Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/index.php)
-   European Armoury (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=12)
-   -   Rare 15th and 16th Century Ball Molds (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10236)

Matchlock 9th June 2009 04:16 PM

Rare 15th and 16th Century Ball Molds
 
11 Attachment(s)
This, I am afraid, is another topic rarely ever paid attention to.

I wish to present a few items from my collection, togehter with others.

The earliest molds in the 14th/15th centuries seem to have been bipartite forms made of stone. The oldest source of illustration, dated 1411, depicts one part of a multi hole mold (Cod.Vind. 3069, Austrian State Library) and some original pieces have been excavated at Hochkönigsburg in Alsace-Lorraine at a castle site.

We may safely assume that in the course of the 15th century, molds cast of copper alloy began replacing those made of stone. I is true that we do not have any sources of illustration before the early 16th century but there are various finds known. I attach a few pics. Most of them have loops denoting that they were originally equipped with iron handles for convenience.

The next stage, with earliest illustrative records extant from the 1460's, is a funnel shaped casting device consisting of two halves each joined to an iron handle. There seems to be only one actual piece known and this is in my collection; the mold is of relatively thin hammered copper alloy with robust joints to the handles. For this specimen I should tentatively postulate a date of ca. 1500.

All the molds mentioned so far are for relatively small caliber balls, ca. 12 to 16 mm, correspondig to the average early harquebus calibers. What, however, about molds for larger pieces like wall guns and haquebuts? Of course they must have existed since an early stage, as well as those huge guys for casting the iron balls for the bigger artillery pieces.

I can only bring forward one single sample of a late 15th/early 16th century wrought iron mold for casting balls for wall pieces and haquebuts. It is of impressive dimensions and shows the same roughly hammered surface as most iron haquebut barrels do. Its weight is almost 2 kg and its caliber 31 mm. There also stylistic reasons for dating this mould: one of the handles of a pair of pliers in the Maximilian Arsenal Books of ca. 1507, as well as the trigger of a beautiful Late Gothic crossbow in the collection of a friend of mine, show the same curved back form as my mould does.

Of the same period is a fine copper alloy cast multiple mold for ten balls of 24.5 mm each, the average caliber of a haquebut barrel; also the general form of that mould reminds me of the rear end of a copper alloy, vulgo 'bronze', haquebut barrel. It retains its polished wooden grips.

Last in line for today, the small wrought iron mold for balls of 13 mm diameter with some sparce Early Renaissance decoration reflects the style of the first half to mid 16th century. It is preserved in unusually crisp condition thoughout.

Michael

Matchlock 9th June 2009 04:29 PM

5 Attachment(s)
My funnel shaped early 16th century small mold.

m

Matchlock 9th June 2009 04:44 PM

8 Attachment(s)
My large haquebut mold together with an illustration of ca. 1507 and a Gothic crossbow with a curved back trigger.

m

Matchlock 9th June 2009 04:48 PM

4 Attachment(s)
An early Renaissance small mold, ca. 1530-1550, for balls of 13 mm diameter for a harquebus or a pistol.

m

Matchlock 9th June 2009 04:53 PM

1 Attachment(s)
A fine cast copper alloy ten ball mold retaining its original polished wooden grips, for haquebuts, caliber 24.5 mm, ca. 1500.

m

ward 13th June 2009 04:07 PM

2 Attachment(s)
I would have some difficulty with some of the dating of these objects unless you had some provenance or the items were found with associated dated pieces. Other cultures in the world used realitively identical items much later is history. I have included some items I have in my collection,I would be hard pressed to date any of mine to the 16th century. The stone one came out of small town in tefrout, morocco, the gang mould came out of afghanistan and the single bullet mould came out of albania. They all could have been traded to these areas but in these cases I feel it is unlikely.

Matchlock 13th June 2009 04:52 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Hi Ward,

Please let me say thanks for posting these highly interesting pieces!

I fully agree with you: There are lots of instances, from Indian matchlock muskets, flintknapping combination tools (see attachments) to ball molds in which North European Late Gothic and Early Renaissance influences and decorative styles have been adopted and copied in oriental regions at some later date. Had we not additional information as to finds and provenance, it would in many cases almost be impossible to make a correct attribution.

For instance, your fine gang mould shows exactly the style of North Italian and German Early Reniassance decorative pattern as does a small barrel scourer in my collection which I date to the first half of the 16th century and which was excavated nearby where I live in Bavaria a few years ago - see attachments.

It's really hard to tell, I have to admit. :) :shrug:

This, I feel, could, thanks to your attribution, kick off a highly interesting intercultural discussion on stylistc similarities across all boundaries.

Thank you once more.

Best,

Michael

ward 13th June 2009 10:16 PM

Yes that would be a interesting discussion. My knowledge of European items is admittedly much weaker than my Indo Persian studies, but I find out new things all the time. As you are well aware, besides the copied pieces, many European countries dumped older arms and armor on less developed countries. Also it is possible that a particular form of piece came over into that country in the 16th century but that form may become permanent into the late 19th-20th century because of a sense of tradition or because of ease of manufacture. This is not as prevelent in European arms.

Matchlock 14th June 2009 02:59 PM

That is exactly the point - long, unintermitted tradition in then less developed countries.

m

ward 14th June 2009 04:04 PM

Yes but, when looking at pieces in our own collections or buying from most sources, it is always best to be cautious in attributing pieces to the earliest date a style was in vogue. That is one of the nice things about documented pieces out of excavated sites, you can get real dates for these specific items. It is nice to see that some of your pieces are locally excavated so that factual dating can be attained.

Matchlock 14th June 2009 04:08 PM

Agreed, absolutely.

m

Matchlock 19th May 2014 05:17 PM

The Earliest Known Bullet/Ball Molds, ca. 1480-1600
 
12 Attachment(s)
They are all in my collection.

First of all, as I am not a native English speaker:

The general English term is bullet mold, but on thother hand, there is the expression powder and ball.
So, when speaking of bullet molds for muzzleloading guns - should they not be called ball molds, consequently?

Attachments, from top:

- the only known Late Gothic ball mold for haquebuts, ca. 1480-1500, and actually an impressive tool!

- contemporary illustration of such a mold, the handles shaped exactly as they are on my piece, from:
Codex icon. 222, fol. 35v, by Jörg Kölderer, 1595-1515.

- one of the oldest known South German ball molds, to which I cannot assign any closer range of dating than ca. 1460-1540; the dyadic mold of brass, and struck with a maker's mark, a Gothic symbol; the handles of wrought iron, and with swamped globular finials - shaped exactly like the long trigger bars on contemporary matchlock arquebuses from the 1st half of the 16th century!

- 2 images of the lock and trigger bar of my Straubing arquebus of ca. 1540 attached

Some detached brass molds of similar type are recorded, mostly with their iron handles missing - see attachments to post #1.
They seem to have continued being made for a very long period of time, and almost unaltered, especially in Eastern Europe, and in the 500 year-old traditional Early Renaissance German style. The sample in my collection, however, is the only recorded specimen to be truck with a mark in the German Gothic style.
A very similar founder's mark is on the cast brass/bronze barrel of ca. 1490, of my earliest Landsknecht matchlock arquebus of ca. 1520!
A close-up photo of the maker's mark on the barrel of that important piece is attached to the folllowing post!


Please note that the scale is in centimeters, as I live in Bavaria, where the metric system is sort of compulsory ... ;)


Best, Michael

Matchlock 19th May 2014 06:02 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Attachments, following:

- one of the oldest known South German ball molds, which I cannot assign to any closer range of dating than ca. 1460-1540; the dyadic mold of brass, and struck with a maker's mark, a Gothic symbol; the handles of wrought iron, and with swamped globular finials - shaped exactly like the long trigger bars on contemporary matchlock arquebuses from the 1st half of the 16th century!

- 2 images of the lock and trigger bar of my Straubing arquebus of ca. 1540 attached

Some detached brass molds of similar type are recorded, mostly with their iron handles missing - see attachments to post #1.
They seem to have continued being made for a very long period of time, and almost unaltered, especially in Eastern Europe, and in the 500 year-old traditional Early Renaissance German style. The sample in my collection, to which I cannot assign any closer range of dating than ca. 1460-1540, however, is the only recorded specimen to be struck with a mark in the German Gothic style.
A very similar founder's mark is on the cast brass/bronze barrel of ca. 1490, re-used with my earliest Landsknecht matchlock arquebus of ca. 1520:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18532

A detail of the maker's mark on the barrel of that important piece is attached to the folllowing post!


Best,
Michael

Matchlock 29th August 2014 07:33 PM

More on my rarest early-16th century ball molds.

From all we may conclude from contemporary, and dated, historic sources of illustration, and the very few known actually existing objects, earliest ball molds consisted of two separate halves, and very soon must have been attached by a pin-and-hole system.
Up to at least ca. 1410, they were made of limestone, which got replaced by cast brass from maybe the mid 15th century.
From ca. 1480, the first molds were equipped with wrought-iron handles, uniting the two brass halves for founding balls.
The oldest samples obviously showed two thin iron fingers, each of them attached to a loop cast integrally with the actual mold halves.
The latter varied from rectangular and oval to round shapes.
F
rom the late 15th century, the latter seem to have started being made of wrought iron throughout, their older rectangular form still refecting the Late Gothic Medieval taste of style.
The author's thesis is that at least by ca. 1500, the influence of the age of Renaissance lead to oval and rounded mold shapes, equal to the round forms barrels were taking at the turn of the century, and the dawning of the Early Modern Age.

Attachments to follow.

All objects illustrated in this thread, and published by the author, are preserved in
The Michael Trömner Collection
except noted otherwise.


Best,
Michael Trömner

Shakethetrees 30th August 2014 04:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
They are all in my collection.

First of all, as I am not a native English speaker:

The general English term is bullet mold, but on thother hand, there is the expression powder and ball.
So, when speaking of bullet molds for muzzleloading guns - should they not be called ball molds, consequently?

Attachments, from top:

- the only known Late Gothic ball mold for haquebuts, ca. 1480-1500, and actually an impressive tool!

- contemporary illustration of such a mold, the handles shaped exactly as they are on my piece, from:
Codex icon. 222, fol. 35v, by Jörg Kölderer, 1595-1515.

- one of the oldest known South German ball molds, to which I cannot assign any closer range of dating than ca. 1460-1540; the dyadic mold of brass, and struck with a maker's mark, a Gothic symbol; the handles of wrought iron, and with swamped globular finials - shaped exactly like the long trigger bars on contemporary matchlock arquebuses from the 1st half of the 16th century!

- 2 images of the lock and trigger bar of my Straubing arquebus of ca. 1540 attached

Some detached brass molds of similar type are recorded, mostly with their iron handles missing - see attachments to post #1.
They seem to have continued being made for a very long period of time, and almost unaltered, especially in Eastern Europe, and in the 500 year-old traditional Early Renaissance German style. The sample in my collection, however, is the only recorded specimen to be truck with a mark in the German Gothic style.
A very similar founder's mark is on the cast brass/bronze barrel of ca. 1490, of my earliest Landsknecht matchlock arquebus of ca. 1520!
A close-up photo of the maker's mark on the barrel of that important piece is attached to the folllowing post!


Please note that the scale is in centimeters, as I live in Bavaria, where the metric system is sort of compulsory ... ;)


Best, Michael


Michael,

With all due respect, the tool illustrated in the codex is a pair of pincers, used to remove sprues and flashings from balls after they have been removed from the mold. The jaws are open sided, and would not work as a receptacle for molten metal!

The curled handle is similar to the curled triggers you mention, except that this feature is commonly found on old handmade tongs, pliers, ball molds and other similarly constructed tools. I have several in my shop.

I am a master metal smith with over thirty years experience in the field of antique metal restoration, and a number of commissioned pieces as well. Over the years I have collected (accumulated?) a lot of old tools, some coming from Northern Germany directly from the family who used them since the eighteenth century or possibly earlier!

I also consult with several auction houses locally, as well as numerous museums and historic houses in my area on a wide variety of topics.

I have, a long time ago, made movie props for movies filmed in the area until I realized that whenever you get the contract to provide anything for a movie, your entire life is taken over by the production.

I don't mention this in order to blow my own horn, as the saying goes, but, as somewhat of a newcomer who just yesterday got a PM informing me that my membership status in this forum has finally been removed from probation.

I just want to let everyone know a little about me.

I believe this is a factor of tool evolution that has carried across the entire spectrum of two piece blacksmith-made, pivoting tools.

Thank you all for making this one of the most interesting groups like this that I have ever found!

Shakethetrees 30th August 2014 04:44 AM

...and I almost forgot:

I really like your molds, two in particular: the cast, vase form and the thin wrought brass piece brazed to the iron handles!

If I had any of the very early arms like you have, they would fit very comfortably in my collection!

Matchlock 30th August 2014 10:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees

Michael,

With all due respect, the tool illustrated in the codex is a pair of pincers ...

Which tool are you talking about?
Please copy, mark, and post one of my images, just to make sure we're on the same page, and track!

Best,
Michael

Shakethetrees 30th August 2014 11:40 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Michael,

This is the one I mentioned earlier.

Matchlock 31st August 2014 12:50 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
Michael,

This is the one I mentioned earlier.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
This, I am afraid, is another topic rarely ever paid attention to.

I wish to present a few items from my collection, togehter with others.

I can only bring forward one single sample of a late 15th/early 16th century wrought iron mold for casting balls for wall pieces and haquebuts. It is of impressive dimensions and shows the same roughly hammered surface as most iron haquebut barrels do. Its weight is almost 2 kg and its caliber 31 mm.

There are also stylistic reasons for dating this mould: one of the handles of a pair of pliers in the Maximilian Arsenal Books of ca. 1507, as well as the trigger of a beautiful Late Gothic crossbow in the collection of a friend of mine, show the same curved back form as my mould does.



Of course, this is a pair of pliers.
All I added that contemporary source of illustration for, was for stylistic and formal comparison of the lengthend lower handle bent backwards, to ensure a safer hold for four fingers; just like the long tiller trigger/trigger bar of the Late-Gotic crossbow of ca. 1500 attatted here.

I was hoping my arguments on these items that are extremely hard to define, would be read, and considered, more carefully ...

For more on Gothic crossbows and accouterments, please see my threads
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...othic+crossbows
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...othic+crossbows



Thanks for noting,
and best,
Michael

Matchlock 17th November 2014 01:34 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Here are some fundamental thoughts on identidfying and dating simple pieces of firearms accouterments like ball molds.

Basically, they seen to have been developed in the Germanic regions, first emerging during the 2nd half of the 14th century and consisting of two rectangular halves of soapstone.
Any identifaction and dating should be done considering the fact that in most cases, with the exact circumstances of detection of an item and its original provenance unclear, only formal criteria can be defined.
E.g., even soapstone was kept in use for ball cast in Northern America until at least the era of the Revolution Wars in the late 18th c., and American molds for both single or multiple cast still looked the same then as they did in Old Europe around 1400, and this also true for the rest of the world, and for brass molds, at least since ca. 1500 when they got loops for attaching scissor-like iron handles.

In many instances, the latter, especially when coming from South Eastern Europe, including countries like Romania, Albania and Turkey, where they stayed in use throughout the muzzleloading era, most specimens seem a bit less well wrought than they were in the Germanic regions from where they once were imported, with their handles no longer showing the characteristic Late Gothic/Early Renaiance stylistic criteria, like knob finials to the iron handles or a founder's mark.
This is why the author had to wait for four decades before he found a mold which united all basic early criteria, including old repairs denoting a very long working life and surfaces of iron and brass that bore witness of a great age, plus a founder's mark in the Gothic style; still he cannot be absolutely sure that even his sample was made in Turkey, and only in the 18th c. ...


Best,
Michael

My computer will be on "intensive care" at a workshop for the rest of the week.





Matchlock 17th November 2014 02:42 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Attachments:
A multiple ball cast made of brass, ca. 1500-50; Austrian private collection.

Matchlock 17th November 2014 02:55 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Attached:

- Wrought iron ball mold, U.S.A., 1st half 19th c.; Northern American molds from the 18th and 19th centuries often have a rounded and beveled shape.

- Brass ball mould with wrought iron handles, in the Germanic early 16th c. style; most probably Turkish, 19th c.

- Three bottom atts., for close comparison:
The specimen in the author's collection, in all probability South German, ca. 1500-30.


m

Matchlock 17th November 2014 03:52 PM

9 Attachment(s)
- An all brass made ball mold, in the Germanic style of ca. 1500-30; Turkish, 18th c.

- A brass mold with badly wrought scissor shaped iron handles, Ottmoman, 19th c.

- One half of a cast-brass multiple mold, possibly South German, early 16th c., the iron handles missing; author's collection.



Matchlock 17th November 2014 04:04 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Another Ottoman multishot cast-brass mold with promitively wrought iron handles, 19th c.

ChrisPer 18th November 2014 12:34 AM

Excellent posts thank you Michael and Shakethetrees.

I would mention that the hooked back handle on tongs was an easy thing for a smith making his own tools, and very appropriate to tools handling items in and out of forges for smithing with necessarily long handles.

That feature survives in 'modern' tools in the jewellers' drawplate tongs, which pull axially with a lot of force.

Matchlock 27th December 2014 03:18 PM

The Oldest Known Illustration of an Iron Ball Mold With Brass Dies
 
4 Attachment(s)
From:
Kriegs- u. Feuerwerkbuch des Ludwig Eyb vom Hartenstein, Franken ~1500; Ms H2/MS.B 26
, University Library Erlangen.

Matchlock 31st December 2014 04:36 PM

.

Matchlock 31st December 2014 04:37 PM

12 Attachment(s)
With five years having pased since the author started this thread it is time to add the scan of an original watercolor of the illustrated source attached to post #1.
This is the earliest known representation of a ball mold.
It is deliberately oversized in terms of relation to the arquebuses because the artist intended to draw special attention to this small item of accouterment. Almost certainly, this ball mold was regarded as an important innovation in the techiques of warfare.
It consists of two hemispheric halves, most probably of cast brass, and two plain iron handles.

Please note that the arquebuses feature snap tinderlocks, with all mechanical parts united on a common lock plate nailed to the right side of the gun at breech level, its shape reflecting the Late Gothic style - which is remarkable considering the early stage of mechanic evolution at the end of the 15th century.
There is not yet a wing nut for tightening the jaws of the serpentine holding a piece of glowing tinder; a simple rectangular clamp moved upwards fulfilled that task.
This representation of an arquebus with a lock plate and a clamp to the relatively straight shaped tinderholder is very similar to the one known from Martin Merz's manuscript Kunst aus Büchsen zu schießen started in Amberg, Northern Bavaria, in 1473 or 1480. Martin Merz only died in 1501, which allows for a relatively late date of that illustration being added - an assumption the author of this thread strongly pleads for. It was very common with medieval manuscripts that, for some reason or another, the author, in between text and illustrations, left a number of pages empty. Most of them are still preserved empty today.

Another notable fact: there is an iron finial to either end of the wooden ramrod. We may safely assume that at least one of those tubular finials was threaded, for cleaning tools such as a worm or a scourer. Iron finials to both ends of the ramrod are a characterically early feature of pre-mid 16th century; see an arquebus from ca. 1525-35 in The Michael Trömner Collection:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...uebus+snap+1525


The latest ball mold recorded to have been made on this earliest scheme, and still featuring brass halves for founding, obviously belonged to a Thirty Years War falconet as it casts balls with a diameter/caliber of about 5-6 cm; it is dated 1621, which may be considered almost anachronic; in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg.

The watercolor is from
Philipp Mönch: Kriegsbuch, dated 1496 (which marks the year of its beginning!), UB Heidelberg, Cod.pal.germ. 126, fol. 28v.

Re-attached are images of a ball mold of earliest type in the author's collection, one half of the head struck with a founder's mark in the Late Gothic styl
e, ca. 1500-30, heavily worn all over and repaired in places; cf. post #13.
That 500 year-old South German type of mold was copied and kept unchanged in countries like Hungary, Albania and Turkey
over four centuries. Sometimes it gets hard to define how old a certain item actually is - see posts #23ff.

I also wish to recall, and re-attach, the interesting mold that Ward brought to our knowledge in post #6, because the iron doubtlessly shows ornaments characteristic of the South German style from ca. 1500 to 1550.

Ward, could you, by any chance, please trace back the source you saved that image from, and how the description read?:):shrug:



Best,
Michael


All photos copyrighted by the author, except for three.

Matchlock 31st December 2014 06:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPer
Excellent posts thank you Michael and Shakethetrees.

I would mention that the hooked back handle on tongs was an easy thing for a smith making his own tools, and very appropriate to tools handling items in and out of forges for smithing with necessarily long handles.

That feature survives in 'modern' tools in the jewellers' drawplate tongs, which pull axially with a lot of force.


Hi ChrisPer,

Please forgive an old man for not replying any earlier.;)
I much appreciate your adding those facts which help shedding light on a small matter of style from the aspect of practical experience.:cool:

Best,
Michael

fernando 1st January 2015 01:55 PM

3 Attachment(s)
A 'modern' simple example, similar to some shown in this tread and also in Neumann's work "American Revolution".
Most probably from the end XVIII century, with the number 19 engraved, hence for a ball of 19 bore caliber ... i would say.
It must have had intense use, judging by the worn sprue nipper.

.


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:33 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.