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Matchlock 13th January 2014 10:45 AM

1417 - The World's Oldest Dated Handgun!!!
5 Attachment(s)
This highly important and finely wrought iron tiller gun is preserved in the Museo Storico della Caccia, Villa Medici, in Cerreto Guidi, near Florence, Northern Italy.

It is hardly known in weaponry and shaped like a fire breathing sea serpent or dragon in the characteristic Italian taste over all its length, the wrought-iron tiller terminating in a swamped knob. The barrel is wrought as the serpent's head, with ears, eyes, teeth and mouth all clearly defined!
The museum interprets its shape as that of a wolf's head. Given the fact though that the muzzle of a gun would literally breathe fire, the embodiment of a sea dragon or monster is much more probable.
Its length is 99 cm overall, the bore is 20 mm.

The date 1417 is, due to its late High-Gothic period of manufacture, at the very threshold to the Italian Early Renaissance, still represented by Gothic miniscules in the Latin tradition of writing numerals, becoming obsolete in the early 15th century:

+ m c c c c x v i i -

This stunning sample sort of 'downgrades' my fine Munich/Passau barrel dated 1481 to being 'only' the second oldest dated handgun of the world:


Marcus den toom 13th January 2014 11:27 AM

Hi Michael,

I thoughed the roman numerals only allowed 3 of the same figures in a row? That is how i learned it in 4th grade (when i was 10 years old, so i might be mistaken).

So the 1417 date should read MCDXVII? :confused:

Either way, an impressive find.. though i like the munich barrel better.

edit: i read on wikipedia (not always a reliable source) that the notation of roman numerals varried greatly. The use of 4 or more of the same number is apparantly allowed. :o

Matchlock 13th January 2014 01:24 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Hi Marcus,

Wikipedia, as usually, is right: the Latin/Roman way of representing numerals and dates greatly varies and often depends ... E.g., on epitaphs you sometimes find remarkable variations that only allow to conclude the correct reading of a certain date from additional biographical information provided by the inscription.

This is also true for the general (incorrect and rural) use of Latin as a language.

Also note a frequently employed mixture of the Latin and Arabic numerals in the early 15th century; attached is the sample of the founding inscription of the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Kirche) in Landshut, Lower Bavaria, where the founding date 1407 is composed of the Roman m for the cypher 1 while the rest is written in Arabic numerals!


Matchlock 14th January 2014 12:25 PM

Editing of post #1:

Of course, the correct reading is minuscule (German Minuskel), instead of what I typed: miniscule.

Sorry, and best,

fernando 14th January 2014 12:36 PM

Oh, that is a minuscule fault ;)

Matchlock 14th January 2014 12:46 PM

Brilliant pun, you rascal! :D


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