Lot 1101: Unknown - Wheellock
|An Extremely Rare and Splendid High Art Wheelock Petronel, Possibly French, Circa 1575, Ex Collection Baron Frederic Spitzer, Paris|
|Estimated Price: $35,000 - $55,000|
|Type||Pistol||Gauge||12 Mm||Catalog Page||50|
|Barrel||22 1/4 Inch Part Octagon||Finish||Bright||Grip|
|Stock||fruit wood||Class||Antique||Rating||See Condition|
|Description||This magnificent petronel is the rarest form of all 16th century Wheelock guns, even rarer than guns with the French lock in which the mainspring functions as part of the trigger guard. The last petronel to be offered for sale was a matchlock, Lot 74, at the 1983 Hever Castle Sale of Viscount Astor. The present gun is of great importance as not only an ultimate rarity but a museum quality work of art. The dramatically curved fruitwood full stock is inlaid with engraved and polished white stag horn throughout its length. The white horn inlays are finely and richly engraved with scenes of gods and goddesses from classical antiquity, grotesques, scrollwork, geometric bands, and mythical dragons. Enhancing the lavish beauty of the white ivory like inlays are inlays of green stained horn producing an enamel effect known as polychrome. Two German Wheelock guns, one in the von Keinbusch Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and another formerly in the Clay P. Bedford Collection also have stocks with polychrome inlay. The mythological scenes of gods and goddesses appear on the left side of the stock while the grotesque masks appear on the underside of the fore-arm and well rendered dragons coil along the sides. The fore-end cap is in suite in white stag horn. The heavy smooth bore barrel is part round, part octagon and slightly swamped muzzle ensuring that this most important Renaissance work of art preserves its original length. The rear sight at the breech is deeply engraved “No, 93” almost certainly a royal inventory number. The lock itself is relatively plain and unadorned serving to focus attention on the incredible artistry of the polychrome inlaid stock. The hammer, spring, and pan cover are chiseled. Baron Frederic Spitzer was the most important dealer in medieval and Renaissance art during the late 19th century. His clients included the Baron Adolphe de Rothschild and Sir Richard Wallace. Many of the finest armor and guns in the Wallace Collection were bought from Baron Spitzer. This superb Renaissance petronel appears on plate 38, number 307 in the catalog “La Collection Spitzer” (3 volumes, Paris 1887) together with the finest Wheelock's by Daniel Sadeler and the Munich Royal Workshops. The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum also have pieces from Baron Spitzer’s collection. There are virtually no Wheelock petronels in American private collections and the opportunity to acquire one with such a distinguished provenance may not come again in our lifetime.
|Condition||Very good. The barrel, lock, and trigger guard are bright steel in the European museum tradition and show scattered mild pitting, which in no way detracts from the beauty of this Wheelock. Visible crack through the top tang (see photo). The work of art fruitwood stock has a minor stress crack at one of the lock screws. The polished stag horn inlays retain all of their engraving and are crisp throughout. It would be difficult to overstate the magnificence and rarity of this work of art in a firearm. It certainly will offer the fortunate buyer decades of enjoyment and pride of ownership.|
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