An Etched Cranequin for Spanning a Crossbow, c. 1570-80

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Item ref: 3808

  • Southern Germany
  • Steel, corded hemp fibre, wood.
  • 38 cm


Private collection, USA

This cranequin reveals its manufacturing period through its etched decoration, the designs being typical of those found on a variety of South German staff weapons, firearms and iron boxes of the period 1570-90.

The etched designs are arranged as panels of leafy and flower-bearing running tendrils contrasting against a blackened ground. The design running the length of the ratchet-bar additionally suspends a quiver of crossbow bolts and an elliptical shield, and the circular panel on the upper face of the cog-wheel additionally involves the profile busts of a soldier, a woman and human grotesque, all on a blackened granular ground. The circular arrangement of busts is further enhanced between a trio of pierced trefoils.

The maker’s stamp, in a shield, FV, a crossbow between, is recorded in Neue Støckel (2534). This stamp is attributed to circa 1561-80 on the evidence of cranequins of the period which bear the same mark and which are preserved in, respectively, The National Museum, Copenhagen, The Deutsches Historischesmuseum, Berlin, and The Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg