Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
A fine Bavarian haquebut/wall gun, 1520's
In former postings I enlosed pictures of my gothic iron barrels; you can see two of them on the wall, above the haquebut at the bottom to be discussed today.
This heavy piece (12 kilos) is mounted with an earlier wrought iron barrel bearing an anonymous Nuremberg so-called house mark found on similar barels in many German and Austrian museums. The barrel retains its blackened finish and some of its original minium (red lead) paint. The stylistic criterion of the short, heavily swamped, crown like muzzle section (maximilianischer Krönleinkopf) allows an unusually exact dating of the barrel's origin: ca. 1495. Interesting enough it retains its original long rear socket. This is where the first stock of tiller form had been shoved in and nailed to - cf. the detail of exactly this type of gun from the Maximilianische Zeugbücher, ca. 1505-07, given below.
Actually there is still a portion of the first tiller stock left in the socket although the barrel was restocked in ash wood in its present form during the German peasant wars in the 1520's. Stocks of this type are known from illustrations by Erhard Schön, Nuremberg, 1533. The full stock is well made, with finely carved stages, and bears various simple owners markings. Only in the rear section of the buttstock there is some worm damage.
The piece never had a lock although they were widely in use in those times; it had to be fired by means of an igniting iron or match cord.
And there is a highly interesting story to it which is absolutely true:
This piece, together with five almost identical more, was discovered behind a wall hiding a small room in 1953 when the castle of Kronburg near Memmingen/Bavaria had to be restored after damages from WW II. I spoke to the present Graf there and he told me that his uncle had discovered those 6 haquebuts mounted standing upright on the wall, the buttstocks resting on a strong wooden board. They had been left in that room and bricked up for hundreds of years - which doubtlessly accounts for their excellent untouched condition. Imagine ...
As the owners of Schloss Kronburg were short of money they sold many arms at auction in Cologne in October 1951, including my piece. There is an old b/w photograph taken by the auction house which shows a selection of arms, with two of the six haquebuts standing at the extreme right.
I bought my haquebut when the heirs of the purchaser of 1951 deaccessioned of it six years ago, which makes me the third owner in the history of this perfectly preserved 500 year old piece . Tell me: how often does such an opportunity occur?!