Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Raf 6th January 2014 02:03 PM

A seventeenth century wheelock
4 Attachment(s)
I am posting this recently acquired lock mainly because its condition. The hunting scene is beautifully but economically executed and shows what some of these these later locks originally looked like with their engraving enhanced by fire gilding against a background of blued steel .

Matchlock 6th January 2014 02:25 PM

Hi Raf,

I take pride in being the first to congratulate! This is a mechanism the overwhelming quality of craftsmanship and finest possible state of preservation of which would make it worthy of being exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum New York! This an extremely rare sample to demonstrate the originally contrasting colors of many other pieces that have not been handed down to us in this virtually 'untouched' condition but have been scrubbed off again and again.

As it does look a bit dry I would apply a thin layer of oil on a cloth and wipe it carefully! This conservatory treatment would also add to the stunning contrast of both the flame bluing (at ca. 260-280 C) and the fire gilding.

Ca. 1670, I should say.


fernando 6th January 2014 03:08 PM

Hi Raf :)
I am glad to be second to Michl in congratulating you for this fascinating lock :cool: .
If you ever get tired of it ... you know ;) .

Fernando K 9th January 2014 09:23 AM


I humbly this work, magnificent in itself, can not be compared with the samples from the Sadeler brothers. Emmanuel and Daniel, in which the work is modeled or carved, and this sets a limit to the ormolu and blued. Here the surface is flat, and the drawing is treated with fire-gilded-Is there any surface engraving (engraving) to set limits?

Fernando K

Raf 9th January 2014 01:58 PM

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Hullo Fernando
For the most part the gilding is contained roughly within engraved lines but in some areas , such as the top of the flashpan cover it isn't. It appears the amalgam was simply painted onto the steel with a brush to enhance , rather than simply to fill in the engraved design. Where engraving is present within a gilded area the gilding is only on the flat surface , and does not fill the engraved lines.

The Royal Armouries research department claims to have found traces of copper as well as mercury in fire gilding as applied to blued armour and suggests that a wash of copper ( malachite ? ) may have been applied to help the mercury gold amalgam to adhere. Because the mercury volatises at a relatively low temperature the precipitation of the gold and the colour treatment of the steel can occur at a similar temperature. Obviously , as you know the quality of the blue depends on the carbon content of the steel so we can assume the lockplate has previously been case hardened.

Best wishes

Matchlock 12th January 2014 11:13 AM

Two finely etched and well-preserved mid-16th c. wheellock mechanisms
12 Attachment(s)
The first most probably Munich, Bavaria, ca. 1550-55, belonging to a small saddle arquebus (76 cm overall), and preserved in near-mint, pristine and unbelievably crisp condition.
I will soon post the arquebus comprehensively in a thread of its own; I refrain from labeling it as a long pistol as the square tubular backsight, as well as the gun's length and weight, clearly denote that it was aimed with both hands, the butt rested on the cheek.

The second sample in the Augsburg/Bavaria style, ca. 1565-1570, now detached but originally made for the same type of small arquebus as before. Though in fine condition as well, the state of perfect conservation does not quite match that of the foregoing mechanism.

Both samples formerly in the author's collection. Author's photographs.


Matchlock 12th January 2014 11:22 AM

6 Attachment(s)
More images.

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