German wrought-iron haquebut barrels ca. 1460-1500
All of them preserved in finest possible, absolutely perfect original condition.
As was common in many German arsenals, they received a black coat of arsenal paint somewhen in the 19th century. I left it on them but in various places traces of original red paint can be seen underneath the latest layer.
From top to bottom:
- ca. 1460
hexagonal throughout; the touch hole placed almost in the middle of the right side of the barrel, showing a very rudimentary form of a pan-like moulding to allow being filled with priming powder; no sighting present yet; hook fire welded to underside; very small and short muzzle head with light swamping; note rear loop and piercing in hook for pins securing the barrel to its former stock. The hook from which the German term Hakenbüchse for this sort of firearms derives was meant for support againt the recoil when, e.g., the gun was hooked in the fire slit of a wall.
- dated 1481
octagonal throughout; touch hole in the middle of the right side of the barrel, with a clearly visible moulded priming pan; integral back sight on top of the rear end; short, pronouncedly swamped, bell shaped muzzle head whose slender top side acts as a fore sight; hook fire welded to underside; rear loop and hook piercing for fixing barrel to stock.
Above the powder chamber the deeply struck Munich town mark, the so-called "Kindl" (Bavarian for child), of course actually depicting a monk (Munich means "founded by monks") holding the bible in his stretched left arm. Forward of that arsenal mark, and also deeply struck, there is the date 1481, with the Gothic shape of the cypher 4. This is not, as widely believed, "the upper half of cypher 8" but is rather, as was common in that period, turned left by 90 degrees. So just imagine turning it to the right by 90 degrees, and you will see the cypher 4.
This highly important piece, made 11 years before Columbus discovered the New World, is the world's earliest known dated gun. More of it soon.
- ca. 1500
round throughout, with integral back sight above the rear end and small fore sight on the short, heavily swamped so-called 'Maximilian' crown-shaped muzzle head with its charateristic roped decoration which can also be found on pieces of contemporary "Maximilian" armor! Rear loop and piercing in hook for securing this early German Renaissance barrel to its now lost stock.
These three 500 year-old barrels are most notewothy for being perfectly preserved while most similar pieces, even in the best museums, are in mostly rather poor condition.
The original stocks of these barrels may have looked somewhat like shown in the attached historical illustration from the Maximilianische Zeugbücher below.
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