Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Unfortunately we do not have secure records of what late 15th century matchlock mechanisms looked like. None of them seems to actually have come down on us.
Interesting enough, we do know of some historic illustrations of ca. 1480-1516 showing quite contradictory types of lock mechanisms. While the earliest illustrations seem to show more developed locks, with all mechanical parts united on a lock plate (!), those of slightly later date depict much more primitive and rudimentary snap tinder mechanisms, with their single functional parts just nailed or clamped to the stock. We therefore must assume that both types were employed alongside for a few decades.
I attach, from top to bottom:
- line drawings from the Ingenieurkunst- und Wunderbuch (Book of the Art of Engineering and Wonders), Weimar, ca. 1500-20
- two details from a woodcut by Hans Schäufelein, ca. 1512, clearly depicting fully developed back action snap tinder locks with lock plates
- (at the bottom): the earliest known actual snap tinder lock mechanism worldwide with its laterally acting button trigger mechanism, ca. 1510-15, from my collection; this one greatly resembles the Schäufelein illustration
- three details of a Landsknecht harquebus, ca. 1500, in the Royal Armouries Leeds; although all lock parts are missing now you can see that they were fixed to the stock separately and that there never was a lock plate
- a detail of a colored woodcut from the Theuerdank, ca. 1516, showing the Holy Roman Emperor Maximlian I. aiming a short copper alloy barrel harquebus with the serpentine cocked and with no lock plate yet
- two details of an almost identical Nuremberg harquebus preserved at the Hermitage Museum St. Petersburg, with all its lock parts still present, the stock painted with the coat of arms of the Nuremberg family of Behaim.
Spiridonov, I would be very grateful if you could take good and detailed photos of that latter one, from various points of view and all sides!