"Two Lorraine pistols, carved and gilded"

A pair of Lorraine pistols, described as carved and gilded, stands out in the inventory. Although the type of pistol types is not designated, Ximenez's guns were probably wheellocks, and a German example from Nuremberg in the Wallace Collection provides an example of what the combination of gold and silver decoration may have looked like. This basic type remained popular throughout the early seventeenth century, though they had evolved from their original design a century earlier. Wheellocks use an internal friction wheel to ignite a spark to fire the gunpowder reserve. Early models had no safety mechanism to prevent misfire, but later models, such as these, included a "doglock," or an arm carrying pyrite, which needed to be engaged before the wheel could spark. This technological advance made for a safer pistol. The designation "Lorraine" for the Ximenez pistols refers to their place of manufacture; by the early seventeenth century the area around the northeastern border of France was a center for gun production.

Sean Nelson, Max Planck Institute, Florence

Pistol, seventeenth century, The Wallace Collection, London. Image: © The Wallace Collection.