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Today, most researchers believe that Leonardo da Vinci — whose drawings were developed technically and used practically in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century — was the first proponent of the idea of a wheel-lock, which led to the construction of the first wheel-lock, which, in turn, made it possible to popularize short guns, otherwise known as pistols. 

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This pistol is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful firearm specimens in the museum collection. It also represents luxurious weaponry with a high artistic value, demonstrating a high level of craftsmanship by the handle's creator. In the 16th and 17th centuries, many highly artistic and richly decorated specimens of firearms were created. The ambitions of gunsmiths went not only towards structural improvements, but also towards progressively more beautiful and original decorations. Wooden beds and butts, as well as barrels, locks, and fittings were often decorated according to designs of outstanding artists. In the production of the weapon, the most advanced technology, the best possible materials, and the ideas and inventions of the most talented people, were used. For quite a long time, Jan Kiefus of Nuremberg was believed to have been the creator of the wheel-lock. Today, most researchers believe that Leonardo da Vinci — whose drawings were developed technically and used practically in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century — was the first proponent of the idea of a wheel-lock, which led to the construction of the first wheel-lock, which, in turn, made it possible to popularize short guns, otherwise known as pistols. The bottom part is angular, further towards the round outlet, with a triple profiled ring where the phases intersect, and is smooth inside. The explosive chamber bears the inscription GIFHORN, stamped in a rectangle, and two gunsmith marks with the monogram ‘HK’ and an illegible figure below. Further details include a wheel-lock with an external wheel, a bearing shell on the bottom, radiantly chiselled, with protection from fire. There is a hammer on the straight leg, broken, with flat clamps connected by a screw. A hammer spring, protrudes beyond the lock plate. The lock's sheet is smooth, with a slightly pronounced, square protuberance, decorated with a double, profiled ring at the end. The side cover is in the form of a flat bone cap, fastened with three contemporary screws (cracked), richly ornamented with a figural ornamentation in the form of stylized mythical creatures. The trigger mechanism is covered with a complete hoop.
It has a slender bed and but, beautifully inlaid with bone and nacre, in the form of a delicate flagella, with geometric plates ornamented with a plant-zoomorphic ornamentation. There is a bed under the muzzle of the barrel, shaped like a wooden ramrod, ending with ornamented bone lining. The butt is topped with a pear-shaped head, shod with white metal and engraved floral ornamentation.

Elaborated by Aleksandra Radwan (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

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