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Old 14th October 2010, 04:03 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default A Truly Sensational Seven Barrel Matchlock Arquebus, Brescia, ca. 1530, in Prague!

This unique specimen is preserved in the Prague Army Museum on the Hradschin.

Overall length only 64 cm (!), caliber of the three longer barrels ca. 10 mm, of the four short barrels in the rear buttstock ca. 8 mm.

This is a North Italian, almost certainly Brescian, short snap matchlock arquebus. The full stock is of walnut which is characteristic of Italy, the inlays are of lighter wood, not of staghorn as one might expect. The front barrels are round, three staged and profusely ornamentally chiseled whereas the rear barrels are of square outer shape.

The central barrel is sighted, the back sight was originally equipped with a tubular sight, now missing as well as the ramrod.

The seahorse zoomorphic serpentine of the spap matchlock only ignited the upper barrel while the two others and those in the buttstock had to be manually fired.

The holes in the bottom of the buttstock originally contained the ramrod (the larger drilling) for the rear barrels and secured by a swiveling lid cover hinged with a hook to the ring seen below; an oval impression of that lid can still be seen in the wood.

A similar three barrel arquebus for completely manual ignition is illustrated in the Maximilian Armory Inventory, ca. 1507 (cod.icon. 222), see attachments.

Author's photos, August 1995. The b/w scan is from American Rifleman, March 1953.

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 15th October 2010 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 14th October 2010, 04:07 PM   #2
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More.
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Old 14th October 2010, 04:13 PM   #3
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The rest.
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Old 15th October 2010, 12:01 PM   #4
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Default Mulitbarrel Arquebuses, ca. 1500, From the Maximilian Armories

Cod.icon. 222, ca. 1502.
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Old 15th October 2010, 04:32 PM   #5
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Default Seven Barrel Matchlock Arquebus, Brescia, ca. 1530

Oh, oh, Michl,
Thanks for showing this .
I remember having posted a picture of this specimen in a determined thread (don't remember which) and you had "promised" to bring up some further data on it ... which now you deed.
This is quite a "crazy" gun, isn't it?
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Old 15th October 2010, 04:36 PM   #6
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Exactly, 'Nando,

This sort of Early Renaissance combination arms can indeed be called crazy as their practical use was almost nil - apart from play and psychology.

Best,
Michl
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Old 16th October 2010, 04:14 AM   #7
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Amazing! Thanks for showing it to us!
If I'm not mistaken, the rear barrels have been fired, perhaps excessively, as the stock shows what appear to be period[?] repairs. I'm sure everybody wanted to fire the 'butt-gun'.
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Old 16th October 2010, 09:02 AM   #8
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The seeming stock 'repairs' are not repairs!

In order to make this construction possible, each single one of the four rear barrels had to be inserted in a square block of wood, which then was glued to a cutout recess in the buttstock. It is not possible to do this any other way.

The very same procedure was used on my four barrel mace of ca. 1540: all barrels are individually inset and surrounded by pieces of wood:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=meyrick

Best,
Michael
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Old 16th October 2010, 01:02 PM   #9
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Thanks! Next time I'll see one of these, I'll know not to worry about the possible alterations!
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Old 16th October 2010, 01:57 PM   #10
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Default My four barrel Landsknecht Mace, ca. 1540, Revisited

The barrels are inset in separate oak blocks.

m
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Old 17th October 2010, 09:27 AM   #11
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Hallo Michael! This photos is really impressive. Thank you for such details
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Old 17th October 2010, 02:08 PM   #12
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Thank you for appreciating these, Alexender,

More on similar Italian multibarrel arquebuses coming soon!

Best,
m
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Old 18th October 2010, 02:02 AM   #13
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Hi Michael,
As a complete novice at medieval guns, aside from sharing in the obvious accolades on what a fantastic piece this is, all I have is lots of questions.

Aside from the fact that walnut is a favored wood in N. Italy, what in particular would distinguish this as Brescian?

What caliber does 10mm & 8mm translate into? If these are standard calibers would this technically qualify as a caliver?, as was often a term for lighter arquebus' of standard bore.

With these being smoothbore, why would a sight be needed or used? and presumably the three forward barrels might have been fired simultaneously to achieve the 'volley fire' method to ensure a hit.

As always, I wonder about decorative motif, and is there distinguishable parallel in other Brescian weapons that might be compared ?

How soon after these matchlock arquebuses did the German wheellock mechanism begin use in Brescian guns?

A virtual 'barrage' of questions I know but these guns really are fascinating, and though I have difficulty with the mechanisms, I think the history of the developing types is most interesting.

Thank you Michael as always, for sharing these!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 18th October 2010, 12:37 PM   #14
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Hi Jim,

Thank you for your demanding questions. I will try and do my best in responding.

In older threads I posted a short North Italian Landsknecht snap matchlock arquebus of ca. 1525-30 from my collection, plus a longer but very similar sample of ca. 1540 from the collections of the Royal Amouries Leeds:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7542

Fragments of similar items were found in the wreck of the Mary Rose, and it is known that Henry VIII had ordered hundreds of those and had them delivered from gunsmiths in the Val Trompia, and especially Brescia. That city has been renowned for its gunmakers thru the centuries. As both the shape of the buttstock and the design of the lock with its snapping seahorse serpentine, as well as the stylized acorn shaped ends of the lockplate, are nearly the same on all these guns, including the characteristic iron carving of the barrels, we may safely atribute the group of guns to a some Brescian workshops.

The barrel calibers were in no way standardized by then, and the term caliver, as I pointed out earlier - though of course deriving from caliber - , did not appear until the late 16th century when it meant a matchlock or wheel-lock infantry gun which was shorter, lighter and of smaller caliber than the heavy and long musket.

Though all early gun barrels were smoothbore they used to have quite exactly made sights since as early as the 1470's. Whether they actually were of much use is hardly known. Perhaps the shooter just felt better when exactly aiming.

As to the decorative motifs, the above mentioned North Italian Renaissance style was copied at large, and very soon in Germany as well.

Personally I am convinced that the question of the origin of the wheel-lock, Italian or German, is not yet settled at all. I cannot tell too much but I could acquire an extremely early original combined snap matchlock and wheel-lock dated 1527. Much more investigation has to be done! It is the world's earliest known matchlock/wheel-lock combination, and in some features quite close the crossbow/wheel-lock combination of ca. 1521-26 in the Bavarian National Museum posted here some months ago (please see my thread list). And: that crossbow combination was made in Italy ... !

Best,
Michael
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Old 18th October 2010, 01:06 PM   #15
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For comparison, I repost some photos of the Tusco-Emilian guns in my collection and in the Royal Armouries Leeds.

m
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Old 19th October 2010, 06:36 AM   #16
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The modern day gun safety tip/recommendation/rule/commandment of always pointing the muzzle(s) in a safe direction comes to mind here.
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Old 19th October 2010, 10:39 AM   #17
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Absolutely.
m
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Old 20th October 2010, 04:30 AM   #18
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Michael,
Thank you so much for the patient and detailed response to my questions, and my degree of demand is hardly a test for your incredible knowledge on these!!! You answered everything perfectly of course, and interesting on the guns found on the Mary Rose. It is truly amazing how much history has been retrieved from that unfortunate event.

Point well taken on the wheellock controversy as well.

Thank you again Michael Superbly done as always,
All the best,
Jim
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Old 21st June 2012, 03:58 PM   #19
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Default Three-barreled Revolving Matchlock Arquebuses, ca. 1530-40

1. Northern Italy (Brescia?), ca. 1530-40; Museo Luigi Marzoli, Brescia; the long tiller trigger inadequately pointing in the direction of the muzzle instead of to the rear, the original sighting tubes missing from the small double rear sights.

2. Northern Italy, ca. 1530-40; Musée de l'Armée, Paris; no provision for a trigger guard.

3. A short revolving matchlock arquebus or pistol, Northern Italy (Brescia?), 1530's-40; Doges Palace, Venice; no provision for a trigger guard.

4. A detached barrel bundle of three, comprising a provision for a ramrod, of the same type of arquebus/pistol as before, Northern Italy, 1530's-40; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, reserve collection; author's photos.


Best,
Michael
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Old 21st June 2012, 04:12 PM   #20
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More of the Venice pistol and the barrels in Oxford.

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Old 21st June 2012, 04:16 PM   #21
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The remaining photos.

On two of the barrels the faint remains of an unidentified maker's mark can be seen; one barrel retaining its original sighting tube, the others missing from the small rear sights.

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Old 22nd June 2012, 05:00 PM   #22
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Some more details of the three-barreled revolving arquebus introduced in post # 19.

Please note the finely carved and wide-flared buttstock shaped like the tail fin of a fish; this is one of the earliest instances of a fishtail butt on a gun which was to become very common as the 'Spanish-Netherlandish musket butt' in around 1560 and remained popular with Central European military matchlock and wheellock muskets until the later years of the Thirty Years War.

A well-known contemporary stylistic Early Renaissance equivalent is the flared shape of the pommel of the characteristic Katzbalger Landsknecht's sword.


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Old 22nd June 2012, 06:08 PM   #23
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Default Speaking of multi barrels

May i show this one in here?
An Indian four shot rotary barrel matchlock "clavina" from the XVII century, based on Portuguese technology.
(Collection Rainer Daehnhardt)


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Old 23rd June 2012, 01:06 PM   #24
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Two similar five-barreled pieces are recorded:


the first 93 cm long, barrel length 35.5 cm; sold Wallis&Wallis, June 16, 1967.
Its general design was clearly based on that of German haqbuts and arquebuses of ca. 1500:
the buttstock pierced in the same manner (for suspension from the wooden rack in an armory), and the iron barrel retaining ring entwisted on the underside of the stock; the barrels are non-revolving and the back sight closely resembles that on German arquebuses of ca. 1530-40;

the second 76.2 cm long, barrel length 26.7 cm, bore 14 mm; Weller&Dufty, January 27, 1967 (not sold).



m
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