Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Pulka 13th September 2020 03:14 PM

I am studying the history of firearms. I need help.
Muskets for the UK and USA are very popular and easy to find information.

However, muskets from other European countries have little information.

So I ask for help.

Do you know any specialized books or sites with information on muskets from European countries?

Please tell me the specialized books or sites you know.

And I found one book. Title: Great Century of Guns. How do you rate this book? It was a very old book, but does it still contain reliable information?


Ian 15th September 2020 12:38 AM

Moderator's note
Welcome to the Forum Pulka. I hope the link from corrado26 has been helpful. Perhaps other members can offer recommendations also. Since you are asking about European arms, I am copying this thread over to the European Armory Forum as well. You will need to check both Forums for responses as the two posts do not update automatically when someone on the other Forum responds.


fernando 15th September 2020 11:15 AM

Welcome to the forum Pulka :) .
I suppose you prefer sources written in English ...Try and get:
A History of SPANISH FIREARMS by James D. Lavin.
Let us also see what other members suggest.

You can also study the subject on this very forum, by looking on the Members List for (deceased) member Matchlock and check on his threads.

Jim McDougall 15th September 2020 06:40 PM

Pulka, I am not a gun collector, but find them fascinating in their history. You are right, U.K. and U.S. weapons have a plethora of material, but European arms are more specialized and references tend to be abundant but usually in the respective languages of the countries or regions being studied.

Most arms books have sections for various weapons unless the title s specific to one weapon or another. For example, "Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821" (Brinckerhoff & Chamberlain" 1972) has sections on swords, knives, polearms and firearms.
The book "European and American Arms" (Claude Blair, 1962) is the same, with a chapter with illustrations.
Reference titles are almost endless and my best method is to go to the bibliographies in various arms books and select appropriate titles.

Beyond that, one of your BEST resources is right here!!! :).......just go to SEARCH on the header for our site and type in what you're looking for.
It is amazing to see the knowledge of many members (including Corrado and Fernando) who specialize in historic guns, along with many others in over two decades of entries on every imaginable form and country.

This is the best route, and if you like we can tell you titles to purchase, but these usually are expensive. First get the information you need by specific areas, period, type etc. then go for titles.

I join the others in welcoming you here, and look forward to your questions. Recommendations on books are quite based on individual perceptions and specifics.

Best regards

Philip 18th September 2020 06:30 AM

Italy: a general but thorough survey
For a wide-ranging and respected intro to Italian firearms (civil and military) from the beginning to the 19th cent., a good beginning is Agostino Gaibi's Armi da Fuoco Italiane (Italian Firearms), Bramante Editrice, Milan, 1968. Text entirely in Italian, profuse b/w and color illustrations plus diagrams of lock mechanisms, glossary, bibliographies.

If this field is of especial interest to you I can recommend many other Italian titles with more specialized coverage.

Philip 18th September 2020 06:47 AM

German flintlock rifles , plus other reference "classics"
Recently picked up an excellent German publication on Jäger rifles and can recommend it most highly:

Erhard Wolf, Steinschloss-Jägerbüchsen: Kunstwerke der Büchsenmacher aus dem 18. Jahrhundert (flintlock hunting rifles: masterpieces of the gunmaker in the 18th cent.), DWJ Publishing 2006. Massive slipcased volume with companion spiralbound English translation volume.

Not only are exceptional specimens of these fine sporting weapons presented, but the chapters covering the gunsmith's craft (including lock-making, and forging of damascus barrels) are invaluable, along with documentation of the business of gunmaking in 18th cent. Germany, and the rules for various types of shooting competitions along with illustrations of targets and actual matches.

The author is indebted to two previous writers on flintlock arms , which I also recommend that you obtain:

Hayward, John F., The Art of the Gunmaker, various volumes, 1968-69

Lenk, Torsten, The Flintlock: Its Origin and Development, English version ed by John F. Hayward, 1965 (translated from Swedish original of 1939). Profusely photo-illustrated, scholarly text by a Director of the Royal Swedish Armory.

Philip 18th September 2020 06:59 AM

More Spanish
Álvaro Soler del Campo, Catálogo de arcabucería madrileña (1687-1833) (catalog of Madrid gunmaking), an exhibition of works of the Spanish royal gunmakers in the collection of the Royal Armory of Madrid.

Large format volume, Spanish text, all-color photo-illustrated of rare deluxe firearms produced for the Spanish royals, including some rare breech-loading flintlock sporting guns. With bio info on the royal smiths with their marks. A one-of-a-kind publication on the subject.

Philip 18th September 2020 07:08 AM

Robert Held anthologies
The late Mr Held, an expat American scholar who resided in Italy, wrote two remarkable anthologies containing articles on a variety of arms by a number of European and British authors, the former all translated into English. Too many articles to list, but the books are:

Arms and Armor Annual Vol I (the only volume!) 1973

Art, Arms, and Armour: An international anthology Vol I, 1979 -- intended as a much more ambitious replacement (twice as large too) for the above. This book has a number of articles on important Italian firearms by a number of experts such as Marco Morin, Nolfo di Carpegna, etc. all in English translations by the editor.

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