Rare Chiselled Steel Knapping Hammer & Flintlock Pick Set
Northern Africa, probably Berber or Tuareg
approximate length of chain and items extended: 29cm, height of tallest tool: 12.8cm, combined weight: 235g
This rare set of tools of chiselled and engraved steel was for cleaning and priming a flintlock musket or pistol, and for shaping (‘knapping’) the flint that was used in the flintlock, the percussion of which was required to make a spark to ignite the gunpowder so that the gun would fire. The designs on the tools clearly mark them out as being from north Africa. According to Corbet (2016), the motifs on the tools could be Plains Berber maybe from the Serrouchen region. The Ait Serrouchen were horseback warriors of the eastern plains, and such a set would be appropriate for such mounted warriors – or the set could be from the Maghreb, perhaps Algeria. Tuareg is another possibility.
In any event, the set is decorative and unusual. It also has a wonderful patina. The five elements of the set are suspended from an old copper chain. Presumably this would have been tied to the belt of the owner.
Sarah Corbett, pers. comm., March 2016.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3538