Antique Royal Austrian Takedown Double Rifle
Gorgeously Engraved, Gold Inlaid Maker Marked
Here we present an antique Nowotny Austrian Takedown Percussion Double Rifle, made circa 1850 in Vienna, Austria. Mathais Nowotny was the maker of this fine and beautiful double rifle. He began his business in Vienna in 1836 after moving from Hradec Kralove in Bohemia and gaining permission to operate. He became a gunmaker to the royal court and made extremely fine firearms. In about 1841 he took on Johann Springer, who married his sister, Catherine Nowotny. Springer was a master engraver from upper Hungary, who also learned to be a gunsmith. Particularly, he specialized in engraving aristocratic coat of arms. Nowotny was involved in a somewhat mysterious love triangle that went rather badly for him, and in 1856 he committed suicide. Nowotny’s widow sold the business to Johann Springer in 1857 and Springer’s business is still in operation to this day, as Joh. Springer’s Erben. Springer continued to produce fine, luxurious sporting and hunting arms for the likes of Kaiser Franz Josef, who gave him the “k.u.k. Chamber Title” in 1872 (“k.u.k. stands for “kaiserlich und königliche“ essentially meaning that he was the gunmaker to the king’s court). He went on to win many other awards at exhibitions because of the quality of his work. Johann Springer died in 1875 and was succeeded in his business first by his widow, and then by his two sons who apprenticed at the Brandlin company in Birmingham. Needless to say, this double rifle has pedigree, made by master craftsmen for the nobility of Europe.
This rifle has a full array of custom features that make it desirable for the hunter and the collector alike. It is easily taken down into two parts with the supplied wrench in the jaeger style, deer antler patchbox. Simply loosen and remove the small, decorative bolt in the bottom of the frame to be able to separate the two pieces at the breech. There is even a cross bolt safety that prevents the hammers from falling on the percussion nipples without first depressing the bar at the wrist. Depressing this bar pulls the bars in and lets the hammer have full range of motion. The right trigger has a single set function that allows the trigger to be pushed forward to make it as light as possible. The rear sight is a short, leaf variety so that one may have some elevation adjustment. The front sight is dovetailed and windage adjustable. Sling swivels are mounted on the gorgeous Damascus barrels.
Overall, this piece is extremely beautiful and almost certainly engraved by Johann Springer. It features primarily hunting motif with a stag (trigger guard), hounds (left lock), a big cat (right lock), and a wild boar being chased by dogs (bottom of the breech). There is also a curious little mustached face on the breech of the barrels. An Austrian count’s nine pointed crown on the tang contains the letters “EB”. Gold inlays are evident on the engraved butt plate and on the breech of the barrels and tang. The top of the barrel is inscribed “F Weiland in Cassel”. Fredrich Weiland was a gunsmith who likely made the barrels at his shop in Cassel (now Kassel), Germany, in what was then Hesse. This inscription is gold washed as well. “Nowotny” is engraved on the right lock plate, and “In Wien” (Vienna) is engraved on the left. “Patent” is engraved on the tang, just above the safety lever.
This double rifle is in fine overall condition. The bores are excellent, as is the action. The wood stock is very nice walnut and shows very few handling marks at all. Most of the gold wash remains and the engraving is in fine condition. The Damascus pattern is still beautiful. The ramrod appears original with a covered, threaded screw on one end and a tulip on the other. This piece is something you would expect to see in a museum in Europe.
Here is a wonderful piece of history from one of the foremost makers of fine hunting arms in the world.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 25.75 inches in length.
Caliber: .58 percussion
Bore is in fine condition. The firing mechanism is excellent.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
Here is a gorgeous Viennese hunting rifle with lots of great features, extensive engraving, an interesting story and an extensive pedigree.
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