The World’s Oldest Existing Revolver – 1597

At Maihaugen Folk Museum in Lillehammer, there is a treasure hidden in the basement: An over 400 year old German-made revolver in perfect condition. The revolver was produced in 1597 by a weapons smith in Nuremberg, Germany. It was a status symbol with decorative brass, bone and Mother of Pearl.

– The reason we know it’s from 1597 is because it is a stamp mark of a horse spur on it. It tells us with certainty that it was made by the German weapons blacksmith Hans Stopler, says director of Maihaugen Folk Museum, Gaute Jacobsen to Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation, NRK.

Belonged to Georg von Reichwein

Georg von Reichwein 1593-1667 Officer NorwayGeorg von Reichwein was a very capable officer and made a great effort in the defense of Norway in the wars against Sweden in the first half of the 1600s. (Photo:

The flintlock revolver belonged to the officer Georg von Reichwein (1593-1667), coming from Hessen in Germany to Norway in 1628. That year Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway employed several officers from Germany and the Netherlands. The goal was to strengthen the military during the European Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648).

Reichwein was appointed to major and commander of the forces at Bergenhus fortress in 1636. On the gun stock there is a silver badge with the inscription “Georg Reichwein 1636”, and a grape cluster and acantus decor. Reichwein may have done this to highlight and celebrate the appointment, or perhaps just because he bought the gun this year.

Must be manually rotated

The mechanism is not like modern revolvers and the 8-shot cylinder must be manually rotated for each shot. The function, however, was the same in the late 1500s as today.

– They were made to injure other people. Not necessarily to kill, because in war at that time the most important was to injure other soldiers, says Jacobsen.

(Article continues)

World's Oldest Revovler Norway 1

You will find the world’s oldest existing revolver at Maihaugen Folk Museum, Lillehammer (Photo: Camilla Damgård/Maihaugen)

This summer, the revolver will be exhibited in connection with the 200th anniversary for the Norwegian Constitution. Now, it is locked down in the museum basement.

Unfortunately, there are many treasures hidden away in Norwegian museum storage rooms that the public rarely or never get to see.

– The museums must be better at displaying the objects, says Jacobsen.

World's Oldest Revovler Norway 2



Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Sources: NRK, Maihaugen Folk Museum

Categories: Culture, Eastern Norway, History, Travel

8 replies

  1. That’s amazing. Most museums have far more in their collections than the public will ever see, which is such a shame. Just not enough space to display it all.

  2. Why would one think that was made to wound? That pistol would shoot all the way through a person

    • old style black powder, small ball, large bore, all add up to a slowish projectile that penetrates and lodges in the body. A very effective slow kill that demoralizes the enemy (when your comrades are screaming in pain on the field, it’s very demoralizing).

      • Whatever it does, it’s really amazing! It’s a shame people can’t see it. It tells quite a bit about it’s time period. Not to mention it just looks crazy awesome!!!

    • no clue! clearly people are unaware at the power black powder had. you could size the “round” up to a .50cal bath then, for hand gun rounds, possibly bigger. and we all know what a “50cal bullet can do in times of war! even as slow round can kill. even a black powder blank, with no projectile can kill! here is the deal: back then, the guns didn’t have rifling. because of that, the rounds were unable to spin, and hold trajectory, like we see today. this would cause the bullet to tumble, greatly decreasing accuracy, and speed. this is why a fellow could still miss a shot during a “3 steps turn around and shoot,” type of dule. your gun could be pointed at your enemy, but tumble way off course. if you were able to hit your target, it was a heavy enough ball, that it would do some serious damage, even if you didnt kill them, it was still a successful hit, because they would be taken out of action, with mortal wounds anyway. war is not about wounding, and a gun was not meant to wound, but to kill. problem is, you were just lucky to hit what you were aiming at, and back then, “close enough” was as good as “dead anyway.” this is why the civil war was so deadly. after rifling was invented, folks really didnt know how far the bullet would go accurately, so they literally walked up on open ground, as they were used too, while still shooting at each other. the invention of the rifling, is what made the gun go from “close enough” to “dead on.” but they are a tool of death, just like a sword, and battle ax. weapons or war, are tools of death, and a war, is a time and place to execute it.

  3. Super awesome looking gun!!!!


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