This is a rare example of a late-18th century European flintlock grenade launcher/hand mortar. These were used primarily in the late 17th 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 pre-lit 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 Europe, and are generally contained within museum collections which makes examples on the private market in the U.S. incredibly hard to find. There are no identifying markings found anywhere on this hand mortar. The iron lock and fittings are in the style of Austrian flintlock arms of the late 1700s. Brass furniture and barrel. Nicely shaped tear drop flats and relief carving at the breech and around the stock comb. The opening of the cup has a 4 inch diameter. Provenance: The Collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr
Very good with attractive bright patina on the brass, gray and brown patina on the iron lock with some light pitting, and some scattered light handling marks. Stock is good as lightly sanded and refinished with some light chipping around the edges, a spliced and repaired section (butts into part of the carving) above the rear of the lock, a crack above the rear lock screw, and distinct carving. Absent front lock screw, otherwise mechanically fine. This incredibly scarce example of an early hand mortar would make an excellent addition to any early flintlock martial collection!