Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
is a representation dating to ca. 1460-70, of a gunner aiming a short firearm on horseback, the gun rested on a fork.
The illustration copied from Wendelin Boeheim: Handbuch der Waffenkunde. Leipzig, 1890, p. 445, fig. 522.
A variant of that drawing is also attached.
By the early 16th c., and inspired by Maximilian I., who spent more money on firearms and war than he could actually raise, the Innsbruck artist Jörg Kölderer illustrated one of the 'Maximilian' arsenal inventories (Zeugbücher) in 1507, depicting a highly unusual three barreled gun with wrought-iron barrels, and the highly figured stock painted light green, which was characteristic of the Late Gothic/Early Renaissance period of style. The snapping tinderlock mechanism was most probably released by a laterally mounted push-button trigger; the zoomorphic (serpentine) tinder holder is shown cocked, with a piece of tinder clamped in its jaws. It would only ignite the powder on the pan of the right one of the two short barrels, though; the remaining two had to be set off manually.
The author photographed a similar but seven barreled! snap-matchlock arquebus, Northern Italy, ca. 1525-30, in the collections of the Army Museum Prague, located on the Hradschin fortress:
The following woodcuts date from ca. 1530, depicting the entry of the Emperor Charles V into Bologna in 1529, to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor (copyrighted by The British Library Board):
- remaining atts.,
to be cont'd later.
It is highly unusual to see the arquebusiers carry rests, together with those relatively short and lightweight arquebuses of the 1520's to the early 1530's; after all, those guns measured only between ca. 80 and 110 cm overall, at a weight of ca. 4 kg.
There is no evidence that gun rests were in general use, and part if the standard arquebusiers equipment, before the mid-16th c.; they were known since at least the late 14th c., no doubt, but most certainly reserved for special aiming.
Otherwise they would show up more often in contemporary historic sources of illustration; in fact, they very seldom do before the 1550's.
To be continued in follower posts by the weekend.
Must have a few days' break ...
To be continued in follower posts by the weekend:
The author has knowledge of parts of a Swabian manuscript dating to ca. 1525-35, containing an illustration of a Landsknecht aiming his tinderlock arquebus at a bird, and using his Großes Messer (sword) as a rest:
At the same time, these illustrations of ca. 1530 support assigning an exact date to the very few actually surviving relatively lightweight snap-tinderlock arquebuses characterized by that earliest type of wide flared fish-tail like shape of buttstock, as well as the butt trap and cover on the right-hand side of the butt.
Talking about gun rests, please allow an excursion on the "hardware", the arquebuses of the 1530's.
These actually are the earliest Nuremberg stylistic forerunners, or prototypes, of the triagular so-called Spanish musket buttstock of ca. 1555-60, which, in turn, influenced the Nuremberg style of the oldest long and heavyweight matchlock muskets (overall length 1.56 to 1.60 m, weight ca. 7-8 kgs).
Of course it was those mid-16th c. long and heavy monsters, as well as the contemporary petronels, that made an utensil like a forked rest almost an indispensable prerequisite, and it was to be kept kept for at least 100 years to come with 'military' muskets, until the end of the Thirty Years War. We even find it depicted in exercise manuals of the 1660's and 1670's. It should be kept in mind, though, that these authors all relied on, and copied from, Hendrick Goltzius and Jacob de Gheyn; thus, we cannot tell for sure whether those latest manuals really represented the actual topic standard.
The earliest muskets from this Nuremberg group known to have survived are two specimens preserved in the Styrian Landeszeughaus Graz, the combined mechanisms originally uniting a snap-tinderlock holder released by a small lower trigger, and a matchlock serpentine activated by a long bar trigger (the snapping cock and small trigger obviously removed later from both lock plates), the barrels dated 1567 and 1568 respectively, and struck with the marks of Nuremberg barrelsmiths, as well as with the Nuremberg proof mark (inv.nos. 402, 403).
A third sample was sold at auction at Hermann Historica's, Munich, 6 October 2009, lot 1022, together with an original musket rest. The matchlock mechanism was of usual construction, featuring a single serpentine moving the match backwards, and on to the pan, when the long bar trigger is pressed upwards; the barrel was also dated 1568 and struck with Nuremberg marks.
As the author put forward as one of his theses years ago, that type of arquebuses seems to have been developed in Nuremberg, in the late 1520's, so Carlos's dating of ca. 1529-30 is absolutely correct.
These contemporary illustrations also back up the author's statement that the only two samples of that type of arquebuses known to exist so far, should be dated "ca. 1530":
- a gun preserved in the Hungarian National Museum of Budapest; cf. Johann Szendrei: Ungarische kriegsgeschichtliche Denkmäler in der Millenniums-Landes-Ausstellung. Budapest, 1896, p. 697, ill. #3061, and p. 499, ill. #3026 (detail showing buttstock and lock).
When regarding the present wheellock mechanism, it is important to note that its lock plate (!) seems to have been mounted in Hungary, in the 1540's, replacing the original Nuremberg snap-tinderlock mechanism of ca. 1530. What is also very remarkable from the view of historic weaponry is the present dog/pyrite holder: most probably, it is an addition of the Thirty Years War period, about a century later, when all older guns that would still fire saw re-use, as well as some 17th c. technical updates.
It is of Tschinke type, ca. 1630's - a quite special Silesian/Polish sort of a light smallbore wheellock gun which, with most of its mechanism mounted on the outer side of the lock plate, and the shape of the dog reminding of the 1560's style. This mechanism was based on the ca. 1525-40 wheellock arquebus style.
The first wheellock mechanisms with outer main spring seem to have originated in Italy, like the earliest known wheellock arquebus/"pistol" of ca. 1525-30; it is quite small, measuring 31 cm overall, at a bore of 11 mm. This has been known to historic weaponry since at least 1885 - cf. Moritz Thierbach: Die geschichtliche Entwickelung (sic) der Handfeuerwaffen, nach den in den deutschen Sammlungen vorhandenen Originalen. Leipzig, 1886, p. 37f.; pl. 4, fig. 80.
It was sold Sotheby's, 9 June 1961, lot 121, and acquired by the Tower of London. It is now preserved in the collections of the Royal Armouries Leeds, inv.no. ...
These early Italian wheellocks were obviously soon exported to Eastern European countries, especially Hungary, where they continued to be made in much the same style through ca. 1550.
- a snap-tinderlock arquebus of ca. 1527-1535, preserved at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt (depot/storge rooms), inv.no. W 61.100.The original snap-tinderlock mechanism is missing from the gunbut the outline of the stock recess denotes the characteristic shape, showing a raised tip behind the serpentine, which, in this case, actually was a cock as it had to be cocked, and released by the trigger. This arquebus also features the earliest German type of a trigger guard:
The limewood stock is heavily wormed, and was consolidated quite inadadequately, obviously just left to soak in artificial wax solution for too long, and without cleaning the wax off the surfaces. This treatment resulted in completely ruining the original surface of one of a tiny number of surviving stocks from that period, and of the rarest type; not a trace of its characteristic original dark brown lacquer is left.
As the author has stated before, one of the outcomes of his extensive research done over almost four decades was the fact that limewood was preferred for stocking Nuremberg-made arquebuses between ca. 1490 and 1540; second to lime were pear and cherry wood, whereas North Italian stock makers usually employed walnut for small firearms; the early 16th Italian centers where these arquebuses were mostly Val Trompia/Brescia, and Emilia.
The center of Emilia seems to have been the first in Italy to define a proof mark for both barrels and blades (mostly those for cinquedeae) made in their workshops, and passing official control tests: the Late Gothic minuscule e, struck horizontally:
It is a well-known fact that the Habsburg Emperor Charles V was very fond of weapons, especially those with wheellock ignition, which he all bought from Bavarian gunsmiths:
In 1530, when Charles V took part in the Augsburg Diet (German: Augsburger Reichstag), acknowleding the Augsburg Confession (German: Augsburger Religionsfriede: cuius regio, eius religio;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_of_Augsburg), he purchased his first short wheellock arquebus, the barrel dated 1530, from the Augsburg gunsmith Bartholomäus Marquart, who became famous his double struck sickle mark (Real Armería Madrid, inv.no. K-32).
From ca. 1535, he also bought some extremely fine small wheellock arquebuses/"pistols" from another Bavarian gunsmith, Peter Peck in Munich, whose works are ranked top in the world's most important collections, like the Real Armería Madrid or the Metropolitan Museum of Art N.Y.
The Michael Trömner Collection is one of two private collections known to preserve a gun by Peter Peck, which, at the same time, is the only long gun the barrel of which is struck with Peter Peck's Gothic minuscule p mark; it is a heavy matchlock musket of ca. 1575-80:
This is where the excursion has to end; back to the gun rests.
To be continued in follower posts.