By Larry B. Schuknecht

The subject of German Gun Engraving is very broad and complex and could fill a web site of it’s own. Mr. Hendrk Fruehauf of Germany has made gun engraving both his career and life study. We thank him for his efforts over the years to help us understand and know some of the individuals who practised the art.  To see more about Hendrik and his work click Here.

The first subject of this study is the j. P. Sauer Masterpiece Action engraved by Richard Werner. First we have the two articles which were in the GGCA Journal “The Waffenschmied” Vol. 3, No. 3 (Autumn 2000) and Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring 2001). These will be followed by a Photo Gallery of close up views taken of the receiver when Dietrich asked me to make a stand for it before he donated it to the Waffen Museum in Suhl in 2008. The Gallery views of the action start out with broad views of the action and progressively get closer. Enjoy.

A view of the action from the J. P. Sauer Archives held by Hendrik Fruehauf
A picture of the action from the J. P. Sauer Archives courtesy of Hendrik Fruehauf

The October 1883 issue of Der Waffenschmied-München & Leipzig contained a brief article (shown below) and image of an engraving by E. Schunfeld, an engraver in Prague at that time.

Next I will show an article from the periodical Der Waffenschmied-Munich in Oct. 1884 about a magnificent shotgun made and displayed by A. V. Lebeda  at the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873. But first I want to give you an interpretation of the first paragraph for those like me that can not easily read German.

“Zur Ausstattung der Waffen-“To Equip the Weapons” from Der Waffenschmied (First paragraph)

Visitors to the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873 will probably still remember a magnificent gun, which was exhibited in a magnificent cassette among the products of the Lebeda rifle factory, and which aroused the interest of shooters and art lovers alike with its masterful engraving and carving. The gun was a Lancaster double-barrelled shotgun; the entire decor is kept in the well-known Lebeda’s genre and every little detail in the chiseling and the carving is executed with almost anxious accuracy– so that we only have to regret that the drawing on today’s panel, which was executed from a photograph, only shows the arrangement of the Ornamentation and the figures, but by no means can even partially reproduce the type of execution.”

Some Artists work in more than one material and are equally able to work in metal, wood, ivory, mother of pearl, etc. One of these was the famous artist and engraver Hugo Kolb who designed and executed the following gun made for exhibition by Imman. Meffert in Suhl. This image origionally appeared in the 1887 “Journal of the Bavarian Association for Applied Arts, Munich”.

In the late 1880’s W. Heimbeck worked in Suhl and a plate of samples of his work appeared in the 1888 Der Waffenschmied which follows with his advertisement from the same issue.

Following is an advertisement from a 1920 Büchsenmacher und Waffenhandler for the stock carver and engraver Karl Kolb of Suhl.

We now have a gallery of photos of a Grade or No. 60 J. P. Sauer made in 1907 and sold by Schoverling, Daly & Gales in New York. The photos are courtesy our friend Hendrik Frühauf in Germany and the shotgun is part of his collection.

To read about the father and son engravers Emil and Claus Willig click Here.

With thanks to Hendrik Frühauf the master engraver in Germany we have the following material relating to Franz Schilling & Sohn of Gothaerstrasse 45, Suhl. He was born in 1865 and worked for J. P. Sauer & Sohn for 20 years. 

A Merkel 16 Ga. side by side model 1620SL with the engraver Burkhard Hafner

An Engraving pull from the book “Suhler Waffenkunst” by Hans-Jürgen Fritze and Peter Arfmann
An image of Fritz Heimbeck from the book “Suhler Waffenkunst” by Hans-Jürgen Fritze and Peter Arfmann
Another image of Fritz Heimbeck from the book “Suhler Waffenkunst” by Hans-Jürgen Fritze and peter Arfmann

Below we have a group of smoke pulls done by Emil R. Martin from an unknown source.

The 2003 Merkel Catalog included the following gallery of their Master Engravers at that time.

The following three images are of a Vierling made by Joh. Outschar in Ferlach and was engraved by Reinhard Philipp in Austria. Images are courtesy of Joh. Springer’s Erben in Vienna.

The following Merkel side by side rifle was engraved by H. Ehrhardt in Suhl and is courtesy of the Auction House-

The following are pictures of a J.P.Sauer & Sohne model 29S. 

The following double rifle in 9.3×74 caliber is an interesting speciman of a “Special Model”. Thanks to our friend Hendrik Frühauf in Germany who has made it a life study of Engravers and their Engraving we know that the action for this rifle was made by the independent gun maker A.Peter of Suhl for J. P. Sauer. He made all of the special models for Sauer. The gun was begun in 1933. It was supposedly engraved by August Heym for Sauer. 

The original photograph from the J. P. Sauer archives courtesy of Hendrik Frühauf.

Following is a story about the Heym family and in particular about August Heym who engraved the previous gun. It appeared in the March 1958 edition of Guns magazine.

The following locks are from a Sempert & Krieghoff “Neptune” Drilling. 

Not all German engraving subjects were of game animals, following are some views of an Aydt Schuetzen rifle action.

Following is a piece found in the 1883 Der Waffenschmied of Munich and Leipzig about the “Altdeutschen” or Old German style of engraving found on so many of the early 20th Century Schuetzen rifles.

The following four views are also of Sempert & Krieghoff “Neptune” Drilling locks and are courtesy of-