|30th December 2013, 12:57 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Two Personal Augsburg or Munich Breechloading Wheellock Arquebuses of Henry VIII
The shorter one dated 1537, the longer arquebus ca. 1540.
When attending a Christie's Live Auction for the first time in September 1990 - it was the famous Liechtenstein sale from the armory at Schloss Vaduz, and I bought some fine pieces the second owner of which I was after they were made 500 years ago ! - I made appointments for photography using flashlight with all the big London arms museums: The Tower - and it was still just 'The Tower' at that time, The British Museum and the V&A. I was to the Wallace as well but they refused to let me use the flash.
In the White Tower, Graeme Rimer (we were both still young ) showed me around and led me to the two guns of Henry VIII. It was right there and then that I felt they should be properly called arquebuses. I knew from b/w photos in the books that the shorter one, dated 1537 and the barrel iron-carved with the initials HR for Henricus Rex, was fitted for some obscure reason with a fantasy-style matchlock of a shape and type that never ever existed - let alone 1537 - where originally a wheellock had been mounted. The negative impact was nevertheless striking. The stock is of either pear or lime wood, the butt-trap cover missing.
The wheellock mechanism is missing from the larger arquebus as well, its walnut stock, also in the lock recess, struck several times with a mark, WD surmounted by an arrow, and carved in high relief with the Tudor Rose and Fleur-de-Lys. The barrels of both guns are finely fluted, the buttstocks with their completely different forms denoting that the 16th century was mainly characterized by the continual search of the ergonomically and orthopedically ideal stock.
It is still today that I strongly plead for exhibiting the smaller arquebus without that matchlock dummy; it is presently on view in the Mary Rose Museum Portsmouth, together with Henry VIII's personal bow.
Please also see my thread on the Ottheinrich arquebus dated 1533:
And on breechloading 1450-1550:
Last edited by Matchlock : 30th December 2013 at 04:40 PM.
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