Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Late Gothic Crossbows and Accouterments (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7516)

Matchlock 8th June 2012 02:04 PM

One of the finest early cranequins in existence: a MASTERPIECE, Nuremberg, 1545!
 
For this unique piece, please see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...sbow+collection

!!!

Matchlock 8th June 2012 10:15 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Micke D
I think that this one could be from 1480-1490 or something like that, based on the strange and probably early four-axle lock mechanism.

I have written a little article explaining my thoughts about how this one is related to two other 15th c crossbows.



Hi Micke,


Please forgive my stupidity, and my not asking earlier:

Would you please be so kind and post that article of yours?

It concerns a crossbow in the Royal Armouries Leeds, posts #88 and #89.


Thanks in advance,
and eagerly looking forward to some good reading,

Michael

Swordfish 9th June 2012 09:13 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
A gothic crossbow with horn bow dating c. 1430-1460.
This crossbow failed to sell at an auction some years ago, because it was wrongly described as Scandinavian dating c. 1500.
A few years later I saw it in a private collection, where I took the photo.
In this collection was also another crossbow of typical central European shape with a tiller made of fruit-wood and a spanning-hook at the upper side.
Both crossbows had identical (really identical, not only similar) elements:
The strongly reflex horn-bow, the stirrup, the cord binding and the trigger lever. Therefore both crossbows must have been made by the same maker or in the same wokshop. This workshop was in South-Tyrol. This is proofed by an exhibition label on the bow inscibed by hand with No. XII and with a latin text stating that this cossbow was was once in the collection of Castle Rodeneck (South-Tyrol),and dated 11.April 1891.
The crossbow on the photo is a somewhat simlpler version than the usually known ones. The tiller is made of more durable oak, the side plates are iron sheets instead of less durable horn plates. The only decoration are the horn plates on the upper side. The spanning- hook is on the bottom side, probably for a cord-puller, as can be seen on Italian paintings of the period.
While the horn inlaid crossbows with fruit-wood tillers can be described as all purpose crossbows suitable for sporting, hunting and war, the crossbow on the photo is surely only for one purpose. It is a war-crossbow.



Looking through this old post, it was was criticized by two experts. This I can't let stand without contradiction. But before I'm going to disprove all arguments, the reader must have the opportunity to judge the weight of the opinions of these experts. Are these real experts, or self appointed so called 'experts' for early crossbows? Should I hereby tread on some ones toes, I apologize preventive for it, but there's no real discussion without any opposite opinion!

Quote Micke D:

"I have seen this one before, and must say that I was a bit sceptic about it. But now when I see that it is a Wallarmbrust I'm okay with it."

The crossbow he was 'skeptic' about was a medieval wall crossbow sold at Galerie Fischer in 2010. This crossbow is surely the most rare and important Gothic crossbow that was for sale during the last 20-30 years. It was preserved in untouched condition, the composite bow painted with original Gothic foliage. What does he believed what it is, before Matchlock told him that it is a wall-crossbow? A fake? A big toy? Thus much to this expert.

To Matchlock:

He is surely an expert for early firearms, based on a huge collection of such items. But is he therefore necessarily also an expert for early halberds , daggers, swords, crossbows, armour? As far as I know, he has not a single such item (in not excavated condition) in his collection. A huge collection of pictures, downloaded from the web, is not enough to be an expert for these arms.

But now to their 'arguments'

Quote Matchlock:

"I have known this crossbow since it first appeared on the market and I too know who it is with. There are some doubts about it, but anyway the iron side plates are of a surface that keeps me from thinking it might be all original. After all, a label from 1891, the heyday of the Victorian period (German Historismus) when many of these arms were widely reproduced, is certainly no proof of Gothic authenticity, at best of Neo-Gothic made ..."


and later:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
The iron side plates are nearly identical to the side
plates on the Wall-crossbow you posted in thread #40.


"But their surface does not commensurate with the alleged period of the other components!"

Answer:

That the surface of the side plates of the wall-crossbow and the crossbow in question differ from each other is obvious. And why? The side plates of the wall-crossbow retained their original rust patina surface, the rust of the side plates of the crossbow in question was cleaned off, therefore they must lock different(see pictures). Also the surface on the side plates, made of thin sheet metal, looks different as the surface on the solid trigger-lever on both crossbows.

And further Matchlock:

"And the collector has been in close contact with a number of German and Austrian forgers over the decades, they have been interchanging various arms for display in their repective collections. I noticed the same crossbow in another far-off collection about one year after it was for sale with HH."

Answer:

What should this crossbow be now? A crossbow of the 19th century Historismus period or a 20th or 21th century fake? Or a genuine Russian crossbow, as you believed before? There have been many Historismus crossbows on the market in the last 10-15 years. They are all similar to early crossbows, but can be easily identified at first sight as of the Historismus period. None of these, I repeat: None of these ever had an elaborate composite bow. If anyone knows one, please post a picture!

And why had none a composite bow? The answer is given by both experts:

Quote Micke D:

" I tried to convince Richter that the Scandinavian Saami crossbows had tillers somewhat similar to this but not until the 18th c, and there was certainly no people that could make horn bows left at that time, but he still thought that it was a Scandinavian crossbow."

And Matchlock:

"Hi David,
Welcome here!
As to rebuilding a composite hornbow crossbow and a matching cranequin, believe me: it is virtually impossible!.......
......I have heard of several people who, like you, tried to copy such an item and all failed in the end.
That's exactly why there is not one single replica of such a hornbow on the market!"

Comment:

If the knowledge of making elaborate composite crossbows was already lost in the 18th century, it was surely not rediscovered in the 19th century Historismus period. If it is impossible to make a composite bow today, where is than the ingenious faker who made this elaborate strongly reflex bow?

Quote Micke D:

"Is it possible that you could show us the other crossbow that you say is identical to this one?
Do you know the dimensions of this crossbow?
Is it a wall-crossbow or a big handheld crossbow?
Here I must say that I have never seen a horn bow of this size with this much reflex, of course I know of the early crossbows like W1109 in Köln, but they are of another time and type.
Can you show me a similar reflexed bow?"

Answer:

That the bows in Köln are of an earlier date is no argument that such a reflex bow could not have been made 50 years later. I know three exactly identical bows. One is on a crossbow of exactly the same type as the one in question, it is a twin to this, only the decoration of the bone plates differ. It is in the collection of an experienced German collector of medieval arms and armour (except firearms), who is an acknowledged expert on this field, based on a huge own collection of such items, all in not excavated condition. The second is on a crossbow of typical Central European shape with a tiller of fruitwood of exactly the same length, with a spanning-hook at the upper side. The trigger-lever, the stirrup and the cord binding of the bow are exactly identical.(See the attached scans) All three crossbows must have been manufactured in the same workshop and this was not the workshop of a faker! Fakers always try to copy existing examples, they rarely invent new hitherto unknown types, which are hard to sell.

Quote Micke D:

"The yellow-greenish cord binding looks suspect to me and most probably not original. The stirrup should be lashed to the bow with leather and not the cord binding that holds the bow. The stirrup doesn’t look like anything I have seen before, it’s very thin and the outside ridge looks like it’s pressed from the inside, it looks very suspect."

Answer:

The cord binding is waxed with beeswax, old beeswax has exactly this color if it is not too dirty. You are right that the majority of surviving medieval crossbows have the stirrup fixed with leather stripes, but a minority has not, this is no proof that all stirrups must have been fixed with leather. Also many leather straps are later replacements. Attached some pictures with stirrups bound in with the same cord as the bow, all from this thread, all not genuine? The stirrup is unusual indeed, it is not forged as a solid piece, but as a profile. The trigger-lever of crossbows is usually also made of a solid piece of iron, but some examples do exist, where the trigger-lever is also forged as a profile (see attached pictures). Why? because a profile has nearly the same stability as a solid piece of iron, but is lighter.

Quote Micke D:

"This is the first old (?) crossbow that I have seen with a tiller of oak."

Answer:

This is right, but this is also a type of crossbow which was hitherto unknown. I know no reason why the tiller should not be of oak, do you know one? But I know a reason why it makes sense to make it of oak: Oak has a higher strength than fruitwood, therefore a tiller made of oak can be made more slender than a tiller of fruitwood, without losing stability. And the crossbow in question has a very slender tiller. Why? This is a purely war-crossbow, which must have been carried by foot all the day, therefore it should never be too heavy. That's also the reason that the stirrup was forged as a light profile. The weight of the crossbow in question is only 2.9 kg.


Quote Micke D:

" I’m sorry but I can’t see anything on this one that I would say is typical of a central European medieval crossbow. If it had had a bow shaped more like the one in thread #40, and of similar size, I would have it easier to accept it."

Answer:

I have never claimed that this is a typical Central European crossbow. I have only claimed that the bow, the cord binding, the stirrup and the trigger-lever are identical to an other known typical European crossbow (see scans). The tiller is of a different shape, but the iron side-plates are very similar to the side-plates of the wall-crossbow in#40. (see pictures)

Quote Matchlock:

"Excellent notations, Mikael, and exactly on the point!
All crossbow tillers I have seen were of either fruitwood or lime wood, except this one."

And later Matchlock:
Hi Mikael,

"I cannot seem to find the photos of the crossbow with that kind of wavy grain on the tiller that made me think of maple or limewood. So just forget about my idea."

And Micke D:

" I probably know which crossbow you meant. The crossbow in the Osthofentor Museum in Soest has a tiller that has the striped look of maple, the same wood as used for violins and other instruments of that type."

Answer:

I have never seen before..... Is this an argument with the academic approach you always require?

And the crossbow in Soest, made of maple?, is it therefore a fake? If you know a tiller made of lime wood, please post a picture! I know no tiller of lime wood, which is surely too soft for making durable tillers for crossbows, but I have seen a tiller made of European beech: the Baumkircher wall-crossbow in the KHM Vienna. Is this therefore a fake? But to determine the wood only on collected pictures from the web is a tricky business.


Attached more detailed pictures of the crossbow in question. Please note the close up details where the left and right hand grips the tiller. This wear and dark coloration is from hundreds of handlings of the tiller with a hard grip with a hand wet from sweat. In the cracks in the birch bark of the bow the layers of horn are visible.

Best

Swordfish 9th June 2012 09:16 PM

9 Attachment(s)
Crossbows with the stirrup bound in with cord. All pictures from this thread.

Swordfish 9th June 2012 09:21 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Iron side plates, trigger-lever forged as a profile, composite bow with similar cracks.

Swordfish 9th June 2012 09:24 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Typical Central European crossbow, all details, except the tiller are identical to the crossbow in question.

fernando 10th June 2012 05:04 PM

Hi Swordfish,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
... This I can't let stand without contradiction. But before I'm going to disprove all arguments, the reader must have the opportunity to judge the weight of the opinions of these experts. Are these real experts, or self appointed so called 'experts' for early crossbows? ...


Should you in time consider that sometimes your style is not the ideal one, we would be happy to see you adopting a more diplomatic approach to other members posts.
Just don't leave room to anyone (correctly or incorrectly) realize that you have a second intention in contradicting their impressions.
The type of discussion we favour here is that of exchanging perspectives, not that of exchanging disputes ... specially those sounding personal.
Don't take it wrong; it may be our self appointed non expert feeling that things will derail if we don't use prevention brakes.

Swordfish 10th June 2012 08:09 PM

Dear Fernando,

It is not my intention to exchange personal disputes here, but if I am criticised hard to depict fakes here, it must be allowed to give a hard answer.
I don't believe that this forum should be a Theology-tutorial, where no controversial discussion is allowed. A discussion without opposed oppinions is no real discussion, but I know when I have to stop. There is no need for any prevention brakes, such as closing a thread.

Micke D 10th June 2012 08:39 PM

I have not had the time to read your answer through yet, but I will read it and explain what I meant with me earlier comments.
I hope that you don't take my comments personaly as it is the crossbows i'm doubting and not you as a person.
I am in no way an expert, I'm just an amateur, but as this is one of my favorite subjects I have read many books and seen a lot of crossbows, so I believe that I know something about how they should look.

Mikael Dahlström,
Stockholm Lockbow Society,
Sweden

Swordfish 10th June 2012 09:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Micke D
I have not had the time to read your answer through yet, but I will read it and explain what I meant with me earlier comments.
I hope that you don't take my comments personaly as it is the crossbows i'm doubting and not you as a person.
I am in no way an expert, I'm just an amateur, but as this is one of my favorite subjects I have read many books and seen a lot of crossbows, so I believe that I know something about how they should look.

Mikael Dahlström,
Stockholm Lockbow Society,
Sweden


Hi Micke,

If I have left the impression to criticise you personally, I apologize for that. Every contribution that is well foundet is wellcome, irrespective thereof if it comes from an expert or an amateur. We are all amateurs. In no case it was my intention to bar you from furher contributions.

Best

fernando 10th June 2012 10:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
... There is no need for any prevention brakes, such as closing a thread...

Oh no, the brakes weren't meant for that.

Andrew 11th June 2012 03:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
Dear Fernando,

It is not my intention to exchange personal disputes here, but if I am criticised hard to depict fakes here, it must be allowed to give a hard answer.


Good. The best way to avoid personal disputes here is to maintain a diplomatic and polite demeanor, as suggested by your moderator.

Quote:
I don't believe that this forum should be a Theology-tutorial, where no controversial discussion is allowed.


What you believe this forum "should be" is irrelevant--you are a guest.

Quote:
A discussion without opposed oppinions is no real discussion, but I know when I have to stop. There is no need for any prevention brakes, such as closing a thread.


Excellent. Thank you, in advance, for your continued consideration and cooperation.

cornelistromp 13th June 2012 08:14 AM

1 Attachment(s)
to classify a weapon as doubtful or falsification , is permitted but this must be done deliberately.
not because of a gut feeling or because such person has never seen it before. Oakeshott quote: It Means nothing That You never seen it before unless you have seen them all, those 100.000's.
if such a statement is not brought argued, it evokes the natural incomprehension and irritation. action is minus reaction! maybe we can restrict ourselves to the facts.

the crossbow under discussion post#153;
a reflex and recurved composite bow is probably the most efficient form. This bow is similar in shape to the 15th century ottoman short composite flight bow. This has the greatest cast ever known and is suitable for heavy and light arrows but also brings more energy to lighter arrows. see research Mr. Adam Karpowicz's

http://www.atarn.org/islamic/Perfor...urkish_bows.htm


Crossbow post 153 and 156

Making Such a bow requires high skill and patience. Because of the long time required for the organic materials to dry it takes 1 to 3 years to make a composite bow. So I think we can definitively exclude a modern forgery.

although I like the crossbow of post # 156 better, I think that Both of them are original mid 15th C, South??? or Central Europe???, the parts are almost certainly.
it can be, but this is only an assumption that in the very early life of the crossbow post #153 the stock has been renewed.this is based on the rather square shape of the stock.

that other than the common materials have been used I do not see as an alarm signal, as long as it was available and it works in practice, it is simply just possible.

best,

David Jaumann 13th June 2012 10:04 AM

@Matchlock: Tank you for the pictures of the cranequins from Churburg!

Strong reflex bows are indeed the fastest ones! But I´m very much impressed that bows with thick cross sections, like the ones from the late 15th century shown in the last few posts can endure such a strong reflex. The material of bows with high cross sections is really much stressed. (That´s also the reason why english warbows with thick cross sections usually were made of yew wood.)

I have found one more wooden stock probably made of oak wood on the internet today. It was probably made in the 15th century and it is exposed in Hambourg. The trigger mechanism is very simple because the string is released with a "Zapfenschloss".

Here is thethe link:
http://folini.tikon.ch/reenactment/...%20Hamburg.jpeg


best wishes,

David

fernando 13th June 2012 02:09 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi David,
Links are not so good for the thread history and forum archives preservation.
Direct upload is what should preferably be done.
By the way, this crossbow stock you post, exhibited in Hamburg State Museum, is labeled as a Children's example ;)

.

David Jaumann 13th June 2012 02:20 PM

Thank you for posting the picture! I tried at first posting it directely, but it didn´t work because the picture was to big. How can I scale down the sice of the pictures?

Yes, it is labeled as a children´s example!
I don´t have the mesurements, but I belive that the bow fixed on the stock was probably to heavy for a child, because the bow must have been quite broad. What do you think?

Matchlock 13th June 2012 02:47 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Jaumann
@Matchlock: Tank you for the pictures of the cranequins from Churburg!

Strong reflex bows are indeed the fastest ones! But I´m very much impressed that bows with thick cross sections, like the ones from the late 15th century shown in the last few posts can endure such a strong reflex. The material of bows with high cross sections is really much stressed. (That´s also the reason why english warbows with thick cross sections usually were made of yew wood.)

I have found one more wooden stock probably made of oak wood on the internet today. It was probably made in the 15th century and it is exposed in Hambourg. The trigger mechanism is very simple because the string is released with a "Zapfenschloss".

Here is thethe link:
http://folini.tikon.ch/reenactment/...%20Hamburg.jpeg


best wishes,

David



Hi David,



Thank you so much for bringing this remarkable sample to our knowledge!

And 'Nando, thanks a lot for adding the photo and pointing out that the item was designed for a child.
I did some photoshopping and like to add for information that it is the City Museum (Stadtmuseum) Hamburg where it is on display.


Best,
Michl

Swordfish 13th June 2012 03:47 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi David,



Thank you so much for bringing this remarkable sample to our knowledge!

And 'Nando, thanks a lot for adding the photo and pointing out that the item was designed for a child.
I did some photoshopping and like to add for information that it is the City Museum (Stadtmuseum) Hamburg where it is on display.


Best,
Michl


Unfortunately this 'remarkable' item is no medieval crossbow! This is a tiller of a whale-bow which were used in Norway until about c. 1900! See Josef Alm: European Crossbows.
Depending on the length maybe a children's whale-bow used as a toy.

Best

David Jaumann 13th June 2012 04:21 PM

Thank you for the wale-crossbow pictures, Swordfish!
It´s a really interesting one! I´m very amazed that crossbows were used for hunting until 1900.

I know a german drawing from about 1475, which shows a man sitting on a stool, who has a crossbow with a quite simular shape in his hands. It looks like he is shooting at a target.
This norwegian design thus seems to be existing since the 15th centery! And it presumably also was used in southern germany!

fernando 13th June 2012 07:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Jaumann
Thank you for posting the picture! I tried at first posting it directely, but it didn´t work because the picture was to big. How can I scale down the sice of the pictures?


You have to do it with help of a resizing program, David.
Have you consulted this thread ?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14688

Swordfish 13th June 2012 07:45 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Jaumann
Thank you for the wale-crossbow pictures, Swordfish!
It´s a really interesting one! I´m very amazed that crossbows were used for hunting until 1900.

I know a german drawing from about 1475, which shows a man sitting on a stool, who has a crossbow with a quite simular shape in his hands. It looks like he is shooting at a target.
This norwegian design thus seems to be existing since the 15th centery! And it presumably also was used in southern germany!


Hi David,

I remember having seen this drawing somewhere, but can't remember what type of lock it had. If the drawing is from 1475, it is unlikely that it has this type of lock (or an outmoded type was depicted). During the second half of the 15th century all central European crossbows had a nut-lock. The Zapfenschloss type of lock was in use in the 14th century or early 15th century, but rarely. Attached a picture from the Swiss National Museum with a crossbow of this type.

Best

David Jaumann 14th June 2012 03:12 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for your help, Fernando! I have installed a resizing program and now it hopefully works.

So here´s the picture I described yesterday. The clothing of the man is typical for about 1475. The generally shape of the crossbow is the same as the wale hunting crossbow of the late 19th century. It even has a Zapfenschloss! I don´t think that there were many of these crossbows, but they existed also during the late 15th century!

best wishes,

David

Swordfish 14th June 2012 06:58 PM

Hi David,

This is an other drawing than I remembered, but it looks clearly like a Zapfenschloss. Unfortunately I'm no expert for medieval fashion, therefore I can say nothing to the dating. But as I assumed, probably an outmoded type of crossbow was still in use at this time. The same can be observed on early target rifles of the first half of the 17th century, which still had a matchlock at a time where hunting rifles were already equipped with a wheellock since some decades.

Best

Matchlock 18th June 2012 06:33 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Another of the extremely rare instances in period artwork where a spanning belt and hook are illustrated; this, from a Swabian painting of ca. 1430-40, Bavarian National Museum (BNM), inv.no. MA 3395, is probably the earliest!

m

Swordfish 18th June 2012 06:41 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
Hi David,

This is an other drawing than I remembered, but it looks clearly like a Zapfenschloss. Unfortunately I'm no expert for medieval fashion, therefore I can say nothing to the dating. But as I assumed, probably an outmoded type of crossbow was still in use at this time. The same can be observed on early target rifles of the first half of the 17th century, which still had a matchlock at a time where hunting rifles were already equipped with a wheellock since some decades.

Best


Hi David ,

surveying the drawing once again, I noticed that the tiller and the bow are very slender and not very large. The depicted scene therefore may be a target shooting at short range at a funfair. The depicted crossbow is possibly a special type used for such purposes, not very strong and cheap. The same can be observed at funfairs today, where no war-weapons were used, but special air-guns.
I still belive that in the second half of the 15th century no war-or hunting crossbows were made new with a 'Zapfenschloss', but this is only an assumption, proofs are hard to find.

Best

Swordfish 18th June 2012 07:04 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Another of the extremely rare instances in period artwork where a spanning belt and hook are illustrated; this, from a Swabian painting of ca. 1430-40, Bavarian National Museum (BNM), inv.no. MA 3395, is probably the earliest!

m


Quite the contrary, spanning hooks are often depicted in medieval artwork, I needed only a minute to find an earlier one. St. Stephan South-Tyrol c.1400-1410.
Pleas note the kink in the trigger lever, with an angle > 90 degrees.
This is a clear indication for early crossbows of the 14th century.

Swordfish 18th June 2012 07:19 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Another earlier one. Easy to find.
Romance Alexander, c.1340

Do you need still more? I have saved dozens on my Hard Disk.

Matchlock 18th June 2012 08:14 PM

I already posted this and similar others in posts # 96 and 97, so it was easy to find indeed.

Apart from that not only just me in particular would be interested in seeing your remaining material.

Swordfish 18th June 2012 08:53 PM

If you have posted the last and others, why do you then write such clearly wrong statements (to avoid the word nonsence) as Quote:
'extremely rare instances in period artwork where a spanning belt and hook are illustrated... from a Swabian painting of ca. 1430-40...is probably the earliest!'

This depiction on a painting of the 15th century is neither extremely rare, nor is it the earliest!

David Jaumann 19th June 2012 02:22 PM

Hi Swordfish,

Your assumption sounds really likely! There are as you said no pictures from the late 15th century, where such crossbows were shown as war or hunting weapons. I don´t know any picture at least.

Best,

David


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