Pistols, 1500-1856

Pistols, 1500-1856

Here is a small collection of typical or notable pistols spanning from the sixteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Pistols, 1500-1856
Pistols, 1500-1856
  1. Barrel for number 4.
  2. Wheel-lock pistol of the sixteenth century. This was the sort of pistol used by the German cavalry, and also by the Ritter, or knights.
  3. Wheel-lock pistol with double barrel, beginning of the seventeenth century.
  4. Wheel-lock pistol, firing seven shots.
  5. Double wheel-lock, end of the sixteenth century. Arsenal of Zurich.
  6. Wheel-lock and mortar pistol, called in German Katzenkopf, of the seventeenth century.
  7. Wheel-lock and mortar pistol of the seventeenth century. It is entirely of iron.
  8. Flint-lock pistol, end of the seventeenth century.
  9. Pistol with flint-lock, of the beginning of the eighteenth century.
  10. Colt’s revolver, invented by Samuel Colt, of the United States, in 1835.
  11. Mat revolver, invented a short time back by M. Le Mat.

The illustrations and descriptions have been taken from An Illustrated History of Arms and Armour: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, by Auguste Demmin, and translated by Charles Christopher Black. Published in 1894 by George Bell.

2 thoughts on “Pistols, 1500-1856”

  1. I find it hard for an audience to accept that reality that people used guns back in the early 1500’s. I know we are ‘presenting history’ and being authentic sometimes gets in the way of telling the story. But what do you think is the best way to balance what as a props person and historian you know would be real and what we put on stage?

  2. I think it’s about context. A gun may have existed in the early 1500s, but that does not mean your specific character used one. Props people need to find what is typical or most likely for the characters of the production they work on. It’s like with cell phones; sure, cell phones were around in the mid-1990s, but your average freshman in high school did not have one like they do today.

    I think as a props person, you should not make assumptions about what your audience knows or does not know about history. Sure, 90% of them might be going, “did they really have guns in the early 1500s? That seems strange.” But you will also have that one guy who knows everything about guns, and he’ll be saying, “Wow, they had German cavalry wheel-lock pistols in their play, just like in real life!”

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