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Old 2nd May 2014, 09:12 PM   #19
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 4,310
Default My Four-barreled mace is The MEYRICK MACE, and pefectly documented since 1830!

In completion of presenting my highly important four-barreled MEYRICK MACE of ca. 1540 - see post #1 ff. above - I have attached scans and lots of attachments appearing in the order they are mentioned, all documenting the provenance of this singular weapon for almost 200 years !!!, which is since 1830!
The Meyrick Collection is known to have been formed before 1824.

In the following I will show that this mace is an outstanding historical weapon, doubtlessly ranking among a mere handful of finest weapons worldwide that are in private collections, and documented as well as this specimen - in singular perfection since the early 19th century!!!

Its earliest mentioning goes back to almost 200 years ago (!) , which is the year 1830, when it still was in the world famous, legendary MEYRICK collection at Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, England. It is described by Joseph Skelton as a HOLY WATER SPRINKLE, explaining that [B]'to sprinkle the holy water was the cant-phrase for fetching blood'[/B] (German: 'Weihwasser-Sprenkler'; im Jargon der Landsknechte war 'Weihwasser sprenkeln' der Ausdruck für 'das Blut spritzen lassen'[/B]) and illustrated by a line drawing in
Joseph Skelton's Engraved Illustrations of Antient (sic!) Arms and Armour, from the Collection of Llewellyn Meyrick ... at Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, published in two volumes in 1830, vol. II, plate XCII, Holy Water Sprinkles, & c.
Of course, a copy of the original edition is in my library; the volumes are in huge folio, and way too large to put them on an average scanner and display the scans full size!!!

I also own a copy of the original German edition, by Fincke, Berlin, 1830, as well as of all the other books that this highly important combination weapon is illustrated in, documenting its provenance and its way through some well-known historical collections.

As I stated, the first famous collection it was in was the MEYRICK collection. Many highly important weapons that once were in his collection and are identified by the illustrations in the 1830 catalog, are preserved nowadays in public museums of global significance, such as the Royal Armouries Leeds, The Wallace Collection London, and the Metropolitan Museum New York!
In all probablity, my private collection is the only one in the world to hold two (!!!) guns illustrated and described in the MEYRICK catalog!!!
The other is an English Cromwellian matchlock musket, the barrel signed WR and dated 1640. I will post it on the forum soon.

Chronogically, the next collection after the one of Llewellyn Meyrick that my mace can be identified to have been in was ROBERT CURZON, 15th BARON ZOUCHE OF HARYNWORTH. His collection was sold at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London, 16 July 1924, lot 110.
It is illustrated in Francis Henry Cripps-Day: A Record of Armour Sales 1881-1924, London, 1925, p. 199, and described on p. 198:

"Lot 110: GUN AND CLUB UNITED (fig. 115) - probably German, XVIth century. Illustrated in the Sale Catalogue. Cf. "The King Henry VIII's walking-staff, ffoulkes' Inventory of the Tower Armoury, Class XIV, No. 1, where it is illustrated, vol. ii, p. 432."

Next, it was sold as part of the collection of Edward Hubbard Litchfield, Parke-Bernet Galleries, N.Y., Dec 5-6, 1951, lot 79, and described in the sales catalog [B]The Important Collection of EDWARD HUBBARD LITCHFIELD
Morganstern (sic!) with octagonal haft, the hollow upper section encircled by two bands of spikes and enclosing a four-barrel hand cannon with touch-holes and sliding wood covers; hinged top centring a spearhead. Together with a heavily spiked war club. (Lot.)"

Next in the long row of provenance of this singularly documented item, there are two more famous books on early firearms containing photos of my four-barreled MEYRICK MACE, from the time when it was in the HERBERT G. RATNER JR Collection, U.S.A.:

Harold L. PETERSON/Robert ELMAN: The Great Guns, 1971, color illustration pp. 142-143.

H. Gordon FROST: Blades and Barrels, 1972, illustrated p. 199.

Finally it was last sold:
Fine Antique Arms and Armour, [B]Christie's London, 20 November
1991, lot 138[/B].
Although Christie's expert, Peter Hawkins, did not know anything about the top-class and long documented provenance of this weapon, and, what was even more, wrongly dated it 'circa 1600', that impressive piece multiplied its estimate by five!
I remember Geoffrey Jenkinson being the underbidder.

Well, it has been in my collection for almost 23 years ever since ...
And, of course, in my library there are copies of all the original books and catalogs referred to above!

Worldwide, there is only one single exact counterpart of my mace known to exist. It is preserved in the HERMITAGE MUSEUM St. Petersburg, 6315.
Sadly, it is incomplete, missing its iron top lid originally containing the central spear head, plus the two iron bands mounted with spikes.
The HERMITAGE MACE is illustrated in color and described:
Leonid Tarassuk: Antique European and American Firearms at The Hermitage Museum, 1971, pl. IV, no. 396.
It measures 75.5 cm overall, the barrels 25 cm long, the bore 11.2 mm.

The iron hook of the HERMITAGE MACE is identical in shape to that on my MEYRICK mace. Of course, this was not a 'belt hook' simply because nobody could move, let alone walk, with this heavy club hanging from his hips, and the iron spikes scratching his legs!!! So it must have been used by a horseman, and in all probability was stored and carried in some kind of tubular leather holster fixed to the saddle, similar to the way that short arquebuses of that period were kept. Without some kind of protecting holster, the spikes of that mace would have badly wounded the horse. Thus, the hook ensured a tight fit in the holster on the galloping horse when engaged with the upper brim of the leather. On a painting by Lucas Cranach we see that in the 16th century, saddle holsters did not yet have buckled lids; the buttstocks of the small arquebuses/'pistols' are depicted sticking out, enabling the rider to quickly pull them.
At the same time, we should note that these buttstocks clearly are shaped triangular, just like those on long guns! This is the reason why the so-called 'belt hooks' of early to mid-16th century pistols and arquebuses actually should correctly be called 'holster hooks', just because this is exactly what their function was.

We know that a third four-barreled mace existed at the beginning of the 20th century. Like the MEYRICK and HERMITAGE MACES, this, too, was very plain and not decorated with bone inlays, unlike the few known late 16th century pieces that must have been made for decorational purposes only. That third specimen of a plain FOUR-BARRELED MACE (German: 'schießender Morgenstern') obviously belonged to the same early series as my MEYRICK MACE and the one in the HERMITAGE. It is known to have been in the collection of the Prince Reuß J-L., on Schloss Osterstein near Gera, Thuringia, around 1900. Its whereabouts have been unknown since at least WW II. The iron top lid and all the iron spikes were also missing from the specimen, or it may have been a plainer version as it featured three reinforcing iron bands which probably never were spiked.
Cf. Moritz v. Ehrenthal: "Die Waffensammlung des Fürsten Reuß j.L. zu Schloß Osterstein bei Gera", in: Zeitschrift für Historische Waffenkunde (ZWHK), Alte Folge, Bd. IV (1906-1908), pp. 261-266, with the mace illustrated as no. 224.

As we have seen from the foregoing sources, various experts have tried for almost 200 years to assign different dates to my mace, ranging from 'circa 1450' (Ratner/Frost, 1972), '15th century" (Meyrick, 1830), "second half 15th century' (Tarassuk, on the HERMITAGE MACE in St. Petersburg) to 'circa 1600' (Christie's, 1991).
The closest to the truth was, in my opinion, Cripps-Day, 1925 ('16th century'). Its plain outward appearance, contrasting to its sophisticated combined functions, are characteristic of the 1st half of the 16th century, and of the mercenaries' predilection for tricky mechanisms, and for objects having as many 'secret' and hidden functions as possible, all combined in one single item. This love for mechanical playthings was characteristic of the Renaissance period, examples being the multiple combined functions of weapons - even if it made the result extremely impractical for everyday use! - and the tricky mechanisms of the metal frames of leather bags worn suspened from everybody's belt in the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Generally these bags are called 'purses' but they actually served many other purposes as well, in a period of time when garments did not have integral pockets yet.

The shape and sparse parallel line decoration on the iron holster hook of my mace, and of its counterpart in the Hermitage Museum, closely corresponds to such hooks on arquebuses, even on specimens with an overall length of almost 100 cm (!), and on pistols - all of them dating to ca. 1540.

Two samples of long guns featuring holster/saddle hooks are two fine and highly important Nuremberg wheellock arquebuses/saddle carbines of ca. 1540.
The first, with an overall length of 95 cm, was sold at Sotheby's London, from the William Goodwin Renwick collection, part 1, 17 July 1972, lot 15, and was then in the Clay P. Bedford collection for quite some time: Wallace B. Gusler/James D. Lavin: Decorated Firearms 1540-1870 From the Collection of Clay P. Bedford, 1977, no. 41, pp. 108-111.
The second, with a length of 77.5 cm, and from the former collection of the Markgrafen und Großherzöge von Baden, is preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., 1991.150.
(I will post more on these two wonderful arquebuses soon).

All these criteria strongly back up to dating these maces to 'ca. 1540', which actually was the late era of the German Landsknechte (mercenaries). Among the attachments, I have added a contemporary illustration of ca. 1535 depicting exactly such a spiked mace breathing fire!, from an illuminated South German manuscript by Franz Helm: Buch von den probierten Künsten, ca. 1535, fol. 91v.

For further reading on Late Gothic clubs/maces combined with barrels, see Robert Forrer: "Die ältesten gotischen ein- und mehrläufigen Faustrohrstreitkolben", in: Zeitschrift für Historische Waffenkunde (ZWHK), Alte Folge, Bd. IV (1906-1908), pp. 55-61.


LIST of ATTACHMENTS, appearing in the order as stated:

- Skelton: The MEYRICK COLLECTION, 1830
- same, German edition, 1830
- Skelton's illustrations and descriptions in English and German of my mace
- Robert Curzon, 15th Baron Zouche of Haryngworth
- Cripps-Day: A Record of Armour Sales 1881-1924, London, 1925
- Cripps-Day: my mace, lot 110 in the Zouche sale at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 16.7.1924
- Edward Hubbard Litchfield Collection, Parke-Bernet, N.Y., 5-6 December 1951, lot 79
- Herbert Ratner jr. Collection, U.S.A.
- Herb Ratner jr
- H. Gordon Frost: Blades and Barrels, 1972, p. 198-199
- Harold L. Peterson/Robert Elman: The Great Guns, 1971, ill.p. 142-143: THE HERBERT RATNER JR COLLECTION
- Christie's Sale of Fine Antique Arms and Armour, London, 20 November 1991, lot 138

- in my collection since 1991:
lots of photos of the mace in my showroom!

- a plain Landsknechts mace mounted with spikes, of usual shape, 15th-16th century, in my collection;
- a similar mace; detail from a painting of the Armageddon, by Hans Memling, dated 1467

- a contemporary illustration of a mace with spikes, breathing fire - very similar to my MEYRICK piece, from:
Franz Helm: Buch von den probierten Künsten, Southwest Germany, ca. 1535, fol. 91v

- the four-barreld mace, photo of ca. 1900, from the collection of the Fürst Reuß j.L., its present whereabouts unknown; from Moritz von Ehrenthal's essay "Die Waffensammlung des Fürsten Reuß j.L. zu Schloß Osterstein bei Gera", in: Zeitschrift für Historische Waffenkunde (ZHWK), Alte Folge, Bd. IV, 1906-1908, p. 261-266

- the only known exact counterpart to my MEYRICK mace, but the iron top lid and the two bands with iron spikes all missing: preserved in the HERMITAGE MUSEUM St. Petersburg, 6315. Leonid Tarassuk: Antique European and American Firearms at The Hermitage Museum, 1971, pl. IV, no. 396.

- a line drawing of a similar mace, but unidentified: Hans Gerd Müller: Mehrläufige Feuerwaffen. Schwäbisch Hall, 1973, S.. 9, Abb. 1.1
Attached Images
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