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Matchlock 12th December 2013 06:51 PM

Two Highly Remarkable Tinderlock Mechanisms, Northern Italy and Nuremberg, ca. 1550
12 Attachment(s)
Both detached mechanisms are in my collection, stunningly finely preserved, and both retain their original long tiller triggers. They originally belonged to Landsknecht arquebuses.

The mechanism on top is of Northern Italian type, ca. 1550 (meaning that it may have been made in Nuremberg but in the Italian style) and the jaws of the serpentine with its characteristic mid-16th square base at the pivot are formed to hold a piece of tinder exactly like the present one. The right jaw shows a spot of old brass brazing, most probably a working life repair.

The second mechanism is of very fine Nuremberg make, ca. 1550, and is remarkable for featuring two matchlock sepentines! The left one, once served by a small trigger that was mounted on the underside on the arquebus, snapped against a spring into the pan, while the bigger one, of characteristic early-Renaissance form and sophisticatedly shaped and engarved as a sea monster, was activated via the original long tiller trigger. The highly figured jaws of both dogs are formed to hold either pieces of tinder or matchcord.
What is also remarkable is that all the wing nuts on this mechanism are loop shaped.
The lockplate is shaped triangular at both ends, which is only found around both the middle of the 16th and then again of the 17th c.(!).

I spotted only one single arquebus with exactly such a lock system in all my life (I am not talking about the late-16th c. petronels in Graz, e.g.) and in all those hundreds of museums that I have attended, including their reserve collections that are not accessible to the public. It was a long Nuremberg-type of ca. 1550 double-trigger double-matchlock arquebus, overall length ca. 130 cm, and the lock was almost very similar to mine though much plainer; both thriggers were present, the long tiller trigger was twisted. The base of the forward (right) tinder holder is square shaped, much like the other lock to be discussed here. I took the two images attached almost 30 years ago. Unfortunately that lock mechanism did ot have an additional safety function for the sear. About that same time, the 1980's, I discovered a heavy Suhl-made Swiss or Bodensee area matchlock musket in the Munich Stadtmuseum which at that time still presented the arms of the former Munich arsenal in the historic cannon hall. Alas, none of those is any longer accessible to the public. The most interesting thing about that long (ca. 165 cm) and heavy (ca. 9-10 kg) musket was the sear safety-wing nut which was still in place; what was missing from the impressive piece was the wing nut of the serpentine. I enclose two less than mediocre photos because there was only a space between those muskets and the next glass case of ca. 1 m! I attached the two photos to post # further down the line.

The most remarkable fact that in a way connects these two detached mechanisms is that they are equiped each with a wing nut that, when screwed in, blocks the sear! On the double-dog tinderlock this solution may be understandable if the arquebusier wanted to only use the left, snapping, serpentine, but on the other mechanism?!

Any flash of genius, anyone?


Matchlock 12th December 2013 07:01 PM

12 Attachment(s)
More detailed views.


Matchlock 12th December 2013 07:13 PM

11 Attachment(s)
Three more, and two images of a ca. 1550 Nuremberg arquebus with much the same lock mechanism; the latter are almost 30 years old, so please be tolerant. :)

At bottom, I enclosed some views of ca. 1566-1570's Styrian double-tinderlock mechanism (tillerlock and snapping tinderlock) calivers in the Landeszeughaus Graz; they all feature the downward bent petronel buttstock the lower end of which was completely encompassed by the right hand and held in front of the arquebusier's breast when firing.


Marcus den toom 12th December 2013 07:38 PM

Hermann historica sold one of these locks on theire 66th auction lot 263.
The "stellschraube" is broken, but it looks like the real deal? Or is this something else? :(

Matchlock 12th December 2013 08:10 PM

Hi Marcus,

I am quite at a loss: Hermann Historica never had an auction n. '263', and the mechanism you scanned is not included either in their sales no. 62 or 63.

Apart from that it is a completely average matchlock of the 1640's (!), the wingnut (Klemmschraube) missing from the serpentine, but without any additional safety wingnut to the sear.

Please see my thread A Matchlock Chronology, ca. 1520-1720 for a very similar mechanism of ca. 1640, the ends of the lockplate also triangular:


Marcus den toom 12th December 2013 08:13 PM

Auction 66, lot number 263.

There is a screw left of the Mark/stamp which has been broken off ?
Or is this just the pivet point for the lock? :o

Matchlock 12th December 2013 08:54 PM

My fault, sorry, Marcus. ;) I have been working on and for the forum since 9 in the morning (it's an hour to midnight now).

It is a screw but entering from the inside and holding the sear in place; it is not broken off and it does not have a safety function. Each conventional matchlock must have this screw, the earlier ones (like the two I presented here) show rivets in this place.
Again my matchlock chronology 1520-1720 should help settle all questions regarding that earliest and simplest of all igniting mechanisms.


Marcus den toom 13th December 2013 05:51 AM

My excitement came into the way of fact as well. Though i ussually don't see this screw stick out so far, i should have know it to be just the sear/pivot point of the lock mechanism :(

Matchlock 13th December 2013 08:23 AM

1 Attachment(s)
These sear screws usually are at least that prominent on all early mechanisms, icluded the long tranversal screw (Kreuzschraube) that entered at the trigger guard, fixing it plus the stock and barrel!
In the 16th and 17th centuries, nobody cared about shortening screws for optical reasons, they just used them in the length the gunsmiths received them from the screw makers. If they were a bit too long, that was better than the other way round.


Matchlock 20th December 2013 11:22 AM

For a similar combined match- and tinderlock mechanism, in worse condition but struck with the Nuremberg town mark, please see my thread

post #25!


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