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Matchlock 13th July 2011 03:47 PM

A Good and Rare Austrian Combined Wheellock and Matchlock Musket, ca. 1665-70
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This is an item of a group of early Hapsburg infantry long arms rarely enough to appear on the market.

A sample of the same type of gun, made in Suhl/Thuringia, ca. 1665-70, for Austria, is in my collection, but in optimum condition and retaining its original side mounted knife bayonet (see top three images).

The fact that the expensive wheellock mechanism was still combined with the matchlock ignition, though almost obsolete by then, may be seen as sort of period 'high tech' but on the other hand the fact is undeniable that the 'primitive' match holder was simply more reliable than the complicated (and delicate) wheellock. This I can testify by my own test firings.

Beechwood full stock with original rough surface. Original wooden barrel pins, back sight but no foresight (not missing!).
Overall length 151 cm, barrel 111 cm, ca. 19 mm, weight 6.5 kg.

Sorry for the poor-resolution close-up images, they are not mine.



Matchlock 13th July 2011 03:49 PM

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And the rest.

Matchlock 14th July 2011 07:16 PM

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This is basically the same type, made just a few years later, which is denoted by the less belly shaped buttstock which already resembles that of today's English shotguns.

It is recorded as the Austrian infantry musket model M 1686, referring to the year it was acknowlegded as a standard model and built in Suhl for at least 10 years.

This specimen illustrated in b/w only is preserved in the Hapsburg Army Museum (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum), Vienna.


Matchlock 22nd August 2011 06:23 PM

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Another musket of the very same type but heavily cleaned and the stock inaptly leached and polished, sold Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, in September 2010.


Matchlock 15th March 2012 10:24 PM

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Another piece from the same series, misdated as 'ca. 1630', but actually ca. 1670, sold in a German auction.
Heavily cleaned overall, the wood roobbed of all its original varnish and inappropriately polished like that of a sporting gun.

The Suhl control and dealer's marks clearly visible, the deeply struck mark on the right flat of the octagonal barrel section is that of the barrel smith.


Matchlock 15th March 2012 10:34 PM

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Another musket from the same series, preserved in the Army Museum Dresden and combined with a contemporary military plug bayonet. The upper ramrod pipe is missing.


Matchlock 16th March 2012 01:06 PM

More of My Musket - and of a Companion
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I bought those in April 1988 and took the photos in August 1990.
Both bear the same Suhl maker's and control barrel marks and are almost one of a kind, apart from some minor differences due to workmanship.
Mine is the one with the pyrite in the dog jaws. I still know where its companion is today.

Those combined mechanism muskets represented 'high tech' 350 years ago and played a decisive role on the Habsburg side in the late Turks Wars and the siege of Vienna in 1683.

The lower six close-ups in the second post, of the barrel marks (on the left flat the Suhl hen with the letter S, in the center the marker's mark initialed 'SI' over a flower, and on the right the SVL stamp, the first and latter both acting as Suhl proof control marks), of the lock area (before I had found a piece of pyrites) and of the interior views of the lock mechanism, are from my musket.


Matchlock 16th March 2012 01:09 PM

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The remaining photos.


fernando 16th March 2012 02:33 PM

Suhl technologies
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... I still know where its companion is today. ...

Ah, this high tech stuff; who in hell would be interested in having those ? :confused:
You can tell the owner of that twin specimen to send it over; being such a nice guy, i am willing to find a space in my flat to keep it; maybe even get a stand to display it ... in the middle of my living room :cool:
Don't worry about the missing pyrites; i have a few spare :eek: .

Matchlock 16th March 2012 05:00 PM

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Hi 'Nando,

I'm afriad he won't deaccession it ...

Anyhow, here is another piece in a private collection.


Matchlock 2nd January 2014 03:22 PM

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A great number of these, maybe as many as 100 samples (!), the specimen in my collection and this here in discussion included, were sold illegally from the reserve collection of the fortress Hohensalzburg, Austria, in 1988, together with a tremendous number of other early weapons and accouterments. The then director was of course involved and shot himself in his bureau a few years later when the scandal came up.
I bought my sample from a German dealer in April 1988.

All the Salzburg pieces had drilled buttstocks, where they were brutally fixed to the exhibition walls by screws in the 1880's. I have seen old b/w photographs in the hallway of the administration there - museums! :mad: You can still see the hole in the buttstock of the specimen dicussed here.

Telling by the shape of its beechwood buttstock, with all varnish and patina washed off with lye, which hardly shows any 'bellied' form any longer, it should be dated to the late 17th c., ca. 1680-90, thus being one of the latest of its type ever made. The overall length was standardized to 151 cm, the bore 19 mm, the weight ca. 6.5 kg. Almost all these guns are of German (Suhl) production, and so is this one; I have only seen two or three of that type with barrel marks of Zella (near Suhl, Thuringia).

The matchlock serpentine makes two facts evident: that the spring is loose or broken (its socket, which I can identify on the print, was just put into the lock plate, mostly without riveting), and that the match holder does not belong to this gun originally because it is bent too little in order to reach the ignition pan with its jaws.

The image I scanned from the Fischer, Lucerne, catalog of June 29, 1990, lot 8605; it was at that time when these combination-lock muskets were offered by literally all the dealers and nearly in every auction sale as they had come in such large numbers. They are almost as rare to find nowadays as they were before the Salzburg story took place.
BTW, just another of those stories that make collecting weapons so spicy ... :cool: :eek:

Another Salzburg combined wheellock and matchlock musket, with the hole in its butt badly closed, I showed in post #4 above.

My two long Austrian pikes that I mounted crossed-over beneath the ceiling of my weapons room, 4.60 m and 4.70 m long repectively and retaining their original blued iron spikes and long straps, as well as their original ash hafts, also were deaccessioned from the fortress Hohensalzburg, and there were hundreds of them!!! I bought mine at Christie's London-South Kensington auction, when I was there on September 19, 1990.


Fernando K 2nd January 2014 04:16 PM

Matchlock Estimate:

Question from ignorance. The trigger moves the two systems simultaneously, or either of them first? in any case, the clamp after the wick prevents pyrites and reverse acting. I see a single trigger ....

Affectionately. Fernando K

Matchlock 2nd January 2014 04:29 PM

Hi Fernando,

First of all: there is no such thing as ignorance here, just studying together! ;)

There is no clamp preventing the match holder from acting. Actually, when pulled, the trigger will simultaneously release both the wheel and at the same time cause the match holder (serpentine) with the matchcord (wick) to move a bit. In order to move the matchcord back to the ignition pan however, you would have to pull the trigger back all the way and hold it for longer than a second. To release the wheel, on the other hand, the tiniest touch of the trigger is sufficient. As long as the matchcord is not alight it is not harmful anyway.
Thus, both systems perfectly work via one and the same trigger.


fernando 2nd January 2014 04:56 PM

Originally Posted by Fernando K
... Matchlock Estimate ...

I am sure the translating machine is playing tricks again.
Fernando wishes to express: Esteemed Matchlock (Michael) ;) :cool:

fernando 2nd January 2014 05:07 PM

Originally Posted by Matchlock
... The then director was of course involved and shot himself in his bureau a few years later when the scandal came up ....

If he at least used an early wheellock example, to make it a honorable gesture :eek: :D

Matchlock 2nd January 2014 08:37 PM

A detached early matchlock mechanism would do for me, 'Nando! :D :rolleyes:


Matchlock 2nd January 2014 09:04 PM

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My Salzburg pikes at Christie's exhibition rooms on September 19, 1990 (#2 and 3 from top).


fernando 2nd January 2014 09:26 PM

It's good they're back home safe ;) :cool:

Matchlock 2nd January 2014 10:33 PM

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Well, actually they are now about 150 km north of where they used to be for more than four hundreds of years; they are extremely early, mid-16th c. (!), and were shortened by about 1 m during the Thirty Years War when they were already 70 or 80 years old.
They remained unsold while the auction ran; immediately afterwards I spoke to Christie's and they told me that probably the stabiliziation for shipment and the transport itself of the almost 5 m long pikes would be the real expense factor. At first I had been planning on buying just one of them but how could I display one single pike in my collection when originally they came in mere masses and their squares dominated the battlegrounds for at least 300 years? Then Christie's offered me two for the price of one so the thought immediately jumped to my mind that two of them would in a way stabilize each other and also make a much better display.

To cut a long story short: I ordered them to be stabilized by one long beam 6 on 6 cm, bound between them, and just wrap them thickly with bubbles. It worked out perfectly. The air freight from London to Nuremberg airport, the customs import tax (on both the pikes and the air freight) and the special taxi transport to Regensburg, where I lived then, summed up to double the price that they charged me in London though. There was a third at Christie's, the tip of the pike of different shape; today I feel like I should have bought that one as well ...

Anyway, just one aspect of adventures in a collector's life. :rolleyes:
They have been with me for 23 years now and I have only seen a handful of those with their irons still retaining their original bluing - the ones in Salzburg, and a few of those exhibited at the Basel Historic Museum, Switzerland (images attached, suspended hovering high above the famous Basel bronze cannon barrel Drach/Dragon), dated 1514, length 4.93 m.


Matchlock 6th January 2014 04:02 PM

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Another instance of the same Austrian model M 1686; it was estimated at 5,000 euro at a local Bavarian auction house and almost doubled its price; even the ramrod was the original.
On the close-up of the forestock, the characteristic half-moon shaped beechwood pattern is clearly visible.

The pierced buttstock denotes that this musket too came from the Hohensalzburg collection.


Matchlock 8th January 2014 10:20 PM

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A dealer had this on his site, labeled 'price on request'.

Although it has been heavily altered it still is an interesting piece to study.

I'm giong to tell you what the dealer did not say in his description:

From the foregoing we know that the hole drilled through the butt horizontally denotes that this musket, too, comes from Salzburg where it was screwed to the walls of the exhibition rooms.
What is further remarkable is the fact that the wheel shaft has been sawn down. It is now much too short to enable the main spring to be spanned. This was certainly done during the gun's working life as it was the easiest method to render the wheellock ignition inactive. Only the matchlock serpentine could still be employed.

We can but speculate what the reason may have been. From many samples, not just from this series, that I have closely researched and tested, including my own muskets, I can tell that the wheellock action was extremely accident-sensitive and certainly often failed to work, especially in the heat of a fight.

And our gun in discusssion of course was a real 'military' musket.

In most cases, either the brim of the spanning recess in the wheel, and/or the nose of the sear designed to rest in it, will very soon tend to lose the decisive keenness of both their respective edges - resulting in the wheel not being kept in the 'spanned' position any longer. In the experimental arrangement of my researches, some 20 years ago, and with an original wheellock mechanism of ca. 1600 clamped in a jaw vise, and spanned and triggered every 45 seconds - in order to simulate the loading action of a musket - , the action started to falter after around 10-12 times of repetition, and failed to withstand at about the 15th test. The sear nose was retained no longer.

What more can be commented? The Suhl barrel marks of this specimen are extremely faint and impossible to identify, which can rarely be observed with muskets from this series.
The trigger is in a position way too far at the rear end stop, which may denote that either the trigger spring is broken or the lock has been mounted both crudely and inadequately.

Nothing else? Really?
Notwithstanding the fact that the trigger is in the correct position now, this is the very same, identical gun that I presented in the previous post #20! Just compare the incised V-shaped musketeer's inital and the nicks on the buttstock!

Always keep your eyes open for each tiny detail before buying a gun!!!


Matchlock 10th January 2014 11:02 PM

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This sample, ca. 1670-80 was sold at Bonhams, London, in April 2004 at only 1,000 GBP.

Again, the provenance of Salzburg is proven by the hole in the buttstock.

So far, I have presented 11 different copies of that Austrian model, with most of them coming from the former Salzburg armory.
I remember some more that I have documented and will post them soon.

The Salzburg arsenal must have possessed an enormous number of that famous and well wrought type of combined wheellock/matchlock musket, which can hardly be found in other Austrian armories or museums. Neither the armories of Graz or Riegersburg, both situated in Styria, hold one single sample respectively. Eventually it became the second military pattern musket M 1686 in military history, next to the legendary combined flintlock and matchlock musket M 1666 with its integral long folding bayonet, called Montecuccoli after its inventor, Raimund Graf (count) Montecuccoli.
Actually that was a moment in time when the production of those guns had been in full swing already since the 1660's, and was nearing its end. I surmise that the last samples of that type of musket were manufactured in Suhl at the end of the 17th century; I have seen copies the buttstock of which did no longer show the characteristically 'bellied' shape of the 1660's-70's style but was completely straight by then - even straighter than on the sample in the Vienna Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (museum of military history) shown in post #3.

The historical second Turkish siege of Vienna, 14 July till 12 September 1683, certainly was the very fight when those muskets saw their most intensive service.


Matchlock 17th July 2014 07:53 AM

Please also cf. Andi's post:

and great contemporary illustrations on Wikipedia:


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