ORNATE MATCHLOCK ARQUEBUSE Inlaid Horn Mother of Pearl .79 Engraved Antique
With Depictions of Castles, Mounted Knights & Arquebusiers
Here we present an antique Matchlock Arquebuse. The matchlock musket was used in Europe from the early-15th Century until the early-to-mid-18th Century when flintlocks became the weapon of choice. Wheellocks made an appearance in the 16th Century but did not replace the matchlock as a primary military or commercial arm due to their expense and complexity, though they did offer some advantages. Matchlock muskets were typically quite large and not as mobile as modern firearms. It is somewhat difficult to conceive but in the period of use of matchlocks in Europe, mounted knights and infantry with pikes and swords were intermingled with men with large muskets. Militaries developed special tactics combining these troops into shot and pike formation, none more famous than the Spanish Square employed by the Tercios. This allowed the arquebusiers to fire effectively at distance while being protected from offensive charges by accompanying pikemen. The matchlock was also initially the guns used by explorers and pioneers settling the colonies of North and South America during this period.
This large smoothbore musket features a .79 caliber smoothbored octagonal barrel with a turned muzzle. The front sight is a spindle type post while the rear is a notched block with a tubular hood. The stock is of the “Spanish butt” or “fish tail” variety common even outside of Spain. It is ornamented throughout with floral wire and mother-of-pearl inlay. Scrimshaw panels of horn are placed throughout depicting warriors such as mounted knights and gunners firing, loading, or holding their arquebuses; a portrait of King Charles V (1500-1558), Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1556) and King of Spain (as Charles I from 1516-1556); as well as the double headed Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. Around the perimeter of the bust of the King is “IMP CAESAR CAROLVS HISPANIARUM REX” (Emperor Charles King of Spain). Toward the muzzle-end of the stock a horn panel on each side reads in Latin “VIVIT POST” “FUNERA VIRTUS”, which translates to “Virtue lives after death”, a sort of heraldic motto found on at least one coat of arms. The lock is slightly convex and has a multifacted terminus in front with a pointed end at the rear. The serpentine depicts a dragon and has a clamp that holds the slow match. The flash pan is multifaceted and has a cover that swivels over or away.
This piece was last in the estimable Joe Wanenmacher Jr.’s collection of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and before him in the astounding William Ashby Arms & Armor collection, of Coto de Caza, California.
The overall condition is fine. Patina throughout. The action is excellent and the bore is smooth and patinated. The stock shows some use and overall remains in great shape. There is some minor repair work to the ebony fore end tip. This is a handsome piece and a rare opportunity to own something from two such epic collections.
Barrel is 42 inches. Overall length is 58 inches. The butt plate is approximately 12 inches long. The stock is nearing 2 inches in thickness. Weighing in at over 15 pounds.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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