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Old 20th June 2012, 07:56 PM   #1
rickystl
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Default Matchlock Pistol ?

Hello all. Is anyone aware of any original European matchlock pistols in exsistance? I know there are examples of Japanese pistols (which I believe were more of a status symbol in most cases), but I've never seen a European example. I can't imagine the practicality of having one. The question arouse in a conversation with a collector friend. Thanks for any assistance. Rick.
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Old 21st June 2012, 02:22 PM   #2
Matchlock
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Hi Rick,


This a basic question often asked.


First of all we should define a matchlock pistol, strictly confining it to a small and single-handed firearm that was actually ignited by an attached matchlock mechanism. Just any short 'handgonne' without a matchlock mechanism which had to be ignited externally by either a hand-held length of matchcord, an igniting iron or a linstock is NOT a matchlock.

There are many 'reproductions' around, all claiming to be made 'after an original' but none of these 'originals' has actually ever been presented.


Original European period artwork does not give one single evidence of any firearm employing a matchlock mechanism and light and short enough to be meant for single-handed use.

On the other hand we cannot exclude categorically that they existed, however useless as they must have been; remember, pistols in the 16th c. were only used on horseback and all pieces, both actually surviving and such depicted in period works or art, are mounted with a wheellock which in those days was called the self-igniting lock, in contrast to the matchlock.

It is also true that in Japan and other Far Eastern countries matchlock pistols seem to have been in use since the 16th c., and they all are based on (and were made in the same, almost unaltered style for centuries as) samples imported from Central Europe.


Only one single and completely original 16th c. matchlock pistol is known to have survived but it is clearly an exemptive 'high-tech' weapon: with three manually turned barrels, which actually makes it a matchlock revolver. Each barrel is fitted with its own pan and pivoting cover, plus rear sight with an additional tube and bead foresight; no provision for a trigger guard.
It is made in clearly North Italian (Brescian?) style, ca. 1530's, and preserved in the Doges Palace Venice, inv.no. B 83: 53 cm long overall, the barels 29.9 cm, bore, 10 mm, weight 1490 grams (attachments).

In the reserve collection of the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, I detected and photographed a detached bundle of three barrels, obviously from the same type of firearm but with an additional muzzle ring including a ramrod recess; on two of the barrels the faint rest of an unidentified maker's mark can be seen, and two of the sighting tubes are missing (attachments below).


That's it for European matchlock pistols. Worldwide.

For more information, please see my new thread:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...1170#post141170


For more on multi-barreled 16th c. matchlocks see:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12712





Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 21st June 2012 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 21st June 2012, 05:54 PM   #3
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
... I know there are examples of Japanese pistols (which I believe were more of a status symbol in most cases) ...

... Like this example offered to the famous Scottish medical missionary David Livingstone by Tippo Tib, a known slave trader of Arab origin, who would have met the famous African explorer, in one of his visits to a slave market in the mid XIX century, as referred in Livingston memories.
The barrel has silver decorations of fruits, mountains and two birds of prey fighting.
The lock has an internal spring rolled spiral wise, one of the Niponic variations of main spring.
(From the book AS ARMAS e OS BARÕES de Eduardo Nobre)

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Old 21st June 2012, 06:24 PM   #4
Matchlock
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This spirally rolled up spring used in some Japanese matchlocks is not recorded from any surviving 16th c. European, esp. German sample. On the other hand, it just seems a more refined evolution of the rolled up cord for spanning a wheellock, in a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1500-10 (first attachment).

Spiral springs of different device are known from one or two ca. 1550 wheellock arquebuses in the Real Armería. Madrid, though; they seem to be based on another drawing by da Vinci (second and third attachment).

m
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Old 22nd June 2012, 05:31 PM   #5
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Sorry Michl, i am a bit lost with your comments .
Do you mean to say that this XIX century pistol doesn't have a spiral (helicoidal) main spring ?.
Note this is not my idea; i am just translating the book text. This pistol surely belong(ed) to the author's collection; he must have examined its interior.
... Or am i misunderstanding you ?

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Old 22nd June 2012, 08:19 PM   #6
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No problem, 'Nando,


I should have been more precise:

As far as I know some Japanese matchlocks are fitted with spiral springs and others with conventional leaf springs.

I did not know which sort of spring the one illustrated by you featured.

Now that I saw the description I know.


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Michl
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Old 25th June 2012, 02:39 PM   #7
rickystl
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Hello Michael !!! And Fernando!!!
I'm returning to this tread rather belatedly.
Michael: Thank you so much for your reply. This is what us collectors/shooters have always thought. But your explanation put things in exact perspective. On behalf of myself and others, THANK YOU!! Also, the photos of that matchlock revolver and barrels was a big hit!

Fernando: Thanks for the photo. What I found most interesting when I dis-assembled my original Japanese matchlock long gun was that the entire gun was assembled with pins. Not a single screw on the gun. It was actually a clever way to assemble. The pins that held the barrel to the stock were bamboo!!

Another question for Michael: Most European mathlocks I've seen have the serpentine pointing towards the shooter. But some have the serpentine pointing forward toward the muzzle (like Japanese guns). In your opinion, is the forward pointing serpentine a later design change? Or just a different design? The question arouse in trying to determine when the forward serpentine started to evolve. Thanks for any help. Rick.
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