Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Wheel-Lock Spanners ca. 1520-1620 (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=9319)

Matchlock 23rd March 2009 07:15 PM

Wheel-Lock Spanners ca. 1520-1620
 
11 Attachment(s)
The earliest forms are, of course, the rarest to find. Many specialists in weaponry seem to have no clear basis of dating them because they (the former) lack the basic formal and decorative criteria.

Wheel-locks are known to have been in use since at least the early 16th century even though Leonardo da Vinci may not actually have invented them but rather made drawings of mechanisms he had seen to be in use.

The earliest spanner in existence is luckily in my collection. It is combined with a charger for priming powder and retains a generally Late Gothic to Early Renaissance form. Let us ompare it to the copper alloy barrel of an important Nuremberg wall piece in my collection which, on the grounds of its specific staging, can be dated to ca. 1515-20. I posted it in an earlier thread but will repost the barrel again.

Starting at the rear, we have a cubic basal section decorated with scales on both the barrel and the spanner/priming flask combination. The next stage is octagonal, followed by a long round stage, and the most forward stage is round again. On the grounds of this comparison we can attribute the combined spanner and priming flask to the 1520's, allowing for some retardation. The trefoil shaped rear finial of the spanner is still a Late Gothic feature. The riveted ring was for suspension.

Now let us have a look at the time line of my earliest spanners, left to right:

- combined spanner and priming flask, Nuremberg, ca. 1525

- combined spanner and priming flask, Nuremberg, ca. 1560; the trefoil finial has now developed into a screw driver - a good example of an early ornament becoming a practical device. An almost identical sample was posted by cornelistromp yesterday- thank you and congratulations, Cornelis!

- North Italian spanner, ca. 1530's

- three little spanners combined with screw drivers, each ca. 1540; they were originally kept in the so-called patchboxes in the butts of the small contemporary harquebuses.

Michael

Matchlock 23rd March 2009 07:17 PM

The last spanner attached to my former post was most probably made in Nuremberg, ca. 1550.

m

Matchlock 23rd March 2009 08:00 PM

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A few more of my spanners, the latest one with adjustable priming powder measure, ca. 1620 (in the background).

Michael

cornelistromp 23rd March 2009 08:24 PM

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Michael,

I did not expect it to be that early I bought it together with a Nurnberg Puffer (1570), however thought that the spanner was later, around 1600.

the reason for my dating is a sword in my collection with a crosshilt with kind of similar decoration (the small o shaped opening) at the end of the guards, I learned from a hilt in the solingen klingen museum book that this decoration stands for a horse mouth showing its teeth.
The sword in the museum is also dated 1550 so maybe my sword is also older than I thought?

what is your opinion?

thanks for the correct info of the spanner!

kind regards

Matchlock 23rd March 2009 08:46 PM

Thanks a lot, Cornelis.

Here is a link to my former post of a highly rare and unusual combination of a North Italian all steel powder flask, two size swivel wheel-lock spanner and screwdriver, ca. 1550:


http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7540

Michael

Matchlock 23rd March 2009 08:58 PM

8 Attachment(s)
More details of my small North Italian spanner, ca. 1530, the ornamentally pierced swivel handle made in the style of Late Gothic candlesticks of ca. 1500.

Michael

cornelistromp 23rd March 2009 09:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Thanks a lot, Cornelis.

Here is a link to my former post of a highly rare and unusual combination of a North Italian all steel powder flask, two size swivel wheel-lock spanner and screwdriver, ca. 1550:


http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7540

Michael

Hi Michael,

Beautiful piece, It seams that you are collecting longer then I do.
The quality you have achieved in your collection is almost impossible to reach now a days.
I listed 2 swords in this thread with the same decoration as our spanners.
Im looking forward to your reaction

thanks+regards

Pukka Bundook 27th March 2009 02:52 PM

Hello Michael,

Thank you for showing these wonderful examples!
To me it seems quite incredible that such small items have managed to 'live' such a long time! I would have thought that thy would long ago have been discarded when their working life was over. Not only have they survived, but have done so in a beautifully preserved manner.

The detail of the hilt and spanner are very compelling evidence of being contemporary.

Congratulations Michael!

Richard.

Matchlock 6th April 2009 04:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
Hi Michael,

Beautiful piece, It seams that you are collecting longer then I do.
The quality you have achieved in your collection is almost impossible to reach now a days.
I listed 2 swords in this thread with the same decoration as our spanners.
Im looking forward to your reaction

thanks+regards



Hi Cornelis,

Please forgive me for not replying any earlier to that interesting comparison.

It is obvious that both the sword at the Klingenmusem Solingen and the one in your collection have almost identical zoomorphic quillons which still reflect the Romanesque and Gothic styles. The stylized animal heads which are also found in the gargoyles of cathedrals actually had an apotropaic function, meaning that they were meant to fend off evil superstitiously.

You are also exactly right in pointing out the stylistic relationship between those quillons and the decoration on our combined spanners and priming flasks, which actually is the basic criterion of my dating of them.

The Solingen catalog text states that the quillons may be earlier than the rest of the sword, and this is most probably true for your sword as well because the pommel should not be datable to any earlier than ca. 1580.

It is very demanding to observe and recognize such stylistic criteria which applied to all contemporary arts and crafts alike.

Michael

cornelistromp 6th April 2009 08:39 PM

Hi Michael,

thank you for your very interesting reply.

the Pommel of my sword is of Norman type 46, which Norman dates possibly about 1600-30. As all parts of this sword seem to belong to each other. I think this type of pommel can be seen as a Sub type of the South European pommel Norman Type 47 (1545-1640) and came a bit later in Fashion in the Northern European countries. (second part of the 16thC.)

kind regards

Matchlock 7th April 2009 06:45 PM

Apotropaic Gargoyles on Gothic Cathedrals
 
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Those were the predecessors of - amongst others - Late Gothic to Early Renaissance sword quillons and later matchlock serpentines. In a superstitious medieval world, they were traditionally regarded as fencing off evil.

Some of them are from the world famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris - remember the stunning 1939 movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring the unique Charles Laughton?

Michael

ward 7th April 2009 07:27 PM

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what is the afghan afghan flint hammer doing mixed with the wheel lock pieces doing there. Just kidding noticed the afghan piece on the side of pic

Matchlock 8th April 2009 02:53 AM

Ward,

This combination hammer and screwdriver is not Afghan but Southern Italy, ca. 1550, and the predecessor of later Afghan items and is, of course, just part of my accouterments collection.

Michael

ward 8th April 2009 03:02 AM

Interesting. Would it be possible to see a full pic of that piece.

Matchlock 8th April 2009 03:09 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here they are: the early Italian combined pin hammer, fire striker, pyrites hammer and screw driver, ca. 1550 (left), together with a simpler oriental form, probably Albania or Afghanistan, 18th-19th centuries.

The same decorative structure as on my mid 16th century Italian hammer is reflected by the world famous papal hammer, Rome, with which the the door of St. Peter's Cathedral was solemnly and ritualitstically opened in The Holy Year 1550. I attach a picture; please note that the wooden handle is a later replacement.

Michael

ward 8th April 2009 09:18 PM

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So determining the Italian 16th century is done by what file work,brass inlay,workmanship ? I am looking for specifics I would normally call your piece afghan but realize they copied from other cultures and so I am looking for the differences.

Matchlock 9th April 2009 10:26 AM

An exact determination is extremely hard to accomplish. All I can say is that in general, the closer the form, staging and decoration of the hammer to both the papal hammer and the quillon ends of Cornelis's sword the higher the probability that it may be Italian and early.
Remember that Italy lies close to oriental neighbors and their styles intertwined very easily and quickly.
The second from right tool on your image seems to come pretty close to my earliest piece.

Michael

Matchlock 9th April 2009 05:24 PM

A Storta with a Zoomorphic and Apotropaic Hilt at the Bargello, Florence
 
2 Attachment(s)
The hilt ca. 1550, the dussack blade somewhat later.

Michael

Matchlock 27th March 2012 05:07 PM

A Very Fine Combined Powder Flask and Wheellock Spanner
 
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Still shaped like the Late-Gothic and Early Renaissance powder horns of natural cattle horn, which came into use again in the 18th century, especially in the U.S. The movable spanner with two different pinion squares, for the different diameters of wheel axes and tightening screws of dog jaws holding the pyrites; also combined with a screwdriver. Two rings for a suspension cord.

Northern Italy, ca. 1560, made for an arquebusier. In my collection.

Of wrought iron throughout, engraved with floral motives and a unique pattern in imitation of stitches of a seam, as they were used on early 16th c. textile covered flasks; here, this originally functional element has become mere decoration. Preserved in fine original condition troughout, retaining almost all of its blued finish.

Fitted with a long belt hook, the powder nozzle to be closed by a wooden stop plug, and with a spring-loaded cut-off lever an the top mount; the top mount lid bearing the nozzle hinged for refills.

I have documented only about a handful of surviving flasks of this kind, some of them preserved in famous collections.

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 27th March 2012 05:13 PM

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The remaining photos.

Matchlock 27th March 2012 07:01 PM

7 Attachment(s)
The flask attached first is the one that is closest to mine; its whereabouts seem to be unknown. The scan is taken from one of the many coffee table books that sadly do not care to give references.

Attached next is the finest known sample from the series, etched all over, preserved in the Odescalchi Collection, Rome, but both the wheel spanner and screwdriver are missing.

The following is said to be in a French private collection, the turn-lever spring of different construction.

Next is a specimen in the Musée de l'Armée Brussels, showing the hinged top mount open, the screwdriver missing.

Follows a plain sample in the Wallace Collection, London, the cut-off and screwdriver both missing.

Finally attached are two plain samples from international auctions.

These are all I have ever come across in more than 30 years of studying.

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 7th January 2014 08:21 PM

1 Attachment(s)
A better image of that Italian all-iron combined flask and spanner, ca. 1560-70, in the Wallace Colln. that is similar to my sample posted above, #19ff.

We can now see that the former screwdriver is missing from the tip of the two-way spanner, opposite to the nozzle.

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 7th May 2014 06:40 PM

Unusual and Early Wheellock Spanner, ca. 1530
 
6 Attachment(s)
This is about the fine spanner in my collection: North Italian Early Renaissance, ca. 1530, finely wrought, pierced and twisted for decoration by the smith - see post #6.

Meanwhile, I have found references for two more, very similar specimens; although they are notably plainer in terms of craftsmanship - none of their handles is pierced - , I am happy to post these photos.

For easier comparison, I reattached three photos of my spanner on top.

Attached following are:

- a spanner in the collection of the Muzeum Wojska Polskiego (Polish Army Museum), in Warsaw

- another, similar spanner, sold on ebay, 17 September 2013


Best,
Michael


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