This fabulous pair of pistols is believed to have been part of the collection of the famous State Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia which has a pair of similar pistols in its collection today (no. 6661 and 6662) from the Collection of the Arsenal on display in The New Hermitage in room 227 with similar barrels with the same markings and type of sights, very similar locks, and the same stock design. The pair was also formerly exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in their Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor from August 3 to September 27, 1931, and then sold as part of the famous collection of William Goodwin Renwick by Sotheby & Co. in March 1974 (lot 58). They date to the last quarter of the 16th century including known examples from the Saxon Royal Armouries in Dresden and have the classic "puffer" architecture. The fruitwood stocks have impressive inlaid staghorn designs with engraved patterns covering essentially all of the surfaces from the forend caps to the "squashed ball" pommels. The patterns have similarities to those on stocks known to be crafted by master stock maker Klaus Hirt of Wasungen and include complex intertwining scrolls with blooms and fruit, grotesque masks including disgorging masks on the sides at the ramrod entry points and either side of the barrel tangs and a whole series of manly bestial masks on the pommels, strange restrained beasts on the bottom of the forends, mermaids at the nose of the locks, nude male characters along with four dogs and two bears on the left sides (bear hunting and baiting were popular at the time), and cherub/putto designs. Even the tips of the wooden ramrods are scrimshawed staghorn and exhibit scale patterns. The smoothbore, part-octagon/part-round barrels have lightly flared muzzles with small post front sights, interesting rear tube/peep sights, line and dash engraving in the midsections, "H" (upper left) and "B" (upper right) barrel maker's initials, and antler maker's cartouches (on top). The locks have flat plates, enclosed wheels, sprung pan covers, simple line accents, and teats at the nose and tails. The lock screws traverse through the lock plates and into the pierced metal belt hooks on the left stock flats which have a circle and V design and fit very closely to the side of the stocks.
Fine with gray patina and some light pitting on the metal, generally crisp markings and engraving, some small pieces absent or repaired on the stock, and general mild wear overall. Lock untested.
Fine with gray patina and light pitting on the lock and barrel, mostly crisp engraving and markings, some small pieces repaired or absent on the stock, and mild overall wear. The lock is untested. 16th century wheellock pistols are rare and valuable treasures, especially those with real artistic merit like this pair. Similar examples are contained within world leading museum collections, and this pair is certainly worthy of a fine display in any antique arms collection or art gallery. Provenance: the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, William G. Renwick, Lenoir Josey, Peter Tillou, Eric Vaule, The Legendary Collection of Robert M. Lee.
There are currently no customer product questions on this lot