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

7 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!!!

  3. Super awesome looking gun!!!!


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