Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
-   European Armoury (
-   -   Powder Flask (

Tony PP 18th March 2013 11:45 AM

Powder Flask
12 Attachment(s)
Hello everybody, please feel free to say anything you like about this powder flask. It has been with me for many years (1975) but that's about all I know of it's history. I tried it recently on ebay and had many watchers but no questions or bidders so thought I would ask the forum for their thoughts.
It is 11 inchs in height and brazed together. The joints are not butted up, they lap over each other. A bit rusty with a split in the horn. That's it folks, over to you.

fernando 18th March 2013 12:09 PM

Welcome to the forum Tony,
This is either the reproduction of a very early powder flak (XVI century), or the real thing.
Perhaps other members chime in with a decisive opinion.

Fernando K 19th March 2013 09:43 AM


What is the method of welded iron sheets?

Affectionately. Fernando K

Tony PP 19th March 2013 11:10 AM

Powder Flask Construction
Hello Fernando,
The body of the flask has been brazed together with brass/bronze, I have cleaned a little area on the measure and this looks like it is brazed to the body with copper. A mix of braze materials !!! Thanks for your interest.

Fernando K 19th March 2013 01:16 PM

Hello, tony

It strikes me, in the picture number 8 on the back plate, a perfect line, like the one seen in mechanical treatment ....

Affectionately. Fernando K

Tony PP 19th March 2013 03:32 PM

The Flask !
Hello Fernando,
Yes it certainly is a straight line. I presumed that they rolled the steel and the mark was left from that. The only straight line on the whole flask, the rest off the flask is all a little off centre, certainly not straight. I think more likely made by a blacksmith than a gunsmith.

Tony PP 14th May 2014 01:34 AM

So it is a rubbish powder flask.
Hello all, I put pictures of this flask on the site over a year ago and it has had 500 plus views and only a couple of replies. Perhaps it is a rubbish flask and time to chuck it in the scrap bin.

Matchlock 14th May 2014 08:08 AM

12 Attachment(s)
Hi Tony,

I'm afraid you have overlooked reading my thread

Luckily, it has been noticed by other forum members almost 12,000 times!

Fernando (Nando) obviously did, so his guess was the closest! ;)

You will find out that your item in question is anything but scrap: it is a German 'military' caliverman's flask of about 1590-1612, a relatively short span of time in the Late Renaissance period which allows assigning a very exact date of ca. 1600 to your flask.
It is preserved in very good and original condition, complete with its long frog hook (which actually is not a 'belt' hook!), mounted on the reverse of the flattened natural cowhorn body, and all the iron mounts obviously retaining much of their original dark bluing.

My congratulations!

Please do not 'clean' the iron mounts, they originally never were 'shiny bright'! I strongly recommend taking a cloth, putting a bit of olive oil (that was the only oil used as a means of rust prevention 400 years ago!) on it, and wiping all the iron surfaces.
Just let the oil get dry for a few days, without handling the flask, and you will have achieved a perfect state of conservation.

There is one thing about 400+ year-old flasks that has always been of important historic interest to me: were they really used, meaning: are there traces of black powder in the bodies of these flasks?
Thus, it would really be great if you could find a perfectly fitting screwdriver to carefully remove the upper of the two transversal screws fixing the cowhorn and the iron top mount, and have a look at the flask's 'bowels'! Please gently rub your finger against the inner walls of the cowhorn; if the finger comes out black, you will know - and please do post the photos of both the innermost of the flask's body and your finger! :cool: :eek:

Of course, I have done that with nearly all the about 30 'military' flasks in my collection that are ca. 350 to nearly 500 year-old, as well as with hundreds of similiar samples in both museums and private collections, and for more than 35 years of my research studies.
The outcome was that about 70-80 per cent of all those 'military' flasks showed no traces of black powder whatsoever - so they actually never 'saw service'!
They obviously were ordered by the armories in such large numbers that most of them have never been used - a fact which, at the same time, accounts for their usually good state of preservation after such a long time!

I attached a few photos of my highly specified collection of earliest German and Austrian 'military' long guns and all sorts of accouterments, from ca. 1360 to 1700!

You may also be interested to learn more about other types of 400-500 year old 'military' flasks; so please read my threads, especially


fernando 14th May 2014 04:48 PM

Originally Posted by Tony PP
Hello all, I put pictures of this flask on the site over a year ago and it has had 500 plus views and only a couple of replies. Perhaps it is a rubbish flask and time to chuck it in the scrap bin.

Hello Tony,
Just now that you concluded that your piece was good for scrap and i was going to propose to buy it for some better than scrap price, comes Matchlock and unveils the mistery :( :mad: :D :shrug:

Tony PP 15th May 2014 01:24 AM

A nice surprise
Thank you Michael and Fernando, When I get back to Cyprus I will do as Michael suggested and try to take the flask apart and take pictures. I have been reading Michael links and it is a whole new world for me. ( Or old world)

Marcus den toom 15th May 2014 10:07 AM

A great flask Tony ;)

I only have a question regarding the frog hook, which Michl probably can answer. I don't see a screw head :confused: is the hook riveted against the flask or are the screws mounted from the inside (which seems unlikely to me).
And is this feature also usable to date (with other criteria) such objects?

fernando 15th May 2014 11:08 AM

Originally Posted by Marcus den toom
A great flask Tony ;)

I only have a question regarding the frog hook, which Michl probably can answer. I don't see a screw head :confused: is the hook riveted against the flask or are the screws mounted from the inside (which seems unlikely to me).
And is this feature also usable to date (with other criteria) such objects?

Looks like they were fixed with different techniques one from the other; which is easy to understand, once having fixed one (upper) section and 'plug it' to the other (lower) one, you can hardly do the same fixation from the inside :o

Matchlock 15th May 2014 11:30 AM

12 Attachment(s)
Hi there,

Of course, I can answer these questions regarding hooks on powder flasks.

1. Flasks for infantry soldiers, like arquebusiers, musketeers and calivermen, and from ca. 1520/30-1700, were usually equipped with such hooks mounted on the reverse side.

2. Generally, the correct term for hooks of flasks for arquebusiers and musketiers is belt hooks; illustrated contemporary sources, from 1529, 1533, 1564 and 1587, depict such soldiers, with flasks attached either to the belt at their side, or at the their back.

3. Flasks for calivermen were attached to leather frogs; so the correct term for hooks on those flasks is frog hooks.

4. Usually, these hooks were pierced with two holes at the reinforced upper end, with at least of these holes threaded to receive a transverse screw.

5. Hooks on the earliest types of flasks of ca. 1530-40, and on flasks made of stag's antlers, which are mostly forked and were made from ca. 1540/50 to about 1580, usually were attached by a wood screw, entering through a hole in the iron base plate of the top mount (nozzle), and in the staghorn body underneath the iron.
Generally, a few centimeters below that eye pierced through the reinforced upper end of the belt hook - made for that wood screw, or alternatively a nail, to enter - , a pointed iron nail was copper welded to the underside of the hook, to be nailed in the staghorn body and prevent the hook from swiveling or pivoting. Alternatively to that nail, sometimes there was a short, threaded thorn by which the belt hook had to be pivoted around its axis until that threaded thorn had completely entered the staghorn, and the hook was fixed parallel to the staghorn body by both the upper screw and the lower nail or threaded thorn.

6. As I said in my reply to Tony's flask, all hooks usually were attached by a transverse screw, either going right through the body of the flask from the obverse side, and screwed to a threaded hole in the hook, or equipped with an additional iron thorn, to hold the hook in place.

In the case of Tony's flask, which may not have been made in Germany or Northern Europe, there are two transversal screws piercing the flattened cowhorn body, their big rounded heads clearly visible one below the other. The upper screw enters the obverse of the iron base plate of the top mount, goes right through the cowhorn, on through a hole on the reverse of the base plate, and entering a threaded hole in the broadened upper end of the belt hook - thus fixing the top mount to both the cowhorn body and the belt hook. The second, lower screw does likewise, but just goes right through the horn and into another threaded hole in the belt hook, thus keeping the belt hook from pivoting.

I reattached five photoshopped pictures of Tony's flask, showing the two screws entering the threaded hole of the upper and reinforced section of the frog hook.

Attached below find photos of two detached mid- to late 16th century hooks, from my reserve collection: the shorter one from a staghorn flask, with its small upper nail and lower long nail still in place; the upper a frog hook from a caliverman's flask.
As I live in Bavaria, Germany, Europe, please note that the scale is in centimeters.

Last attachment: detail from a painting of the Battle of Pavia, 1525; the painting by Ruprecht Heller, and dated 1529; National Museum Stockholm, 272.


Matchlock 15th May 2014 01:20 PM

6 Attachment(s)

- dated 1533, detail from the painting The Battle of Alesia, by Melchior Feselen, Ingolstadt, Bavaria;

- dated 1564, by Jost Amman, from Leonhardt Fronsperger: Von Kayserlichem Krieg▀rechten (sic!);

- dated 1587, by Hendrick Goltzius;



All times are GMT. The time now is 10:03 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.