Many European gunmakers blended selected components from master craftsmen renowned for producing superior barrels or locks to yield the finest in custom arms. This Italian folding stock snaphance bears a tapered barrel signed by Giovanni Batt. Dafino with an elegantly scalloped lock made by Claudio Beretta and was made circa 1620. A forerunner of the flintlock, snaphance arms produced ignition from sparks struck from the frizzen by the hammer into the covered pan. The Dutch word snaphaan, describing the abrupt snapping/pecking action of a chicken, quickly came to be associated with this type of lock.
The 17th century was a turbulent period in Europe and any lightweight firearm that could be folded neatly into a compact size would have had many uses. This snaphance fowling piece has a hinged buttstock that can be folded quickly at the press of a button on the wrist. Tucked under the concealing folds of a cloak or out of sight under the seat in a coach, this portable smoothbore, complemented by chased silver metalwork on the forestock, would have offered personal protection with considerable elegance.
This folding stock fowling piece is currently loaned to the National Firearms Museum by Robert Bonaventure and can be seen daily in the "Old Guns in the New World" gallery near the front of the museum.