Monday, 29 June 2015


The blunderbuss illustrated above is one I bought last week. It is not, in one sense, a 'mystery object'. But there is one feature of it that I do not really understand.

And that is the fact that, as you can see, it fold in the middle. I have seen this feature before in Italian guns; but in the sixty years I have been collecting antique guns, this is the first gun with this feature that I have ever owned.

Here is a close-up of the wrist of the gun. The button on top of the wrist is pressed and the gun folds up like a Japanese Sumo wrestler struck smartly in the solar plexus by  a bigger rival.

This picture shows the other slightly unusual feature - the elliptical muzzle; but I can see the advantage of this:- if you are being charged by a straight line of criminally inclined miscreants, then the gun, instead of throwing the circle of bullets that a round muzzle would give,  presumably  would throw a longer horizontal pattern, and bring down more wrong-uns than the round muzzled gun.
However, I can see very little advantage to a folding butt, except possibly that of packing the gun away in a smaller space in times of peace?????
The gun was made around 1750 by P. Lorandi, probably in the Tosco Emilian area of Italy. A pair of pistols by this maker are preserved in the Stibbert Museum in Florence.

Any suggestions as to the advantages of this design would be welcome, although if Rog and Crowbard would restrain themselves to within  the bounds of possibility that might be a help- although - no, go to it chaps - I withdraw that last proviso. ALL suggestions fairly gratefully received.


Crowbard said...

I think this is referred to as a traveler's piece, and a traveler who had such a piece would carry it in a specially constructed leather pocket within the fashionably frocked coat of the day. It was for gentlemen who, perforce, traveled by horse-drawn coach in dangerous times for dissuading highway-men, brigands, cut-throats and wolf-heads of various sorts who operated in gangs particularly in Southern Italy and Sicily and coastal areas generally where 'official' gentlemen were dissuaded by the locals from examining their imports too closely. It made the carrying of a substantial defense less onerous and less obvious, somewhat akin to the modern "take-down rifle".

Rog said...

It's a travelling blunderbuss Mike. Discrete in a Gladstone leather bag when folded.

These were of course the days before airport x-ray machines.

Mike and Ann said...

Thank you Crowbard and thank you Rog. You could both well be right. Must think about it. The other thing I should have mentioned (slipped me mind) is that on the near side (opposite the lock) is a large belt hook - the decoration matching the gun mounts, so the gun could be carried hung from a belt. I think it could also be belt-hung with the gun folded. I'm still not sure why though. Sneaky blighters these Eyeties!

Crowbard said...

I had just noticed the belt-hook Mike and therein lies the need for the fold. Sling it from you belt and see how inconvenient the butt of the piece is until you fold it down.

Mike and Ann said...

See the next blog episode (for Tuesday, 30th June) for the (I think) definitive answer to the question posed in this one, i.e. the advantage of a folding gun.

With my thanks to Crowbard and Rog, whose suggestions give a satisfactory solution to the problem.