Imagine cracking open a vintage tin box, stored away unbeknownst to yours truly for more than 40 years, engraved with initials of an unknown person, and discovering among a small collection of precious antique books, an object, whatchamacallit, doodad, thingamajig, widget, that may at first glance be an antiquated architectural drafting tool, or an astronomical measuring device, an Asian or African artifact, or a detached piece of a firearm.
Imagine my surprise, when I began to research this mysterious object (hard to tell its measurements, but it’s approximately 6″ in length), with a few hints from a source most likely to know something about it, that it indeed belongs to the species known in educated parlance as ‘militaria.’
Apparently, this cast iron doodad is either a miquelet lock (mechanism), flintlock, wheelock, snaphance or a variety thereof. Whatever may be the most accurate technical term for this apparatus, and whatever its geographic and cultural origins, this much I know: It is one helluva piece of history. A family heirloom unlike any of the other rare finds. A beaut.
My late grandfather knew a thing or two about the classics, design, history and more. But this opens up a whole dimension – and brings his adventurous and curious spirit back to life, albeit through a piece of metal that fits into the very palm of my hand.