loading

Wheel-lock pistol (puffer)

Attributed to:
Stopler, Hans (active 1570-1592)
barrel by Peter Danner (German, active c 1580-1595)
Date:
c 1580-c 1592
maker's dates
Place of production:
Nuremberg, Germany
Medium:
steel, iron, walnut and staghorn
Type of object:
holster pistols
Accession number:
3453

Commentary

When drawn from a saddle holster, this gun's distinctive pommel was probably designed to assist a fast draw. Such pistols, called puffers, were fashionable between 1580 and 1600 in Germany, although a few were made elsewhere. Antler inlay decoration was expensive: these weapons were bought for display as much as for practical use.

Different artists made parts of the gun. Inlay work was highly skilled and practitioners worked on other items, such as furniture, as well as gunstocks. The barrel was also made by a specialist, in this case one of the most prolific barrelsmiths in Nuremberg, Peter Danner. The locksmith responsible for the firing mechanism assembled the different parts of the gun. The spur mark found on this lock was used by Hans Stopler amongst others, making an exact attribution impossible. The Hungarian horseman or hussar appears on another pistol at Waddesdon which also bears the mark of the Danner family and the spur, indicating that the same craftsmen collaborated on more than one weapon (acc. no. 3454).

Hussars were mounted medieval knights who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and were later used as models for light cavalry regiments throughout mainland Europe. They carried distinctive shaped shields and sabres, as depicted on this pistol. The attacking animals that beset the knight here may represent traditional enemies rather than hunting prey.

Phillippa Plock, 2013

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
280 x 330 x 87; 17 (calibre); 75 diam. (pommel); weight 1600g.
Marks:
P
GOP
D
Maker's mark
[top of breech, 'PD' orientated to butt]

[spur]
Maker's mark
[underneath of breech]

1494
Collector's mark
[underneath of breech, modern number]

[spur]
Maker's mark
[on lock (Støckel, 1938-43, no. 1056)]

History

Provenance:
Acquired by either Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898) or Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Collection:
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957

Bibliography

Bibliography

Claude Blair, Anthony Blunt; The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Arms, Armour and Base-Metalwork; Fribourg; Office du Livre; 1974; pp. 303-306, cat. no. 121, ill.

Indexed terms