (better preserved) counterpart in the Veste Coburg.


Marcus den toom 14th April 2014 04:39 PM

I am to predictable :o

Thank you Michael, these petronels are highly interesting.
A few questions though, the lockplate of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg petronel doesn't seem to fit that well? It almost looks like it used to be a rectangular lockplate instead of the rounded one. Now i know that guns are prone to the style of the period and that more than once a gun was changed to a later style, but the remainder of the gun is still untouched.

My second query is about a second reason for the lack of a grander implementation of breechloading guns. The lock would have to be to far forward on the stock that it would become impractical. Mainly because of the inner mechanisms botching with the barrel and the trigger mechanism beeing to far forward as well.

Thank you again.


Matchlock 15th April 2014 09:54 AM

Hi Marcus,

Don't worry, the lock mechanism is absolutely original to the musket reflecting just one Suhl variant of a few shapes of lock plate outlines that were all in use around ca. 1590-1610. I suppose it is the rear end of the lock plate that does not seem to make a perfect fit but these things often happen when somebody tries to tighten the screws too hard on 400 year-old wood.
Also, the other, almost identical but better preserved petronel in the Veste Coburg features the same shape of lock.

And: you are probably quite right with the thought uttered in your second question.


Matchlock 15th April 2014 10:16 AM

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This is a fine, long and extremely heavy Nuremberg made 'military' matchlock petronel of ca. 1580-90, in my collection.
The lock is struck with an indistinct maker's mark, above the Nuremberg proof mark, the serpentine (match holder) is shaped like a sea monster with his scaly back, featuring a second head down at its scrolled tail!
The rear section of the barrel, octagonal to round, is iron-carved and engraved with Renaissance portraits in oval frames all'antica, flowers and stylized acanthus leaves. The stock is of walnut.
The long tubular back sight is chiseled to represent a bearded face.
Of course, this is a 'usual' muzzleloading musket.
Length overall 1,56 cm, weight ca. 10 kg.

Attached at the bottom is an early engraving of ca. 1590, by Jacob de Gheyn, depicting a musketeer with his matchlock petronel.
Author's photographs.

Please see also


Matchlock 16th April 2014 09:16 AM

I have to correct myself:

In post #5, the English equivalent of the French term poitrine is of course chest, instead of breast.


Marcus den toom 16th April 2014 10:21 AM

I take it there where no busty madchen in the Coburg elite arquebrasiers? (little word joke) :D :rolleyes:

Not really a big diference but i think you meant #4713 (" VR above a hammer and two stars, is identified as 'Old' Stockel, Haandskydevaabens Bedĝmmelse, #4714" ) :)

fernando 5th May 2014 03:48 PM

One wonders whether Ahtagot has seen Michael's enlightening or, as he is not yet a regular member, might not have accessed this thread again.
... in which case, he could not yet show his appreciation ;)

Matchlock 5th May 2014 04:02 PM

Hi Nando, ;)

You probably are right; I did not take that possiblity into consideration.

Basically, I am very glad to receive a reply; after all, posting all these facts meant a few hours work for me, spent searching and digitalizing the right and apt photos of exactly similar pieces, just to enble a valid and optimum comparison.


fernando 5th May 2014 04:37 PM

Originally Posted by Matchlock
... You probably are right; I did not take that possiblity into consideration...

Benefit of the doubt ;) :rolleyes:

Matchlock 5th May 2014 09:34 PM

Oh, I do, Nando;

At least, I'm trying ... :D


Matchlock 5th May 2014 09:36 PM

For more on matchlock petronels, ca. 1550-1600, their origins, variations and how to date them correctly, please see my thread:


Spiridonov 6th May 2014 08:56 AM

Michael thank You for this detail photos of breech loading petronel. Do You know something about locking mechanism of this petronel? Have the locking button spring or it have fixation by only dog behind the button?

Matchlock 6th May 2014 04:28 PM

Hi Alexender,

Nice to hear from you again! ;)

Please see my photos in my thread:
Especially see post #5ff!

That system of locking the rear section of the barrel of a breech -loading piece by bolts activated by pulling back the rear sight, obviously was invented in Augsburg in the 1530's; it is first known from this wheellock arquebus dated 1540, and from other contemporary pieces, and it basically remained unaltered for centuries thereafter.


Ahtagot 13th October 2014 01:35 PM

Oh my God!
This set of photos exceeded all my expectations.
Thank you very much Matchlock!

Spiridonov 19th February 2017 09:35 PM

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Photos made by Alexander Suhanov:

Spiridonov 20th February 2017 03:23 PM

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I've found mystery with lock of Nurnberg arquebus lock. We can see two filled slots. One for lever axis and one for lever spring. So, what is destination of empty slots?

fernando 21st February 2017 07:19 PM

No one around to give a suggestion ? Could it be that this plate had a previous use, in a different lock ?

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