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Old 16th September 2008, 03:16 PM   #1
Matchlock's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 4,310
Default Early 16th century matchlock harquebuses and their historical documents

... in my collection.

The one on top with the snap-matchlock was made in Tusco-Emilia, Northern Italy, ca. 1520, the finely carved barrel bearing an E mark also found on cinquedeas of early 16th century date. This one my well have seen use in the Battle of Pavia in 1525. For comparison, I attach a detail of a ca. 1540 Brescia/North Italian harquebus of three in the Royal Armouries Leeds, XII.5315.

The second from top is of earliest Suhl/Thuringia, Germany, make, ca. 1540. The Suhl workshops started in the 1530's, with workers coming in from Nuremberg.

The next down in line is struck twice on the barrel with a Nuremberg crossed arrows mark also found on crossbow cranequins, and the date 1539 - see detail. An almost identical specimen with the same date and marks is on display in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg ( W 494).

The one at the bottom features an early 'Maximilian' brass or bronze barrel of ca. 1490 and was restocked in about 1520. Its present lock of ca. 1560 is most probably a rough 'modernization' from the time of re-use in the Thirty Years War - as happened to many guns in European armories that had become obsolete by the 1640's when any piece that could still fire was badly needed.

The woodcuts are by Hans Schäufelein (group, ca. 1513) and Hans Sebald Beham, Nuremberg (group of three, ca. 1540), plus two more by anonymous Nuremberg masters: the one illustrating the harquebusier loading his snap-matchlock harquebus is from the 1530's, the other of the firing harquebusier is dated 1532.

I am eager to learn whether anybody out there can attribute more historical illustrations or even photos of these extremely rare short handguns.

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