Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Extremely Rare 14th to 18th Century Igniting Irons and a 16th Century Linstock (

Andi 14th November 2012 04:07 PM

Olá fernando.

Sorry! I have corrected the link in my last post to a persisting URL:

I am also sure that this is a pan with glowing charcoal and therefore it would be very interesting for me to know the real origin of this image.

fernando 15th November 2012 03:07 PM

Originally Posted by Andi
P. Sixl has published in his article ... The illustration is obviously redrawn after an original said to be from the manuscript Cod. 3069 of the Austrian National Library in Vienna from 1411 ... After checking each page of the codex I was not able to find the depicted drawing and I guess the cietated manuscript is not the correct one and the image must be from an other codex... Has anybody an idea from which codex this image is originally?

I have been through a number of articles in this area that i have in my hard disk but ... no luck. The only one i found was the one you mention by P.Sixl :shrug: .

fernando 15th November 2012 06:26 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Originally Posted by Andi
... as I guess the pan in his left hand contains glowing charcoal for heating up the hot iron hook.

I am not sure whether you are interested in the image plus the charcoal pan or the charcoal confirmation per se.
Just for fun, let me here post an image of a 1430 century soldier shooting his gun with the help of a hot iron, as a support illustration to the folowing (Spanish)text:

The glowing iron which served to initiate the combustion would quickly cool down and the artilleryman had to keep it hot, introducing it in a fire or in a little stove of vegetable charcoal.

This comes in a digestive book on early firearms by Vladimir Dolinek


Andi 16th November 2012 10:13 AM

Thanks for the interesting image. I have already seen it somewhere else here in the forum.

Primarily I am investigating for contemporary historical sources of such charcoal pans or fire vessels for heating up the hot irons, either as written form, illustrations or archaeological finds. The image seems to be a 19th century or later one and most of such "modern" illustrations are carrying slight modern interpretations.

In the "Marienburger Tresslerbuch" book of accounts of the Teutonic Order from 9th August 1409 is an entry which is probaly can serve a hint for such a fire carrying vessel:

4 scot vor 4 polfermesechen von bleche gemacht und vor 4 roren, do der bochsenschocze fuwer mag inne tragen

My rough German transcription (I am not a linguist):
4 Scot für 4 Pulvermaße aus Blech gemacht und für 4 Rohre, darinnen der Büchsenschütze Feuer mag inne Tragen

English translation:
4 Scot [currency] for 4 powder measures made from metal sheet and 4 barrels/pipes/tubes in which the handgonner may carry fire

I guess the four roren may be a small vessel either for carrying fire for the hot iron or for lighting the matchcord.

The mentioned experience that the hot irons are rapidly cooling down was also described by Ulrich Bretscher on his Black Powder Homepage but he only used a relatively thin metal rod, he probably shoud have tried a thicker metal bar with only a small tip. A friend has experimented with a forged hot iron and he also experienced that it cools down, but with improved personal experience and handling it is possible to start a handgonne. As soon as our new home page will go online we hopefully can present more details.

At present I wonder if also small handgonnes such as the Tannenberg, Danzig or Mörkö types were started by hot irons. In all historic illustrations showing hot irons absolutely certain for lighting guns, the pieces are large cannons or tiller guns.

Matchlock 26th February 2014 03:36 PM

10 Attachment(s)
An unusual igniting iron finely carved to convey the impression of a sea monster's head with scales, eyes and mouth, 1st half 16th century; originally protruding from that mouth was an igniting prick to enter the pan and touch hole. On an old haft.
Leaning in the center of the first photograph, against an early-16th c. sacristy cupboard, next to my earliest handgonnes, and behind my small Giech cannon of ca. 1520.


Andi 3rd September 2014 05:42 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is a igniting iron on display at Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany. It is shown in connection with a miniature cannon ca, 31 mm, barrel lenght 525 mm of 1676. Due to the more than rustical handle of a deers antler I would date the igniting iron some times younger.

Matchlock 12th September 2014 04:46 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Hi Andi,

Thanks for adding that really precious item!

Assigning a date closer than, give or take, some 200 years, to objects of everyday use, and as simple as this - because perfectly shaped, unsurpassable, and therefore traditionally made the same, from at least the early 15th through the early 19th centuries! - , is impossible.
Maybe we will live to see science develop working! methods for dating wrought iron - no way so far.

Dobutlessly, though extremely rare to detect today (at least as to the author's experience), are igniting irons retaining their original priming prick (German: Zündstachel) - the author invented that term, taking the photos attached at the museum of Mariazell-Gusswerk, Styria, Austria, some 30 years ago.

It was in that very moment that the following thesis jumped to the author's mind:
All these igniting irons must, of, course, have been made with a delicate prick, both originally, and right from the very beginning - which was obviously the late 1200's, ca. 1280, - at least ! ...

As I have tried to demonstrate, the earliest datable actual igniting iron, and recorded to have survived, is preserved in
The Michael Trömner Collection.
Please see posts #1, and 12, in this thread, and re-attached below.

(Andi, I'm sure both you and Chris remember viewing, and enjoying, among all the rest, that particular item when you were down here in Abensberg, Lower Bavaria
with me just a few months ago!;):cool::):eek:(well, actually Bavaria can't get any lower thanhere, where I grew up ... :shrug::rolleyes:))
Please give my greetings to Chris,
and do see come back and me as often as you can, the two of you!

The author puts forward as a thesis that, by circa 1400, igniting irons got wrought reinforced, elongated, and oval pear-shaped - for the simple reason that the former too thin and delicate, pricked ending proved not to be able to withstand, let alone hold, the read heat (circa 1,000-1,200° Celsius) long enough to really work out in war, and actually ignite several barrels, as rapidly as possible, when it all came down - to fragments of seconds.

As shown before, the touch holes of the earliest barrels were quite small, so they perfectly fitted the ends of the firing tools to enter:

Those delicate wormlike endings got heated and, re-heated, over and over again; of course, they were left to rust in between - and probably came off quite soon.

So all that we can see non the surviving samples is the pear-shaped section, able to withstand both the heat and the rust; the original forward prick is gone long since.

Michael Trömner
Rebenstr. 9
93326 Abensberg
Lower Bavaria, Germany

Attachments, appearing in order:

- Konrad Kyeser, Eichstätt, Bavaria, dated 1405
- (Detail)

Manuscript Besançon BM MS.1360, 1401-1450, fol. 121r; holding institution: Bibliothèque municipale de Besançon

- The earliest known surviving igniting iron, 14th c., preserved in

The Michael Trömner Collection

Abensberg, Bavaria, Germany

Marcus den toom 15th September 2014 07:11 PM

Just started reading this thread (again) and remembered this one. It was for sale at thomas del mar but was later withdrawn for unknown reasons (at least unknown to me).
Luckily i learned (somewhere :rolleyes: ) to save items of interest, which was not a bad thing seeing as all the information was gone just a few days after the catalogue was put online.

It is missing the original haft but seems in otherwise good condition apart from it beeing a bit shiny for a "17th century" item as stated by the auctioneer.

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