Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3244: Wheellock Hand Mortar/Grenade Launcher

Auction Date: August 28, 2022

Incredibly Rare Engraved and Inlaid Wheellock Hand Mortar/Grenade Launcher

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,500 - $16,000

Incredibly Rare Engraved and Inlaid Wheellock Hand Mortar/Grenade Launcher

Manufacturer: Unknown
Model: Wheellock
Type: Musket
Gauge: 2 1/4 inch
Barrel: 12 3/4 inch round
Finish: bright
Stock: fruitwood
Item Views: 527
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 175
Class: Antique

The massive brass/bronze barrel of this piece measures just under 2 3/8 inches at the muzzle opening, has a narrow antechamber for the powder charge, and is decorated with scroll and floral engraving. The lock has a double mask design on the wheel cover and some light engraving on the dog. The bottom of the barrel has a lug that projects through the bottom of the forend and was likely hooked to a wall or other structure to help steady the mortar and control recoil. The fruitwood stock has engraved stag-horn inlays mainly consisting of floral blooms as well as two scenes with dogs pursing game on the left; one pursuing a fox on the side flat and one pursuing a hare on the cheek rest. Other wheellock hand mortars have been dated to the late 16th century and first half of the 17th century, and some examples have known Nuremberg makers' marks. There has been debate on how exactly they were used. They may have been used primarily for fireworks given some have narrower barrels while others like this one has a short, wide barrel more suitable for launching bombs or larger pyrotechnics.

Rating Definition:

Very good with attractively aged patina on the barrel, moderate pitting on the iron, and mild wear. The stock is also very good and has some replacement inlays and repaired cracks, small insect holes, and general minor scratches and marks. Lock not tested.

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