A Wonderful Antique European 17th Century Wheel-lock Pistol of the English Civil War Period and used by the Early European Settlers in the American Colonies
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A Wonderful Antique European Wheel-Lock Pistol, circa. 1640. Possibly one of a pair. These pistols were one of the primary weapons used in the English Civil War (1642-1651). These pistols were used alongside the Matchlock muskets and were brought over from Europe by the early settlers that landed in Plymouth and many remnants have been recovered from colonial archaeological excavations in Jamestown and other early 17th century American colonial sites. Very few examples have survived. 17.25", .56 caliber steel octagon barrel. Steel trigger guard, ram rod pipe (ferrule), and butt cap. The trigger has a built-in trigger return spring. Flat beveled lock with sliding pan cover overall has minor light rust surface pitting and is secured to the stock by (2) side nails (screws). The stock is missing some upper left edge wood along the fore-end, has a period repair just forward of the lock along the right side of the fore-end (see photos). The stock is solid with light scratches and dings from years of handling. The stock has a steel fore-end cap matching the wood ram rod tip. Measures: 25.5" overall. A great example in exceptionally fine condition considering the age and is in good mechanical working order.
NOTE: The pistol is all original with the following exceptions: The trigger guard is a period replacement. The "Dog" (Serpentine that holds the pyrite) may be a replacement as well made during the period of use. Many European country's such as England, France, The Netherlands, and Germany copied each other's firearm designs which makes the country of origin difficult at times.
CONSIGNMENT: DR #7, 2021
The Wheellock: A wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock is a friction-wheel mechanism which creates a spark that causes a firearm to fire. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. Its name is from its rotating steel wheel to provide ignition. Developed in Europe around 1500, it was used alongside the matchlock and was later superseded by the snaplock (1540s), the snaphance (1560s) and the flintlock (c. 1610s).
It is important to note that there was a time where the matchlock, wheellock, snaplock, snaphance and flintlock were being used during the same time period in different parts of the world.
The wheellock had its disadvantages. It was twice the cost of the matchlock, its complicated mechanism was difficult to repair, and some parts, like a small spanner wench that wound the spring, if lost, made the gun useless. Even though there was evidence of the wheel lock’s use by the Spanish and English, including armament records of wheel locks listed at the tragic Roanoke Island settlement in 1585 and excavated sites at Jamestown, it never took hold in the colonies. The North American east coast was settled by the Swedes, Dutch, French, and English, and as mentioned, their preferred weapon to meet the challenges in the New World was the matchlock. But by the mid to late 1600’s, another weapon was developed that proved more dependable. It gradually cast aside the more archaic matchlocks. It was the flintlock.
Ref. Revolutionary War Journal. March 28, 2018. Matchlocks & Flintlocks: Weapons That Tamed a New World & Claimed an American Revolution., by, Harry Schenwolf.
The flintlock became the most popular firearm used throughout the American Colonies for about 200 years until it too was replaced by the percussion cap.
Some History: The English Civil War (1642-1651)
According to Wikipedia:
English Civil War
|English Civil War|
|Part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms|
The victory of the Parliamentarian New Model Army over the Royalist Army at the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645 marked the decisive turning point in the English Civil War.
Covenanters (Second and Third Civil Wars)
Confederate Ireland (1644–45, 1649–51)
(First Civil War)
|Commanders and leaders|
King Charles I
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
King Charles II
Alexander Leslie (2nd civil war only)
Alexander Leslie (1st civil war)
|Casualties and losses|
50,700 dead83,467 captured
34,130 dead32,823 captured
|127,000 non-combat deaths (including some 40,000 civilians)[a]|
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of England's governance and issues of religious freedom. It was part of the wider Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The wars also involved the Scottish Covenanters and Irish Confederates. The war ended with Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
Unlike other civil wars in England, which were mainly fought over who should rule, these conflicts were also concerned with how the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland should be governed. The outcome was threefold: the trial and the execution of Charles I (1649); the exile of his son, Charles II (1651); and the replacement of English monarchy with the Commonwealth of England, which from 1653 (as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland) unified the British Isles under the personal rule of Oliver Cromwell (1653–1658) and briefly his son Richard (1658–1659). The execution of Charles I was particularly notable since it was the first time that an English king was executed. In England, the monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship was ended, and in Ireland, the victors consolidated the established Protestant Ascendancy. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament's consent, but the idea of Parliamentary sovereignty was legally established only as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.