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Old 6th December 2013, 04:56 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default A 1548 Nuremberg Dagger-grip Over-and-Under Double Wheellock Pistol

This interesting and early pistol/small arquebus showed up first in the States in Theodore F. Dexter's Scrapbooks in the 1950's and 1960's. It was then in the Frank E. Bivens and Geoffrey Jenkinson collns.
As I have stated several times, the modern term 'pistol' was not in use in the 16th c.; all that those portable small guns were called was just (h)arquebuses.

I remember Geoffrey Jenkinson telling me when we met at a Christie's sale in November 1991 that the only price he would part for from that thing was one million GBP. That price was both so ridiculous and out of my orbit that I called it quits. Moreover I knew that he did not have the arquebus any longer but that it was in the W. Keith Neal colln., Warminster.
On Nov 9, 2000, it was sold from that collection at Christie's London, lot 262, at GBP 43,475 including auction fees, which would be approximately 75,000 euro in today's money. A minor difference as compared to Jenkinson's one million pounds, I should say ... A German dealer bought it for his private collection.


There are only very few surviving specimens of dagger-grip over-and-under double wheellock arquebuses ranging from ca. 1535 to ca. 1550; most of them are in the Real Armería, Madrid, and one is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y. The sickle-shaped dog spring running around the wheel is common to all of them.



I do not collect 'pistols', so I did not buy this one. Furthermore, I did not like the overall condition the piece was in, with the date only faintly visible and the ramrod primitively replaced - and painted red ...
After all, I own three Landsknecht matchlock arquebuses, and all of them preserved in fine original condition throughout:


http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus



Best,
Michael
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Old 6th December 2013, 05:52 PM   #2
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Real Armería Madrid and Met N.Y.
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Old 6th December 2013, 06:18 PM   #3
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The Met.
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Old 7th December 2013, 09:05 PM   #4
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With all these superb images - still nobody caring?!
C'm on ...


m

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Old 8th December 2013, 09:51 AM   #5
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Yes , very nice . But perhaps you could have mentioned what is really remarkable about the 1548 lock is that it has sliding pan covers with button release. All the others in this group have the earlier style of hooked pan cover where the cover and arm are in one piece. Presumably , as in the Met example ,it also has two piece interlocked sears. Thus establishing that all the classic features of wheelock design were , at least in Germany, present at this early date. Which begs the question whether early Italian wheelocks that don't have these features are earlier in date. Or whether the advantages of cheapness and simplicity outweighed the occasional expense of having to compensate wounded prostitutes.
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Old 8th December 2013, 12:28 PM   #6
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Well, Raf, the mere fact that North Italian wheellocks do not have the spring-loaded push-button pan-cover release (German Drucknagel) is not per se a hint for their being the first made.
The button is generally present in Germanic wheellocks from ca. 1530-1610.

Not all German wheellocks feature that button though, and it is gone again and for good by the early 17th century.


Best,
Michael

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Old 8th December 2013, 10:36 PM   #7
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Sorry Michael. The point seems to have got lost somewhere. I wasnt suggesting that the push button pan release ; the presence or lack of it , was of any particular geographic or chronological significance.

It seems from about 1535, and certainly by 1550 the wheelock in Germany had achieved all its classic features . But without , as far as I am aware much evidence of a development stage. In contrast , in early Italian wheelocks , we see a much wider range of solutions to problems that look more like a developing idea. Such as single locking bars (Da Vinci ) , matchlock style slot in wheel pancovers, exposed mechanisms etc.This is not a who invented the wheelock argument but it might be an argument for independant lines of development .The question was whether we should regard these Italian locks as being earlier than the earliest known German examples or simply that the Italians did things differently and for whatever reason were slower to adopt more mechanically sophisticated (and safer!) solutions.

And yes , their is I think a simple theory why push button pan covers might have been considered a desirable neccesity on some classes of firearm and an optional extra on others....
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Old 9th December 2013, 01:09 PM   #8
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Oh yeah, Raf, I see and it's my turn to be sorry now.

On the other hand, South Eastern European countries such as Hungaria - think of the Komorn swamps and River Danube finds! - or Romania went their own separate ways in developing spectacuar wheellocks as well. For more than 30 years, in my theories I have ardently pleaded for accepting parallel individual strategies/lines of access to the wheellock development, so I am all in your corner as far as this is concerned!

I do bear my doubts though as to whether to look upon early Italian wheellocks as 'earlier in time' than Germanic ones. More archaic they may seem, no doubt.

E.g., please cf. the locks of the earliest datable wheellock/crossbow combination in the Bavarian National Museum Munich, ca. 1521-26 (my personal guess is ca. 1525+, and I have handled it several times, alas without being allowed to take the lock out), and the earliest dated wheellocks in existence, a small Augsburg Marquardt arquebus of Charles V d. 1530, and another, very finely executed, of identical provenance and dated 1531, plus a completely different combined wheellock and snap-tinderlock Munich arquebus in the Liège Musée de l'Armée, dated 1532, the etching by Ambrosius Gemlich, plus an early-1530's wheellock gun in the Royal Armouries Leeds and some detached mechanisms in the Dresden Armory.
Thus we have a line of datet or closely datable wheellocks from ca. 1525-35.


Some of the wheellock combination weapons in the Doges Palace in Venice may be from the 1520's or 1530's but they are not dated, and their earliest combined crossbow and gun seems so archaic that one might assume it was made in the first decade of the 16th century (ca. 1505, as one authority believed), which is probably not true ... I have always tentatively assigned a dating of '2nd to 3rd decade 16th c.' to them, and their axe and gun combination is dated 1551 ...




P.S. It is great to have finally found somebody with a good insight in early wheellocks!!!



Best,
Michael
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Old 9th December 2013, 05:18 PM   #9
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Thanks Michael for a reflective and informative response. I think I agree with you. Individual areas or centers of production have to be viewed as having their own histories and its probably unsound to read to much into comparisons. Therefore I agree that ' primitive ' italian locks are probably in reality no earlier , or not much earlier than their more sophisticated German counterparts . But they do illustrate the conceptual stages in the development of the idea. I am familiar with the Palallazo Ducale crosbow / wheelocks but not their German counterparts . Any pictures ?
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Old 9th December 2013, 06:01 PM   #10
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Hi Raf,


Here are all the images that the Bavarian National Museum Munich allowed me to take of their famous wheellock/crossbow combination of ca. 1521-6, the barrel signed in etching FERDINANDUS, over a span of more than 30 years (!). Some of them were taken using flashlight, which of course is illegal ... Who cares anyway? The crossbow won't mind, either, and I needed the information !

I remember posting some of them here on the forum but the search button cannot find a single one! GRRRRRRRRR !!!!



Do you have any photos of the Venice pieces?





Best,
m
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Old 9th December 2013, 06:09 PM   #11
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Old 9th December 2013, 06:15 PM   #12
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Old 9th December 2013, 06:18 PM   #13
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A few details of decoration:

the Cross of Burgundy and the Chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Kette des Ordens vom Goldenen Vlies).


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Old 9th December 2013, 06:20 PM   #14
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Thanks for the picks .Did our posts cross somewhere? Compared to the Venice crossbow / wheelocks ( c 1510 ) the german version looks like its from another planet. Rather makes my point . With the exception of the hooked pancovers these early locks have all the classic features of later locks and one is left wondering where the development took place, how it was so rapid and why we don't see in German locks the same kind of 'primitive' features we see elsewhere. Please reasure me that the B and W pictures of Royal Armouries X11 1566 is a modern copy. Not the orrigional lock attacked by the Conservator from Hell...
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Old 9th December 2013, 06:53 PM   #15
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I'm not sure what picture you mean but this ca. 1530 Augsburg/Munich lock is in the Dresden Armory and is preserved in the same perfectly original condition as the gun with the same makers mark (a dolphin??) on both lock and barrel of a long arquebus in Leeds, the stock all veneered in natural staghorn (bought via Fischer, Lucerne, in 1932).

In the 1870's, Moritz Thierbach had a line drawing of it made for his work Entwickelung der Handfeuerwaffen ...


Just because they are almost 500 years old these items do not necessarily have to look like pieces of dirt or as if they were excavated.
E.g., take the famous Monk's gun ...



I do keep many extremely early items in my collection that still are in perfect overall as-new condition (plus patina). I bought them because they were in such a good condition!



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Old 9th December 2013, 08:14 PM   #16
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Back to the roots for a moment, meaning the short double-barreled arquebus from post #1.
A very similar small arquebus (nowadays commonly called a pistol), the iron parts ca. 1545-50, of similar dimensions (overall length 46.5 cm) but sadly newly stocked in 1560's style, was sold at a German auction: Hermann Historica, Munich, 33rd sale, 22nd March 1996, lot 966. The almost identical lock, the prite dogs and pierced wheel covers were characteristic of the mid-16th c. Nuremberg style.


Best,
Michael
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Old 10th December 2013, 03:00 PM   #17
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Default Munich BNM Wheellock/Crossbow Combination

Hi Raf,

I was beginning to like our discussions a lot - would you still care to respond?
Do you know what the tiny wing nut to the left of the wheel of the BNM (Bavarian National Museum) was meant for? And the vertical push button? I do ...

Best,
Michael
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Old 10th December 2013, 09:11 PM   #18
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Hullo Michael. No I dont know and since this is not a conventional set up it would have to be a guess. I assumed the button was the trigger release for the secondary link . In view of the early date assume sear pushed into wheel slot by spring and disengaged by front end of the secondary link pushing down on the tail of the sear arm when button is pressed. In which case the wing nut is threaded into the lockplate and when fully screwed in pushes the tail of the primary sear out meaning the sear is locked into wheel so it cant fire. But ; has the secondary effect of making sure the sear always fully enters the wheel slot. So its a sort of compromise between the single piece locking bar and the later locking bar with prop. If this is right then it implies that at this early date the deficiencies of the single locking bar were known but the problem had yet to be fully resolved . Did I pass ?

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Old 11th December 2013, 10:15 AM   #19
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Don't mean to interupt your personal discussion but am i right to assume that the developement of butstocks was gradually? From the dagger grip of the early 1510-30 the fishtale butstock of 1530ish to 1560ish and the pommel variation like those on the trabanter leibgart (like those of Augustus I, earliest know of those is 1586, last year of Augustus his reign)

I also found a few pictures like this (presumably) Dutch wheel lock with Spanish barrel.


The detached lock as discribed by Michael


A pistol with first signs of a rounded nob/pommel (?), gilded and decorated with plaques of ivory




I will look up the books etc later

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Old 11th December 2013, 10:33 AM   #20
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Hi Raf,



You are really good, I must say!
Although I was a teacher, and some members called teaching what I am trying to achieve here, this was of course not a test. You would have passed brilliantly though!


From my practical experience testing early wheellocks and matchlocks, some of the latter being in my own collection, I can tell that once it has been screwed in, that wing nut will block the sear from working on a mid-16th c. Nuremberg detached tinderlock mechanism, as well as on another Nuremberg ca. 1550 combined match- and tinderlock mechanism.

As these two tinderlocks are both so remarkable, I decided to dedicate to them a thread of their own.


As you correctly said, the lateral push button on early Germanic wheellocks after ca. 1525 worked as a reinforcing means of pressing the nose of the sear into the respective recess in the wheel; so it's more or less a sort of safety mechanism to amend the contact between the sear (nose) and the wheel when the latter is spanned. In other words, this safety mechanism acted opposed to a set trigger system.

I recall when the sear on those wheellocks was disengaged/released, you had to press really hard and the sear would be released making an astonishingly loud and hard-clicking sound! Wheellocks of that construction were favoured especially in Styria, where they were made from ca. 1530 to 1550 but in the Landeszeughaus Graz many wheellock guns of the 1580's and well after 1600 still employed the same archaic safety mechanism.



Best,
Michael
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Old 11th December 2013, 01:04 PM   #21
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Hullo Michael . Yes , I always thought it was interesting the way the deficiencies of a single locking bar ; a tendency not to engage fully with the wheel slot and drop out formed the idea behind the two part sear and prop. Having said that in practice its often quite difficult to get the primary sear to disengage from the wheel unless the sear nose and slot are exactly the right shape. Too sloppy and the wheel doesn't lock off in the right place and you get problems with the pan cover link not keeping the pan shut properly . I don't think people always appreciate how tricky it was to get these all these things right.
And yes ; single locking bars do need a lot of effort to get them to disengage , hence a long or very hard trigger pull . So the cam or wedge type release system illustrated by Leonardo but seen on other locks does have something to recommend it .
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Old 11th December 2013, 03:28 PM   #22
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Hi Raf,



Enclosed please find photos from early wheellocks in the Landeszeughaus Graz, Styria, all employing the lateral push button.

Please note that the first, all aspects considered, is ca. 1540, while the lock and barrel (dated 1537, not 1527 as erroneously read by the Graz curators!) are Nuremberg, the stock was renewed in about 1580, and both the lock and barrel have undergone considerable later alterations ...!

For comparison, I attached images of a fine Nuremberg Landsknecht matchlock arquebus, the barrel featuring the same crossed arrows mark and dated 1539; the counterpart to m gun is preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, but in much worse condition than mine!

The last in row is dated 1568 on the Nuremberg barrel that was almost certainly made by Hans Mörl, whose hourglass mark we know from matchlock mechanisms.



Best,
Michael
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Old 11th December 2013, 04:13 PM   #23
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Attachments of my fine Nuremberg Landsknecht matchlock arquebus, the barrel double-struck by the Master of the Crossed Arrows.
The exact counterpart, with identical marks and date, only much worse in condition and acid-cleaned, is preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg.

I have record of a great number of fine cranequins, most of them dated, and a few arquebuses in the museums at Ingolstadt (Bavarian Army Museum) and Nuremberg, by this prolific and good Nuremberg workshop that was active from ca. the 1520's to ca. 1550; both cranequins and matchlock arquebus barrels are known that are struck with dates ranging from 1532 to 1545.


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Old 11th December 2013, 04:18 PM   #24
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And a close-up of the marks and the date 1539 - cf. the way the cyphers on the Nuremberg barrel '1537' (now in Graz) are struck!

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus



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Old 11th December 2013, 05:16 PM   #25
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On lateral push buttons...
In case anyones confused by this esoteric conversation. With a 'normal ' 2 part sear and prop system two relatively light springs are used to push the release prop under the tail of the primary sear and push the primary sear into the wheel slot .Which is fine except that strength of the primary sear spring is a bit of a compromise . Two weak and it may not push the primary sear in far enough so the secondary prop wont engage . Two strong and it creates extra drag on the internal face of the wheel creating unnecessary friction and wear to the end of the primary sear. The push button allows the spring to be omitted since pressing the button while the wheel is being spanned ensures the sear is always going to fully enter the wheel slot so that the secondary prop will always engage. But will not drag on the face of the wheel when released. In some locks it looks as if the role of the sear spring may actually be reversed and is used to help the sear disengage from the wheel . But if i'm wrong I am sure Michael will correct me. Everybody clear ?
And Michael ; thanks for the brilliant photographs of locks one doesn,t normally get to see. However ; on another thread I suggested that the use of square bolts , (as on these locks ) rather than screws on the major components of some early locks was a distinctive feature that might be indicative of a geographic link or a guide to dateing . Do you have a view on this ?

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Old 12th December 2013, 02:56 PM   #26
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Hi Raf,


I am afraid we have been stating some things completely wrong here as lateral push buttons on early wheellocks are concerned.

I have had a long talk with a friend of mine. His name is Armin König, and be builds the best firing gun replicas by far, the best I ever saw!!! He builds them so exactly after the best originals in big museums and from my own collection that they are exactly identical to the originals - down to the last milllimeter and to one or two grams in weight!!! We have often examined guns together, be it in famous museums or at the viewings of big auction sales houses; it usually takes him four to five hours to completely dismantle a gun, draw a plan and take all the single measurements and weights of each tiny part!!! Nobody is allowed to get near him during that time of utmost concentration. He builds everything with his own hands, not with the help of an engine-lathe. He is as devoted to his work as I am to mine - mine basically is the forum. He is a walking phenomenon and what he builds is pure perfection. Our minds think alike. And he, just like me, loves cats.

He categorically does not do any restorations to antique objects. When some tiny part is missing from a pistol in a museum or in some private collection he calls it a pity but would never touch and replace any part of an original piece. The reason being that he builds everything strictly after an original piece; never would he change the slightest detail or/and build what he and I both call 'fantasy pieces'. As nobody can tell for sure how exactly a missing piece looked he leaves damaged weapons alone. When a ramrod on a piece he has set his mind on rebuilding seems to be a replacement or is missing, he will build the piece with a ramrod that anybody would call 'replaced'.




As some people have presented the 'works' of their favorite gun constructors here, please let me show a few things of the best of them all.

Please allow me to link him here, he is an absolute idealist and a great person:
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...s/Firearms.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...lockmusket.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...ns/Caliver.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...lockmusket.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...lockpistol.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...lockpuffer.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung...blehackbut.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung.../Bandolier.html
http://www.engerisser.de/Bewaffnung.../Wheellock.html


Well, Armin read our discussion on the forum. At first he was d'accord, but a few hours later he got back with me and told me the truth. I used to teach him many of the things he knows today and I still am his sole 'authority' as to dating objects. But I am proud as a peacock and thankful that he taught me in this aspect. What more can a dedicated teacher expect than his best-ever student surpassing him?!


Now here are the mere facts, and I stated them as short and precise as I could:

Most of the earliest Germanic wheellock mechanisms had only a sear spring that acted so that it prevented the nose of the sear from resting in the notch of the wheel. 'Earliest' meaning from the beginning, which certainly must have happened during the second half of the 15th century, until at least the mid-16th c., in many cases well after 1600, though.
In order to force that nose to safely rest in the notch of the wheel when the wheel chain was spanned, all locks of such an early Germanic type of construction - this neutral formulation helps avoiding regional or dating problems - needed a lateral push button outside the lock plate that had to be pressed. When you press that button you can feel the force of the sear spring counteracting. Only when that push button 'clicks' into its assigned position the nose of the sear has safe contact with the depth of the wheel notch.

So that's all there really is to that push button discussion. May I advise you to closely study Robert Brooker, Landeszeughaus Graz, Austria: Radschloss-Sammlung/Wheellock Collection, Hong Kong 2007, ISBN 978-0-9795532-0-2.

On p. 77, four views of the North-Italian type of lock (Robert thinks that the lock is ca. 1520, but actually it should be correctly dated 'ca. 1540') of RG 3 are represented; in the bottom view you will see the tiny sear spring, cf. also the second view on the following page.
Let's go to p. 80, RG 4: the barrel dated 1558 and the lock contemporary. In view 4 of the Germanic-type lock, you can see the same spring principle, this time combined with a lateral push button to force the nose of the sear into the notch of the wheel.
As the 16th c. proceeded, Styria contiuned holding on to the archaic type of push button as it promised maximum safety. On p. 92ff, there are images of a heavy wall gun, FRG 285: the barrel and lock are Styria, ca. 1560, the stock was renewed in ca. 1700! Views 3 and 4 on p. 93 clearly demonstrate that the push button on this lock now has its own spring on which it acts.

Robert's book is basically very good work and worth buying; you literally get thousands of images although the Chinese printing greatly quality varies from page to page. When Robert attended me and my collection a few years ago, I explained to him my criticism as to dating many guns and pieces of accouterment, and he accepted it.

I wish to tell the following in no uncertain terms: even for museum standard people (!), the competency of the present Graz staff is horribly low!

E.g., they misread the date struck on the Nuremberg barrel of the arquebus RG 2 as '1527' though it really is 1537. They did not even know the mere facts that the barrel was of Nuremberg make and that complete arquebuses existed with barrels bearing the same characteristic type of arrow marks and dated of 1537 and 1539; they are preserved in the Bavarian Army Museum Ingolstadt, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, and in my collection. Please see post 23f. in this thread above.
Misled by that wrong type and the archaic impact of the North Italian type of lock, Robert misdated the lock and barrel as '1527'; what he correctly remarked though is that the gun was restocked at the end of the 16th c.



Now finally here are some impressions of earliest firearms that my friend Armin König rebuilt - enjoy!


Best,
Michael
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Old 12th December 2013, 06:02 PM   #27
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More for your enjoyment!

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Last edited by Matchlock : 12th December 2013 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 12th December 2013, 06:08 PM   #28
Raf
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Hullo Michael . Do we have a translation/ communication problem ? I thought this was exactly what I was describing very clearly in my last post. What I was also trying to do was explain how the earlier push button sear locking system conferred some advantages over the later, for the sake of argument , post 1550, two part locking system which uses a small spring to engage the sear with the wheel slot and relies on the camming effect of the of the wheel driving the sear out of engagement once the secondary prop is released by the trigger. The advantage being that in the push button system their is no drag on the inside face of the wheel caused by the primary sear spring continuing to push the sear onto the inside face of the wheel after it has disengaged. And as you say pressing the button while the lock is being spanned means you can ' feel ' that the sear has properly engaged with its slot. Presumably , with time and better construction it was found that the disadvantages of the primary sear dragging on the face of the wheel didn't have a significant effect on the efficiency of the mechanism and this system was abandoned so the wheel could now be spanned without having an additional button to press. But one can also see how this 'failsafe' system might have persisted longer on simpler and more primitive locks which is what we see.
Its confusing to imply that the push button sear is a feature of all early German locks , since the earliest locks dateable German locks ( the combined wheelock / crossbow which you illustrated ) show a sear arrangement where the primary sear is positively engaged with the wheel by a spring and disengaged by a secondary bar operated by the trigger . In principal exactly the same as we see on Italian locks with a single locking bar which is positively engaged with the wheel by a spring and released by the trigger acting directly on the tail of the sear.
Not I would have thought that controversial and I don't think we need to call in expert witnesses.
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Old 12th December 2013, 07:34 PM   #29
Matchlock
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Hi Raf,


I must admit that we might have a communication problem. Obviously I did not quite get the essence of your argumentation, especially as it was without any illustrations, in which case I am completely 'Lost in Translation', and you put 'two weak' and 'two strong' where I had expected to read 'too'. I'm also not sure what you meant by 'secondary sear prop.'

Please forgive a bloody German who has just been trying to improve his English ... . I am sure that you can explain your point so that I can grasp it.


Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 13th December 2013 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 12th December 2013, 07:54 PM   #30
Marcus den toom
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For a German your English writing skills are well within the Dutch standards
(every dutch person gets schooled in at least 4 languages so i think we can set a certain standard ).

On topic than, i think my earlier post has been overlooked?
If there is any room for such a study i would be more than happy to go trough my books to compile a photografical time scale on the early pistol butstock/handgrips. The earlier ones will be trick since i have limited information on them, but with some help we might be able to create something decent
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