A blunderbuss is a smoothbore gun with a funnel-shaped muzzle. First manufactured in the late 1600s, their short-range capacity led to use on the rigging of sailing ships to repel boarders; they were also often carried by stagecoach drivers to fend off highway robbers.
The bell-mouthed blunderbuss takes its name from donderbusche, which is German for “thunder gun.” Originating in Spain circa 1670, this mid-17th century Miquelet blunderbuss is a very rare example of a Spanish colonial firearm in the New World.
The decoration on this blunderbuss contains fertility symbols and faces of pagan gods. It’s thought to represent an amalgam of fervent Christianity and native lore, and the natives who repaired it are credited with including these characteristics.
The wider mouth of the barrel did very little to spread buckshot patterns at close range. But the funnel muzzle greatly aided with loading the smoothbore barrel, especially atop a galloping horse or clinging to the wind-tossed ship rigging.
This single-shot muzzleloader has a Miquelet lock that’s an early form of flintlock and preceded the more well-known French lock. The primary difference is that the mainspring is mounted on the outside of the lock. It could be fired in wet weather and was easily repaired.