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
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
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.