Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Originally Posted by Jim MacDougald
Thank you, Matchlock. I need to send some detailed photos of my crossbow so that you can see how similar it is to the ones you referred me to. Photos will follow in a later post with some more explanation.
I'm really confused about the date on the trigger. While 1335 seems too early, 1835 seems way too late. The second number on the crossbow is definitely either a "3" or an "8". I have found no examples of inscriptions from the 1800's with entries separated by colons ,:, but I have seen them in 14th and 15th century examples. Also, I have not found other 19th century crossbows constructed in such a primitive way. The crossbow that launched this thread clearly has some machined, countersunk screws on it. It looks almost modern, and LOOKS like an 1800's or later weapon. Mine looks much older, especially the "wormed" wood. Mine doesn't have any machined screws in/on it, either.
Re: Arabic numerals in Europe. (This comes from on-line Wikipedia): "The first mentions of the numerals in the West are found in the Codex Vigilanus of 976. From the 980s, Gerbert of Aurillac (later, Pope Sylvester II) used his position to spread knowledge of the numerals in Europe. Gerbert studied in Barcelona in his youth. He was known to have requested mathematical treatises concerning the astrolabe from Lupitus of Barcelona after he had returned to France. Fibonacci, a mathematician born in the Republic of Pisa who had studied in Bejaia (Bougie), Algeria, promoted the Indian numeral system in Europe with his book Liber Abaci, which was written in 1202".
In spite of the above, I agree that it would be unlikely (but not impossible) that a European crossbow-maker would use Arabic numbers, as I agree that Arabic numbers weren't widespread in Europe until the 15th century.
Jim, I can but speak from my over 30 years of study in Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance works of art, mainly arms and armor, with special emphasis on original dates and the shape of their numerals in consistency with the appearance of the respective dated object.
My archive on 15th/16th c. original dates alone comprises almost 100 mb. Believe me, none of either the cyphers or the letters on your crossbow is of a form any earlier than the 18th c.
For comparison, I attach images of the earliest known Northern European date I know of, 1407, from the groundbreaking plate of the Holy Spirit Church in Landshut, Bavaria, not far from where I live. Even though this is from the early 15th c., Roman (m) and Arabic (407, mind the High Gothic form of the cyphers!!!) numerals are still combined - and just compare this genuine Gothic Latin script to the letters on your crossbow!
And please note that the words are not separated by colons but by centrally placed square periods.
Apart from that, I have never seen such a thing as a date on trigger. Dates generally appear on more prominent parts of an item.
I do have a completely different idea though and will do some more research before posting it.