The origin of this particular item is not known, but it is likely Dutch or German and from the mid-18th century. These were used primarily in the late 17th century and 18th century. They could be used for launching pre-lit fused grenades, weighted lines, and grappling hooks further distances than could be thrown by hand. Some may have been used for launching fireworks. The varied shape of some of the barrels certainly suggest some had different purposes. The cup shape on this example would be conducive for launching a grenade. The fact that the grenades generally had to be prelit certainly seems dangerous given flintlocks routinely misfire. These devices do not appear to have been used in large numbers, and very few of these guns survive today. Many that do, originated in Germany or the U.K., and are generally contained within museum collections which makes examples on the private market in the U.S. incredibly hard to find. The only identifying marking is a small "HE/M" maker's mark inside the lock. The furniture is iron, and it has a bare butt with carved "finial" on the heel and nicely shaped tear drop flats and carving at the breech. The barrel is secured by the tang screw, rear lock screw, and a screw in the bottom of the stock. The "cup" has a 3 1/3 inch diameter.
Fine with attractively aged patina on the exceptionally crisp brass, gray and brown patina on the iron, crack in the neck of the intact hammer, and mild wear. The stock is also fine and has some chips (mainly on the toe area), light scrapes and pressure marks, and distinct carving. Mechanically fine. This is definitely a very interesting firearm variation absent from the vast majority of private collections.
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