View Single Post
Old 6th January 2014, 11:46 PM   #8
Matchlock's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 4,310

Thank you so much for your kind words, Battara and Jim (in alphabetical order)

Oh, the stories I could tell from backstage ...

Yes, at least about one third of all items in the Wallace Colln. are part fakes or complete forgeries! The staff started to realize a good deal of these facts since our first contacts back in the 1980's but a lot of work still remains to be done.
That affects almost all museums and private collections and all sorts of art and culture worldwide, though. The really bad thing as far as weapons are concerned is the fact that weaponry is not accepted as a serious scholarship by most museum people and that consequently weapons simply are not subject to research using scientific methods by either museums, courts, auction houses or private collectors - compared to paintings! The whole subject is still a matter of prima facie evidence, personal taste and skillful arguing.
Nothing will change in the near future. So: buyer beware - and better learn quickly! And never stop studying! Never get too self-assured.

There is one single institute in Milano, Italy, that boasts of employing scientific methods and of being able to date every single part of a weapon as exactly as down to one single year. E.g., the stock of a pistol would be 1783 while the barrel and parts of the lock can be dated to 1729 and the fittings are of mingled dates and from various sources and periods.

I cannot believe it. How would you possibly date organic substances like wood? The C-14 method is fine for prehistoric finds of tens of thousands or millions of of years but it has an inherent historical volatility of plus minus 500 years, so it is absolutely useless for firearms that have only existed for 700 years at best. Wrough iron, the renowned Rathgen-Forschungslabor in Berlin told me, can definitely not be dated scientifically!

Comparison wood on the basis of annual rings is much more exact but only exists for South German oak (!). So if it is about a walnut, maple or pearwood stock you are all at sea.
And what if a forger used a historic oak beam, 500 years old, that was part of a medieval house and transformed it into the crude stock of a haquebut, together with an original 500 year-old haquebut barrel?! Well, he would argue, the outer surface may have been overworked by 'somebody else' recently, but the oak tree was definitely logged in 1483. And these scammers do things like this!!!

Profound knowledge and decades of close studies are the only way not to get fooled too easily.
And always keep aware of the fact that such criminals do exist and they are both extremely active and witty!

Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote