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Title Venetian gunner's porte-feu (linstock)
Nationality Italian
Period 17th century

In my opinion, this can only be a porte-fire or linstock used by gunner's to ignite the touch hole on artillery pieces. The rear arm, with brass cap, is very similar in design to Venetian halberds of the 15th century. The piece would appear to be forged throughout from iron and the 'bill' would have had a sharp edge for cutting fascines, rope, etc.

It would have been mounted on a wooden shaft about the height of a man and measures approximately 10.5 inches overall. The rear arm would have had saltpetre impregnated matchcord wound around it. It is almost certainly a souvenir from the fighting against the Turks which raged throughout the 16th and early 17th centuries. It is certainly of European origin, and specifically Venetian - not of Turkish (or Indian) construction.

The condition is excellent for its age, though it has obviously lain somewhere damp in the past and has been carefully cleaned to the present finish by hand.

For halberds with a similar hook at the back of the blade, see catalogue numbers 288 and 289 in 'L'armeria del Palazzo Ducale a Venezia' by Umberto Franzoi. There are numerous examples of linstocks (the English term for porte-feu) in the Royal Armouries at Leeds, but, interestingly, they all appear to be 17th century or later, whereas my example would definitely appear to be 16th century.

If you want to comment on this item—re quality, age, etc—please email me.

[Edged Weapons : Polearms : Italian : 17th Century]


Received sword yesterday thanks. Very pleased with it. Thanks Chris, most excellent service.

R G, UK, 26.01.2013

I collected my iron cross this am from the sorting office. Thank you for the medal; as before it's a very nice one. Thank you for your prompt service and I look forward to purchasing more in the future from you and your wonderful site.

J B, UK, 07.12.2006