Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1314: Master of the Castles Ornate Inlaid and Gilded Wheellock Pistol

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Rare "Master of the Castles" Ornate Inlaid and Gilded Wheellock Pistol

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $70,000 - $110,000

Rare "Master of the Castles" Ornate Inlaid and Gilded Wheellock Pistol

Manufacturer: German
Model: Wheellock
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 34
Barrel: 22 7/8 inch part octagon
Finish: bright/gold
Stock: hardwood
Item Views: 1740
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 257
Class: Antique

This incredible wheellock pistol was likely meant as an artistic presentation piece rather than for actual use as a weapon given its extensive ornamentation, delicate mother of pearl inlays, and small caliber, but it is a functional firearm from the late 16th century or early 17th century. Its decoration is attributed to the famous "Master of the Castles" who decorated a series of ornate wheellock pistol stocks c. 1590-1620 with bone, staghorn, and mother of pearl inlays that often included castle scenes. The various design elements are consistent with the body of work attributed to this unknown master artisan or group of artisans, including pistols in the Waddesdon collection (accession numbers: 5187 and 3455). The stock is what really sets the pistol apart. It is extensively inlaid with staghorn/bone and mother of pearl engraved with a variety of intricate designs. The scene of the hunter firing a wheellock long gun on the left stock flat is the most prominent. The four castle/estate scenes on the forend are particularly important given the attributed stockmaker's moniker, but the smaller details can be just as intriguing such as the grotesque masks ahead of and behind the safety on the left, the rabbit to the left of the barrel tang among the scrolls, the snail among the scrolls on the right side of the barrel tang, the masks on the egg shaped pommel and bottom of the stock, and the various fine elements throughout. The barrel and lock have arabesque scroll patterns highlighted by gold. The pan button, wheel cover, trigger guard, straps and finial of the pommel, and some of the small components also have gilt finish. The lock has a Nuremberg mark and an "HR/sun" maker's mark dated to the same era on page 1089 of "Der Neue Stockel" by Heer. The tail of the lock has a pronounced teat, a feature found on other pistols from the late 16th century. The barrel has some faint letters that appear to be "A L Z" and have been noted as the mark of Lorenz Herold in the included page from the rough draft of Tom Lewis' book. The ramrod has a coordinating staghorn tip with light engraving. Provenance: The Collections of Joe Kindig Jr., Clay Bedford, Peter Bedford, and Tom Lewis

Rating Definition:

Fine with strong original gild finish on the wheel cover and pommel straps, lighter original gilding in the engraving, silver-gray patina on the balance, some minor pitting, and generally minor overall wear from age. The stock is fine and has distinct designs, some thin cracks and faint repairs, and a dark, glossy finish. Mechanically untested. This is a beautiful wheellock pistol that will add value, artistry, and rarity to any fine antique arms collection and begs to be on display.

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