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A 16-BORE GERMAN SNAP MATCHLOCK COMPETITION TARGET RIFLE
A 16-BORE GERMAN SNAP MATCHLOCK COMPETITION TARGET RIFLE

NUREMBERG, LATE 16TH CENTURY

Details
A 16-BORE GERMAN SNAP MATCHLOCK COMPETITION TARGET RIFLE
Nuremberg, late 16th Century
With swamped octagonal sighted barrel changing planes at the muzzle, cut with fourteen grooves, with later engraved silver back-sight, and struck with the initials 'PD' and 'N' (for Peter Danner of Nuremberg), a Nuremberg mark surmounted by the date '94' (for 1594), and five shield-shaped maker's marks, 'NW' above a shield, three of them silver-lined, border engraved tang struck with the number '3', pivoting hand-operated pan-cover, slender flat lock cocked by a cord passing through a hole towards the rear of the plate (cord missing) and with slender annular-headed match-holder with baluster base, full stock of characteristic form without provision for a ramrod, with short rounded butt indented for the fingers of the right hand, and profusely inlaid throughout with engraved white horn lines (minor losses) enclosing white and green-stained horn interlaced tendrils, flower-heads, foliage and ball-flowers, involving staghorn panels engraved with animals, standing figures including Mercury, Diana and Mars, and on the butt with scenes of the chase and a triumphal procession, on the cheek-piece an elegant banquet with merrymakers in contemporary costume attended by a musician, the rear of the butt inlaid with a vacant armorial shield and the owner's (?) initials 'CL' (engraving slightly worn)
39 in. (99.1 cm.) barrel
Provenance
Rothschild inv. no. LR345.
Literature
H. Schedelmann, Die Grossen Bchsenmacher, Brunswick, 1972, p. 29, pl. 50.
Exhibited
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. A 2285, from 1967.

Lot Essay

The scenes inlaid in the stock are derived from prints by the Nuremberg artist Virgil Solis (1514-62).

Ornate matchlock rifles of this distinctive type, of which some twenty are known, are mostly dated to the 1580s and 1590s. Other examples, some also made in Nuremberg, are found in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (inv. nos. W. 1446 and 1447), the Wallace Collection, London (inv. no. A 1072), the Muse de l'Arme, Paris (inv. nos. M.9 and 24), Windsor Castle (inv. no. L 351), and the Royal Armouries, Leeds (inv. no. XII.10). Another was formerly in the Clay P. Bedford Collection (catalogue of the exhibition, Decorated Firearms 1540-1870 from the Collection of Clay P. Bedford, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1977, no. 45, pp. 120-21). See A. Hoff, 'Late Firearms with Snap Matchlock', Four Studies on History of Arms, Tjhusmuseets Skrifter, VII, Copenhagen, 1963, pp. 9-30).

A member of a family of gunsmiths, Peter Danner is recorded in the Nuremberg archives in 1583, when he complained that the widow of his brother Hans was using the Danner family mark of a serpent. The Nuremberg guild ruled that she should be allowed to continue to do so, but that she and her brother-in-law should accompany the mark by initials. Many barrels bearing Peter Danner's mark, usually accompanied by the serpent, are to be found in the major public collections of arms and armour.
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