Austria, Salzburg. Steel, iron,brass, fruitwood, horn.
This most elegant wheel-lock carbine belongs to a small but very well-known series made to equip a company of troops within the personal guard Wolf-Dietrich von Raitenau, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (r.1587-1612, d.1617). An archival record tells us that in 1605, under the command of a captain, his deputy and a drum-major, the guard numbered 36 soldiers armed with carbines, together with 29 halberdiers.
Produced over a span of perhaps more than sixteen years, the von Raitenau series of carbines differ in some details of their construction, the locks most noticeably, and this is illustrated perfectly by the two examples now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich (Inv.-Nr. W 4830 and 4857). All, however, conform to very similar proportions, to the relatively restrained designs of the engraved horn inlay of the stocks, and to the repeated inclusion of the decorative pierced and threaded cartouche formed in the rollwerk style of the German high renaissance, which is easily apparent on the carbine under discussion. The earliest of these carbines is dated 1594 and is preserved in the Landesmuseum Kärnten, Klagenfurt, while two others, attributed to 1590, are in the former imperial collection of the Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna, (A 807 and A 808).
Wolf-Dietrich von Raitenau was born in 1559 and steered by his family away from his early interest in a military career to one in the church. Rising quickly through the hierarchy of the Cathedral Chapter of Salzburg von Raitenau was appointed Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1587, the territories held by the archbishopric being a part of the Holy Roman Empire under the Emperor Rudolf II.
Salzburg flourished within the greater part of von Raitenau’s reign, but his rule ended as a consequence of a dispute with Bavaria over the trade in salt and von Raitenau’s refusal to join the Catholic League. In October 1611 his troops invaded the Berchtesgaden Provostry, territory also claimed by the ruling Bavarian Wittlesbachs. The Bavarians retaliated by marching into the Salzburg lands. At this point Rudolf II abandoned his support of the Salzburg Archbishopric, and von Raitenau was captured while in flight through Carinthia. He was imprisoned in the Hohensalzburg castle for the remainder of his life, he died in 1617.
The mark struck on the breech of the barrel of this carbine should almost certainly be attributed either to the gun-maker Georg Zellner working in Zell am Wallersee, a town on the northerly edge of the former independent Prince-bishopric of Salzburg, or perhaps to the town itself. While this exact mark, without the additional initials G or GZ, is not recorded in the lexicon Neue Støckel with an attribution to Georg Zellner, the letter Z between two pellets is the salient feature both of the existing mark attributed to Georg Zellner (active circa 1594-1634), and of the mark used by his son, Hans Zellner (1610-80). The barrels of other carbines within the von Raitenau series are both struck with Georg Zellner’s recognised mark and alternatively with the mark found on the barrel of the present carbine. In both instances the locks of these carbines may, or may not be, struck with the mark of other makers of gun locks.
Examples of the mark identical to that on the breech of this carbine are found on a number of carbines from the von Raitenau series; two are preserved in the Salzburg Museum (Inv. Nr. W 275 and W 1068) and a third is in the Salzburg Residenz, the former palace of the Prince-Archbishops. Another is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with further reference to one formerly in the Hanoverian Royal Collection. A further example is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Inv.-Nr. IV E 153). This last example, together with the two in this museum cited earlier, were almost certainly a part of the quantity of luxurious arms and equipment belonging to von Raitenau’s guard which was looted by Bavarian troops, either on about the occasion in 1612 of his capture by the Bavarians, or in 1809, at the transferral of the Salzburg lands to Bavaria.
The barrel formed in two stages with moulded girdle between, the breech section octagonal, struck with maker’s mark attributed to Georg Zellner (in a shield, Z flanked by pellets), fitted with brass standing back-sight formed as an openwork scroll and the muzzle decorated with a pronounced double moulding also seating the foresight bead. With flat lock and solid flat wheel-cover each retaining some original blued finish, and fitted with sliding pan-cover, safety-catch moving on a long external spring extending from below the wheel, and the dog formed with a scroll-shaped neck flattened on the outer side. With fruitwood full stock inlaid over its length with a series of engraved white horn plaques arranged within plain horn linear borders and segmental lines, involving stylised leaf ornament in elongated plaques inlaid over the fore-end, a pierced rollwerk cartouche opposite the lock threaded with a scrolling line strung with ballflowers, a similar device decorating both sides of the butt, and a pair of plaques engraved with S-shaped leafy scrolls inlaid about the barrel tang. With iron trigger-guard, an engraved horn plaque over the mouth of the ramrod channel, border-engraved horn butt-plate, and original wooden ramrod with engraved horn tip.
Size: Length 83 cm / 32.6 in, Barrel length 56.6 cm / 22.28 in