This English-made hunting wheellock is an extremely rare gun. Whilea popular firearm made by gunmakers all over the world, very few signed English wheellocks have lasted to present day. This gun, made by Robert Rowland of London sometime between 1704 and 1722 is one of the few survivors.
It’s also fascinating because of its provenance. It can be rare to trace the historical movement of an artifact, especially one of such antiquity. The gun’s lineage of owners doesn’t surface until decades after it was made, however, after that point we have a pretty complete history.
It was purchased by David Martin, court painter to the Prince of Wales in the 1700s (self-portrait above). After he died, it was sold in 1799 by English auctioneer Cornelius Elliot. A lover of all things antique, Thomas Gwennapp bought it and displayed it in his museum, the Oplatheca for many years.
The ownership from 1830 through 1890 goes dark. At the turn of the 20th century, the wheellock made it across the pond and was owned by American industrialist Charles M. Schott. It was then sold to Connecticut financier Valdemar Hammer.
In the 1930s, Charles Cook of Rhode Island acquired the arm. Known arms dealer James Serven ultimately liquidated Cook’s collection and sold this wheellock to Winchester in 1952. It has remained in the collection ever since.
The wheellock came to Cody as part of the Winchester Arms Collection loan in 1975 and became a permanent donation in 1988. The Cody Firearms Museum opened in 1991 and it has been on display ever since.
For more information, visit centerofthewest.org