Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   A unique crossbow collection (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7457)

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 05:00 PM

A unique crossbow collection
 
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This belongs to a friend of mine and contains only the finest stuff, such as three Gothic crossbows with horn composite bows, one of them, the earliest, of. ca. 1430, coming from the famous Harold L. Peterson collection and being illustrated in his Book of the Gun. Another, the shortest, made in about 1530, comes from the collection of the Dukes of Brunswick. It is certainly one of the latest composite bows made. The huge Gothic crossbow, its tiller almost completely veneered with white bone plaques, is an abolutely fantastic and important piece of ca. 1500-10.

My friend built a room in the Gothic taste for his collection, using 500 year old furniture and fittings. The atmosphere the ensemble conveys, including that very special smell that only extremely old things have, is absolutely overwhelming. When you enter the room you feel like being on a journey back to the Middle Ages right away.
Here are a few impressions of the arrangement plus some details of special pieces - enjoy!

The especially fine and unique painted quarrel casket dated 1524 was in the famous Vienna collection of Albert Figdor about 100 years ago.

Some of the quarrels even have painted hafts and fletches. You will remember the incendiary arrows from my former post on this subject.

Many of the cranequins are dated; the dates range from 1504 (the oldest known dated cranequin in the world!) over 1532 (both formerly in my collection), 1538, 1540 and 1545 (I may be mixing up two dates). There is also a fine cranequin of ca. 1550, etched overall with animals and hunting scenes amidst foliage.

A very rare 15th century quiver for quarrels is covered with pigskin and a fine tubular quiver for arrows, South Tyrol, early 16th century, is covered with painted leather and iron mounted.

The black pavise bears the Nuremberg coat of arms both painted on the obverse and branded as a proof mark at the reverse - see details.


I must say that I am very proud of the fact that I became both his friend and adviser and that some of his fine pieces were in my collection before I had to concentrate on firearms.

Michael

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 05:18 PM

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Some details of the the tiller of the large Gothic crossbow of ca. 1500-10, veneered with white bone plaques, and more ...

fernando 3rd November 2008 05:22 PM

Hi Michael,
There are no words to express the correct admiration for such scenery.
If i ever entered this room, my eye balls would pop out.
Fernando

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 05:29 PM

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More ...

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 05:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Michael,
There are no words to express the correct admiration for such scenery.
If i ever entered this room, my eye balls would pop out.
Fernando


Mine do each time anew, Fernando!

More to come ...

Michael

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 05:55 PM

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And more ...

The bundle of quarrels bound with an old cord respresent a true sensation:

The accompaying document of 1858 states that they are six of 10,000, found in a ruined section of the former city arsenal in Bamberg/Franconia. The text further cites that in 1435, 10,000 war quarrels were made in Bamberg and the city archive even records the names of the makers and what they got paid!!!

A detailed image shows the singular condition of some quarrel heads retaining much of their original fire blued or blackened surface.

Michael

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 06:09 PM

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And more ...

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 07:08 PM

BTW, that fine Gothic halberd is now in my collection.:cool:
I posted it in my thread on halberds.

Michael

fernando 3rd November 2008 07:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
BTW, that fine Gothic halberd is now in my collection.:cool:
I posted it in my thread on halberds.

Michael


How did you manage to convince your friend to spare it ?
Or did he think it looked misplaced in that corner ? :eek:
Fernando

katana 3rd November 2008 07:59 PM

:cool: :eek: :cool: ...."................." (speechless ;) )

Regards David

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 08:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
How did you manage to convince your friend to spare it ?
Or did he think it looked misplaced in that corner ? :eek:
Fernando


He probably did!

No, serious, as I wrote, he got a lot of things from me and we sometimes interchange pieces. Each of us faces times when something really important for our respective collections turns up and has to bought quickly, mostly at auction; as we are not rich people we are then forced to deaccession of things that serve more or less decorative purposes in our specialzied collections. As we are close friends, we inform each other when such a situation arises and mostly the other party then acquires the item that has to go.

It's just that easy - and the best way, too, I guess.

Michael ;)

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 09:37 PM

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Some better details of the cranequins and the arrangement.

And some images of the 'humble' beginning of his collection, 6-12 years ago.

Michael

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 10:01 PM

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Some more cranequins.

And details of the late Gothic crossbow, ca. 1530, from the Dukes of Brunswick collection, its tiller mostly veneered with natural staghorn plaques; two views of the underside of the tiller, with the long lever trigger taken off. Rare to see details.

And his three latest crossbows, from left: ca. 1530, ca. 1580 and a stone bow, ca. 1650.

Plus two views of a rarely published medieval illumination from the famous de Milemete manuscript, 1326-7, in the Oxford library.


That's all for tonight, folks.

Michael

TVV 3rd November 2008 10:10 PM

Incredible!
Thank you very much, Matchlock, I feel like I have just been given a tour to a very special museum.

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 10:27 PM

Thank you, TWW,

It is words like yours that make highly specialized collecting rewarding in the end - in spite of all the costs. And I do not only mean money but most of all time for studying, making endless museum tours, buying hundreds of books and taking thousands of photographs ... It is is a different kind of living requiring many sacrifices in order to be able and collect things that most people would never give a damn about.

I, for example, do not even have a car or a bike. But I have a highly specialized collection.

It is as Jim told me: We follow a different drum. Thank you again, Jim, my friend!

Michael

Matchlock 3rd November 2008 10:28 PM

Sorry, TW,

I noticed too late that here was one W too much.

Michael

fernando 3rd November 2008 10:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Sorry, TW,

I noticed too late that here was one W too much.

Michael


Actually two W's too many, Michael; it's T V V :cool:

... Just for the fun :)

TVV 3rd November 2008 11:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Actually two W's too many, Michael; it's T V V :cool:

... Just for the fun :)


Thank you Fernando. Honestly though, the spelling of my nickname is not really important.
Regards,
Teodor

Matchlock 4th November 2008 12:44 AM

Hi, Fernando and Teodor,

That definitely indicates that I need glasses!

Thank you both, pals!

Michael
aka Mich, Michl - both Bavarian - , Mike, Michail, Miguel, Michel ... whatever you like.

Jim McDougall 4th November 2008 02:20 AM

aka Mich, Michl - both Bavarian - , Mike, Michail, Miguel, Michel ... whatever you like.[/QUOTE]


I would submit, Maestro!!!! :)
For these constantly detailed, beautifully illustrated posts of so many ancient and historic weapons in collection or in museums that many, if not most of us, may never have the opportunity to visit. I know I owe you Michael, my deepest thanks, as do I'm sure the others here........please keep them going !!!

All the very best,
Jim

M ELEY 4th November 2008 04:04 AM

Oh my God! I, like David, am speechless. Thank you for taking all the time to post these fantastic pics, Michael. I have to admit, since Jim has started this discussion board, I have remained green with envy over some of the collections and pieces you people have!!! Just incredible.
Mark

Matchlock 25th February 2009 06:45 PM

How Curved Grooves for Wooden or Leather Fletches Were Cut Into Gothic Quarrel Hafts
 
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Two line drawings, after 1505, from Martin Löffelholz's Nuremberg scrapbook started in 1505. They picture devices to cut slightly curved grooves into cossbow quarrel hafts for insetting wooden or leather flights/fletches to give them a more accurate ballistic spin as they went.

500 year old machine based mass production.

Michael

Matchlock 19th July 2010 06:19 PM

For details and measurements of the Swiss incendiary quarrel illustrated above please see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7083

and

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=12224

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 8th June 2012 03:26 PM

One of the finest early cranequins in existence: a MASTERPIECE, Nuremberg, 1545!
 
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This cranequin is most remarkable for both its outer and hidden (!) decoration; the presence of the latter, in places normally not accessible, denotes, together with the unusually fine workmanship, that this most certainly was a MASTERPIECE presented to the guild commision in order to get access to the Nuremberg guild of cranequin makers (Windenmacher).

It is preserved complete save the missing belt hook.


It is in my friend's fine collection which you have come to know quite well by now.


The surfaces of both the ratched bar and the gear box are engraved, chiseled, carved and pierced profusely, exhausting almost the full range of characteristic Late Gothic and Early Renaissance ornaments:
foliage terminating in punched Late-Gothic pediculated trefoils and cinquefoils (gestielte Drei- und Fünfpässe), zoomorphic details like a stylized serpent on the ratched bar, and the basis of one of the gear box rivets carved like an animal's head with punched eyes, Gothic tracery, roped friezes (Schnürlbänder) etc.

The underside of the ratched bar is engraved with a stylized hand beneath the claw; this is a characteristcally magic medieval symbol to fend off evil, a so called apotropaion. This makes it the only cranequin I have seen to feature any decoration on the underside!
Its upper side is struck in front of the claw with a maker's mark, two crossed arrows, which is well known as that of an obviously rather prolific Nuremberg workshop which seemingly mostly manufactured cranequins many of which are dated. Dated specimens of their cranequins recorded by the author range from 1532 to 1545 though the earliest cranequins bearing this mark seem to reach back as far as the 1520's.

The earliest recorded dated cranequin bearing the crossed arrows mark, 1532, used to be in the author's collection and has been in that of my friend since (see post #4). He also possesses another undated sample, and one dated 1540, all by this very same workshop (see posts #4 and #7).

In the late 1530's, this workshop which, as the symbol chosen for their mark denotes, was originally specialized in accouterments for crossbows and bows, seems to have tried and explore the field of firearms; two fine matchlock arquebuses have survived, the barrels struck twice with the crossed arrows mark and both dated 1539 (Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, inv.no. 494, and author's collection).
For both guns see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=harquebus+1539



Returning to the surface decoration, we note remains of gilding in the chiseled ornaments, in the mark and the pierced tracery, together with remains of bluing in the latter. This leads to the conclusion that the complete surface of the cranequin was originally blued, with the gilt ornamentation resulting in a fine contrast - imagine the colorful impact it must have achieved almost 400 years ago!

My friend has undertaken the toil to dismantle the piece, providing singular insight in the technical 'inner life' of a cranequin, including the gearwheel. There are considerable remains of oil and grease preserved that are hundreds of years old and interestingly have adopted a greenish color, due to the amount of verdigris caused by the copper soldering the single iron parts were connected by.

As is the case with most cranequins by that 'workshop of the crossed arrows', the gear case is not screwed or pinned but riveted; this is why it cannot be dismantled completely, otherwise we would have taken the gearwheel out.

Anyway, enjoy studying this singular masterpiece of arts and crafts: 'high tech' anno 1545!


Best,
Michael

Matchlock 8th June 2012 03:44 PM

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More.

Matchlock 8th June 2012 03:52 PM

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On it goes.

Matchlock 8th June 2012 03:56 PM

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And on.

Matchlock 8th June 2012 04:01 PM

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And a few more.

Please note the finely roped decoration on the spindle of the connecting rod and the S shaped pierced tracery which become visible only when taking off the lateral lid of the gearbox!

The original owner of this cranequin may probably have never noticed or seen these hidden details!

The yellowish and brownish discolorations are due to remains of olive oil that are hundreds of years old; the green discoloration, as I explained, is due to verdigris caused by the seams of copper soldering at each single joint of all the single iron parts!

I also wish to point out another zoomorphic and apotropaic decorative detail: one of the riveted bases on top of the gear box, the one opposite the handle, is carved as a stylized animal's head, the eyes struck with a prick punch!


m

Chris Evans 9th June 2012 08:31 AM

Matchlock,

Great posts and fantastic photos Thank you for sharing. I always had a fascination with old crossbows!

Cheers
Chris

Matchlock 9th June 2012 11:10 PM

Thanks, Chris,


So have I.

My fascination with earliest firearms though proved to be stronger from the very beginning, so I finally surrendered to it some 30 years ago ... :rolleyes:

To make things perfect, at about the same time I found somebody to carry on and fulfill with perfect dedication that old 'crossbow thing' of mine.


Still I have kept sort of mentoring my old beloved subject ... and all those fine items posted here that used to be mine decades ago! :D


Cheers from Bavaria,
Michael

Matchlock 10th June 2012 04:30 PM

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I also wish to point out another zoomorphic and apotropaic decorative detail: one of the riveted bases on top of the gear box, the one opposite the handle, is carved as a stylized animal's head with an articulated nose, the eyes struck with a prick punch!

m

Marcus den toom 18th March 2014 04:01 PM

A great thread, i myself have been tempted a few times by these items like cranequi and crossbows. I never saw such a cranequi from the inside, thank you so much for sharing :)
I also noticed the little dimples on top of every 'tooth' on the leteral bar, was this purely decoration or had it some kind of function (like lubrication?)


This friend isn't by any change called Crossbow?? :rolleyes: (my deepest congratulations to him, his collection and the amazing scenery whatever his name might be :))

Matchlock 18th March 2014 04:35 PM

I will pass your congratulations but he is very withdrawn about his collection; I realize that what little I posted of it is already too much from his point of view, which of course I fully respect.
Could you mark these 'dimples' on a photo to show me what exactly you mean?

m

Marcus den toom 18th March 2014 04:44 PM

Thank you Michael and i was talking about these 'dimples' they are probably just for decorative purposes, but their could be little bits of oil in these dimpples which would pass trough the mechanics and oil the gears etc.


Matchlock 18th March 2014 04:56 PM

Hi Marcus,

I think your guess about the oil is very close to the fact as nearly all cranequins I have seen had these punched dimples.
I will ask my friend. If he does not know, I don't have to know either.

Best,
m

Marcus den toom 24th June 2014 11:05 AM

Hi Michl,

Did you got an answer from your friend regarding those dimples? :)

Best,
Marcus

Matchlock 26th June 2014 01:58 AM

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Hi Marcus,


Actually, the owner of this collection of 14th to early 16th century crossbows and accouterments both as highly specific as important has been one of my closest friends for more than two decades. Without his continuous personal private support I would probably not have been able to carry on.
He is an extremely nice person, and so is his family; I feel gratefully rewarded for counting them among my dearest friends.

He insists on stating that he has always regarded me as his teacher, for 'implanting' in his mind the idea of setting up strict criteria for collecting before purchasing the first item - and consequently sticking to them until ... you draw your terminal breath ... (quote from the Monty Pythons movie The Life of Brian, 1979).
His
character is both sensitive and reserved, which I respect at least as much as I admire it - given my extrovert Landsknecht nature ... :eek: :rolleyes: :cool:

About a quarter of a century ago, he started acquiring every single crossbow related item I held - which was exactly what I was hoping for. Having amassed numerous finest preserved items, I finally came to realize that I would not be able to keep pulling the trigger all the way - metaphorically speaking for pursuing collecting crossbows and firearms, and all of them in optimum possible state of preservation.
This saying seems so fitting in its way, and with regard to my aiming at strictly collecting earliest firearms related items.


Anyway, I will soon post his wellfounded thesis on those dot markings found center-punched on the teeth of the toothed bars of many cranequins dating from the first half of the 16th century.


Best,
Michl


Image copyrighted by wikipedia -
I think we are all obliged to correctly and gratefully quote this indispensable source of universal facts.




VANDOO 16th January 2015 05:50 AM

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I DON'T KNOW WHERE ELSE TO PUT THIS PICTURE OF A MODERN CROSSBOW. PERHAPS IT CAN FIT INTO THIS EXCELLENT POST TO SHOW WHAT THE CROSSBOW HAS EVOLVED INTO AT ITS HIGHEST LEVEL TODAY.
THIS IS A SWISS MADE MATCH CROSSBOW WITH A 125KG PULL, 45 INCHES LONG CIRC. 1970.


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