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Auction Date: December 6, 2015

Lot 3269: Unknown - Wheel Lock

Sold for Unknown - Wheel Lock
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Sold For:
A) Wheellock Pistol
Estimated Price: $22,500 - $35,000
Item Views 270 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Unknown - Wheel Lock ManufacturerUnknown ModelWheel Lock
TypePistol Gauge40 Catalog Page110
Barrel18 Inch Octagon FinishBright Grip
Stockfruitwood ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThese svelte Wheellock pistols match the style of pistols produced in the Germanic states in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this case they were manufactured circa 1640 in Silesia which is now part of multiple countries including Germany. The overall design is similar to a miniaturized Wheellock rifle or an arquebus complete with wooden patch boxes and finger groove trigger guards. They have rifled barrels with light floral engraving and fixed blade and notch/groove sights. There are no visible maker's marks as is not uncommon on these early handguns. The full length stock have extensive scrimshawed bone/antique ivory, horn, and mother of pearl inlays. The designs on both pistols match and include dogs, unicorns, mythical beasts, and many rabbits. Rabbits have been prized game animals for centuries due largely to their rapid breeding and thus availability. They have long been used as symbols of love, vitality, rebirth, and fertility. Dogs are obviously intrinsically related to hunting traditions. The unicorn in the Middle Ages was considered to be a real and extremely rare woodland creature and was used as a symbol for purity and grace. It was believed they could only be tamed by a virgin. A red "1" inside the patch box of gun A, and a red "2/" is on the same location of gun B. Both have ramrods with matching scrimshawed tips. Wheellocks are scarce and important weapons in the evolution of firearms. Their complicated design in an era of entirely handmade components meant they were almost exclusive to ownership by the nobility. This explains the ornate nature of many of the examples that survive. Plain wheellocks were also produced in relatively limited numbers for both private and military use and were actually the subject of the first gun control laws in the Holy Roman Empire and the Italian states. Wheellock pistols were utilized in multiple high level 16th century assassinations including that of William the Silent of the Netherlands which is considered the first assassination of a monarch by a handgun. The assassin had three concealed pistols under his cloak. The pair was formerly part of the "Armes Anciennes" Collection of Charles Draeger.

ConditionFine as likely museum repaired and cleaned (or the equivalent). The barrel and lock are primarily bright. The trigger and trigger guard have some traces of golden finish and a brown patina. The ramrod pipes have a gray patina. There are patches of mild pitting on the components. The stock has several repairs and retains all or nearly all of the inlays which display primarily crisp carving.
B) Wheellock Pistol
Serial #B) Wheellock Pistol ManufacturerUnknown ModelWheel Lock
TypePistol Gauge40 Catalog Page110
Barrel18 Inch Octagon FinishBright Grip
Stockfruitwood ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionAs discussed in A.

ConditionFine as likely museum repaired and cleaned (or the equivalent). The barrel and lock are primarily bright. The trigger and trigger guard (one screw absent) have some traces of golden finish and a brown patina. The ramrod pipes have a gray patina. There are patches of mild pitting on the components. The stock has several repairs and retains all or nearly all of the inlays which display primarily crisp carving.
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