Peter Finer

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An Alsatian Wheel-lock Pistol, Puffer, Maker’s Mark of Hannsz Waldruff, Strasbourg, c. 1575

Item Ref: 2464 Price on application

2464 2
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Alsace, Strasbourg. Iron, steel, fruitwood, staghorn.


The historic Republic of Geneva city arsenal. This pistol included in the order for a quantity of pistols of this type made by the Geneva arsenal in 1572. Included in the transfer of the historic city arms and armour collection to the Geneva Musée d’Art et d’Histoire upon its inauguration in 1910. This pistol presented to Major Henry Galopin, the curator of the collection, circa 1900. Included as no. 6 in Galopin’s 1913 catalogue of the collection. Thence by descent until its private sale in 2012.

Major Henry Galopin, Notes sur le collection d’armes anciennes du Major Henry Galopin, s.l. 1913

This pistol is preserved in fine untouched condition in keeping with its unique historic provenance, which dates unbroken from its delivery to the arsenal of the Republic of Geneva, circa 1575; the barrel and the lock each retain a significant proportion of their original blued finish, and the stock retains all of its original decorative horn inlay. Sixteen pistols remain in the Geneva collection which were made in Strasbourg at approximately the same date, all are characterised by having pommels of the same distinctive form as exemplified on the present pistol: see Godoy 1993, p. 19. As is mentioned in the present notes outlining the provenance, this pistol formed a part of an order for a large quantity of pistols made by the Geneva arsenal in 1572.     

Hannsz Waldruff or Waltruff, the gun-maker whose mark is struck on the lock-plate, came from the small town of Arle in the German extreme north-westerly region of Ostfriesland. He is recorded working in Strasbourg in the Alsace from 1565 until his death in 1576-7: see Heer 1979. A near-identical pistol, almost certainly the pair to the present example, is preserved in the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva (inv. no. A 151): see Bosson 1953, cited twice in the lock typology and listed p. 173, the maker’s mark reproduced as no 51, p. 162. Also see Godoy 1993, cat. no. 197, p.88, illus. p. 331.

Clément Bosson, Les Pistolets à Rouet du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire. Extrait de GENAVA, Nouvelle série, tome I, Genève 1953                                                                                                                                                            
Eugène Heer, Der Neue Støckel, vol. 2, Schwäbisch Hall 1979                                                                                                                                                                
José-A Godoy, Armes a Feu XVe-XVIIe Siecle, Collection du Musée d’art et d’histoire, Genève, Milan 1993

The barrel formed in two stages with narrow girdle between, lightly swamped muzzle and octagonal breech section. The lock struck with maker’s mark of Hannsz Waldruff of Strasbourg (Neue Støckel 8506), fitted with shallow convex wheel-cover enclosed by a ring, three-piece safety-catch involving a pair decorative convex finials formed in plan as elongated cones, the dog-spring extending forward of the lock-plate and with finial en suite, sliding pan-cover with button release, and the dog engraved with a grotesque capped by a monster. Fruitwood full stock faceted over its rear portion, inlaid over its length with a series of engraved horn plaques arranged within horn segmental lines, comprising pairs of rollwerk monsters on both sides of the fore-end, three elongated triangular plaques engraved with leaf ornament inlaid about the barrel tang, a scrollwork plaque forming the trigger-plate, scrolling designs of tendrils strung with ballflowers and terminating in engraved large leaves inlaid opposite the lock and on the upper surfaces of the butt, and fitted with compressed deeply fluted pommel seated on an engraved horn collar, each of the flutes inlaid with a single ballflower tendril between linear borders, and the rearward flat inset with a horn rosette plaque. With iron trigger-guard, the ramrod-pipe and fore-end cap each of engraved horn, and original iron-tipped wooden ramrod.  In fine untouched condition, the barrel, the lock and the ramrod-tip each retaining original blued finish.

Size: Length 56.9 cm / 22.40 in