The Guns of the Maestros —- The Cominazzo Family,
In the 16th century the Cominazzo family started a gunsmithing business in Brescia, Italy. They did not produced whole firearms, but practiced a common business at the time which was to specialize in a particular part. Often one craftsman would specialize in locks, while another would specialize in stocks. Afterwords the parts would be fitted together, they were not interchangeable so a special gunsmith would be needed just for that purpose as well. This was the closest artisans could get toward “mass production” in the 16th century.
The Cominazzo family specialized in gun barrels, in particular pistol barrels. Within a few generations the Cominazzo family had gained such a extraordinary reputation for fine quality craftsmenship that their barrels were sold all over Europe and even as far as the Spanish colonies in America. Today the Cominazzo name is also one of the most counterfeited on the antique firearms market. The height of the Cominazzo family came in the second half of the 17th century under the leadership of Fortunato Cominazzo. Of all Cominazzo barrels, most were produced by Fortunato.
Fortunato’s son, Lazarino chose a different path from the regular family business. Rather than a focus on producing gun barrels, Lazarino decided to go into business crafting whole firearms. Lazarino’s flintlock and snaphaunce pistols are today recognized as some of the most ornate, artistic, and finely crafted pistols on the market. Lazarino is especially noted for working in silver, decorating his pistols in ornate Renaissance and Baroque style. Most of his pieces, some of which are pictured above, are owned by art museums and wealthy collectors. When one goes up for auction, which is rare, it typically sells for tens of thousands of dollars at least.
Unfortunately Lazarino was not a very successful businessman. Handcrafting whole pistols did not net as much profit as producing gun barrels en masse. Despite his superior craftsmanship, Lazarino also couldn’t shake the family reputation as a barrel maker rather than producer of whole firearms. Tragically Lazarino Cominazzo would be killing in 1697 while partaking in a revolt against the Venetian government.