Department of Arms

The Department of Arms houses over 16 000 items. Its collection formed for over a hundred years that the museum exists, mostly through donations from such private collectors as P.I. Shchukin, A.A. Catoire de Bioncourt, V.A. Baryatinsky and V.S. Turner. Rare arms specimens were acquired by the SHM from the Museum of Military History.

The Name Arms Collection has a high value. One of its gems, the broadsword of M.V. Skopin-Shuisky, received as a reward in 1610 after the victory over self-appointed False Dmitry II, is one of the earliest Russian broadswords that have lived to the present.

The Collection of Bestowed Sables of the 18th century is of great historical importance, as it was the state Faithful Service Reward to Cossacks. This collection holds the sable of the Army Esaul, Don Cossack Andrey Eshprekov, granted to him by the Empress Catherine II in 1777.

One the most honorary awards for heroic deeds committed on the battlefield is golden arm – sables, swords, broadswords with the inscription “For Bravery” engraved on the sword hilt. In the museum collection there are sable “For Bravery” of Major-General Y.P. Kulnev, sword “For Bravery” of Major-General I.N. Durnovo, officer marine sable of Prince N.S. Shcherbatov, etc.

The collection possesses St. George silver trumpets esteemed as military regalia and regiment sacred objects in the Russian Army.

The Prince A.I. Chernyshev’s sable is a true masterpiece of the Department collection. Among the Museum rarities there are: sable of the Emperor Napoleon, marine sword of the King of Sweden Charles XIV John (Swedish: Karl XIV Johan), rod of the marshal L.N. Davout and a duel set of the General Victor-Léopold Berthier.

The collection disposes of arms specimens fitted with various igniting mechanisms, and specifically, matchlock guns, wheel arms, flintlock guns, percussion muskets, guns used with service cartridges, either pin-fire or central ignition primer. The collection’s peculiarity is its variety of arms collectibles created by original engineering solutions that provide the opportunity of tracing down the engineering development in the gun making industry over centuries. The art of German and French armoury schools along with works by Spanish armourers are represented in the collection.

A special place in the collection belongs to duel and target pistols by French, English, Austrian, Czech, Belgian, and Russian gunsmiths.

The Arms Department holds a wonderful collection of Oriental arms, and above all Turkish. There are shields, sables, daggers, yataghans, knives, pistols and guns dating to the 17th-19th centuries. The centerpiece is a Turkish kalkan shield of the 17th century.

Current exhibitions