A Remarkable Early-16th c. Cast Blank of an Arquebus Bronze Barrel
As the description mentions that the touch hole together with a rectangular (!) pan is situated on the right-hand side, the date of "mid-15th c." assigned by the auction house is not realistic; the earliest date, in comparison with similar barrels, that I would suggest is "second decade 16th c.", ca. 1515.
Cast with a socket for a tiller stock, the muzzle section missing. The high-relief banded friezes probably meant to bear a date or inscription which were never eventually chiseled though. The coat-of-arms also left unfinished.
In excavated condition.
While this no doubt represents a highly interesting sample of Late Medieval/Early Renaissance craftsmanship, its actual value in a specialized collection of complete actual guns is very limited. So I did not purchase it.
The fact that the estimate was only exceeded by 100 euro proves that extremely few people are actually ready to lay their money down for an excavated piece, no matter how rare it may be.
As I have always believed, condition is what matters in the end!
I don`t believe that the excavated condition was the reason for the price. Many excavated bronze barrels are in a remarkably good condition, or can be improved by slight restoration. The reason for the low interest was that it is only a half barrel! Which serious collector wants to acquire a half barrel? For this poor fragment €3200,- incl. Premium is a high price!
As I said, the overall condition is what matters.
Classing this piece, I wish to state that we all sort of automatically seeem to tend to addressing any kind of copper-alloy work of art as 'bronze'. Me included. :(
Several times before here, I have pointed out that the historic 500-year-old period term for this tye of cast barrels used in the inventory books of the Maximilian armories was 'Messing', which is brass. Of course, it depends on the alloy used.
I guess it is just because it sounds more valuable that the term bronze has come into such wide-spread usage.
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