PAIR OF PISTOLS IN A CASE WITH ACCESSORIES
Berlin 19Th century
Material: Forged iron and wood
Size: cm 44 x 27
review by gherardo turchi
Pair of antique and very rare duel pistols in a case with accessories, made in Berlin during the nineteenth century in the workshop of master gunsmith Adriaen Götzke.
There is little information about the production of firearms in Germany during the nineteenth century, since the production of such armaments in this century was mainly a prerogative of French and Italian gunsmiths, although Germany was, in the past centuries, one of the largest hotbeds of ideas and innovations in the field of firearms. Mainly due to this premise, these weapons are extremely rare, not only for their quality yet for the signature they have.
Among the few known German gunsmiths, the name of gunsmith Götzke stands out. Raised in his father’s weapons workshop, from which he learned the art of iron forging and engraving, Adriaen devoted himself from an early age to the production of firearms, mainly for shooting and dueling, often merging the two ways of using them in a single weapon.
We know very few weapons of the young Götzke, mostly kept in museums, as it seems that his production has been extremely limited.
In this case, too, there is little information about the gunsmith’s life, and as mentioned, some works he signed are mainly at the Rüstkammer in Dresden.
Conceived by combining the use of the duel with that of shooting, these weapons mount octagonal striped barrels with reinforcement to the breeches, on which the signature “A. GÖTZKE IN BERLIN” is engraved. At the top of the muzzle the reeds have a particularly strong “gioia di bocca” (a reinforced metal ring at the mouth of the pistols) with double choking and rear sight, acting not only as a reinforcement but above all as an improvement for the accuracy of the shot, allowing the lead ball a more gradual distortion and a smaller angle of caracollo. The barrels are fixed to the wooden stocks through iron plates engraved with phytomorphic circles, placed on the breeches; the same circles decoration is repeated on the locks, as well as on the trigger guards on the counter plates, and the breeches of the butts. An interesting detail is the hair trigger, used to reduce the pressure and allow a precise shot. The last essential detail is a safety lock on the battery side, just below the cock. All these just described devices place the production of these pistols in that group of extremely refined weapons, designed for customers regarding not only aesthetics but also and above all the accuracy of shooting.
The weapons are placed in a wooden box finely veneered in brown walnut briar, embellished with golden brass inserts; on its lid it has a gold brass plaque, on which it is engraved a coat of arms of the client family, possibly. The inside of the box, covered in purple velvet, has all those accessories useful for a correct operating and cleaning of the weapons, including “battipalle” (Italian word meaning a small ball grip pushing the ball inside and placed at the end of the ramrod) hammer,
screwdriver, gunpowder flask, gang mould, oilcan, ramrods, a probe to clean the nipples, nipple dispenser and whatever else commonly used for their maintenance.
These pistols are in an excellent state of conservation, except for the lack of the cassette key, supposedly lost over the centuries.