1597: World's oldest 421 y.o. eight shot revolver

KorbenDallas

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#1
Every single article pertaining to this, allegedly, 1597 revolver contains nothing but speculations. The official story says that this gun was made by a certain gunsmith named Hans Stopler. Apparently a stamp mark of a horse spur, told the director of Maihaugen Folk Museum, Gaute Jacobsen, that it was made by this Hans Stopler. The horse spur somehow was able to indicate, that the revolver was made in 1597.

421 years old...

Unfortunately, there are many treasures hidden away in Norwegian
museum storage rooms that the public rarely or never get to see.

worlds-oldest-revovler-norway.jpg

The revolver currently resides in the storage rooms of the
Maihaugen Folk Museum in Lillehammer, Norway.

Although the first owner of the gun is unknown, it is clear that the gun at some point was acquired by a Norwegian general George von Reichwein. The silver tag on the bottom of the grip has the general’s name on it and date of 1636.

oldest-revolver_1.jpg

This is where we get into the Nosovsky and Fomenko "New Chronology" territory. Nowhere on the bottom of the grip does it say 1636. In fact, it says J.636. In other words, it is year 636 from Jesus. Whether it suggests that this revolver is 1382 years old, or that Jesus was born 1018 years ago, is up for a debate. I, personally, do not believe that J.636 means 1636.

The Revolver
It is an eight shot black powder flintlock revolver. Each chamber has a sort of a shutter designed to hold the priming charge. Presumably, they were driven open either upon hammer strike or manually.

hans_stoppler.jpg

hans_stoppler_10.jpg

hans_stoppler_1.jpg Hans-Stopler-Revolver-1597-3.jpg hans_stoppler_2.jpg hans_stoppler_3.jpg

Although it looks like a nice little gun, it is in fact a massive one.

Hans-Stopler-Revolver-1597-6-660x372.jpg

The gunsmith's mark is still clearly visible.
hans_stoppler_4.jpg

It was a very advanced design for the era, but it was also extremely hard and expensive to manufacture. Because of that, the revolver concept wasn’t wide spread until the advances in manufacturing technology made it possible to produce them in larger scale and at a reasonable cost. Just imagine what it took to make this gun more than 400 years ago, in late 16th century.

"It’s clear that the gunsmith or “weapons blacksmith” Hans Stopler knew what he was doing. This is no working prototype or proof-of-concept. It’s a highly refined firearm, something that would stand out without any embellishments. It may be the oldest revolver but it’s easy to see that it’s built on established conventions — surviving or otherwise, this isn’t likely to be the earliest revolver ever made.


Each pan cover travels in tight tracks and is individually sprung to prevent the covers from opening unintentionally. The cylinder is indexed to ensure proper barrel alignment and locks into a spring-loaded detent. And the frizzen has been worked to mount to the barrel lug since the gun can’t use side plates.

To turn the next chamber into position the user has to rotate each chamber into place by hand — cocking the hammer does not turn the cylinder. Still, with eight shots between reloads, this revolver embodies sixteenth-century fire superiority. Cock the hammer, turn the cylinder, slide the pan cover off and fire again." - Max Slowik, Guns America

Maihaugen - Wikipedia
The World’s Oldest Existing Revolver – 1597
World's Oldest Known Revolver - The Firearm Blog

* * * * *
KD: It appears, that this 1597 date is a pure speculation. This "horse spur" mark could have been placed on this revolver 300 years after it was made. It is still not clear how Gaute Jacobsen got 1597 out of this mark. Why not 1596, or 1598 for example? J.636 also raises a question or two.

One of the issues we have here is the "ahead of its time" gunsmith skills, and general appearance of this weapon. Who was this Hans Stopler? Where did he go to school? Did he even exist?

Hans Stopler
no info
incognito.png
Those "semi-ancient" guys had to have everything done beautifully, no matter what they were creating buildings, guns, or whatever.

This revolver only came out of its storage room due to some event in Norway. The subliminal message here is that we have thousands of artifacts hiding in the museum vaults. They just keep on sitting there without ever seeing the light of day. And the will keep on siting there until the Judgement Day.
 

asatiger1966

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#5
I don't think "J" was used as a letter until sometime around the 15th century. Officially.
I was taught that the marking that looks like a "J" is really "J." which is another way of saying "the year of our lord. Which means the gun was made in AD636. But I question even that date because of the single dot above the number "6", which needs research.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#6
I was taught that the marking that looks like a "J" is really "J." which is another way of saying "the year of our lord. Which means the gun was made in AD636. But I question even that date because of the single dot above the number "6", which needs research.
Some things just fall in your lap.
The dot above 6 means that it is repeated indefinitely (i.e. forever).
6666666666666666666666
Recurring Decimals
 

ISeenItFirst

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#7
Lot of good theories on the date on the cap, I have no idea. Does look like "J." The general was only 4 years old when they say this was made, so the cap would have been added later, or the gun made later.

The one video said that the maker started making guns in 1597, and I doubt this is the result of his first effort, unless he was the guy making watches and automatons before switching to guns.

What is so ahead of its time about this pistol? It's certainly a mighty fine example, but it's still just a flintlock.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#9
J. or I. it appears to mean the exact same thing, and it is not digit 1.
What is so ahead of its time about this pistol? It's certainly a mighty fine example, but it's still just a flintlock.
For starters it would be nice to see what tools were used to make this revolver, to include the tools used to make the tools used to make the revolver.

Additionally, unless we are ready to accept, that this pistol required no R&D, where is any signs of it?

And as far as any revolvers go, considering that this one was allegedly made in 1597, when was the next known revolver made?

To the best of my knowledge, up till this 1597 revolver came out of the storage room, we considered Elisha Collier to be the inventor of the flintlock revolver. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia still says that Collier is the inventor. The only problem, his invention came 220 years later.

1818 - "first" official flintlock revolver
Revolver,_flintlock.jpg

Elisha Haydon Collier (1788–1856) of Boston invented a flintlock revolver around 1814. His weapon is one of the earliest true revolvers, in contrast to the earlier pepperboxes which were multi-barreled guns. Collier's revolver was not self rotating but it was self-priming: a compartment automatically released gunpowder into the pan when the hammer was cocked.
Logically, if 200+ years is not ahead of its time, I don't know what is.

And another question to ask - what were the gunsmiths doing for 220 years after Mr. Hans Stopler built his 1597 revolver?
 

PrincepAugus

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#10
See this rifle also. Allegedly breech-loading rifles weren't supposed to be commonplace until the 1800s, yet this one has it in 1625! And looks at the details done on it as well.


And then there's this very complex repeating rifle made in the 1700s, although an even ealrier one was made by Kalthoff in the 1600s.
Kalthoff Repeater

Lorenzonis Repeating Flintlocks

 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#11
Plenty of weird stuff out there :)

Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol
c. 1540 – 1545
Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol_1_x.jpg

Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol_1_3_x.jpg

Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol_1.jpg Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol_1_3.jpg
Emperor Charles V’s Wheellock Pistol_1_2.jpg
The double-barreled wheellock pistol made for King Charles V (pictured above) is one of the earliest surviving pistols, dating back to around 1540 – 1545. It was created by Peter Peck of Germany, who also made fine watches. This gun features two locks combined into one firing mechanism, which meant that each barrel could be ignited separately. It is decorated with Charles V’s personal emblems: the double-headed eagle and the pillars of Hercules with the Latin motto PLVS VLTRA (which means “More Beyond”).
 
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ISeenItFirst

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#12
J. or I. it appears to mean the exact same thing, and it is not digit 1.

For starters it would be nice to see what tools were used to make this revolver, to include the tools used to make the tools used to make the revolver.

Additionally, unless we are ready to accept, that this pistol required no R&D, where is any signs of it?

And as far as any revolvers go, considering that this one was allegedly made in 1597, when was the next known revolver made?

To the best of my knowledge, up till this 1597 revolver came out of the storage room, we considered Elisha Collier to be the inventor of the flintlock revolver. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia still says that Collier is the inventor. The only problem, his invention came 220 years later.

1818 - "first" official flintlock revolver
View attachment 8084


Logically, if 200+ years is not ahead of its time, I don't know what is.

And another question to ask - what were the gunsmiths doing for 220 years after Mr. Hans Stopler built his 1597 revolver?
Tools would be hand tools and basic lathe (hopefully) most likely. No special tools required, just a lot of time.

Gunsmith were building single shot pistols and long guns that didn't take a master and 2 apprentices a year to make.

If this thing rotated it's own cylinder, primed it's own pan, etc... It would be ahead of its time.

It may seem ahead of its time in the fit and finish, but I don't see any great leaps in technology here, is my point.

Wikipedia will also tell you revolvers were being made in China and germany in the 1500s.
 

PrincepAugus

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#13
Strange that we went from very simple early guns: fire lance > handgonne > arquebus > and matchlock and then suddenly the very complicated wheelocks and it's derivatives.
Tools would be hand tools and basic lathe (hopefully) most likely. No special tools required, just a lot of time.

Gunsmith were building single shot pistols and long guns that didn't take a master and 2 apprentices a year to make.

If this thing rotated it's own cylinder, primed it's own pan, etc... It would be ahead of its time.

It may seem ahead of its time in the fit and finish, but I don't see any great leaps in technology here, is my point.

Wikipedia will also tell you revolvers were being made in China and germany in the 1500s.
I think it's more like "why is it ahead of time, given the so called 'mainstream condition' of the history it was made in" than the gun mechanism itself. I study guns a lot and hope to own one very soon, so the guns presented here are a very good historical reference for what mechanisms and development early guns have went through. Those these relate a lot to the other "advanced" tech designs we have posted here on this site.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#14
Tools would be hand tools and basic lathe (hopefully) most likely. No special tools required, just a lot of time.
Gunsmith were building single shot pistols and long guns that didn't take a master and 2 apprentices a year to make.
If this thing rotated it's own cylinder, primed it's own pan, etc... It would be ahead of its time.
It may seem ahead of its time in the fit and finish, but I don't see any great leaps in technology here, is my point.
Wikipedia will also tell you revolvers were being made in China and germany in the 1500s.
This revolver only came out of the storage in 2014. Up till then nobody had a clue there were revolvers allegedly made as early as 1597.
The pros say the following,
  • "It’s clear that the gunsmith or “weapons blacksmith” Hans Stopler knew what he was doing. This is no working prototype or proof-of-concept. It’s a highly refined firearm, something that would stand out without any embellishments. It may be the oldest revolver but it’s easy to see that it’s built on established conventions - surviving or otherwise, this isn’t likely to be the earliest revolver ever made.
  • Each chamber has a sort of a shutter designed to hold the priming charge. Presumably, they were driven open either upon hammer strike or manually. It was a very advanced design for the era, but it was also extremely hard and expensive to manufacture. Because of that, the revolver concept wasn’t wide spread until the advances in manufacturing technology made it possible to produce them in larger scale and at a reasonable cost. Just imagine what it took to make this gun more than 400 years ago, in late 16th century."
At the same time, the above quotations are contradicting each other. On one hand it is suggested that the revolvers could have been much earlier, which would make this technology a very well developed at the time. On the other hand it says that it was extremely hard to produce a piece of this quality. Such contradicting expert statements suggest that the experts have no clue, but have to provide some sort of an answer. That bold italics above demonstrates, that nobody is allowed to test the weapon. They do not even know whether it is manual or hammer strike driven one. That could be telling in itself. Additionally we have no clue whether it is self-priming or not. The pistol is hidden in the storage room.

That said, here is another quote,
  • This summer (2014), the revolver will be exhibited in connection with the 200th anniversary for the Norwegian Constitution. Now, it is locked down in the museum basement.
    Unfortunately, there are many treasures hidden away in Norwegian museum storage rooms that the public rarely or never get to see.
    The museums must be better at displaying the objects, says Jacobsen.
Maihaugen, with close to 200 buildings, is one of Northern Europe's largest museums. Another one of the "largest" museums (Brazil) had about 20 million artifacts with about 20 thousand on display, and it just burned down. They were only displaying 0.1% of what they had.

Logically thinking, this leaves us with with all but three possibilities:
  • if this technology was fairly wide spread, there would be plenty of similar 1590s revolvers on display in museums all over the World. This is exactly what we do not see. Still, there could be plenty of these revolvers stored in the museum vaults. This would make this technology a truly wide spread. But then we would have a question of why they are being hidden from public.
  • if this revolver was a brainchild of some mastermind of gun making, then this revolver would be truly unique to qualify as "ahead of its time".
  • my choice: the one I have made quite a few times through various of my other threads on this forum. Hans Stopler did not make it. This is a left over gun. The one which witnessed times preceding the "Dark Ages". It does not prevent various musems from having hundreds f this guns, but it explains why we do not get to wee and inspect those.
There is one additional point to make. It pertains to the tech. The previous civilization did not necessarily have to be as blood thirsty as ours is. Judging their achievemnts by the absence of a .50 cal Machine Gun, could be inherently wrong.

50cal_machine_gun.jpg


They knew how to build these.
We... not so much.
piranesi_engraving.jpeg


 

ISeenItFirst

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#15
It's not contradictory in this case. I see a logical progression with firearms that this gun fits right into.

I just don't see this as an example of leftover superior tech.

A good example is that breach loader. The idea is obvious. Just like the cartridges made to fit it. Obvious. But they didn't have interchangeable parts, or even standard sizes. They didn't have brass cases. They didn't have high pressure powder, or strong enough steel to contain it. They needed materials and machining and measurement to be able to create these things. Otherwise they were one offs, novelty and expensive. Few remain. The also weren't that great. It takes high pressure for a powerful and accurate gun, which is the same pressure that tears a gun like this up. It would need regular maintenance if used, and would be much more likely than a single shot muzzle loader to blow up in your face.

There isn't any tech in that gun. To my eye it looks manual although if automatic (in ref to your bolded portion) it is still no more advanced than any other gun of those times. It is obvuosly not self primed, because that is not how it works, it has a preloaded pan for each chamber. The proof of concept is every other gun with the same lock mechanism on it. The prototype is every other person that tried to fit a revolving cylinder to increase fire rate. There were many, the concept would be obvious to any gunsmith. The means and materials to execute it is what led to improvements.

Collier didn't invent or build anything himself anyways. He just got the UK patent and the credit.
 
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