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rickystl 20th June 2012 07:56 PM

Matchlock Pistol ?
 
Hello all. Is anyone aware of any original European matchlock pistols in exsistance? I know there are examples of Japanese pistols (which I believe were more of a status symbol in most cases), but I've never seen a European example. I can't imagine the practicality of having one. The question arouse in a conversation with a collector friend. Thanks for any assistance. Rick.

Matchlock 21st June 2012 02:22 PM

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Hi Rick,


This a basic question often asked.


First of all we should define a matchlock pistol, strictly confining it to a small and single-handed firearm that was actually ignited by an attached matchlock mechanism. Just any short 'handgonne' without a matchlock mechanism which had to be ignited externally by either a hand-held length of matchcord, an igniting iron or a linstock is NOT a matchlock.

There are many 'reproductions' around, all claiming to be made 'after an original' but none of these 'originals' has actually ever been presented.


Original European period artwork does not give one single evidence of any firearm employing a matchlock mechanism and light and short enough to be meant for single-handed use.

On the other hand we cannot exclude categorically that they existed, however useless as they must have been; remember, pistols in the 16th c. were only used on horseback and all pieces, both actually surviving and such depicted in period works or art, are mounted with a wheellock which in those days was called the self-igniting lock, in contrast to the matchlock.

It is also true that in Japan and other Far Eastern countries matchlock pistols seem to have been in use since the 16th c., and they all are based on (and were made in the same, almost unaltered style for centuries as) samples imported from Central Europe.


Only one single and completely original 16th c. matchlock pistol is known to have survived but it is clearly an exemptive 'high-tech' weapon: with three manually turned barrels, which actually makes it a matchlock revolver. Each barrel is fitted with its own pan and pivoting cover, plus rear sight with an additional tube and bead foresight; no provision for a trigger guard.
It is made in clearly North Italian (Brescian?) style, ca. 1530's, and preserved in the Doges Palace Venice, inv.no. B 83: 53 cm long overall, the barels 29.9 cm, bore, 10 mm, weight 1490 grams (attachments).

In the reserve collection of the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, I detected and photographed a detached bundle of three barrels, obviously from the same type of firearm but with an additional muzzle ring including a ramrod recess; on two of the barrels the faint rest of an unidentified maker's mark can be seen, and two of the sighting tubes are missing (attachments below).


That's it for European matchlock pistols. Worldwide.

For more information, please see my new thread:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...1170#post141170


For more on multi-barreled 16th c. matchlocks see:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12712





Best,
Michael

fernando 21st June 2012 05:54 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
... I know there are examples of Japanese pistols (which I believe were more of a status symbol in most cases) ...

... Like this example offered to the famous Scottish medical missionary David Livingstone by Tippo Tib, a known slave trader of Arab origin, who would have met the famous African explorer, in one of his visits to a slave market in the mid XIX century, as referred in Livingston memories.
The barrel has silver decorations of fruits, mountains and two birds of prey fighting.
The lock has an internal spring rolled spiral wise, one of the Niponic variations of main spring.
(From the book AS ARMAS e OS BARÕES de Eduardo Nobre)

.

Matchlock 21st June 2012 06:24 PM

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This spirally rolled up spring used in some Japanese matchlocks is not recorded from any surviving 16th c. European, esp. German sample. On the other hand, it just seems a more refined evolution of the rolled up cord for spanning a wheellock, in a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1500-10 (first attachment).

Spiral springs of different device are known from one or two ca. 1550 wheellock arquebuses in the Real Armería. Madrid, though; they seem to be based on another drawing by da Vinci (second and third attachment).

m

fernando 22nd June 2012 05:31 PM

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Sorry Michl, i am a bit lost with your comments :confused: .
Do you mean to say that this XIX century pistol doesn't have a spiral (helicoidal) main spring ?.
Note this is not my idea; i am just translating the book text. This pistol surely belong(ed) to the author's collection; he must have examined its interior.
... Or am i misunderstanding you ? :o

.

Matchlock 22nd June 2012 08:19 PM

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No problem, 'Nando,


I should have been more precise:

As far as I know some Japanese matchlocks are fitted with spiral springs and others with conventional leaf springs.

I did not know which sort of spring the one illustrated by you featured.

Now that I saw the description I know. ;)


Best,
Michl

rickystl 25th June 2012 02:39 PM

Hello Michael !!! And Fernando!!!
I'm returning to this tread rather belatedly.
Michael: Thank you so much for your reply. This is what us collectors/shooters have always thought. But your explanation put things in exact perspective. On behalf of myself and others, THANK YOU!! :D Also, the photos of that matchlock revolver and barrels was a big hit!

Fernando: Thanks for the photo. What I found most interesting when I dis-assembled my original Japanese matchlock long gun was that the entire gun was assembled with pins. Not a single screw on the gun. It was actually a clever way to assemble. The pins that held the barrel to the stock were bamboo!! :D

Another question for Michael: Most European mathlocks I've seen have the serpentine pointing towards the shooter. But some have the serpentine pointing forward toward the muzzle (like Japanese guns). In your opinion, is the forward pointing serpentine a later design change? Or just a different design? The question arouse in trying to determine when the forward serpentine started to evolve. Thanks for any help. Rick.

Matchlock 25th June 2012 04:21 PM

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Hi Rick,


I am glad you found my contribution helpful, thanks. ;)


As to the direction the serpentine moved: this is quite a demanding request but I will try and reply shortly within the given frame of this post.


In the earliest known illustration of a matchlock, Cod.vind. 3069, dated 1411, the serpentine - holding not a length of match but a piece of tinder!! - acts forward (top attachment).
It does likewise on the oldest known actually surviving completely preserved arquebus, ca. 1400-10, the spring-loaded serpentine and hook both working-time replacements of ca. 1430; in my collection (two photos attached).

It is only by the early 16th c. that we find the next-in-line illustrations in the Maximilian armory inventories, with serpentines for tinder depicted acting mostly backward, but in one instance also acting forward.

In the Marienkirche Reutlingen, Southern Germany, there is a sculpture of an arquebusier at the Holy Selpucher, 1513, the serpentine of his arquebus acting backward (2 photos).

In the Museum of the Fürstentum Lüneburg, Northern Germany, I photographed an altar piece of the Last Judgement, of ca. 1520, depicting a skeleton firing his tinderlock (!) arquebus with the serpentine acting forward (1 att.)

On tapestries on the Battle of Pavia, 1525, the tinderlock serpentines act forward, and from the 1530's to 40's we have instances of surviving arquebuses (four in the author's collection, attached) with matchlock serpentines acting in both directions, but mostly backward.

By the 1560's thru the early 18th c., the backward-acting matchlock has established itself as the standard military weapon while on special-purpose guns, e.g. target guns and muskets with combined matchlock and wheellock or combined snap- and lever-matchlock mechanisms, we still find serpentines acting towards the muzzle.


Please also check out my other threads on early tinder- and matchlocks!

Just a few:

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=15668

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10029

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...+1540+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...+1540+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...andsknecht+1540

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...necht+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...necht+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets




Best,
Michael

Matchlock 25th June 2012 04:22 PM

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Let's go on with the attachments:

- Battle of Pavia tapestries, 1525 (4 att.)

- four Landsknecht matchlock arquebuses, ca. 1525 (top) to 1540, the third from top dated 1539; author's colln. (1)

- woodcuts of Landsknecht arquebusiers, 1530's

- military matchlock muskets, Nuremberg, dated 1567 and 1568, Graz armory


m

Matchlock 25th June 2012 05:12 PM

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And last not least:

- military matchlock and wheellock muskets, ca. 1570-1720 in chronological order from left to right, author's colln.

- a matchlock chronology from ca. 1520-1720, all author's colln.

- the earliest known surviving complete snap-tinderlock mechanism with lateral push-button trigger (!), comprising all mechanical parts on a lock plate, ca. 1510, the measurements in cm; autor's colln.

- the latter, together with two detached matchlock mechanisms of ca. 1620 and 1650, retaining all of their original bluing! (author's colln.)


Enjoy, and do check out my other threads on matchlock-related topics!
You will be surprised, I promise! :cool: :eek:

Just a few:

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=15668

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10029

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=oldest+handgun

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...+1540+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...+1540+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...andsknecht+1540

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...necht+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...necht+harquebus

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...tchlock+muskets


m

thinreadline 25th June 2012 09:35 PM

Along these same lines, I was last night watching the historically atrocious film 'Elizabeth - The Golden Age' .... pistols appear in a couple of scenes , including one execution and also the attempted ( and fictional ) assassination of Queen Elizabeth by Anthony Babington ... I could not see them in any detail but assume they were put in to 'sex up ' the story for American viewers.

Matchlock 25th June 2012 10:07 PM

I did not see that film, just heard of it.

I prefer sticking to the facts which I hope I have managed to assemble.

m

Matchlock 25th June 2012 10:11 PM

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An instance of a tinderlock arquebus with 'back-action' serpentine.

From the record of a Nuremberg training shooting taking place at St. Johanns (corresponding to St. Johannis, nowadays forming part of the City of Nuremberg); dated 1532.


m

thinreadline 25th June 2012 11:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
I did not see that film, just heard of it.

I prefer sticking to the facts which, I hope, I have managed to assemble.

m


And indeed you do Matchlock , but nevertheless I would love to hear your views on what the pistol is supposed to be and why the film makers have felt the need to represent it.

Matchlock 25th June 2012 11:35 PM

That's indeed the point, thinreadline:
finding out what sources the 'experts' or prop masters relied on ...

I am afraid I am unable to tell what that special pistol was supposed to be as I did not see it.

From rather sad experiences of my own, though, I can tell these film guys usually just resort to information readily available, e.g. some standard encyclopledia or of course the internet.
These sources are normally taken as granted, regardless of their authenticity.

The next thing is: the realization must be cheap and readily accessible.

Atfer all, how often have we watched tv series or movies with 19th c. Colt revolvers being fired endlessly without reloading? With flintlocks being fired without the frizzen even shut? Firing guns without the tiniest trace of a recoil?

The story of misleading the masses when it comes down to weapons is way too sad to be carried on.
Their motto seems to be: who cares anyway? A bunch of weapon freaks who will actually know? Suckers ... you sure can mess around with these!

To be honest I do remember watching one British tv film on Sir Francis Drake, as a boy in the 1960's, probably this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Fr...%28TV_series%29

- and I do remember a very good representation of a late-16th c. wheellock dag in there!



Best,
Michael

thinreadline 26th June 2012 06:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
That's indeed the point, thinreadline:
finding out what sources the 'experts' or prop masters relied on ...

I am afraid I am unable to tell what that special pistol was supposed to be as I did not see it.

From rather sad experiences of my own, though, I can tell these film guys usually just resort to information readily available, e.g. a standard encyclopledia or of course the internet.
These sources are normally taken as granted, regardless of their authenticity.

The next thing is: the realization must be cheap and readily accessible.

Atfer all, how often have we watched tv series or movies with 19th c. Colt revolvers being fired endlessly without reloading? With flintlocks being fired without the frizzen even shut? Firing guns without the tiniest trace of a recoil?

The story of misleading the masses when it comes down to weapons is way too sad to be carried on.
Their motto seems to be: who cares anyway? A bunch of weapon freaks who will actually know? Suckers ... you sure can mess around with these!

To be honest I do remember watching one British tv film on Sir Francis Drake, as a boy in the 1960's, probably this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Fr...%28TV_series%29

- and I do remember a very good representation of a late-16th c. wheellock dag in there!



Best,
Michael


Very good points Michael.
I am a bit of a gun 'nut' myself with a very wide period of interest and I am one of those who is constantly irritated by anachronistic and just plain incorrect usage of firearms in film. Vis the use of No4 Lee Enfields in a WW1 film 'Deathwatch' I saw recently etc .
What surprised me about the pistols in 'Elizabeth TGY' is that I can find no one who has commented on them on the internet . There is a surprisingly good site 'Guns in Movies' which analyses in minute detail every gun appearing in just about any film one cares to mention , but 'Elizabeth TGY' ..not a peep ! I suppose this simply reflects the paucity of knowledge of early firearms in the common realm .
Anyhow I must finish by thanking you for your excellent articles on this site especially on early accessories .. I have gained knowledge which I would be hard pushed to even know where to look for it .
Regards
Richmond

Matchlock 26th June 2012 12:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinreadline
Anyhow I must finish by thanking you for your excellent articles on this site especially on early accessories .. I have gained knowledge which I would be hard pushed to even know where to look for it.
Regards
Richmond



Thank you so much, Richmond,


As my bandwidth of interest in earliest European firearms and accouterments is much narrower than yours I find it easier to concentrate on what is most important in my eyes - in order to help diminish 'the paucity of knowledge of early firearms in the common realm' as you put it well-wordedly.

I too have gained a lot from writing on the forum, from demanding requests and from what others have contributed.

Finally I think it is not only weapons enthusiasts that get fooled by the films and tv series. Just have a look at a common scene of two people talking in a car, with the driver looking constantly at the person sitting next to him and totally neglecting the road for what seems an eternity - at top speed. How real is this?



Best,
Michael

fernando 26th June 2012 12:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... Just have a look at a common scene of two people talking in a car, with the driver looking constantly at the person sitting next to him and totally neglecting the road for what seems an eternity - at top speed. How real is this? ...

There is a hidden driver beneath the wheel, provided by the production :eek:

Matchlock 26th June 2012 01:10 PM

Absolutely, 'Nando,

Just like there is a tiny guy hiding in each six-shooter revolver realoading constantly so that it will fire unintermittedly ... it's magic! :cool:

Best,
Michl

fernando 26th June 2012 01:18 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... Just like there is a tiny guy hiding in each six-shooter revolver realoading constantly so that it will fire unintermittedly ... it's magic! :cool: ...

Oh, i too can't resist counting the rounds in every shooting action; but i never spotted the tiny reloader :eek:

Matchlock 26th June 2012 08:34 PM

If that special tiny guy was not there, who else could have possibly worked all those miracles?! :eek:

C'm on, 'Nando, my friend: you're not gonna say Hollywood has been fooling the rest of the world for the last 100-plus years, are ya!? :confused: :D


m

rickystl 29th June 2012 03:32 PM

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Hi Michael!! THANK YOU for your most detailed and informative response. You always under promise and over deliver!! :D I'm back at this thread a little late. I've been busy reading/sharing the additional Posts and threads you so kindly provided. Wonderful. I and others can't thank you enough.

Further down this Thread the conversation went to movie type guns. Thought you all might enjoy these pics. Michael said:

"Flintlocks firing without their frizzen even being closed" :D

This a cut down M1873 Springfield Trapdoor Rifle made to look like a flintlock -from a distance. These were used in the early movies from the 1930's up to probably the early 1960's. This specimen is from the U.S. MGM Studios inventory. Have no idea what movie(s) this was used in. But it sure has seen a lot of use. These pics don't belong on the European Forum, but thought I would post them in case anyone was curious. Thanks again, Rick.

rickystl 29th June 2012 04:53 PM

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Interesting pic

Matchlock 29th June 2012 07:52 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Hi Michael!! THANK YOU for your most detailed and informative response. You always under promise and over deliver!! :D I'm back at this thread a little late. I've been busy reading/sharing the additional Posts and threads you so kindly provided. Wonderful. I and others can't thank you enough.

Further down this Thread the conversation went to movie type guns. Thought you all might enjoy these pics. Michael said:

"Flintlocks firing without their frizzen even being closed" :D

This a cut down M1873 Springfield Trapdoor Rifle made to look like a flintlock -from a distance. These were used in the early movies from the 1930's up to probably the early 1960's. This specimen is from the U.S. MGM Studios inventory. Have no idea what movie(s) this was used in. But it sure has seen a lot of use. These pics don't belong on the European Forum, but thought I would post them in case anyone was curious. Thanks again, Rick.




Hi Rick,


Thanks a lot for your nice words! ;) :cool: :eek:


Oh yeah,

This former Springfield rifle is an absolutely 'overwhelming' example of a crude and ruthless prop gun!

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 29th June 2012 08:01 PM

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Hi Rick,


This 'matchlock' pistol is an interesting instance of a former North Italian, most certainly Brescian, wheellock holster pistol of ca. 1635-40, altered probably in the 19th c. to convey the impression of a matchlock. The present lock is a complete dummy, maybe a crude replacement for the missing original wheellock mechanism; the whole item may even be a 19th c. production.

The position of the serpentine is not correct either; it should turn to the right by ca. 45 degrees.
Moreover, original matchlock serpentines were never atached by means of a screw; they were always riveted.
The trigger too is fantasy style.

Attached at bottom please find instances of authentic Breascian matchlock arquebuses, with the serpentines in correct form and place, and riveted.


Finally four images of a completely authentic Brescian wheellock pistol, ca. 1635-40; please note the correct form of the trigger!


Thanks for showing.


Best,
Michael

rickystl 2nd July 2012 06:50 PM

Hi Michael. That was my thought when I first saw this picture. This is another one of those copies made during the Victorian period utilizing some original parts. But, thank you for detailing the specific inaccuracies. I told the other guys not to get their hopes up. LOL :D
Now, you would have to show me those magnificent pair of pistols. I'm getting hearburn just to imagine holding those in my hands ;) :rolleyes: Thanks for posting for others to see. Rick.

Matchlock 2nd July 2012 09:08 PM

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Hi Rick,

I found those pistols on the web; a dealer labeled them as sold.

Four original 1640's Austrian matchlocks in optimum, as-new condition (!), were sold right out of an arsenal, and for ridiculous prices (ca. 2,500 USD each) at an international auction in 2008.
They were undamaged original in all parts, including the ramrods!
I am convinced they had never even been fired (some images attached).

That may be double the sum of a replica, or a bit more - but what the heck! They are far better in quality, and imagine their great age and history!

They all went to dealers ...


m

Matchlock 2nd July 2012 09:15 PM

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Some more close-ups.

m

Matchlock 23rd July 2012 07:18 PM

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Some really fascinating views of the three-barreled matchlock revolving pistol from post # 1 - dismantled!!!

m


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