Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Matchlock 5th November 2010 04:43 PM

Right, Alexender,

That's exactly what I think, if not even still later! ;)


Andi 11th January 2013 01:19 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Some objects of the Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Germany.

Handgonne inventory No. V 87/15 dated ca 1450
Calibre 2,7, weight 2.320 g, Length 48 cm

Reconstruction of the Tannenberg handgonne which looks slightly different from the original one

A Reconstruction of Tannenberg handgonne - but with HOOK ??

Matchlock 3rd May 2014 06:28 PM

Of course this is a long gun (German: Gewehr, Arkebuse or Langwaffe or arquebus, as, in English, handgun means a pistol or revolver (German: Faustfeuerwaffe).


Andi 7th May 2014 04:23 PM

I am wondering about the fact that DHM described its handgonne reconstruction with hook aquisition no W 86/1 as "Tannenberg-Büchse Nachbildung" (Tannenberg-Handgonne Reconstruction) while the original is without a hook. Even the second fragment of a bronze handgonne found in Tannenberg will not allow the reconstruction with a hook as this part was not preserved.
In my opinion DHM's description should have been expressed somewhat more generally without "Tannenberg".

Matchlock 7th May 2014 04:42 PM

Exactly, Andi,

I know their experts very well.
Like 99 per cent of all museum curators, they are art historians, and consequently do not know a thing about weapons in general, let alone earliest firearms!
Actually, they condemn weapons, and they despise everybody who is interested in those objects! :mad:
And that's a fact.
It's the same sad old story in any museum, wherever you go ...

And, of course, they do not care either ...


Matchlock 8th May 2014 04:39 PM

12 Attachment(s)
As this thread is almost six years old, and has had almost 10,000 views - thank you all for reading! - , it is time to post better photos of my 'cover gun' that this thread basically was about - see my starting post.


Matchlock 8th May 2014 04:51 PM

4 Attachment(s)
And a few more.

Enjoy, and thanks again!


fernando 8th May 2014 06:23 PM

Such unique and most fascinating specimen. Thanks for sharing the excelent photos.

Matchlock 8th May 2014 06:40 PM

My pleasure, Nando, ;)

As I obviously cannot present all of you with the real gun :rolleyes: , in a way I felt likeI owing the community better images.
Only very few people from the forum have attended my collection so far, and experienced the overwhelming impression of a room full of earliest Nothern European 'military' long guns, as well as hundreds of pieces of accouterments, including that very special 'perfume' of 400 to 700 year-old objects and leather.
Actually, only Alexender (Spiridonov) from St. Petersburg and Marcus from the Netherlands have made it to my home so far.


Matchlock 8th May 2014 07:03 PM

1 Attachment(s)
It's been done; this thread has collected over 10,000 views!
Thank you so much all of you, I will try and hang on posting.


Marcus den toom 8th May 2014 07:04 PM

And all things considered, my crusade of 10 hours by train was far (!) better than King Arthur his venture in Monthy python and the holy grail. Sadly i did not encounter any stereotypical French soldiers or three headed knights, other than that it was A journey well worth taking, for at the end lies the holy grail of all collections and a great tour :D

That handgun had such an athmosphere around it, you just could see yourself back into the past when this rarity was still wet from the minium.

ps Michl, only 119 post and you are at 4000, another milestone :cool:

Matchlock 8th May 2014 07:14 PM

Thank you so much, Marcus,

It was a pleasure to have such a quick and ready learner here, attending my objects!
I warned you though that these earliest firearms and accouterments definitely were highly contageous, in their massive, overwhelming physical presence - and arrayed in a perfect chonological succession which no museum in the world can ever match! :cool: :eek:
And that's a very sad fact! Since 1990, the date marking the German reunification, the official basic cultural German attitude has been to completely deny the fact that such extremely old and rare fireearms should be neither bought nor ever dispayed!!! No German museum is granted any financial aid any more to enable them and buy my singular collection unmatched worldwide!
Edged weapons and armor, on the other hand, still are considered to be 'morally inoffensive' and 'positive' - without any restrictions at all ... !


Matchlock 19th May 2014 11:53 AM

The World's Oldest Illustrations of 1410 and 1411, Exactly Depicting MY ARQUEBUS!!!
9 Attachment(s)
The first dated 1410, Cod.vind. 34;

the second, a watercolor, dated 1411, in a Kriegsbuch (book on war techinques), Cod.vind. 3039, fol. 38v, also representing the earliest known illustration of a bullet mold;

a third illustration, from the same illuminated manuscript of 1411, fol. 11r, for the first time depicts the use of superimposed loads!


Matchlock 13th September 2014 03:17 PM

The Word's Oldest Known surviving gun, ca. 1390-1410, fitted with a lock mechanism!
12 Attachment(s)
The Word's Oldest Known surviving gun, ca. 1390-1410,
fitted with the earliest tinderlock mechanism,

and preserved in

The Michael Trömner Collection

Reattached here find an important contemporary and dated illustration.
The manuscript containing it is dated 1410, and the gun is almost identical to the author's sample, showing excaclty the same proportions, the very same sleeve of thin iron uniting the oaken tiller stock with the short octagonal barrel; even the slanted rear end of the stock is the same on both the drawing and the author's gun.
The illustration does not yet depict a lock mechanism, or a barrel hook.
Both were obviously not known by 1410, and are, as stated, working time technical amendments on the existing gun as well.

As stated formerly, hooks do not show up in contemporary illustrations before ca. 1430-40:


Michael Trömner
Rebenstr. 9
93326 Abensberg

All photos copyrighted by the author.

Matchlock 13th September 2014 04:24 PM

7 Attachment(s)

The watercolor attached below is from Cod. vind. 3069, dated 1411, ÖNB Wien (Austrian National Library, Vienna), fol. ....

Depicted are two men firing a handgun very similar to the one in
The Michael Trömner Collection

equipped with a mechanical lock action, and working on the Superimposed Load System:
esp. post #13;

The whole length of the barrel in the watercolor of 1411 gets filled up with a series of loads, consisting of dust- or meal-like blackpowder and a piece of lead clod shot, pierced with a small central vertical hole to allow the fine powder to run down through, and connect the firing process to the same loads below, back until to the rearward load at the breech. In this case, the gun is not fired from the actual touch hole, but from the amount of powder filling up the central hole of the clod shot placed at the muzzle.
Right there at the muzzle, when touched with the red-hot tip of an igniting iron, or a glowing piece of tinder or a length or matchcord, the fire of the explosion of the top load will immediately set off the load behind it, and so on.
Once on, the action cannot be interrupted, or stopped; the gun must be held pointing in the direction of the enemies for a few seconds, or it will cause 'friendly fire'. And you will be well advised to wait for a few seconds more beore pointing it off - just in case of an ignition failure, while sparks my be lingering in the barrel before setting off the last load.
Using superimposed loads must have proved very dangerous - to the shooter himself. It is the author's thesis that for that reason, very few such earliest high-tech guns were ever
built to work on that principle, and there are very few surviving guns.
The earliest of them all is a sixteen-shot single-barrel combined wheellock and snap-tinderlock musket, the barrel and lock bearing Nuremberg marks, and the barrel dated 1595, was in the William Goodwin Renwick Collection (Sotheby's, London, .. 197 .. , lot ... ), and was sold at auction last Butterfields, San Francisco, ...., lot ... .

The gun in discussion here is 200 years older.
This six hundred year-old handgonne
preserved in
The Michael Trömner Collection

definitely represents the earliest document ever of a high-tech gun, for
- featuring a mechanical lock action
- and being constructed for automated firing additionally.

With a length of only 31.8 cm, and a bore of ca. 20 mm, this barrel
may not have taken more than three to five superimposed loads, depending on the amount of the primitive mixtures of blackpowder * needed 600 years ago - the first automatic gun of the world had been invented.
*Please cf.:

In medieval Sweden gunpowder was called just “pulver”, wich translates into “powder”. There are quite a few old powder recipes still around, and the ones that suits our selected historical period
are referred to as, for example, Rouen, Lille, Rothenburg and Marcus Graecus. They all use the same ingredients, but the amounts differ. In the table below, they are compared to a modern “perfect”

Tests made at the Middelaldercenter in Nyköbing, Denmark show a correlation between higher muzzle velocity and higher amount of salpetre. The ingredients were ground up and mixed, resulting in a so called dry mixed powder. This can be used as it is, but it will be more effective if mixed with alcohol, shaped into bars or pellets and then ground again, producing wet mixed powder or meal powder. The alcohol dissolves the salpetre, and lets the tiny sulphur crystals divide and evenly on the grains of charcoal, making the powder burn more even. It is important to note that there has
been some debate about the use of alcohol in medieval gunpowder, as distilled beverages is barely known at the time. However, sources speak of a “Henricus Brännewattnmakare” (Henricus, maker of burnt (distilled) water, meaning a producer of alcohol) in the city of Lund in the 1350′s, wich means that alcohol was in use at the time. If it was used to make gunpowder we do not know. Sulphur could be collected in volcanic areas in Iceland or Italy, while salpetre was produced by collecting dung and urine from livestock, and processing it, to extract the salpetre. Charcoal was abundant in medieval society."

Obviously, the need of a fire power higher than the usual single shot, with intervals of loading procedure, must have made the gunmen long for a multishot technique, to get a better chance to survive; so the human mind started thinking of a solution.

On the other hand, the fact that the superimposed load technique required two men acting together, with utmost concentration and painstaking care for several minutes, cannot possibly have been carried out with war raging all around those two persons trying to keep cool and reload - amidst all the battle turmoil and melee.

The author's thesis is that for these facts, only very few guns built on that principle are known to still exist; almost none from the period before ca. 1660 is any private collection still. Almost all of the earliest samples are preserved in important museums, the latest being the multibarreled wheellock carbines once in the Henk L. Visser Collection. All of them are in the collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Netherlands, today.

The fact is that the only 600 year-old single-barrel superimposed-load gun, which is moreover the earliest recorded and perfectly documented high-tech gun in the world - for retaining the oldest mechanic lock action and recoil-preventing hook- , is,
among other singularly important items,
preserved in

The Michael Trömner Collection.

The author's conclusion is that
- all those earliest high-tech guns must have got loaded before the action started,
- must have taken special training, and
- a number of multishot guns must have been kept ready, loaded and primed, for use by a small group of specialist gunmen.

When regarding those contemporary illustrations which are invaluable sources of documentation for dating, and evaluating the actually surviving gun preserved in heavily patinated, virtually 'untocuched' original condition for more than half a millennium, we notice that, in the respective picture, the relations of the actual sizes of persons and items are not congruent.
All technical objects, the gun, as well as the accouterments like igniting irons, the lower half of the earliest bipartite "bullet" mold
for casting several shots of lead simultaneously - and probably consisting of sloapstone;
post #1;

or the pierced pieces of clod shot, are drawn out of size.

In the Middle Ages, and especially before,
by the end of the 15th century, painters like Albrecht Dürer entered the art scene taking the Renaissance influence from Italy to Germany, all objects that represented inventions of technique or other amendments, and important for the artist to point out to his fellowmen, were pictured oversized so they would not be overlooked.

Consequently, less important people like the rural population and working men, the 'little ones', were shown much smaller in size than, e.g., the king who was generally portrayed talking to the lesser in full splendor, and wearing the golden crown.

Michael Trömner
Rebenstr. 9
D-93326 Abensberg
Lower Bavaria, Germany
  • Self-established Academic Medievalist
  • Graduated from Regensburg University in 1982
  • Stipendiary recipient and member of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, Bonn
  • Author of BEHÄLTNISSE FÜR KOSTBARES 1500-1700, 2005
  • M. of the Arms & Armour Society, London since 1991
  • M. of the Gesellschaft für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde e.V., Berlin since 1987
  • Expertises in European weapons, ironworks, and furniture of the 14th through 17th centuries
  • Preservation and academic documentation of museum collections

Matchlock 22nd September 2014 03:09 PM

For more on earliest samples of the superimposed-load principle, please cf.:,
esp. post #24ff.


Paddy T. 28th July 2018 05:01 PM

Originally Posted by Andi


A Reconstruction of Tannenberg handgonne - but with HOOK ??

This example has been published in the exhibition catalogue of "Burg und Herrschaft" in the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin in 2010. Following the catalogue it´s an original piece of the "Tannenberg type" and it´s dated to the early 15th century. The dating criteria are "the casted hook" and "the uncommen small caliber". The text mentions the common interpretation of the gun to be a replica of the 19th century because of the Whitworth-screw behind the ignition pan, but following the catalogue the screw is a plug for a later drilled second touchhole.

To be honest, I don´t believe the catalogue is right. The structure of the gun is very similar to the Tannenberg examples, it looks like a mixture of these two weapons and several other templates (and looks very wrong, of course ;) ). Furthermore, the original touchhole is situated inside the pan, it´s illogical why one more touchhole should have been drilled behind it. Maybe this piece is a 19th century replica and they´ve used the screw to close a hole which was supposed to support the core of the form while casting (which is a common practice in bronze casting for statues and stuff like that, but not for guns of course), because the muzzle seems to be cast and not drilled. The patina also appears to be modern. In addition, the provenance seems unhelpful, because the hook gun was bought by the museum from a private collection in 1986. :)

Helleri 7th August 2018 12:47 AM

Wondering about the use of the term "hand gun" in this context. Were they generally refereed to as such at the time these were made? Are these the direct ancestors of modern handguns? Is it just that it's the best generalized term we can apply to them modernly?

fernando 7th August 2018 01:47 PM

Originally Posted by Helleri
Wondering about the use of the term "hand gun" in this context. Were they generally refereed to as such at the time these were made? Are these the direct ancestors of modern handguns? Is it just that it's the best generalized term we can apply to them modernly?

Trying to jump off the name game; i guess that, at a certain stage in this thread it was pointed out that hand gun term would (only) be of German attribution. Although (also) in this thread we can see various early fire arms types, namely haquebuts and hand cannons, i think the issue as you put it is about the late. The name, you chose it, from 手銃, to hand cannons, gonnes or handgonnes. And yes, they were the first true firearms, those ancestors of modern portable firearms.
Whether there is unequivocal evidence of their genesis, based on few (several...) existing specimens, the names how they were called by then would be a different deal, i guess; depending on how people of the various languages an in different contexts baptized the numerous variations that kept appearing.
I guess i am not talking nonsense; may always be corrected by better knowledged ones, though :o.


Paddy T. 7th August 2018 07:38 PM

In German there are some medieval terms like "Handbuchse", "Hantbusse", "Fustbusse", "Handror" or "Handrohr". They all mean something like "handgun" in different variations. Many original pieces are clearly handguns, but some barrels can´t be assigned to be "handguns" or "cannons (=artillery)". These weapons are definitely the ancestors of our modern handguns. The oldest european handguns are the two pieces from Tannenberg castle in Germany, but there are older ones in China.

Helleri 8th August 2018 05:28 AM

Great information thanks. It occurs to me that "hand cannon" is still colloquially used to occasionally refer to very large revolvers with a caliber that makes for a lot of stopping power. It's interesting how terminology like this can basically stick with us for so long and keep finding new ways in which to be applied.

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