Thread: thoughts
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:58 AM
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Roger Bleile Roger Bleile is offline
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Default Re: thoughts

Originally Posted by puffer
Does anyone have any THOUGHTS on
1.The designs themselves ???
2. Possible "INFLUENCES" ???
2. How the ENGRAVING was done ???
Thoughts: I have always wondered why most engraving on Scottish all metal pistols looked so crude relative to the engraving on guns of the same era made in England and France. I have seen a very few Scottish pistols that were finely decorated but I think they are a rare example.

Now you might answer that the crude looking work is done on pistols of lower quality just to get some decoration on the piece and keep it from looking so plain. My answer to that is that the crude appearance of the engraving is due to poorly laid out designs not a lack of skill in the actual engraving. That said, it takes no longer to engrave a poor design than a good one. I am not refering to the ammount of coverage or shading cuts. What I mean is that it takes no longer to cut a scroll with a uniform, concentric backbone than to cut one with a backbone full of elbows and flat spots. The same goes for geometric shapes such as the circle with a star in it on the Buchanan pistol shown. Also note the poorly laid out makers name.

Perhaps the answer is that in Scotland the maker had to do his own engraving yet he was never apprenticed as an engraver and the makers discovered that as long as the piece was covered by lots of decoration it was good enough for the masses. This is still going on to some degree today. Take a look at various gun auction and sale sites on the web and search "engraved." You will find along with many well-executed guns some of the crudest, most ill conceived engraving listed in glowing terms by the seller.

As far as the designs themselves and influences, other than thistles and other purely Scottish motifs, I think they come from the same influences as most gun decoration throughout history. Dr. Harris in his book "Gun Engraving as a Decorative Art" has stated a pretty good case for the influences as coming from Islamic art as far as the scroll, leaf, and geometric patterns are concerned. Lots of border work, even today, goes back to ancient Greek and Roman fretwork found in architecture.

How was the engraving done? The same way all engraving of the time was done. Since the metals were largely bronze, brass, and iron most work could be accomplished by a graver (burin/push graver) however some was done with hammer and chisel.

Just my opinions. What say you?

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