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Japanese Matchlock in a local auction

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Hi Gents,


I wonder if you could help.....


I found this in a local auction house with the following description:


"A late 18th/early 19th century Japanese Matchlock musket with 29½"" octagonal steel barrel decorated with birds and foliage, signed, polished wood stock with brass furniture "


It looks a nice piece but is obviously missing a few bits...Plus it has rather modern looking screws in it.....but it looks to have an internal spring mechanism which I'm told is quite rare...?


Any thoughts?














Regards Jon

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Talk about conflicted.

On one hand, that rifle needs a LOT of work. It is all do-able, but half the gun won't be original. You need to make the pan, mechanism, serpentine, ama-ooi etc. And maybe internal lockwork is missing too. A heck of a lot of time and effort.

But while most inlay on these is badly done, the inlay on this one looks quite good.

If it goes for a few hundred $'s, it may be a worthwhile project. More than that, skip it imho.



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Dear Jon,

Although I would lean towards this being a product of the Bizen Gunsmiths ... certainly the trigger is in the style of the Bizen, ... it also however has some characteristics of the Sakai, but I think Bizen . It would be nice to see a barrel signature and a photograph of the gun as a whole. I agree the gun is late, late 18th century or more likely early 19th century. Unfortunately the Serpentine and serpentine pin is missing ( Bizen guns often have a Silver Headed pin ) which would help somewhat in the gun's identification. The pan cover, ama-ooi is also missing. The brass screws are also a much later addition and would need replacing. As Brian says the internal mechanism may also require parts.

The inlay is well done and very attractive. At the right price, ... I would buy it and carry out restorations. Overall this was once a very attractive Tanegashima, Teppo or Hinwa-ju ... your choice of Japanese words. If you can purchase it between $ 600.00 - $ 900.00 and have the expertise and time ... a wonderful winter project. Can anyone translate the Kanji of the stockmaker. This might help in identifying the area of manufacture.


... Ron Watson

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Dear Jon,

Well, ... there you have it, ... two opinions ( not necessarily in conflict ) and with the translation of the stock maker as being probably Kunitomo not at all unusual since gun makers of the time were transients moving about the country to wherever they could find work ... we often see a mixture of two schools in any one gun. It often makes definitive identification of a particular example difficult. Usually I would go by the signature on the barrel to make a more confident identification, ... but even this is not foolproof as I say again these gun smiths particularly mid to late Edo Period moved about the country and we do not know if this barrel is signed ... many are not. In my opinion the overall appearance does not suggest Kunitomo as the school or location if you will of this guns manufacture, ... although I agree with Piers that the stock is in the Kunitomo shape ... in particular the butt. What is your overall opinion Piers ?? I could well be wrong as the Kunitomo did on occasion do bulbous muzzles ( I actually own one ).

... Ron Watson

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