Revolving Matchlock Musket
Place of Origin: Jaipur, India
Date: Late 18th/Early 19th Century
A scarce matchlock musket with revolving multi-shot cylinder from Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. The curved wooden stock painted black with a painted arched panel at the butt-end, and a similar arch at the breach-end; contained within the arches Mughal style flower sprays in red, green and yellow, all on a golden orange background. The arches provide a border for the central area where painted in golden red are an eight petalled flower, bottle or vase, a swan and a leaf. These objects are usually found on ivory inlaid matchlock guns from Jaipur, see an example from the Royal Jaipur collection, Elgood (2015), cat.no.183, p.256-257; and another example from the Royal Collection Trust, kept at Sandringham House, illustrated by Clarke (1910), cat.no.242, p.18-19. The Sandringham example was presented to Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by H.H.Maharaja of Jaipur.
The polished steel cylinder, marked with a presumed armoury marking of ‘SK12’ is of four chambers. Each chamber is capable of individual loading with supplied ram-rod. Hand-rotating, the cylinder is located to the breech by nocks engaging the shaped top strap which connects the stock to the barrel. The serpentine is connected to the trigger by means of a simple linkage system which is hidden in the stock, when the trigger is squeezed the serpentine is lowered slowly into the priming pan of the selected chamber. The barrel is slender and of round section and retained by four barrel bands.
Early prototypes and experiments with revolving firearms have always intrigued those involved with arms and armour, none less than Samuel Colt who travelled to the United Kingdom and studied an Indian matchlock musket with revolving cylinder, not dissimilar to the one shown here, which was then kept at the Tower of London, and now part of the collection at the Royal Armouries, Leeds (XXVIF.2). Colt went on to illustrate the musket in a lecture he gave in London on revolver design in 1851.
The Royal Armouries musket can be viewed here: https://collections.royalarmouries.org/object/rac-object-30642.html
Provenance: Sold at Christies (manson & woods), July 18th 1973, lot 162. Achieved price 280 guineas.