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Old 14th November 2008, 10:52 AM   #8
Matchlock
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
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Richard,

All of these mechanisms are from military guns.

Actually, the snap matchlock, or snap tinderlock, was preferred for both hunting and target shooting guns but saw also extensive "service" in fighting.

The first matchlocks in the early 15th century were sear locks activated by pressing a long trigger bar upward which caused the serpentine to move towards the touch hole and return to its original position after the shot had rung out. From early to mid 16th century, the snap matchlock was peferred for military purposes, triggered by a horizontally working push button. In around 1530 we find the first snap tinderlocks activated by means of a "conventional" trigger. Sear locks, however, never came out of military use, and around the 1550's we often see both mechanisms combined, most probably in order to have another igniting system in reserve. E.g., if the match holder failed or the match had gone out, a piece of tinder in the snap cock (which was a real cock because it had to be cocked) could be lit. A complicated and intricate procedure, no doubt.

In fact, in some instances we find double matchlock mechanisms on wall guns up to the end of the 16th century. The tinder snaplock, though, had long since made its way as an additional or reserve mechanism on wheel-locks from the 1530's. This snap or sear matchlock-wheel-lock combinations were highly favorized from ca. 1550 to 1600, then seem to have diappeared from the battlefields for the period of the Thirty Years War, only to face a renaissance in the 1660's/70's. By then, the flintlock had begun taking over from the wheel-lock - and again we find wheel-lock-flintlock (extremely rare) and sear matchlock-flintlock combinations on the same lockplate for a couple of years.
It seems that the "new" ignition system respectively was not quite trusted to work reliably on its own in its early years.

The attachments show:


a snap tinderlock/sear matchlock combination, Nuremberg, ca. 1550



some snap tinderlock/wheel-lock combinations:


- Munich, dated 1532, the lock and barrel etched profusely

- dated 1544

- ca. 1580, from a wall piece

- a fine Suhl military musket in my collection, dated 1602, in my collection

- a Suhl wall piece, ca. 1610


- a Suhl military musket, 1660's, and

- a sear matchlock/flintlock combination, Suhl, ca. 1666 (the famous Montecuccoli system), both in my collection

plus:
a highly unusual dummy wheel-lock mechanism, ca. 1565, which really is a snap matchlock in that it never had a wheel and chain! (in my collection). At first sight, it has the appearance of a high tech wheel-lock but is really a simple snap matchlock.


Michael
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