Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Haquebuts With Dummy Barrels!
On 15 Dec 2004, Sotheby's London sold part of the armory of Schloss Fronsberg, Styria, comprising a number of Austrian military matchlock muskets, late Thirty Years War period, ca. 1645, the stocks totally unvarnished (the finest of them now being in my collection), plus a large number of broken stocks of wheellock and matchlock muskets, basically only the buttstocks present, with the barrels all missing.
Three of the lots, 157, 159 and 160, contained a total of five earlier stocks, all preserved in 'untouched' but heavily damaged condition, of Styrian haquebuts of ca. 1540, the tinderlock mechanisms retained but partly incomplete, with the barrels all gone. Each of those three lots fetched a tremendous price although all they comprised were mere fragments, mostly of early- to mid-17th c. wheellock and matchlock guns, plus a few detached barrels belonging to none of the fragments!
Well, I found out that somebody from Portugal, whom I had got to know many years ago, bought all those lots on the phone without even having viewed them or ordered lots of photos - the way I did. He told me he was planning on completing all those relicts and selling them. I replied that I had my sincere doubts whether that would work. He offered me the worst preserved of the five early stocks for 12.500 euro, which I rejected. So I kept watching out.
On 26 Nov 2008, two of those formerly fragmentary stocks and locks entered the auction at Bonhams London, furnished with a brandnew coat of paint, and 'completed' with iron dummy barrels the bores of which were drilled only for a short length! They were described correctly by David Wiliams and, of course, did not sell.
The first piece attached was the result of a completely incompetent 'restoration', the tinderlock serpentine, trigger and trigger guard all made in 17th c. style, instead of the original ca. 1540 shape, even though it came from Fronsberg with that 17th c. trigger and guard. The second retained its damaged tinder holder and long tiller trigger (bent).
But the story goes on.
On 17 Oct 2010, the two pieces showed up at Hermann Historica's, Munich, lots 2017 and 2028, where they failed to sell.
On 4 Nov 2013, one of those dummies was unsold again at Hermann Historica's sale in Munich, lot 21. Once more, the catalog text stated that the barrel actually was a dummy.
They continue making their round on the market, though.