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Old 26th July 2020, 05:53 PM   #1
rickystl
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Default Spanish Miquelet Lock

Hello again.

Here is another lock to add to my collection. Nice, large lock for an 18th Century Spanish fowler. Here is the original auction description:

The lockplate engraved along the edges with floral decoration, a gold-inlaid crowned maker's mark "ANTONIO NAVARRO", and marked "EN MADRID" under the cock spring. The cock moderately decorated, the rear of the frizzen with repeated signature and marked "1779". A well maintained lock with intact mechanics. Length of lock plate 12.2 cm. Provenance: Christie's London, The W. Keith Neal Collection.

A visual inspection shows the auction description to be accurate. The lock is very well made and functions flawlessly, and shows very little usage. The decoration is done well but not over-done. Very happy with this one. Comments appreciated, and thanks for looking.

Rick
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Old 26th July 2020, 05:55 PM   #2
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MORE PICS.......
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Old 26th July 2020, 06:17 PM   #3
Oliver Pinchot
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Beautiful lock, congratulations. Impressive provenance as well.
W. Keith Neal was one of the best antique gun collectors of the 20th century:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Keith_Neal
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Old 26th July 2020, 06:39 PM   #4
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Great lock, great lock smith ... and great ex-owner.
Congratulations, Rick .
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:48 PM   #5
Philip
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Congratulations!

Provenance: W Keith Neal is the author of Spanish Guns and Pistols (1955), a pioneering reference on the subject in English and unsurpassed until James D Lavin's A History of Spanish Firearms a decade later.

The maker: Antonio Navarro (Nabarro in the spelling of the era) flourished in the 1790s and started out as a student of court gunsmith Miguel de Zegarra. On barrels, his countermark is a sailing ship, below the punzón seen on the plate of your lock

The lock: very good design and craftsmanship, worthy of Navarro's status on the short list of esteemed Madrid gunsmiths compiled by Isidro Soler, who along with Nicolás Bis who had quasi-legendary status in the trade.

What I find distinctive about your lock is the shape of the plate, specifically its "tail". Downward-canted and with a rounded terminus. This shape is typical on patilla locks of this type seen on Portuguese guns; it seems to be a stylistic carry-over from the the lockplates of an earlier type of flint mechanism originating in that country, called fecho de molinhas. Compare with the forms of "tail" encountered on Spanish-made locks -- straight with rounded end, or pointed in the French style are the most common (German versions of miquelet locks often have squared off tails; the lock had something of a following among sportsmen there at the turn of the 18th cent.)

Perhaps this lock was made with the Portuguese market in mind. The profile of the cock with its long tapering jaws is also consistent with Lusitanian taste of the time, when prevailing Spanish (and Neapolitan) style tended to shorter jaws.
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Old 26th July 2020, 10:12 PM   #6
Fernando K
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Hello

The lock presented is "three fashions", mentioned by Lavin and documented in a document from the Palace. First, because it saves from the classic miquelete the firing system, horizontal with chocks and the frizzen scratched- Second Because it takes from the lock "à la Francesa" the bowl with its flange in one piece, and not as in the miquelete, which has a false flange that hides the frizzen spring. Third. Because the frizzen spring is in sight, and on top of the real spring as in the lock "a la romana", although the orientation is different, as in the miquelete.

Here importance has been given to the shape of the tail of the platen, as intended for the Portuguese market. There are numerous examples of Spanish miqueletes, with these characteristics and it is generally linked to the position of the safety wedge, which acts at the bottom of the leg curve.

Affectionately
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Old 26th July 2020, 10:24 PM   #7
Fernando K
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Hello

Precisely, here I notice that the safety c a l z o (c a l z o) acts on the lower curve of the p a t i l l a

Affectionately
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Old 27th July 2020, 02:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando K
Hello

Precisely, here I notice that the safety c a l z o (c a l z o) acts on the lower curve of the p a t i l l a

Affectionately


Yes, I did notice that. But I attach two images of this feature on separate locks, one Spanish, the other Portuguese. The Spanish gun is by Salvador Zenarro, 1790 (image from W K Neal, op cit plate 74. Note that the lockplate has a strong French influence on its shape, its tail is in line with the rest of the profile and does not point downward as on Rick's example.

The image with exterior and interior views is of a lock by a Portuguese gunsmith, dated 1780, from R Daehnhardt's translation and annotation of Espingarda Perfeyta , figs. 29, 30. Same arrangement the calzo de seguranza engaging the crook of the cock's foot, as above. But this lockplate has the downward angled tail as on Rick's lock.

The point I am trying to make is that the same mechanical setup can be accomplished using lockplates of quite different form. These examples should demonstrate that there is no functional connection between lockplate shape and the use of this sear particular arrangement.

Forum readers may be interested in an excerpt from Lavin's History of Spanish Firearms (1965) concerning this mechanical variation (p 164, fig. 17):

"An infrequent variation of this system was that in which the half-cock sear was mounted behind, rather than below, the full-cock. In this position, it encountered not the foot of the cock, but the curve of its arm... This construction seems to have been confined mainly to the eighteenth century."

As an additional note, I would like to point out that use of this sear arrangement persisted in Portugal until the ultimate demise of the flintlock patilla by the end of the first third of the 19th century, this late production exemplified by an exceptional signed and dated example sold at a major auction last year, which I may comment on in a separate post. As a NB, the Portuguese term for this lock is fecho de patilha de invenção.
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Last edited by Philip : 27th July 2020 at 03:56 AM. Reason: clarify verbiage
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Old 27th July 2020, 04:34 AM   #9
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Default functional rationale for "drooping tail"?

Here are images of a beautiful Portuguese gun made by court gunsmith José Malaquias da Costa in Lisbon in 1820, formerly in the Clay Bedford Collection, published by Wallace Gusler and James Lavin in their book, Decorated Firearms 1540-1870, (Williamsburg 1977) from which the photo came, the gun sold at auction in the US last summer but I'll withhold name of venue without Moderators approval.

The lock has the long slender jaws and downward-canted tail of Rick's piece, it's a gorgeous thing with a large anti-friction roller on the mainspring (seen on many higher-grade guns from Lisbon as well as Eibar (Spain). Notice that the upper contour of the lockplate tail closely matches the downward cant of the top of the gunstock's wrist. A straight tail, or a French-style plate as on the Zenarro gun posted previously, would not harmonize so well with the stock's wrist orientation.

Mr Lavin, in the writeup of this gun in the book, has this to say about the stock:

"The general form of this gun conforms closely to that of mid-eighteenth-century Portuguese arms, while the decorative details are quite modern. Typical of the former is the straight tang [of the barrel, addition mine] with its surrounding areas well above the level of the small. This results in a boxiness of the lock mortise accentuating the thinness of the wrist that contrasts with the broad "Spanish" buttstock."

By "small", the author is referring to the wrist of the stock (area behind the lock and trigger).

Based on this, it would appear reasonable to point out the Portuguese manner of gunstock design, as opposed to the position of half-cock and full-cock sear studs, as a functional basis for the lockplate profile under discussion.
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Old 27th July 2020, 05:19 AM   #10
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Default stylistic precedence and tradition?

Having proposed a functional basis for the downward-tilting tails common on Portuguese patilhas in requirements dictated by gunstock fashions of the time, it might also be interesting to explore a stylistic precedent for this very specific shape in an earlier type of Portuguese flintlock mechanism, the fecho de molinhas (spring lock), which had its origins in Portugal in the 17th cent. Despite the appearance of its cock jaw and the combined pan-cover and frizzen, it is distinct from the entire family of miquelets by virtue of its internal mainspring with sears operating on a tumbler mounted on the cock pivot, inside the lockplate. It is more properly classed as a forerunner of the mature form of flintlock. What makes the molinhas lock mechanically distinct if not unique is its complex sear system utilizing a sliding rod called an agulha,(needle) visible in the interior view in one of the images below.

Now, moving aside all mechanical comparisons between this lock and the patilla, let's look at the rear portion of the lockplate. It has a marked downward angle with a rounded end; furthermore there is a "break" in the lower contour of the plate in the form of protruding swelling, or bulge, just to the rear of the cock pivot. On this type of lock, it seems necessitated by the position of an internal screw for mounting one of the sear components. The length and angle of this tail may be due to the design of the sear mechanism, which is larger than that required on a patilla lock, and the operating requirements of the agulha may be a factor as well. (at the same auction that Rick purchased the patilla discussed here, there was offered a molinhas lock which would have made a great study piece but we both declined since its heavily corroded condition made some internal parts barely recognizable, not to mention incapable of being restored to working order).

So we see a tilted tail, even a little bulge delineating it on the lower lock contour, on Rick's Spanish-made patilla. The retention of the bulge may be a functional necessity here because of the need to mount the cock bridle in the same area. But as discussed in a previous post, the design of the sears is not a likely determinant for the angularity. The shape of the buttstock, plus a conservative attachment to an earlier aesthetic might be more significant.
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Old 27th July 2020, 06:12 PM   #11
rickystl
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WOW!!!

Thank you ALL for your positive comments and comprehensive replies. And thank you Philip for the additional interesting reading and knowledge.
I shall keep the additional builder's information referenced with the lock in my library.
The lock is certainly a nice addition to my lock collection. Thanks again everyone.

Rick
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Old 27th July 2020, 09:51 PM   #12
Fernando K
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Hello

Finally, when I said that the shape of the plate is down, it is determined because it takes less place when making the wooden frame, and then, the firing mechanism is horizontal, but slightly inclined. This makes the safety or half mount c act l on the curve of the p a t i l l a.
Attached is the image of a lock produced in Salamanca, in 1718, a drawing by Calvo of the lock of a Spanish pistol, and a Portuguese lock.

Affectionately
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Old 27th July 2020, 10:00 PM   #13
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Salamanca, 1718
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Old 27th July 2020, 11:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando K

Here importance has been given to the shape of the tail of the platen, as intended for the Portuguese market. There are numerous examples of Spanish miqueletes, with these characteristics and it is generally linked to the position of the safety wedge, which acts at the bottom of the leg curve.

Affectionately


When I re-read this from your previous post, the phrase "these characteristics" implies more than one thing -- are you talking about both the downward tail and a certain position of the half-cock sear (as I underlined above? I wonder how numerous are the examples of either feature on Spanish miquelets: I have seen far more of the downward tails on Portuguese locks, and the quote from James Lavin's book in my other post indicates that the half cock that engages the crook of the foot is not common-- "infrequent" is the word he uses -- even in Spain.

Now, this having been said --

Thank you for your preceding posts with images. Comparing with what I posted previously, we are actually talking about the same thing -- that the sear arrangement that we are focused on can be used on lockplates of different shape. It further demonstrates that the Portuguese style lockplate with downward tail is not a necessary requirement for the utilization of this type of half-cock sear, because the photo and diagrams we both posted show that the French-style lockplate is also perfectly compatible!
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Old 28th July 2020, 12:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando K
Hello

Finally, when I said that the shape of the plate is down, it is determined because it takes less place when making the wooden frame,

Affectionately


Thanks for the images and your very interesting comment.

Regarding wood removal for a smaller lock recess in the side of the stock: the deep internal channels for the sear spring and arms would be the same, either way, but you do have a valid point as regarding the peripheral inletting for the lock plate. The French style plate which we both posted examples of does cover a greater area, and requires removal of more wood (to the depth of a few millimeters. since only the thickness of the plate is accommodated here).

However, don't you think that the removal of less wood on the Portuguese stocks is not so much due to the downward bend in the lockplate tail, but to the GENERAL SHAPE OF THE ENTIRE PLATE, which is essentially the "wasp waisted" or "hourglass" form of the Ripoll-style Spanish miquelet lockplate, which as Lavin and Neal state also became a characteristic of later "provincial" style Spanish gunmaking? What I mean is the middle part of the plate narrows and is quite "skinny". Furthermore, the reversed position of the frizzen spring means that the front end of the lockplate is shorter, requiring less wood to be removed to fit the lock.

After all, whether a tail was straight or tilted, wouldn't the same amount of wood be covered by it? (Disregarding the outline of the rest of the lockplate)

Considering the rather conservative aesthetic seen in much of later Portuguese gunmaking (as in the shape of cock jaws which I mentioned earlier) it is perhaps no wonder why the Ripoll-style lockplate shape (modified with downward tail) was so popular even on high-class Portuguese sporting guns for the royal court, until the 19th cent. Contrast that with most of the guns made by Spain's royal smiths of the same time period, with such a heavy French influence that even on patilla-lock fowling pieces, the old-style Ripoll plate was not used.
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