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Old 14th April 2017, 09:18 PM   #1
rickystl
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Default Curious Balkan Gun

Hello all.
Here is a new addition to my collection. I only bought this gun, as my curiosity got the best of me. The seller said he believed this gun started life as an Italian fowling piece. The raised carvings on the stock and the line flutes on the barrel do in fact look Italian. He says at some point it ended up somewhere in the Balkans where there was added decoration to suit local tastes. And, overall, that's what it looks like to me. LOL.
So here is what I've been able to determine. The overall length is 35". And it looks like the butt stock was about 1" longer originally, with a different butt plate. Which also makes sense since the LOP is only 12". You can see where the barrel was shortened to it's current 21.5". So it was cut back probably for use on horseback. The lock is really curious. While the lockplate and hammer look European, the frizzen looks like a too large, later European replacement. But it would still work. There is a gouge in the brass pan so that it would line up with the vent hole of the barrel. The lockplate is marked "AHINILLI". Which doesn't mean anything to me, and in any case might be spurious since the lettering does not equal European quality. While the mainspring and sear spring look to be near European, the tumbler is definately not. It's similar to many you see on lower grade balkan pistols. It even has a piece of old leather between the tumbler and lock plate. LOL.And the lock does not reside in the mortise unless it's in half-cock position. And the hammer screw is a new replacement. So I think this was an old original tumbler that was more recently added - or, the lock came from a different gun (?). Not sure yet. But I'll eventually figure it out. LOL.
One thing is for sure. The gun has seen a lot of action. The bore is pretty corroded. But I'll get the lock fixed and clean the bore. Should make a decent display piece. Here are a bunch of pics. Any comments most welcome, and thanks for looking.

Rick
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Old 14th April 2017, 09:19 PM   #2
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MORE PICS..........
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Old 14th April 2017, 09:21 PM   #3
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STILL MORE.........
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Old 14th April 2017, 09:23 PM   #4
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YET MORE..............
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Old 14th April 2017, 09:24 PM   #5
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LAST ONE........
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Old 19th April 2017, 04:55 PM   #6
Philip
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This thing has a story to tell! The seller is essentially on the right track, so much of this gun appears to be Italian in origin, or at least Italianate in inspiration (recall that the Balkans is but a short jaunt by sea from the east coast of Italy). The position, extent, and style of relief carving on the buttstock, along with the low comb, are characteristic of fowling pieces from the Tosco-Emilian region of Central Italy, and we see the same preference for lavish carving, and also heavy use of showy brass overlays, on pistol stocks from the Marche region which faces the Adriatic. A good reference with lots of illustrated examples for these regional styles is Nolfo di Carpegna's "A Summary of Notes of Central Italian Firearms of the Eighteenth Century" in ART, ARMS, AND ARMOUR (Robert Held, ed.), 1979.

The chiseled ornament on the tip of the lockplate seems to be a rudimentary effort by a Balkan gunmaker to copy a similar and much-better-developed concept on Italian flintlocks (both the "true" f.l. and the snaphaunce "alla fiorentina" type common in Central Italy).

The two-stage barrels with ribbed octagonal section are copied from the well-known Brescian style of the 17th cent. The gunmakers of Brescia had the reputation for being the best barrelsmiths in Europe during that century (surpassed by the Spanish in the following century) -- the several generations of the Cominazzo family were legendary. Not only were Brescian barrels exported by the wagon- and boatload to northern Europe and the Otto Empire (the Pope even leaned on these guys and their Venetian merchant partners for selling arms to infidels), but the Cominazzo mark was widely faked everywhere, especially in the Balkans and Turkey. Most of the barrels you find with that name (or variants thereof) are bogus, especially if seen on run-of-the-mill oriental long guns.

What distinguished a top-flight Brescian barrel? Superb metallurgy that allowed the barrel walls to taper to almost card-stock thinness at the muzzle, and bores of small-to-medium gauges (for the era). They had weight at the breech so they balanced well along with being able to handle a healthy powder charge and get that bullet moving, without the danger of bursting which was always a worry back then.


A good general reference to Brescian guns, with an exhaustive list of maker's marks, genealogy of the Cominazzi and Franzini, and a discussion of fakes and decorative patterns, is Nolfo di Carpegna's BRESCIAN FIREARMS, Edizione di Lucca 1997. A rarity for Italian gun books -- it's in English! Got mine at a reasonable price, new, on BookFinder.
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Old 19th April 2017, 08:22 PM   #7
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Very nice Rick.....a bit of restoration will produce a very attractive display item.
Stu
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Old 20th April 2017, 12:03 AM   #8
Oliver Pinchot
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Very nice example.
Difficult to say for certain from the photos, but it appears the barrel, and necessarily the stock, have been shortened a good bit from their original length-- a not uncommon treatment in the Balkans.
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Old 21st April 2017, 06:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Very nice example.
Difficult to say for certain from the photos, but it appears the barrel, and necessarily the stock, have been shortened a good bit from their original length-- a not uncommon treatment in the Balkans.


Rick did mention the shortening of both components in his initial post, and it looks obvious from his measurements and the images themselves.
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