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Old 11th September 2011, 05:08 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 4,310

Hi Rick,

Fine piece indeed!

This sort of staghorn flasks was made from the 1530's to the 1580's in Nuremberg, Germany. The characteristic Nuremberg leafwork engraving identifies yours as truly Nuremberg made. It is datable to exactly 1570-75. There never are marks on these so please to not take anything off the authentic surface. Remember that originally, the iron mounts were not bright but blued or blackened in order to achieve a nice contrast to the white polished horn on the front; with authentic flasks, the rear is almost left in the original rough natural staghorn surface. Yours even retains its belt hook, so congratulations!

Most of this kind of staghorn flasks offered for sale nowadays - and even preserved in museums! - show later alterations to either the top vertical cutoff lever and its double arm spring plus removal of the belt hook, and/or the engraving is mere fantasy. It really takes a lot of stylistic experience to identify an original piece.

A small number of these flasks, usually the earliest of ca. 1540-50, were left in their original staghorn surface all over and were mostly meant for military use together with petronel matchlock arquebuses. We know an engraving by the Nuremberg artist Jost Amman of ca. 1560 showing that combination, with the staghorn flask attached to the belt of an arquebusier's back.

I include that engraving and an image of the five staghorn flasks in my collection, from left:
Nuremberg, military, original staghorn surface, ca. 1555, the iron showing remains of its original minium paint
The Tyrol or Bavaria, dated 1565 (from Christie's, 1990), with a rare ball reservoir
a very rare three-way flask, Nuremberg, ca. 1540, engaved in the late Gothic style
Nuremberg, identical pieces known dated 1572
Nuremberg, picturing a couple within Nuremberg leafwork, ca. 1580 (from Sotheby's, The Royal House of Hanover, 2005)
All of them retain their full mounts and belt hooks.

More details to follow.

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