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Old 22nd March 2012, 01:54 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default A Snap Tinderlock Haquebut, ca.1515-20 , in the Tojhusmuseet Copenhagen

What is true for most earliest guns is true for this one: it should not be expected to have originally existed the way it looks today.
Overall length 137 cm, barrel 94 cm, bore 32 mm.

The museum description labels it as Bohemian.

The wrought-iron barrel is octagonal throughout, changing flats within the rear section, the touch hole is on the right-hand side, the pan was probably added in around 1520 when the barrel was stocked; the pivoted cover is missing, its pin is still there). The muzzle section is short and swamped; the movable hook is not integral but a later working-life addition. Both the small back sight and the bead foresight on the hook must also be working-life additions, maybe of the mid-16th century.
What is most remarkable is the fact that the barrel retains its original blued or blackened surface, with some remains of red minium paint (Mennige).

The barrel is nailed to the stock by two iron straps denoting that there are no stock loops on its underside. It probably was originally a heavy tiller haquebut (Stangenbüchse), then the rear tiller was sawn off and the barrel stocked around 1520. At the same time the original bach sight must have been removed (the hole is still visible) and the rear end of the barrel was mounted with one of the earliest barrel tangs used, shaped like a thick disc.

The shape of the stock resembles those of a few early-16th c. guns, with the exception that this one in Copenhagen has a butt trap the cover of which is now missing. 500 years ago, this butt trap did not yet act as a 'patch box' like on 18th-19th c. guns but probably originally contained spare balls (such were found in 'untouched' butt traps of 16th c. guns) or small barrel-cleaning accouterments such as a worm and scourer. The stock may have been added to the barrel around 1515-20.

What is most unusual about this heavy big-bore barrel is the fact that it was stocked like a 'normal' portable long gun or arquebus, which it was denititely not. The few other surviving complete - and 'real' - arquebuses of ca. 1500 have much smaller bores ranging from ca. 15-20 mm and weigh considerably less. We should therefore address this item as a stocked piece of light cannon (geschäftetes leichtes Geschütz), which was meant to be used in fortified places, e.g. to be fired from walls (wall gun).

The original lock mechanism, now missing, was most probably a snap-tinderlock; the rounded hole at the rear end of the lock recess marks the place where the lateral push button for releasing the cocked serpentine was situated.

I took the photos in 2000.

I attach images of the earliest known surviving detached snap-tinderlock mechanism, of early-16th c. date, from my collection, to convey an impression what the device originally looked like.

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 22nd March 2012 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 22nd March 2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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The remaining photos.
m
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Old 22nd March 2012, 06:35 PM   #3
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And a copy of an old Tojhusmuseet inventory page giving the measurements of our piece in discussion.

m
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Old 23rd March 2012, 03:31 PM   #4
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A second thought:

It is even possible, if not probable, that the stock was made as late as the 1560's because it already shows the characteristic deeply cut thumb rest of the early Spanish-Netherlandish musket stocks.
No other stock with this thumb rest is known before that period - and certainly not of the second decade of the 16th c.

m
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Old 23rd March 2012, 06:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... that the stock was made as late as the 1560's because it already shows the characteristic deeply cut thumb rest of the early Spanish-Netherlandish musket stocks. ...

Amazing how this detail was in use, with practically the same shape, until just the other day.

.
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Old 23rd March 2012, 07:39 PM   #6
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Absolutely true, 'Nando,

And let me add that the characteristc 'Spanish' toe on the underside of the buttstock goes back to Italian and German pistols of ca. 1535-40!
Attached are
- a North Italian three-barrel revolving matchlock pistol (Luntendrehling) of ca. 1535-40, in the Palazzo Ducale, Venice
- a fine Nuremberg wheellock pistol of ca. 1535-40, in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 23rd March 2012 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 6th April 2012, 03:18 PM   #7
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One more stock provided with a characteristic carved thumb rest, mounted with an earlier barrel, caliber 19,5 m/m, dated circa 1470.

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Old 6th April 2012, 04:09 PM   #8
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Hi 'Nando,

I am glad you came in with this - and thanks a million for leafing thru your library!

I knew this piece, of course; it is in a Czech museum and was published by Durdik.

I totally have to disagree with the date 'ca. 1470' assigned by Durdik et al.
Guessing this date was inspired by the fact that the touch hole of the octagonal barrel is still situated on top - in its earliest possible place - , by the relative shape of the barrel (of which only the rear portion is shown), the presence of what might be a late-style mark in front of the touch hole, and most of all by the presence of a tang (shortened later), all denote that this actually is another composite arsenal piece.

So this dating, as so many others, seems to have fallen prey to a first sight assignation.

As is almost always the case with composite pieces, the barrel seems to be the oldest/earliest part. It, too, however, might have been altered and been mounted in several other stocks! If I were to date it, I would suggest ca. 1530-50', the stock with its prounced deeply-cut thumb rest - and here we have a true parallel to the Copenhagen piece - clearly dating from the 1560's by the earliest

Again, there is a high probability that this gun was assembled only when the need of firearms had increased to a level unbearable: the 1640's, the late Thirty Years.

An arquebus of ca. 1520-30 is illustrated on a ca. 1530 Tounai mille fleurs tapestry in the museum of Burghausen, Upper Bavaria. It shows the same top touch hole but a contemporary stock with no thumb rest (attached).

Best,
Michl
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Last edited by Matchlock : 6th April 2012 at 08:52 PM.
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