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A rare 17th century combined wheel-lock and halberd – £15,000 at Thomas Del Mar.

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It included an exceptional selection of 17th century European firearms led by the German 54-bore breech-loading wheel-lock which made a record £75,000 and was featured in ATG No 2454.

This was a highly sophisticated weapon, loaded at the breech with a pre-loaded and primed cartridge and self-spanning, so that the wheel can be automatically wound up as the cock is lowered into position.

Its provenance from the 1983 Hever Castle sale only served to strengthen its credentials.

This illustrious pistol was not the only 17th century rarity with Hever Castle in its pedigree.

Another curiosity, a German combined halberd and wheel-lock pistol dating from the early 16th century with an 80-bore barrel firing along the spear blade, was another high-flier, selling for £15,000.

Superior shooters

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A 17th century Silesian Tschinke – £16,000 at Thomas Del Mar.

A more familiar sight in the saleroom was a Silesian small-calibre wheel-lock tschinke or birding gun.

These elegant sporting rifles were evidently popular with hunters and judging by its quality (its fruitwood stock was profusely inlaid overall with staghorn decoration), this one must have belonged to a superior class of shooter. Its quality helped it to £16,000.

Another popular choice for the 17th century sportsman was the crossbow, and the reliability of this simple weapon meant that it continued to be employed alongside ever more sophisticated firearms for many centuries.

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A 17th century mid-European sporting crossbow – £13,000 at Thomas Del Mar.

The example sold here was powered by a heavy steel bow fitted to a tiller decorated with engraved staghorn panels in a style that suggested a Bohemian origin. Again this was a weapon of superior quality and it sold at £13,000.

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Late 16th century south German petrronel – £19,000 at Thomas Del Mar.

Another, even earlier, rarity was a late 16th century south German matchlock gun of a type known as a petronel, so named because it was fired from the chest (poitrine) rather than the shoulder.

This example certainly had a strongly down-curved stock that suggested a cross between a pistol and a carbine. Yet again this was an aristocrat among matchlocks with a highly decorated barrel and stock.

It was initialled HP, most probably for Hans Paumgartner, who is recorded c.1540-90 in Graz and worked at the court of Charles II, Archduke of Styria. It sold for £19,000.