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Matchlock Arquebus Musket

Article about: Here's a very interesting early type of firearm, and possibly one that has never featured on the forum before. The gun is a European type of Matchlock of the style used during the early part

  1. #1

    Default Matchlock Arquebus Musket

    Here's a very interesting early type of firearm, and possibly one that has never featured on the forum before. The gun is a European type of Matchlock of the style used during the early part of the English Civil War. It measures 4ft 11 inches long, with a 43 inch smoothbore barrel, and a bore of .70 inch. I am unsure of the age of the piece, but I would hazard a guess that it is possibly late Georgian or Victorian period.


    Matchlock Arquebus Musket


    It is impossible to ascertain the age, as it is completely without makers mark - or proof marks. The back of the lock is numbered '8' on some of the parts and 18 on others, and there is a serial number of 1427 on the chamber.


    Matchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus Musket


    The earlier English Arquebus were often of mixed calibers, and this often caused problems with the Musketeers having to deform the lead balls to fit their barrels. This led to the introduction a variant of the Arquebus which was shorter and of uniform bore. The new version was called the Caliver, the name being a corruption of the Italian word Calibre - which meant inner diameter. And that is how the word Caliber was adopted when referring to the bore of a weapon.


    Matchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus Musket


    The gun is remarkably smooth to operate with it's bar trigger system, and although practically five feet in length and weighing in at 7.5lbs, it feels very light and with good balance when held to the shoulder - and it is in good working order too. There is a crown and a letter 'B' stamped into the fishtail stock, but I couldn't even hazard a guess to the significance of this.

    Cheers,
    Steve


    Matchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus Musket

  2. #2

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    Hi Steve.
    I'm with my son Alex looking at the photos in your post. We are both amazed at that marvelous musket. He is about 380 years old! It's fantastic.
    We wonder if there is a way to know which side would own it. Maybe Royalist? Maybe the Crown means that it was used by Royal troops, and the "B" may mean that it comes from Bristol (one of the main weapons factory for King Charles)? just a theory

    Congratulations. Keep enjoying the Hobby and the family

    Regards
    Santi

  3. #3

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    Hi Santi,

    My own opinion is that maybe the musket is about 200 years old at the most. The Victorians were known for copying armour and early guns, and this could be one of those - but I genuinely do not know for sure. I will be taking it to an arms fair next January to show to a well-known UK antiques expert, and maybe I will get some answers from him. An original 1640's Arquebus would probably cost you in the region of £6,000 and even more, but I only paid 10% of that. So maybe I have dropped lucky, but I really do not know! My two passions in life have been WW1 and the English Civil War, and I honestly never expected that one day I might actually own a European Matchlock.

    It is nice to know that there is someone else as passionate as I am about these items of historical interest, and if you want any close-ups of any particular part of the musket you only need ask. I did contemplate removing the barrel from the stock to see if there were any markings hidden by the woodwork, but the bolt that passes through the stock and into the tang of the barrel is deformed and jammed. It really isn't worth the risk of putting any pressure on it when there might be nothing there to see. The butt curves to the right, and at first I thought that it might have warped. But then I noticed that the comb on top of the butt is cut at an angle where it ends - and the butt wrist is also shaped so that the thumb nestles nicely around the top of the wrist when the weapon is brought to the shoulder. It has been really well thought out. Very few weapons of this period had sights, so being able to get your eye along the barrel in a comfortable manner was of the utmost importance.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  4. #4

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    Hi Steve.

    We'll expect for your news next january about the musquet. In any case, even being a Victorian copy it's a wonderful artifact.
    Keep safe, my friend.

    Regards
    Santi....and Alex

  5. #5

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    That is amazing. I hope it is found to be an original 17th century gun, but even if it is a reproduction it is still a beautiful piece. Is there any possibility that it is not English, and the "B" could be the initial of a foreign monarch?

  6. #6

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    Quote by Richard2 View Post
    That is amazing. I hope it is found to be an original 17th century gun, but even if it is a reproduction it is still a beautiful piece. Is there any possibility that it is not English, and the "B" could be the initial of a foreign monarch?
    Hi Richard,

    There is every possibility that the gun is not of English manufacture, as during the English Civil War period, many pieces of arms and armour were imported from mainland Europe - and especially Holland. Although the Victorians made copies of arms and armour, it was often the case that they were only 'stylised' interpretations of the original items, and this musket - to be honest - is quite plain in appearance. I've added a couple more pictures. You might just be able to make out the shaping of the stock for the thumb to rest more or less naturally. The other is of the muzzle where there is a crack in the stock, but that is the only sign of damage anywhere on the gun.

    Cheers,
    Steve

    Matchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus MusketMatchlock Arquebus Musket

  7. #7
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    great pics...thanks..seems like there is so much involved in getting a good shot off, starting with cleaning, etc

  8. #8

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    A fantastic piece of history, and I’m surprised it lasted this long in its well preserved state. A excellent piece

  9. #9

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    Quote by bronk View Post
    great pics...thanks..seems like there is so much involved in getting a good shot off, starting with cleaning, etc
    It was quite a complex operation! The first job was to remove the match cord before loading the chamber with powder. It took between 40 seconds and one minute for an experienced musketeer to load the weapon. But curiously enough, from igniting the powder in the pan to discharging the shot, a matchlock had a faster ignition than a flintlock!

    Cheers,
    Steve

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