Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Matchlock 26th October 2008 03:25 PM

Clay Grenades of the Thirty Years War
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Instead of attaching these, I twice enclosed the picture of the cut open fuse.

Next to the two big gray clay grenades there is the small cast iron hand grenade that I posted above.

There is an interesting story to the clay grenades. Hundreds of them were discovered in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt in May 1983 when a subterraneous garage was built. The grenades were found alongside the old town wall stored on boards covered with straw, all perfectly preserved in the clay ground - see b/w photos.

As they weigh about 4 kilos each I would not refer to them as hand grenades. Being kept ready and primed along the town wall rather indicates that they were lit and just dropped to explode among the besiegers.


Matchlock 2nd November 2008 12:13 AM

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More clay grenades of the Thirty Years War, all dug up in Ingolstadt.

I found these pictures on Ebay in November 2007; one image even shows the actual weight of a (comparatively small) grenade: 2,873 kilograms. Some of them were heavily damaged, probably due to the crude teeth of the dredgers.
The fuses are all gone and I doubt whether they had retained their 'fillings' ...


Matchlock 3rd November 2008 02:21 PM

Incendiary arrows in the Nuremberg castle
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Mid 15th century.

They were analyzed and X-rayed a few years ago. The substances of the incendiary mass were found to be almost the same as in the Swiss arrows in the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Zurich (see my earlier post), with the exception that the outer layer of the Nuremberg arrows is made of tissue.


Matchlock 13th November 2008 11:40 AM

Another quoit
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Offered by an Italian auction house in June 2008.
Although the estimate was relatively low I think it failed to sell.


Matchlock 15th November 2008 01:20 PM

Clay grenades in the Veste (castle) Oberhaus, Passau, Eastern Bavaria
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17th century, smaller and of much lighter weight than the ones dug up in Ingolstadt.

A huge iron throwing ball for a catapult above and a pair of mid 16th century miniature cannon below.


Matchlock 4th January 2012 05:35 PM

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Back to incediary arrows:

Their making, from an Alamannic ow Swiss manuscript, ca. 1430.


junker 7th January 2012 12:57 PM

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in this year there was a great market at the Feste Coburg (Bavaria) and there a couple of people showed military fireworks in late medieval times. Also Pechkränze an lighting bags. I put here some photos of manuscript copies, which i tokk there. Remarkable were the shooting parts which were inserted in these light balls, so that anyone who will put out the Fire is in danger to be shot. They are fabricated out of a simple tube with powder and one (maybe two lead Balls) on top and will fire when the fire inside the Pechkranz will reach them.

The guy made also a book about this topic and it is german and english.
It called "Die Macht des Feuers" ISBN 978-3-87472-089-2

M ELEY 15th January 2012 10:12 AM

Awesome pics of these extremely rare combustibles. It's amazing that even in those days, weapons were designed to do the most damage, even to those trying to put them out. Dare I say 'terrorist tactics'? Would love to have one of them in my maritime collection. Perhaps someday...

Matchlock 15th January 2012 05:40 PM

Hi Marc,

A friend of mine, situated not very far from Coburg, rebuilds these Coburg 'fire bales' (Leuchtballen) as working replicas!!!


M ELEY 16th January 2012 12:31 AM

I will definately keep that in mind, Michael. Thank you! I, of course, prefer the real deals, but if I ever get time to teach local workshops at libraries,schools, etc, on maritime weapons, a replica would be great for this.

junker 16th January 2012 05:16 PM

Hi m Eley and Michael,

I saw these replicas in action at the "Zeitreise" in Autumn 2011 in Coburg.
And I learned, that the men in these times think over the problem with the shooting parts of the fire bags. They had a kind of wheelbarrow which could be put over the Fire bags with the result, that the fire might got out because of no more oxygen and the men is as well protected, if the wood is thick enough.


Matchlock 16th January 2012 05:48 PM

Exactly, Dirk,

Thanks for the input.


Matchlock 20th March 2012 12:01 PM

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Going back to the title of this thread, here comes another sample of an extremely rare 14th-16th c. incendiary crossbow bolt retaining its original burning mass. It resembles one of the two incendiary quarrels that I posted from my friend's collection in the beginning.
From the Klingbeil collection, sold in 2011, where it was in one lot together with a late 17th c. hunting crossbow.
Length 45 cm.


Matchlock 24th April 2012 02:41 PM

Some Interesting 18th C. Cast-Iron Grenades Retaining Their Fuses!
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Sold Hermann Historica, Munich, yesterday.

Some with stamped markings but only those retaining their fuses (and probably all their fillings!) sold, and only at the estimate. That was a unique opportunity.


bluelake 25th April 2012 12:51 PM

Originally Posted by fearn
Slightly off-topic, but apropo for this thread:

Last night (10/22/08), Mythbusters, the US TV program, built and fired a korean hwacha, which is basically a mobile platform for launching 200 fire arrows (powered by blackpowder rocket motors, and exploding on impact). It was worth watching, and it looks like it will be broadcast again tonight (10/23) and 11/2 in the US.

Just FYI. It's fun to see these weapons in action.

Sorry for the response to one of the older posts, but this is the first time I saw it. Regarding the "hwacha" episode, the executive producer of the MB show consulted with me on it. I even received a short credit (in the "thanks" portion) from them.

Back on topic--

Here is a Korean fire arrow:

Matchlock 25th April 2012 03:24 PM

Hi Bluelake and Fearn,

It's fascinating to note how similar the basic structures of these Ethnographic and European items are!

Any idea as to the date of that Korean hwacha?


bluelake 25th April 2012 09:11 PM

Originally Posted by Matchlock
Any idea as to the date of that Korean hwacha?


They date from the early Joseon dynasty (the dynasty ran from 1392-1910) and were used against the Japanese in their first invasion of Korea in 1592-98.

Matchlock 25th April 2012 09:35 PM



Matchlock 9th July 2012 10:38 PM

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A huge incendiary gun arrow, from the Mary Rose (sunk in 1545).


Matchlock 10th July 2012 09:11 PM

For incendiary and other gun arrows 1330-1570, please see

Matchlock 22nd July 2012 08:11 PM

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A very rare incendiary crossbow bolt of Central to Northern European type (please cf. the first image in post # 1), probably 15th to early 16th c., and retaining its incendiary mass inlcluding a short remainder of hemp matchcord, was sold from the Klingbeil Collection:
Pierre Bergé, Feb. 12, 2011, in one lot (137) together with a late-17th c. crossbow.


Matchlock 22nd July 2012 08:28 PM

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Better images of the incendiary bolts in post # 1, formerly in the author's collection, and now in that of a friend of mine:
the first of Central to Northern European type, ca. 14th-15th c., the incendiary mass featuring a raw linen covering and a remainder of hemp matchcord;
the second of characteristic Swiss type, ca. 14th-16th c., the incendary mass supported by a few thin wooden sticks and a raw linen binding, featuring a sulphur coating (now showing a grayish discoloration);
the third lacks its incendiary mass, thus the typical twisting of the long and thin iron neck can be seen below the head; whenever you come across an arrowhead with these features it means that originally it was an incendiary arrow, despite the fact that the head of the sample illustrated here is unusually large.


Matchlock 22nd July 2012 08:47 PM

Please also see my related threads



fernando 22nd July 2012 10:13 PM

Originally Posted by Matchlock
... formerly in the author's collection, and now in that of a friend of mine ...

Oh, i wish i were that friend :shrug: .

Matchlock 22nd July 2012 10:38 PM

Hi 'Nando, my dear friend,

On looking back, I am sure you did very well not being him!
He, just like myself, spent much more than we earned on forming highly selective collections of items like those back in the 1980's thru the early 2000's.
The outcome may result in losing our collections ... with prices going down dramatically.
No joke. :mad:


Matchlock 29th July 2012 03:39 PM

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Another arrowhead twisted for an incendiary mass, similar to the lower in post # 52, was sold on ebay in 2007.


Ibrahiim al Balooshi 31st July 2012 05:43 PM

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Michael,
Thank you for the explanation on the use of these. The reason the term quoit is so interesting is because it is the term used for the razor sharp discs with open centers typically associated with Sikh warriors who were deadly accurate at launching them . The Hindu term Chakra usually was used until the Sikh application became quoit.

It does sound gruesome with the magma like sulfur and tar, splattering and attaching its molten presence to flesh, reminding me of the instances in less warlike circumstances of roasting marshmallows and accidentally splashed scalding liquid.

I know exactly what you mean with that semi acrid, dank smell which propels a room as you describe into battlement times of long ago.....there is nothing else that can duplicate that wonderful smell....much like that of a room full of really old books!

I have never been to the Landeszeughaus in Graz, but I do have the book about its fantastic collections, and imagine it as a sort of arms paradise.

Thank you for sharing these Michael,

All the best,

Salaams Jim ~ The term Quoit is interesting as it appears to be an English derivation possibly after 1066 from the French.

Quoit (n.) late 14c., "curling stone," perhaps from O.Fr. coite "flat stone" (with which the game was originally played), lit. "cushion," variant of coilte (see quilt).

Quoits were among the games prohibited by Edward III and Richard II to encourage archery. In reference to a heavy flat iron ring (and the tossing game played with it) it is recorded from mid-15c.

I also noted on one of my frequent trips to the UK that it is commonly played as a Pub game in the Welsh borders and in the North East of England both in and outdoors depending on the weather. The flat iron ring appears to derive from a horse shoe. A metal spike is driven into the ground wherupon contestants try to throw quoit onto the ring from a certain distance. Quite difficult with hiccups !

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Matchlock 7th August 2012 02:27 PM

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Hi Ibrahiim,

Thank you so much for your teatise on quoits!

I found a good illustration of a 15th c. incendiary arrow in Philip Mönch's Kriegsbuch, 1496, Universitätsbiblitothek Heidelberg, Cod.Pal.germ. 126, fol. 28r.


Eric Slyter 26th June 2013 04:10 AM

I've long wondered about crossbow bolts with the twist below the head and the socket. I hadn't previously been able to find any information on them at all, except that they were possibly javelin points or made for frame-mounted crossbows. If I am to understand correctly, they are incendiary bolts then? What is the time period for them? Thanks!

Eric Slyter 26th July 2013 11:53 PM

Bump! Any further clarification on this?

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