Object Title

Flintlock sporting gun - by James Low

Flintlock sporting gun - by James Low


about 1620

Object Number



Purchased by the Armouries from Mr F.A. Turner. The gun was first sold as lot 574 'An Antique Eastern Rifle' as part of the effects of The Manor House, New Place, Pullorburgh, Sussex on 13th/14th September 1965 by the auctioneers John D. Wood & Co. Bought by Mr F.A. Turner.

Physical Description

The replacement flintlock has a flat brass lock plate, originally gilt, and is made unusually long in order to occupy the space of the original snaphaunce lock plate. The stock is entirely of brass, originally gilt all-over, traces of gilding now surviving only in the sunken parts of the decoration. The butt is engraved with scrolling foliage, and a frieze of palmette decoration. The fore-end bears on either side a band of ribbon ornament and another resembling a form of compressed key pattern. The short butt id fitted with an extension consisting of a solid brass plate crudely pierced in the form of a royal crown, which is mounted on a flat brass bar which slides into the butt and is cut with six squared notches to engage with the spring catch on the underside of the butt. The trigger-guard has an extension for the fingers, the solid scroll shaped end being engraved with a rose. The present brass ramrod is probably not original. The slender barrel is of round section with a flat on either side running nearly to the flared and moulded muzzle. There is a raised flange at the base of the breech into which is cut the backsight notch. The barrel is engraved with panels of scrolling foliage, involving addorsed C scrolls, together with chequered and herring-bone ornament framed in looped ribbon-like bands, the loops enclosing roses and other conventional flowers. Towards the breech, between two low mouldings, is a blank shield beneath a crowned helmet. The ground to the engraving is hatched and the entire surface has originally been gilt. At the breech is engraved the date 161?, the last digit partly obliterated.





BarrelLength35.8 inhes
BarrelLength909 mm
OverallLength46.31 inhes
OverallLength1176 mm
OverallWeight3.69 kg


Serial Number None visible


.476 in

Inscriptions and Marks



All metal pistols, both of steel and brass, were made in considerable numbers in Scotland throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but only two Scottish all-metal long guns are known, of which this is one. The other, which is almost a pair to this, was purchased by the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, Edinburgh in 1973. The Edinburgh gun also bears the same makers mark as this one, attributed to James Low of Dundee. Dundee at the turn of the 17th century was the centre of firearms manufacture in Scotland. James Low was first recorded as a lockmaker in 1587, and a large number of guns survive bearing his mark ranging in date from 1602 to 1627.
As to the two all metal long guns, they are unusual in having adjustable extensions to the butt, presumable to accomadate users of different stature.When comparing the two long guns, this one and that in Edinburgh, The most obvious diffrence is that of the lock. the Edinburgh gun still retains ints original snaphuance lock, while this one has had a replacement flint lock fitted. As a consequence of this new lock a part of the breech has been cut away to accomadate it, the part with the date stamped on. The last digit of the date has been partially lost, but from what remains we can surmise that the gun was made in either 1612, 1613, 1618 or in 1619. In either case it predates the Edinburgh gun which is dated 1624.
The butt extension is crudely fretted with an English crown and the decoration involves pairs of addorsed C's. This motif is also found on a richly engraved and gilt armour in the collection which is believed to have been made for Charles I (Class II.91). The weight of evidence suggests that the gun was made for Charles when he was still Prince of Wales and in his teens.