Engravers, Gunsmiths, Medailleures

Dr. Wolfgang Knop wrote about the origins in the book “Suhl/ Thüringen”
out of the blue row:

“Since the use of a weapon for delimitation of its living space, protection of its live, enforcements of its claims, and the sportive use is it legitimate for a human being to own a weapon. Not only was the functional use important even the aesthetic was crucial. The one who owned the skill of an engraver was able to decorate spears, arrows and bows. Or he gave it to somebody who did it. Later on metal and wood pieces have been improved through engraves and wood cuts.

War weapons, luxury arms and sport guns have been produced the Suhl. The guns were real art though the help of the local art and craft companies. The gunsmiths developed their own style. We want to present the particular technique and tradition of those families who developed the “Old-Suhl-Style” which includes pictures of local animals of the forests around the area.

The guild arrangement Suhls in 1667 describes general norms for the production. It describes for example how to decorate the pieces. “…at the beginning you have to prick, like Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac, pieces of faces on both sides of the gun lock, another face on both sides of the stock and a planet. (…), the exhausted faces of Adam and Eva, broken in pieces next to the gun lock, on the drawer a planet, on the gun lock appear three of the free arts, with two pictures on the screws” (quotation Katalaog Suhler Feuerwaffen 17th and 18th century).

Everybody tried to improve the already existing art so that more and more varieties of new engraves appeared at the guns. One of the biggest order came from a sax onion landlord. They were very interest in luxury guns to collect them.

Rights about the arm production Suhl’s next to the guild arrangements:
- same decoration on metal and wood faces
- decoration on contrary plate, butt plate, barrel, gun stock, gun lock, thumb plate and knob
- motive: arabesques and cartouches as frames inside: natural and bloomy motives

At the beginning there were simply faces and figures, later on while the Baroque era it was determined through hunting scenes and goddess Diana. Those scenes show hunters, hunt goddess, horses and dogs, the hunted animal and the dead animal in the local landscape such as mountains, bushes, fields and rivers. The tradition to decorate the gun with the future hunted animal developed later on. It shows the animal peaceful, escaping or dieing on the background surrounded by leaves of local trees such as oak leaves, wine leaves, conifer branch, roses and thistles.

Over the last centuries the engravers and the gun stocks changed. It is a natural development which was influenced by the several time eras and the personal style of the family companies. The Art and the knowledge about the craft have been given from generation to generation.

Famous engraver families in Suhl:
The most famous engraver families in Suhl were:

Döll, Stockmar, Hörnlein, Pfeuffer, Hoffmann, Klett, Seeber, Spangenberg, Heym, Kummer, Wolf, Deigfuss, Weihrauch, Kolb, Hegewald, Meinhadt, Pfeuffer, Fahner, Freund, Hohnbaum, Stoll, Deckert, Schilling.

Some of the engravers did not only weapons, some worked as a medailleur and they did stamps for coins, medals and plaques. Those universal artists in the 18th century are: Mr. Döll, Pfeuffer, Steigleder, Stadelmann, Götze, von Nordheim, Hörnlein and friend. They existed till mid last century.