Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Extremely Rare 14th to 18th Century Igniting Irons and a 16th Century Linstock (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10029)

Matchlock 26th April 2009 08:14 PM

Extremely Rare 14th to 18th Century Igniting Irons and a 16th Century Linstock
 
11 Attachment(s)
This is another topic on a kind of important early gun accouterments almost never discussed.

Igniting irons were used to manually ignite all sorts of pieces of artillery, from the biggest cannon to haquebuts and even small handguns, even well after igniting mechanisms had come into general use. With all those little noise makers (Böller) employed in alpine regions they never actually seem to have vanished before ca. WW II.

We know from original sources of information that, when needed, their heads were kept red hot in a bowl filled with live coal and finally put down the touchhole.

It is true that the earliest igniting device documented together with the earliest known illustration of a gun in the famous de Milemete ms. at Christ Church, Oxford, dated 1326, is clearly a short stick with a split upper portion and a glowing piece of tinder jammed between the jaws which could be termed a sort of linstock (first attachments). However, we have no further records of linstocks for almost 200 years after.

The next two contemporary sources of illustration attached are from Konrad Kyeser's Bellifortis of 1405, both depicting a rectangular thin archetype of iron mounted on a short wooden haft. We may therefore assume that that was the usual type of 14th to early15th century igniting devices. The oldest known actual singular piece of identical type, although in excavated condition retaining a portion of its original haft, is in my collection (see attachments).

Hence forward, 15th century practical experience seems to have developped a reinforced pear like shape of the igniting head with a thin prick to it to reach down the touchhole; the larger mass of the iron was of course apt to keep the heat for longer. Due to the nature of their use - kept red hot for hours and hence calcined, then, after left rusting away for months, bearing the same procedure all over again and again - the actual touch prick of those igniting irons has in most cases gone of surviving examples.

Again, relying on illustrative sources, linstocks with jammed in glowing tinder or smoldering slow match do not seem to have seen wider use before ca. 1500 when they were depicted in the Maximilian arsenal books (Maximilianische Zeugbücher), ca. 1502-1507. Allthough match linstocks seem to have taken over for at least half a thousand centuries from now, we still know of some large samples of early 18th century heavy artillery accouterments retaining their original igniting irons mounted on long hafts and forming part of the equipment of their original carriages.

The singular short linstock, early to mid 16th c., with the two piece zoomorphic head retaining its original blackened haft together with its original tarred cord binding on the rearward grip plus a pointed iron shoe finial for ramming the piece into the ground on intermitted action, is also in my collection while most images of other igniting irons were gathered together from various sources.

Michael

Matchlock 26th April 2009 08:22 PM

11 Attachment(s)
More igniting irons of uncertain dates, probably 15th to 18th centuries, some of them retaining their igniting pricks.

Matchlock 26th April 2009 08:25 PM

11 Attachment(s)
Some more.

Jim McDougall 4th May 2009 05:43 PM

Michael, this is yet another amazing example of the minutiae of medieval artillery and firearms that has seemed to entirely escape the notice of scholarly study. Although I admit to knowing extremely little on such topics, it is amazing that there is so much complacency toward such important detail, and thank goodness there are scholars with your tenacity at preserving such detail, which would otherwise be lost.

I would imagine that these items would be incredibly rare, as such everyday practical implements are rarely considered worthwhile components of the naturally more visible weapon itself. A cannon is hardly a disposable item, but the thing to light it with is as noted, seldom ever mentioned.

It seems interesting that in those times, the importance of igniting the powder in these arms was of course crucial, and while apparantly given considerable attention, in modern times only the effects and outcome of the action and events are of interest to most historians.

You have shown us in many cases of the accoutrements and accessories used in these times that often these implements, as well as the elements of the weapons, were given detailed designs and zoomorphic shapes, showing amazing attention to even the most mundane of devices.

This has provided a dimension to the study of antique weaponry seldom recognized in the standard literature, and to me adds an almost surreal perspective that makes it seem almost if I am actually standing there in period and viewing these weapons.

As always, a simple thank you seems insufficent! and I am always very grateful for your wonderful and personally guided tours into history.

You're the best :) !

Jim

Matchlock 4th May 2009 08:16 PM

Actually, Jim, those plain iron igniting devices are not as rare in our alpine regions as one might think; they, just like the mostly short barrels to light with, seem to have seldom been disposed of. In Austria and Switzerland, many of those noisemakers are found to be employed as door stoppers in traditional rural houses even in the 21st century. As you noted, they, and even less their igniting sticks, are rarely ever paid notice to or mentioned, though - mostly for lack of knowledge, I am afraid.

Otherwise, as often before, your kind words scholarly spoken ex cathedra made me blush; thank you so much but I think that all of us owe you so much - and most of all our forum thankfully guided competently, eloquently and patiently by its creator.

With all my very best wishes,
Michael :)

Matchlock 7th May 2009 02:22 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Another one retaining its igniting prick.

Michael

Matchlock 14th May 2009 04:22 PM

1 Attachment(s)
From:

Flavius Vegetius Renatus: Vier Bücher der Rytterschafft (Four Books of Knighthood), Erfurt, Germany, 1511.

Note the V shaped cannon barrels!

Michael

Matchlock 14th May 2009 05:03 PM

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From the same book as before, 1511.

Michael

Matchlock 29th May 2009 04:23 PM

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A historic source of illustration of 1561, showing an artillery linstock quite similar to a piece in my collection.

Michael

Matchlock 5th June 2009 07:18 PM

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Ignition of a tripod mounted Doppelhaken (wall piece), early 16th century, using a match clamp.

Michael

Matchlock 7th June 2009 02:24 PM

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From Hermann Historica's April 2009 sale, Munich.
m

Matchlock 22nd September 2009 04:30 PM

My latest acquisition
 
8 Attachment(s)
Hi there,

I am not dead, just been having some unpleasant times but I am back again with you now.

This is to present my latest acquisition, a gift from a friend of mine whom I was able to do a big favor:
an extremely rare Austrian igniting iron, ca. 1500/early 16th century, the zoomorphic head formed like that of a serpent and punched with scales, eyes, and a mouth. Originally the snout was a bit longer and probably ended pointed but that of course has rusted away in the course of the centuries and the many alternating heats the item was exposed to.

It is shown together with better images of my other three, the dates being from top:

- 14th century, the earliest known
- ca. 1500 to early 16th century
- 1st half 16th century, actually a linstock for match
- ca. 16th to 18th century

Best,
Michael

fernando 22nd September 2009 07:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... I am not dead, just been having some unpleasant times but I am back again with you now....

.

.

Matchlock 22nd September 2009 08:00 PM

Thanks so much, Fernando,

I knew you've been missing me! :cool: ;)

Btw, where do you get those cool icons from?

Best,
Michael

fernando 22nd September 2009 09:21 PM

Such vast resources here; it takes time to select the one find more indicated:

http://www.clicksmilies.com/


I love this one:




Fernando

M ELEY 23rd September 2009 04:58 AM

Welcome back, Michael. It is good to see you posting again. Hope all is well...

Matchlock 23rd September 2009 03:28 PM

Hi Mark,

Thanks a lot.

Not all's really well but all could really be worse. ;) When you live alone many things seem much harder to bear and psychic depression often is just a heartbeat away.

Being back with you sure gives me strength though.

Fernando, I too love that fancy fencing icon! Thanks for the link.

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 23rd September 2009 04:21 PM

Details of my serpent head igniting iron
 
5 Attachment(s)
Now ain't that a cute serpent's face?

Michael

M ELEY 25th September 2009 01:16 AM

Wow! Now that looks positively ethnographic! Yes, I know it's not, but if you didn't know it wasn't Indopersian or Africanic, you might question it. I wonder why this particular igniting device is decorated so while others are so plain. Than again, I have also noticed this with linstocks...some are decorated or intricate designs, while others are strictly utilitarian. Still, its interesting to think about what the blacksmith who made yours might have been thinking about. Kinda like- 'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!" :D

fernando 25th September 2009 02:43 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
...'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!" :D

Now, that's what call a brilliant approach :eek: .

celtan 25th September 2009 06:07 PM

An Ethnic Item, indeed. Probably of the scottanic mountain tribes.

They are believed to have worshipped a long-necked, lake-dwelling entity named Nessi, a cult centered in the Ness region. The ceremonies involved rowing back and forth in a pirogue through the mentioned water body. This while loudly singing bawdy tunes, firing swivel guns, and imbibing large quantities of a fermented rye-based drink (aka Wees-Kee , old celtic-p language).

To do, to be. To be, to do. Doobie-doobie-do.


: )

M


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Wow! Now that looks positively ethnographic! Yes, I know it's not, but if you didn't know it wasn't Indopersian or Africanic, you might question it. I wonder why this particular igniting device is decorated so while others are so plain. Than again, I have also noticed this with linstocks...some are decorated or intricate designs, while others are strictly utilitarian. Still, its interesting to think about what the blacksmith who made yours might have been thinking about. Kinda like- 'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!" :D

Matchlock 1st April 2012 06:00 PM

Earliest Igniting Irons
 
10 Attachment(s)
The smallest sample in my collection, posted formerly, the one with the fragmented haft, is the earliest known to have actually survived!
As I pointed out above, the dating criteria are based on its characteristic shape: very thin, delicate and fragile, and with almost rectangularly curved prick.

In addition to the only two related pieces of period artwork known hitherto I posted here, I found some more dating from ca. 1460, in an illuminated Gothic codex by Jean Mansel, La fleur des histoires, preserved in the Geneva library, Ms fr. 64. One of these fine and important miniatures contains the second earliest representation I have seen that is historicaly and technically correct enough to also depict the pan with live coal for heating the igniting iron!

As an aside, the fact is remarkable that 15th c. cannon carriages were vertically adjustable.

Please also note that the breech sections of 15th c. cannon were noticeably narrower than the actual bore receiving (and releasing!) the stone (!) ball.


Best,
Michael

Matchlock 1st April 2012 06:04 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Another illumination from the same manuscript.

m

Matchlock 1st April 2012 06:41 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Two more illuminations, from another French Gothic manuscript, Wilhelm von Tyrus, Kreuzzüge (Crusades), ca. 1465, Geneva Library, Ms fr. 85.

m

Matchlock 7th June 2012 03:35 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Two early 18th c. igniting irons retaining their original long hafts, as part of a large piece of cannon: the bronze barrel and carriage mounts both dated 1726 - the barrel additionally cast with the Passau wolf which has become famous as the trade mark of the medieval Passau bladesmiths - ; together with two contemporary scourers (Rohrwischer); in the museum of the Fortress (Veste) Oberhaus in Passau/Lower Bavaria.
The outer walls of the huge fortress which was never conquered are dated 1499.

m

Matchlock 7th June 2012 04:35 PM

For a comprehensive treatise on early matchcord used with guns and linstocks, please see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...0402#post140402


m

Matchlock 25th June 2012 08:50 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Another very early depiction of an igniting iron;
from Johann Hartlieb's Kriegsbuch, 1411, Cod.vind. 3069, Austrian National Library Vienna, fol. 40r.

m

Matchlock 9th July 2012 11:00 PM

Fine Linstocks Salvaged From the Mary Rose
 
7 Attachment(s)
The Mary Rose was sunk during the Battle of Spithead in 1545.

As Henry VIII ordered many items for his men from Northern Italy, especially the Brescia region, the zoomorphic, monster-shaped heads of the linstocks are consistent with the style of the Renaissance period.

The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth.


m

Andi 14th November 2012 11:00 AM

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P. Sixl has published in his article Entwicklung und Gebrauch der Handfeuerwafen in Zeitschrift für historische Waffenkunde vol 1.8, 1897, page 201 the image below showing a gonner firing a cannon with a hot iron (Loseisen) and holding soething like a pan (Glutpfanne?) in his left hand. 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 Online.
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.

The image and its source is very interesting for me as I guess the pan in his left hand contains glowing charcoal for heating up the hot iron hook.

Has anybody an idea from which codex this image is originally?


Edit: "Online" Link changed to a working one.

fernando 14th November 2012 03:43 PM

Hi Andi,
It sems as the online link seems 'out of order'.
Great image, that of the gonner; i would agree it certainly is charcoal in the pan.

Andi 14th November 2012 05:07 PM

Olá fernando.

Sorry! I have corrected the link in my last post to a persisting URL: http://archiv.onb.ac.at:1801/webcli...ger?pid=2316748

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 04:07 PM

Quote:
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 07:26 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
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 11:13 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:

Quote:
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 04:36 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.

m

Andi 3rd September 2014 06:42 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 05:46 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:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...arliest+barrels
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=handgonne
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=handgonne
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=handgonne



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.


Best,
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 08:11 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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