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Isaac D Rainey




Location: Evansville Indiana
Joined: 29 Sep 2012

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 8:49 am    Post subject: Early wheel-locks?         Reply with quote

I was curious about early wheel-lock firearms. What is the earliest account of one being used? What do you guys think about the theory that Leonardo da Vinci invented the wheel-lock? Also any pictures would be appreciated!
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 7:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From a French translation of a book by J.F. Hayward printed in 1963 " LES ARMES A FEU ANCIENNNES 1500 - 1660 " originally published in English under the title " THE ART OF THE GUNMAKER ", copyright 1962 by J.F. Hayward.[/b]

The author writes that Leonardo da Vinci drawings of a wheelock mechanism could be dated to between 1483 and 1499 when Leonardo resided in Milan in one interpretation, An other estimation of the dates of those drawings puts the date between 1500 - 1505, 15 years before the first wheelocks that can be dated with some certainty.

The author also writes that it is uncertain if Leonardo invented the mechanism or if he may have seen it In the workshop of an Italian armorer ? It seems that we can be fairly certain that the origins of the design and manufacture of the first wheelocks are Italian.

Most of the earliest wheelocks seem to be of combined weapons of one type or another i.e. wheelocks combined with a polearm, axe, warhammer, crossbow or dagger.

The most primitive versions of wheelocks also seem to be Italian in origins and many are conserved at the armory of the Palace of the Doge in Venice. The author also adds that unfortunately none of these are dated or appear in period inventories so that dating is sort of based on comparing types.

There is also evidence of international trade later in the second quarter of the 16th century where there are indications of wheelock mechanism being of German origin but maybe assembled in Italy.


Anyway, I just translated and roughly summarized from the book: Hopefully I didn't misinterpret anything and this book was published in 1963 so new research might have different interpretations or information.

In general one could find wheelocks being in general use sometime between 1520 - 1540, and by 1550 there is no doubt that they where common at least for nobles who could afford their relatively high cost.

Others may be able to add more precise information about the first documented use of wheelocks in battle, hope this helps a bit.

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Isaac D Rainey




Location: Evansville Indiana
Joined: 29 Sep 2012

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 10:44 am    Post subject: Thanks         Reply with quote

Thank you for the info, do you have any pictures or sources? I want to compare these early wheel-locks to some of the later ones to see how they changed in design.
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