Art is perhaps not the first thing one thinks of when the subject turns to guns, yet for the past five centuries the art of the gunsmith had as much to do with the deadliness of the weapon as the designs it featured – roses, tulips, mermaids, dragons and much more besides. The names of the greatest gunsmiths were as well known throughout Europe as that of the great wine-masters, carriage-makers and leading artists, all of them found at one time or another retained by the Continents rulers and based at their courts and palaces. It was a case of decoration and functionality harnessed to celebrate the status of the king. Today the art of the gunsmith is appreciated by a select audience who collect and invest in these antique works of art for the sheer love of them. They admire them for their history, quality of workmanship and design and not simply as killing machines. Fine examples of this virtually lost craft will be on dazzling display at <a href='http://www.bonhams.com' target='_

Read More: Weapons of choice for the great men of the last 500 years on sale at Bonhams