On the grounds of the gilt barrel etching FERDINANDUS, the initials, the coat-of-arms and the emblems of the Order of the Golden Fleece, this famous wheellock/crossbow combination has been traditionally attributed to Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Anna von Böhmen, and accordingly dated to ca. 1520-26.
It therefore represents the world's earliest datable wheellock gun.
The oldest known dated wheellock
is a small arquebus bearing the date 1530
on the barrel, and once bought by the Emperor Charles V directly from the Marquardt gun shop in Augsburg on occasion of the Augsburg Reichstag
in that year.
Like many other highly important historical early firearms, this combination gun in discussion originally came from the Rüstkammer
(armory) of Schloss Ambras near Innsbruck, Tyrol. While a great lot of good weapons are still kept at Ambras, the more famous of them were handed on to the museums in Vienna (Wiener Waffensammlung
, Neue Burg) and the Bavarian National Museum (BNM) Munich in the 1860's, when these museums were founded.
For more but older photos please see my thread
Here, among others, I have now posted better images that I found on facebook and which I am grateful for to Bolek M.
Thanks to these excellent images, which I additionally 'photoshoped' on, I can now tell with adequate certainty that
- a date at the upper end of the traditionally given spectrum, ca. 1525-26
, should be assigned to the piece, as the latest, most 'modern' criterion seems to be the elongated and very slender, tapering!, round muzzle section divided from the rear part of the barrel by moldings. As the outer barrel diameter clearly tapers to the muzzle, instead of the earlier-style swamping, this is a safe dating access of 'ca. 1525-30'!
- the lateral push button
on the lock plate, on the rear left-hand side of the wheel, is not
a means to secure the nose of the sear in the wheel pit when the wheel chain is spanned - it is the actual trigger
that lifts the sear nose from its pit in the wheel releasing the latter! The crossbow section of course had its own trigger on the reverse side.
- the foot/base of the pyrite dog
(its upper half including the jaws now missing) is slit and figured
in order to achieve a safe contact with the arm of the sickle-shaped dog spring running around the wheel.
- the wing-nut left of the wheel is a safety catch
blocking the internal sear when driven in.