Leopold Becher was one of the best Bohemian master gunmakers from the spa city of Carlsbad (aka Karlovy Vary) in the first half of the 18th century. Due to Carlsbad being an international destination at the time, he gained wealthy and influential clients throughout Europe, and many of his surviving firearms can be found in royal collections and national museums today. In particular, he held the title of court gunmaker to General Johann Georg Christian, Prince of Lobkowitz, in 1726-1727. Multiple Becher firearms, like this one, are known with Spanish or Spanish style barrels, which were fashionable at the time. The Ferdinant maker's mark on this rifle is referenced as from Barcelona in relation to Becher in "Der Neue Stockel." The swamped octagonal barrel has seven-groove rifling, a gilt blade front sight surrounded by gold inlaid entwining scroll patterns, gilt notch rear sight with second folding leaf and scroll pattern finial, "LEOPOLD BECHER" signed in gold inlay along with gold scroll patterns and borders on the breech section, gold lined vent, and a golden "crown/FER/DINA/NT/R.A." sunken maker's mark and orb mark on top at the breech. The lock has a finely chiseled hunting scene of two hunters on horseback pursuing a stag and hind in a wooded scene with gilt backgrounds, "L. BECHER A CARLSBAD" signed at the front, scroll engraving with gilt backgrounds on the frizzen and cock, and is fired using a set of adjustable double set, double phase triggers enclosed in a gilt trigger guard with trefoil finial followed by a mask design, a hunter with a horn on the bow, and grip extension. The other furniture is also gilt brass and features cast and engraved hunting scenes, including hares and a hunter on the forend cap, a hunter with a board spear and pack of dogs attacking a boar on the patch box lid, dogs and a man with bagpipes on the buttplate tang, stag and hunting scene on the back of the buttplate, hunter with slain mountain goat on the toe plate, Diana along with dogs and a bestial mask flaking a classical bust on the wrist escutcheon, dogs and stag on the side plate, and fox, bestial mask, and dog on the edge of the cheekpiece. The finely figured walnut stock has raised relief and incised scroll carving, fine molding, a sling swivel on the forend, and a sling stud on the bottom of the butt. The ramrod has a gilt brass tip and
Exceptionally fine with 75% plus fire blue and bright gold on the barrel, some light oxidation and smooth brown patina on the balance of the barrel, bright gilt backgrounds on the lock which has mostly silver-gray patina and some minor oxidation, strong gilt finish on the furniture, and minor overall wear including some scrapes on the frizzen. The re-oiled stock is very fine and has attractive figure, distinct carving, a tiny repaired flake at the buttplate tang, and minor handling and storage marks. Mechanically excellent. Overall a stunning Bohemian jaeger rifle by a well-respected Carlsbad maker.
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