Originally featured in Points West in Winter 2009
Russian Flintlock Blunderbuss.
This splendid engraved and inlaid firearm is a Blunderbuss, a name derived from a rough translation of the Dutch/Germanic words donner for “thunder” and busche for “gun.” The resultant “thunder gun” description is quite appropriate for the stunningly loud report heard as it is fired.
This one is truly a “royal” blunderbuss. Made at the Imperial Arms Factory in Tula, Russia, it was originally presented as a gift to King Louis XV of France from Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, in about 1770. Its stock is inlaid with silver wire scrolls; the mounts are chiseled steel, damascened with patterned gold; the barrel features a silver portrait of Louis XV; and the unique elliptical muzzle section of the barrel is embellished with red gold icons of France and French Royal Arms.
Additional views of the blunderbuss’s amazing details
Ideal for reloading on horseback, in coaches, and on ships—and deadly at close range—this firearm, ironically, has become an ancient and unforgettable emblem of royal admiration and affection.
Russian Flintlock Blunderbuss. Museum Purchase, partially funded by the James H. Woods Foundation. 1986.16.1