A very rare German seven-barrelled flintlock volley rifle by Valtin (Valentin) Muth, Zerbst,...
A very rare German seven-barrelled flintlock volley rifle by Valtin (Valentin) Muth, Zerbst, circa 1680, With a static circular arrangement of hexagonal 13mm calibre barrels fitted with treaded trunnions beneath, each barrel with hexagonal bore additionally cut with six grooves, each with a laterally plugged breech formed with a touch-hole and a channel for priming powder, and each plug fitting into a corresponding aperture in a circular plate, the latter in turn slotted into the action face and signed on the top within an encircling engraved band of imbricated leaf ornament, with engraved action tang, lightly rounded lock engraved with scrolling foliage, robust walnut butt with raised mouldings, iron solid side-plate engraved with foliage en suite with the lock, plain iron butt-plate and trigger-guard, and wooden ramrod carried by a pair of iron pipes on the left-hand side of the barrel group. On a 19th century wooden rampart carriage constructed in the 17th century fashion, painted russet red with black bands, with adjustable elevating quoin, a pair of small trucks, and iron mounts. Barrels 71cm, overall length 115cm. Illustrated.
Provenance: Removed from the historic armoury of Schloss Greifenstein, near Heiligenstadt in Upper Franconia, seat of the von Schenk family, Counts von Stauffenberg. Sold Sotheby's London, 10 July 2002, lot 216
The castle came into the ownership of the Counts Schenk von Stauffenberg in 1691, it having been ceded to Prince-Bishop Marquard Sebastian Schenk von Stauffenberg, Bishop of Bamberg (1644-1695). Within recent history, the late Otto Philipp, Count von Stauffenberg (d. 2015) was nephew to Claus and Berthold Schenk von Stauffenberg, the leaders of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944.
Volley guns were conceived with the aim of delivering concentrated fire-power, usually in a defensive position, covering for example, a strategic castle entrance or providing enfilade fire from a bastion to sweep enemy troops attempting to assault the ramparts. The number of barrels was governed by the practicalities of weight, nine barrels being known but seven being the preferred and most easily constructed configuration.
Heavy volley guns of this type appear to have been adopted primarily within the north and eastern German territories, but surviving examples are very rare.
The painted colour-scheme on the present carriage matches that of a similar carriage also sold from the Greifenstein armoury; this suggests that the colours were those historically adopted for uniform use throughout this castle.