Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
An Equivocal "Late Gothic" Tiller Haquebut - STEINBÜCHSE - in 15th c. Style
This gun formally counts among stone trowing guns - German: Steinbüchse - equipped with a narrow breech only holding the gun powder - German: Pulversack - , and a wider but short forward section that would receive a stone ball - German: Flug. In many cases, that forward section is only the size of the stone ball, which literally was set at the muzzle.
Apart from a tiny number of huge bronze pieces of artillery, all Steinbüchsen were made of iron, with 95 per cent of them being wrought, and only the rest cast.
The rear part of the gun in discussion, including the octagonal breech and the hook, may be old and original; it is mostly the round barrel that definitely raises the author's doubts. Its surface lacks the irregular traces of the hammer clearly seen on the rest of the gun, and its patina does not match that of the whole of the rear portion either; it looks much smoother than the rest, covered by a lichen like patina not found on the rear section.
The catalog description, too, was quite careful reading "probably 15th century"; the author begs to differ in being quite sure that it is not, at least not throughout.
The provenance from the Jeanne & Robert-Jean Charles collection is not a certificate of authenticity by itself; all it stands for is that the piece, in its present form, already existed in the 1930's when the Charles' started forming their collection. Like all collections comprising many hundreds, or literally thousands of various items, instead of concentrating all the collector's expertise on one special period, field and type of weapons, the Charles collection contained some fine items as well as a large nuumber of heavily altered, doubtful or definite Historismus pieces made in the Victorian period - by the earliest.
Most objects from the Charles collection were sold in several parts at the Hotel Drouot, Paris, through Ader et Tajan, starting in 1993.
The item in discussion was NOT included in any of those sales.
The author recalls doing extensive viewing of the earliest guns. There were several composite weapons and such showing extensive replacements and "enhancing" later and inapt decoration.
Only very few items actually fetched high prices.
So the author restrained to choose a Nuremberg made powder flask, ca. 1550-60, of circular shape retaining its original leather pouch, and preserved in heavily patinated original condition throughout; it was lot #110 in the first Charles sale of 13 May 1993.
This was the only specimen of that type ever to appear on the market since the Kuppelmayr sale, 26 to 28 March 1895 (!), lot #576, pl. 29.
That unusual type of Nuremberg manufactured flasks is recorded to have only been ordered, and made for, the Styrian arsenal at Graz, which still holds many specimens. In the second half of the 19th c. when the great central museums were founded, the Vienna arsenal and the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum München each were given one sample of that type of flasks from the Graz arsenal, and the Kuppelmayr catalog description records the Graz provenance for that flask.