Text and photos by Felix Neuberger
It has been one dismantled drilling, a sidelock by Johann Kalezky's Witwe, which has triggered this post.
This is complemented by 3 other and different types of Kalezky sidelock guns, which I had the chance to strip and which all together have led me to try to contribute a little more to the Kalezky-saga.
DGJ autumn 1999 had my article on this enigmatic Viennese "boutique" gunmaker, preceeded by weeks-long research in different Viennese institutions, but mainly browsing through 50 years of Vienna proofhouse records. This was my first task in retirement, not anymore possible because access is shutdown by the legal counsel of the ministry. There has been a follow-up on this in DGJ spring 2011 (Austrian jewels). In addition there have been questions in Internet fora and contacts to me via DGJ or Internet by Russians. I would pay a fortune for the Kalezky records, but there is no indication that they did survive in any form. So any answer on a provenance-question is scarce or can not be answered at all.
The last info on Johann Kalezky ( the younger) is an entry in Viennese address book of 1942. There have been heavy bombing air raids onto Vienna during WW II and it is not known if he survived those.
Here come the 4 guns I could see and some more
I have been impressed when I saw the "nuts/bolts/levers"
for the rifle barrel, the sidelocks are rather typical
The barrels are 12-bore above a 400/360 according the owner.
The photos show Suhl-(pre)proof with "Krupp Essen" on
the gun-barrel flats, Vienna nitro-proof AND within
the Viennese records NO indication that source is Suhl.
Ergo gun finished in Vienna. http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51020 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51021 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51022 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51023
Originated in the 1990's in US in incredibly crisp/near-new
condition. Intercepting sear acting on the top of the
tumbler ( a la Boss), safety catch operated by a small rod
from the closing bolt. Barrels by E.Joris&Co of Nessonvaux,
Liege preproof, Vienna nitro, NO Liege remark as origin,
ergo finished in Vienna
Gunplate - in black (not casecoloured)
according catalogue Kalezky calls this "Schweizer Oxyd"
(i.e.Swiss Oxyd), info from a Ferlach guru this has been
a "Beize" (mordant) no longer in use todayhttp://www.jpgbox.com/page/51118
Sidelock 16-bore pair
Sold in 20xx by granddaughter of the original owner, from an Austrian castle/estate. Intercepting sear acting on the underside of the tumbler (a la Holland).
Liege barrel preproof, makersmark JBC within oval,acier Cockerill barrels, nitro proof Vienna, no remark of Liege origin,ergo finished in Viennahttp://www.jpgbox.com/page/51121
Sidelock over-under combo
Emerged in 201x, 9-pin lock with intercepting sear acting on underside of tumbler, striker spring-operated, no engraving -just name script,oblique tumbler-head for angle-correct blow. Technically a much more solid combo than the ubiquitous 7-pin models, due to VCS (V.C. Schilling) mark barrel ex Suhl,
records quote inland,
ergo finished in Vienna http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51010
(for comparison photo of a 7-pin lock added) http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51019
Hammergun in deluxe version
Founders name on barrel, owning collector passed away few years ago, collection dispersed by the kids, whereabout unknown http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51011
Another hammerrifle in deluxe version
Photo taken years ago in a Czech museum. http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51012
There could have been more of Kalezky deluxe gun photos
over the years, but an owners wish "no photo, no
remark/comment neither oral or written" has to be respected.
Kalezky 20-bore nr. 3 ex Ukrainian Internet (nr. 2498)
I thought orginally due to Internet-lviv Address this could be a Kalezky retailed by Dmytrach from Lemberg/Lvov/now Lviv in Ukraine.
Additional photos which showed up later may tell another story. The barrel-flats show script of DIANAFA SZOMBAT..
Szombathely is a town in south-western Hungary and DIANA may be the name of a gunshop in this town. So an alternative could as well be that this is a WW II booty.
This nr.3 has not been proofed in one batch with the
nr.1 and 2. Question arises which are the pairing guns:
Pair of 20 bores have been proofed in 1912 with
proof-nr 1452/1453 and 3074/3075, none in 1911,
proof-nr 80/81 in 1910, earlier years I did not check.
Barrel of this nr. 3 has JBC-mark in oval and cockerill
trade name. It looks to me as if this has been buried,
may be not in a pigstable but in a not much less corro-friendly
This is one more "open trio" of Viennese high-end-shotguns.http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51073http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51074
A Kalezky 12 bore went years ago to Hungary, the pairing
gun emerged now in a Russian Internet.
A Kalezky 12-pair has been reunited 20 years after the first
emerged. The nr.2 with the typical specs for a hare-battle
gun, full choke in both barrels, min thicknesses 30+ thou,
tight actions and ribs... with these specs as a bird gun
only for chaps with olympic skills.
By oral tradition this belonged to the forester of
a big Czech estate.
The few I have seen had some specific features.
Name/address embossed directly in gold letters on the inside textile-cover . Worms like this and esp. the animal-hide-glue used to fix it on the cover. http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51014
One photo shows a case pre-1889, the other one post-1889. The older one has brass corners with "Scottish" shape, the younger one with brass corners which are thinner and with a larger radius than on English ones. http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51013 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51104
Photo courtesy Bonhams/ Springer rifle case with this
type of rounded (probably drawn) corners
At the right back corner is a spring-operated hold-open lever.
There are normally 3 big compartments, one for the barrel , another one for stock /action and one for accoutrements(with cover). http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51103
Photo courtesy Bonhams / Springer rifle case with this
Sometimes on the right -hand outside front corner name and calibre embossed. Have as well seen walnut in use for the case-body. Cover textile is padded and there is a small glue-strip along the sides to fix it on the cover, the padding is not glued.
One photo added to show the worm-damage at the glue-strip of a Springer rifle-case. http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51015
Johann Kalezky ( the elder and founder) passed away in 1889 and his widow Bertha took over ownership of the company.
The guns one encounters today normally date from post-1889
and have the script with the ... Witwe wording on the
barrel, but just Joh. Kalezky on action and plates.
One may wonder how the 29-year old widow could run such a
busines in a man-dominated customer set.
Long before my research and the article I had a comment from
a Viennese lawyer that due to oral tradition the company
was run by their "Werkmeister"/workshop-manager Mr. Hanusch.
He celebrated 40 years of continued service to the
company in 1910, never one day sick or blue.
There is Mr. Crudginton's remarkable trilogy on English
gunmaking, paying tribute to the real inventors and thus
naming the 2 famous English over/unders by their real
inventors Boss/Henderson and Woodward/Hill.
I guess that Kalezky's patent for the falling-block
double rifle has not been the genius-stroke of the widow
Bertha Kalezky but rather that of Mr. Hanusch.
What remains and I have no answer to it is the question
who built these different types of locks as being in use
on the sidelock guns.
There is a comprehensive article in the Internet
on the Wolverhampton lockmakers, with the big 3 names of
Stanton/Chilton/Brazier and all the others one may
find on the internals of English lockplates.
A wonderful example of Taylor's principle of work-
No comparable signature/documentation with all this Kalezky stuff.
Lock making requires a very distinct set of tools/gauges and I wonder who did the work on this different Kalezky weapon-locks.
Either bought in in the white with the lockplates already on .... or some lonesome lockmaking-guru in a backyard within the 2 famous workshop districts of imperial Vienna ... or in Hradec Kralove .. or in Fertörakos.
We dont know.
There exist a 720+ pages 2-volumes work on Viennese
gold-/silversmiths and their proofmarks between 1867-1922, issued 1976/1977.
Today there is just one silversmith with a workshop in Vienna.
Can we expect a fraction of such effort on the former Viennese gunmaking fraternity ?
Cui bono has been Cicero's citation.
I add here a summary of new weapons the Kalezky shop
submitted for proof in the Vienna proofhouse between
1900 and 1915. This is an extract of my notes I took
during my research for my DGJ article.
These are my 18-year old notes, dont take them as
I did not check
any Weipert or Ferlach records for his entry there.
Not included are proofs of handguns,autoloader(Browning),
bolt-action, Winchester, reproofs/repair.
Inland means simply home-made, some records show as source
As the first 4 guns show, even Non-Vienna marks on
barrel could qualify the gun as Inland/home-made
depending on the volume of finishing work undertaken.
For simplification reasons I have assumed that this
reflects his production.
Year Inland Total Shotgun Liege Suhl Weipert England
1900 19 19 16 - - - -
1901 18 18 10 - - - -
1902 36 38 33 - - - 2
1903 32 32 23 - - - -
1904 22 23 15 - 1 - -
1905 16 19 15 2 1 - -
1906 25 28 20 - 1 - 2
1807 20 21 15 - 1 - -
1908 14 15 9 - 1 - -
1909 25 27 19 - - 2 -
1910 50 53 24 1 2 - -
1911 60 69 40 3 4 2 -
1912 87 119 87 20 6 6 -
1913 53 69 56 9 3 - 4
1914 38 41 35 1 2 - -
1915 1 2 - - 1 - -
Total 516 593 417 36 23 10 8
...Total foreign 77...
Our neighbouring Hungarians, descendants of an Asian tribe,
quickly realized the chances at hand after the communist
lost control and the country was free.
There are many nouveau riches,the parking lots before the
major shopping mall south of Vienna with comfortable
Porsche-Cayenne or -Panamera with Hungarian plates.
I am told there is not only a Hungarian Fückert club
but also a Holland club.
So here would be the ultimate kick for one of these
Puszta cowboys with an archeo-interest.
The last pair of 20-bore Kalezkys has been split between the
members of the well-known Storno-family of Sopron during
the 1930's.One is somewhere in Austria, the second was
hidden during communist times inside the Storno-museum
in Sopron.When the museum was up for refurbishing, the
gun was secured and got buried in a garden opposite
the Löver-bath /Sopron, the parcel belonging to the
late Karl Storno.
Kalezky pre-1889 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51004
Kalezky post-1889 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51003
J. Nowotny / Praha (Prague) http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51006
I understand from 2 different sources that there exist
descendants. So after the Weipert book has now appeared
may be someone will undertake the endeavour to come up with
a more complete Nowotny-story than my DGJ article
from winter 1995.
Johann Springer's Erben
Guncase labels http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51084 http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51102
Springer guncase label dated 1938 / no imperial crown
anymore /Photo courtesy Bonhams
An oilbottle with the engraved script on the body
together a rare type of grease-pot
(domed cover with central hole, grease squeezed out
when turning/screwing-home the cover) http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51085
To round up the story I have added a vintage photo of a
trap shoot somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian empire.
A time when the trap was a trap and pigeons were
pigeons and the gents properly clad with a top- or
bowler-hat and not yet a walking Litfass-column.
Also a time when a militant animal-protection-
apostle , obsessed with PR,
would not dare to command his cackling girlie-squadron
into a shoot to disturb it .... http://www.jpgbox.com/page/51018