GERMANIC Antique WHEELLOCK Rifle Mother-of-Pearl Horn Cast Bronze Engraved
.58 Caliber Swamped Octagonal Barrel
Here we present an antique Germanic Wheellock Rifle made circa the 18th Century. This is a rather short piece, measuring 39 ½” total. The swamped, octagonal barrel is 27 ½” long and has a deeply rifled bore measuring .58 caliber from land to land. This is a handsome piece, not simply a tool, that features mother of pearl inlays, horn tipped stock and ramrod, engraving on the lock components, and bronze hardware that has been cast to depict hunters as seen on the right side panel, and animals as seen on the left. Given the stature of this rifle, we believe it was either made very short and handy as a carbine but it is possible that this was made for a person of smaller stature, such as a youth.
The wheellock rifle was developed in Europe in the late 15th or early 16th century, though exactly who developed it is unknown. Leonardo da Vinci produced an early sketch of a wheellock mechanism mounted on a rifle as part of a series of military design commissioned for the Duke of Milan somewhere around 1490. Another early depiction of the wheellock was drawn by Martin Loffelholz of Nuremberg, Germany in 1505, though it was being used as a tinder lighter rather than a rifle.
A German gunsmith named Johann Kiefuss is often credited with inventing the wheellock in 1517, although there is little evidence of this and is believed to have originated from legend. In 1517, Emperor Maximillian I issued a decree outlawing the civilian use of such guns within the Holy Roman Empire. Some of the earliest surviving examples of these rifles using the wheellock mechanism were made in Italy, probably around the early 1520s. Due to the expense of wheellock weapons, the matchlock remained the standard type of gun lock work until the invention of the flintlock.
The overall condition is fine. The action is excellent. The bore is in very nice shape with deep rifling. The stock is solid. The mother of pearl inlays are intact. Hardware is cast bronze. There is some engraving on the lockwork. The stock and ramrod are tipped in horn.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 27 ½ inches. 39 ½ inches total length.
Caliber: .58 (measured land to land)
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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