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Flint-lock magazine gun

Flint-lock magazine gun

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1690 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cookson, John (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Burr walnut and steel, chiselled in relief and engraved; breech-loading magazine mechanism

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 5

Object Type
About 1650 a type of repeating gun was invented in which the powder and ball were carried in two tubular magazines set into the butt. It also had a cylindrical breech-block that rotated on an axis set across the line of the barrel. The system is named after an Italian gunmaker, Michele Lorenzoni, who is recorded as working in Florence around 1685. He made several repeating guns of this type.

Method of Operation
Two tubular cavities are fitted into the butt, forming magazines for powder and ball. In front of this is a revolving breech-block with a lever on the left side, turning at right angles to the axis of the barrel. This breech-block has two hollow tubes corresponding to the openings of the two tubular magazines.

To load the gun, the muzzle is pointed downwards and the breech-block is revolved half a turn, using the lever. This aligns the two magazines and chambers in the breech-block. By the force of gravity, a ball and charge of powder fall into the breech-block. This is then turned in the reverse direction using the lever. The ball drops into the breech of the barrel and aligns the powder chamber with the barrel. At the same time the flash-pan is primed with fine powder from a separate magazine. Two projections on the breech-block push back the lock into the 'half-cock' position and close the pan-cover. The cock is pulled back to full-cock and when the trigger is pulled the gun fires. This process is repeated each time another shot is required.

John Cookson made several repeating guns based on this system. He signed one 'Fecit Londini', which suggests he was a London maker though no trace of him has ever been found in any of the London gunmakers' records.

Another John Cookson, who was also a gunmaker, is known to have worked in America. He is recorded in Boston, Mass. between 1701 and 1762. In 1756 he advertised repeating firearms firing nine shots in the local paper, the Boston Gazette. It is probable that he was related to the John Cookson who worked in London.

Physical description

The stock of burr walnut, the lockplate and mounts of irob chiselled in relief and engraved with grotesque masks and monsters.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1690 (made)


Cookson, John (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Burr walnut and steel, chiselled in relief and engraved; breech-loading magazine mechanism

Marks and inscriptions

'John Cookson'
Barrel and Lock


Length: 126 cm, Width: 12 cm handle, Depth: 28 cm maximum

Historical context note

This type of breech-loading magazine gun is usually known as the Lorenzoni system after the Florentine gunmaker Michele Lorenzoni, who made many of them. It was, however, produced by gunmakers elsewhere in Europe, and it is impossible to determine to whom credit for its invention should be given.

Descriptive line

Flintlock breech-loading magazine gun, the barrel and lock by John Cookson, English, ca. 1690

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hayward, J. F., European Firearms. London : HMSO, 1969.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This gun has a device that allows several shots to be fired without reloading. This type of firearm was called a 'magazine gun' and was first developed by Italian gunmakers. John Cookson was one of the few gunmakers in Britain who made these complex guns. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Arms & Armour; Firearms


Metalwork Collection

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