Efimov Y.G., Rodionov E.A. (2023). Oruzhejnik Iogann Ioahim Greke v Rossii – novye dannye biografii [Gunsmith Johann Joachim Grecke in Russia. New Biographical Data]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 12, pp. 56 — 67.

Efimov Y.G., Rodionov E.A.

Abstract: As in almost all other branches of developing Russian industry of the 18th century, foreign specialists played a significant role in weapon manufacture by working in factories or organizing their own workshops. Johann Adolf Grecke [son of Johann Joachim Grecke, a famous Stockholm gunsmith of German origin] was a particularly notable gunsmith among so-called “Russian foreigners” in Saint Petersburg.

Information about his biography is highly scarce and contradictory. According to Russian weaponology literature, Johann Adolf was invited to Russia among other foreign masters in the 1760s, he became the gunsmith at the court of Catherine II in the 1770s and he was the head of the Rustkammer since the 1780s. His name was last mentioned in documents of 1797 when he was awarded a pension by Paul I as “he was in respectable age and had lost his eyesight”. However, these data are questioned by the date of birth given in “Der Neue Støckel” directory: if he was born in 1755, then he was invited to Russia when he was no older than 15 y.o. and he began receiving pension at the age of 42.

To resolve this contradiction, the author refers to the documents of Oberjägermeister Office kept in the Russian State Historical Archive. According to these documents, Johann Joachim Grecke [Johann Adolf’s father] was discharged from Oberjägermeister Corps and was appointed as the Rustkammer keeper in 1780, and by 1797-1798 he had already resigned and was receiving pension. The fact of Johann Joachim Grecke’s work in Russia is also confirmed by surviving pistols he made in Saint Petersburg in the 1770s.

Thus, it can be considered proven that it was in the late 1760s or about 1770 when Johann Joachim Grecke moved with his son from Stockholm to Saint Petersburg where he worked, and he was the one [not his son] who served as the Rustkammer keeper. This clarification leaves in the shade Johann Adolf’s life but gives the right to consider his father no less a Russian gunsmith than a German or Swedish one.

Keywords: Russia, Sweden, Stockholm, Saint Petersburg, Johann Joachim Grecke, Johann Adolf Grecke, second half of the 18th century, the Rustkammer, flintlock, court armorer, Oberjägermeister Office.

Category: Articles

Received: December 23, 2022 Accepted: January 20, 2023 Published: March 31, 2023

License: Copyright © 2023 The Authors, The Center of Support and Development of Actual Research in the Field of Historical Weaponry (АНО «Центр поддержки и развития актуальных исследований в области Исторического оружиеведения»). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.