17th Century GERMANIC Antique WHEELLOCK 30 Years War c1640 .68 Caliber
With Three Heart Shaped Markings at the Breech
Here we present an antique 17th Century Germanic Wheel-Lock Military Pistol. The wheel-lock mechanism in firearms succeeded matchlock technology, coming into use around the 1500s, with sketches known to have been made by none other than one of the original Renaissance-Men: Leonardo Da Vinci. The 17th Century was their apex of use as simpler flintlock mechanisms came to be favored toward the beginning of the 18th Century. The wheellock works by spinning a spring-loaded steel wheel against a piece of pyrite to generate intense sparks, which ignite gunpowder in a pan, which flashes through a small touchhole to ignite the main charge in the firearm’s barrel. The pyrite is clamped in vise jaws on a spring-loaded arm, referred to as a “dog”, which rests on the pan cover. When the trigger is pulled, the pan cover is opened, and the wheel is rotated, with the pyrite pressed into contact.
A wheel lock firearm had the advantage that it can be instantly readied and fired even with one hand, in contrast to the then-common matchlock firearms, which must have a burning cord of slow match ready if the gun might be needed and demanded the operator’s full attention and two hands to operate. Both would have been frustrating to operate in inclement weather but the edge in weather protection goes to the wheellock.
Wheellocks are probably best known in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), one of the longest and most devastating wars ever to savage Europe, or even the world. It was a conflict that began in the Holy Roman Empire as a political and religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants that soon spread throughout virtually all of Europe. Holy Roman Emperor and King of the German Kingdom, Ferdinand II, succeeded his uncle in 1618 and launched a campaign to forcibly unite his kingdom under Roman Catholicism. Protestant revolution was the reaction, then war. Over the course of 30 years, Germany would be the epicenter of the war that involved the Habsburgs, Bohemia, Hesse-Kassel, the Dutch, Denmark-Norway, Sweden, the English, Scotland, Saxony, Prussia, the Spanish and France among others. It is estimated that the German states lost at least 20% of their population with some regions losing as much as 75%. These events would forever change history.
This pistol would have been meant for combat being large and of military caliber. These would have been expensive to produce as only skilled craftsmen would have been able to make them with such a mechanism. This one is 21-1/4 inches in overall length. The barrel is 12-3/8 inches long and .68 caliber. There are 3 maker or acceptance marks on the left side of the barrel, and one marking directly atop the breech. This pistol is Spartan in its décor with a few bone and ivory decorations throughout.
The overall condition is good. The stock shows use and remains solid. There is a diagonal splice about midway of the forestock that remains solid. The metal parts are dark with some weathering evident. The action remains strong. The bore is smooth and dark. A rare example of a 17th Century wheellock pistol!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 12-3/8 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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