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Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:53 PM

An arquebusiers powder flask of about 1540's
This Calivermen staghorn powder flask of around 1540’s was sold at the last Czerny’s sale of 31st of May 2014. (Edited on 24-06-2014, title changed to An arquebusier's staghorn powder flask of around 1540's)

The natural staghorn body is as Michl says (quote from post 3, line10) “the plainer but much rarer samples are usually the earlier ones, of ca. 1540-50. Most of these earliest flasks were left unpolished retaining their original rough and natural staghorn surface”. The horizontal spring-loaded cut-off does look like the one from a flask dated 1532. The latter is one of a series which you can find reference to in the thread linked above (post 3). Images of this flask can be found in this thread in post 4.
The flask retains its original frog hook and also parts of its blued surface. The lateral push button is made out of two pieces which means it is not of the earliest make (1525’s) but more likely around 1540’s. Even after so many years the moving parts are still operational though!!!
The hook, as on most of these early flask, is mounted with a bolt trough the iron top mount and the staghorn body, fastened by a square nut at the opposite side. There is also a nail protruding from the hook trough the horn body.
The flask also yields another secret, there are some fine grains of black and brown that came out of the flask!!! I attached a picture of this as well, it looks like remnants of black powder but also of some sort of fabric (the brown pieces)?
The two rings which used to have a cord with the tassels at the end through them made me wonder, where these so called suspension ring actually used as such? I think not, seeing as the flask was hanging from either a belt or a leather frog (from the belt/frog hook). Also the weight of a large flask filled with black powder would most likely pull the rings out of the staghorn body over time. Drawings from the time such a flask was used tell us the same story, only the small flask for flashpan use was suspended by a cord. The term suspension rings is often used by auctions so it wouldn’t be a surprise if it were in fact the wrong name, but I am still learning

total lenght 22,4 cm
Staghorn body lenght 16 cm (including the parts covered by the top and base mount.
the base is 11 cm wide and 2,6 to 3,8 cm thick
The top is 6,5 cm wide and 3,6 cm thick (oval like).
the nuzzle is 5,5 cm long and has a outer diameter of 1,1 to 0,8 cm.
The frog hook is 12,1 cm long and 0,6 to 1,5 cm wide.

Special thanks to Michael Trömner, without him i would never have been able to present all this information. Michl, thank you ;) :D

Similare threads:

All images posted within this thread are copyrighted by the author of the post in which these images reside except when mentioned otherwise!!! Infringements will be pursued legally.

Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:54 PM

More pictures:

Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:55 PM

and even more :D Please feel free to ask for any specific pictures

Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:55 PM

Image set flask 1532, :

Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:56 PM

A saxon trabanten leibgarde powder horn, similar to the one in post 2 of this thread

I found it during my research and found it interesting enough to post it with this thread.

Marcus den toom 23rd June 2014 02:59 PM

more on the 1532 kind of flasks
Even more material on the 1532 flask. I found that these series has both engravings of a noble man and also of a woman. The Version with the man on them are earlier than those with a woman, curious :D

"A staghorn powder flask
probably German, 17th Century
The forked section of staghorn carved on the front side with the figure of a lady in 17th century dress, holding a wreath and standing framed by florals and an architectural arch. Iron fittings including a belt hook and top with long spout having a spring-mounted cover.
Condition: Showing dark patina, the mounts with some light pitting, the top loose.
See Illustration
Length: 9 inches.

Antique Arms and Armour San Francisco
15 May 2007 10:00 PDT

Auction 15285"

Matchlock 23rd June 2014 04:44 PM

11 Attachment(s)
Hi Marcus,

Congratulations for acquiring that fine and early piece, which can be assigned to ca. 1540-50.

I am not quite sure though what actually makes you think it might have been part of a caliverman's equipment.
At the mid-16th century, all infantry men employing firearms were called arquebusiers.
The lightweight and shorter 'long' guns were called (h)arquebuses or Viertelhaken, whereas the long and heavier infantry firearms were termed Halbhaken or Ganze Haken.

It was only during the 2nd half of the 16th century that the terms caliver and caliverman, and musket and musketeer respectively, were established. The latter seems to have originated in Spain, and derived from the Spanish mosca (fly), and the French mousquetaire.

For closest possible comparison, I attached an image of a bifurcated natural staghorn flask, Nuremberg, ca. 1550, in The Michael Trömner Collection. Its iron mounts retain traces of their original minium (red lead) paint.

Attached next please find the polished and finely engraved body of a staghorn flask, initialled OTH for Pfalzgraf (Count Palatine) Ottheinrich, 1502-1559, who resided on Schloss Neuburg, some 50 km from where I live, and was a personal friend of Henry VIII.
The bifurcated body is dated 1552; the top mount and the left basal mount are both missing. Telling by its very special type, it may originally have been a combined powder flask and holder for paper cartridges!

The view from the top into the body of the flask also proves that the rings actually were rings for suspension, and on a cord and tassels (German: Aufputz), which was common to all powder flasks. The tassels were also used to wipe the iron surfaces and igniting pan of a firearm.
Moreover, the fact that these rings were, of course, screwed to the staghorn body and could not be extracted by the flask's weight
is clearly visible on that image.

The hook mounted on the flask's reverse actually was a belt hook, and not a frog hook as on caliverman's flasks; it is pierced with a trefoil ornament (German: Trifoliendekor, Dreipass), actually representing a bunch of grapes, and stylized to the absolute minimum of three dots in both
Late Gothic and Renaissance art.

For early staghorn flasks, please cf. my thread

For Ottheinrich's personal wheellock arquebus dated 1533, please cf. my thread


- Pfalzgraf Ottheinrich

the trefoil ornament in Gothic architecture

etching with bunches of grapes and running animals set within grapevine scrolls
: on the blade of a fine hunting sword of ca. 1525-30, preserved in the Bargello, Florence

bunches of grapes;
blind embossing on a book binding dated 1545

Michl/Michael Trömner

Matchlock 23rd June 2014 05:18 PM

10 Attachment(s)

More attachments referring to the
Early German Renaissance trefoil ornament, reduced to three dots forming a triangle, and partly set within grapevine scrolls:
images of
two very fine and important cranequins for crossbows dated 1504 and 1532 respectively, and both struck with the well-known workshop mark of the Nuremberg 'Master of the crossed arrows' (definition set up by Michael Trömner);
they both show the
Early German Renaissance petiolate trefoil ornament (German: gestielter Dreipass), reduced to three dots forming a triangle.

Both items formerly in The Michael Trömner Collection, and now in another private Bavarian collection.
Please cf. my thread:


Matchlock 24th June 2014 01:22 AM

11 Attachment(s)


- a very fine cranequin dated 1540, and struck with the well-known maker's mark of the
Nuremberg 'Master of the crossed arrows' (definition set up by Michael Trömner), lined in brass


an unusually finely wrought cranequin, defined as a masterpiece;
the ratched bar elaborately engraved with petiolate trefoils set within a grapevine pattern, and dated 1545.

Both cranequins are struck with the
Nuremberg workshop mark of the 'Master of the crossed arrows'.

German private collection


Matchlock 24th June 2014 01:38 AM

5 Attachment(s)
One more instance of the stylized trefoil decoration, found on another cranequin datable to ca. 1535, and in a Bavarian private collection:
engraved on the forward section of the ratched bar, and reduced to three dots struck to form a triangle.

This cranequin, too, is struck with the Nuremberg workshop mark of the 'Master of the crossed arrows'.

As stated above, the ornament on this item is a sample of the most simplified variant of a bunch of grapes, which seems to have originated as a stylistic decorative element in the late 15th or early 16th century - and primarily employed on all kinds ironworks including weapons and armor.

Have fun studying,
and best,
Michael Trömner

Marcus den toom 24th June 2014 10:45 AM

Hi Michl,

You are absolutly right, my mistake :o The thing is that i did read that thread about the arquebusiers flask when i first studied my flask, but forgot about it when i began to save and accumulate all the information regarding this thread.
I changed the title to a more accurate one.

Regarding the suspension i understand your explanation and the evidence but why would they hang there large flasks from cords as well? The hook would suffice and a cord would only get in the way when in the heat of battle you grab your flask and the cord gets tangled. But this is my inexperienced view on the matter :D :rolleyes:

The picture of the powder/grains that fell out of my flask, are they enough evidence of actuall use of the flask?

Thank you as alwways my friend,

Matchlock 24th June 2014 03:41 PM

9 Attachment(s)
Hi Marcus,

Those little amorphous dark pieces may be just any kind of stuff.
As I said: no black on the finger - no traces of powder.
Remember black powder was not grained but fine meal powder (dust) in that period of time.

You may be interested to learn that the horizontal section of the iron base mount of your flask is very similar to that of the Ottheinrich flask dated 1552, so I would plead for assigning a date of 'ca. 1550' to it.

In the Von Morenberg sale of 13 Nov 2010, your flask was marked sold for 680 euro plus commission (Asta 41, lot 667, described as '17th c.') - see attachments.


Matchlock 24th June 2014 08:24 PM

11 Attachment(s)
The lower end of the belt hooks is heart shaped on both Ottheinrich's flask dated 1552 and Marcus's item, which can also be dated 'ca. 1550' (top 2 attachments).

A finely etched patron/box for 7 paper cartridges, sold at Christie's, London, 12 Dec 2006, lot 151, showed exactly the same
general early outline directly deriving from the shape of the Gothic quivers for quarrels/crossbow bolts. It was decorated with a punched trefoil as well (4 att.) and the 1550's style of its etching accounts for the fact that it was made for a guardsman of the Electors of Saxony Moritz (1547-1553) and/or August (1553-1586) (3 attachments, the portraits by Lucas Cranach the Younger).

For comparison, a row of Saxon cartrigde boxes preserved at the Historisches Museum Dresden is attached, including a counterpart to the Christie's patron: lower row, second item from the right
(2 b/w att.).


Marcus den toom 25th June 2014 07:25 AM

Blackish stuff
The belt hook design on my flask is the most recent oen so i consent to a date of 1550s until we find an even earlier flask or patron with the same design. :D

You will be happy to hear that last night i had enough courage to attempt to open the flask. The screws on the bottom where easily removed and i made a ton of pictures. I attached a few of them here, as well as my finger... blackish after swiping the inner surface of the flask :cool: :eek:

The bottom has as a wooden base plug, and the transversal screw is rustic but very much there in one piece. I am excited. :)

ps, this is not just a conversation between Michl and me, don't be afraid to join in.

Matchlock 29th June 2014 01:15 PM

Hi Marcus,

Whatever that darker substance on your finger may be - it does NOT look like black powder.
As soon as I can I will reopen one of the very few! of my 30+ flasks I remember actually containing remains of that special kind of finest ungrained black powder used 700 to 400 years ago - this still being the only proof of actual usage of any flask (apart from wondering whenever that may have been)!, and post an image of MY finger ...


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