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Old 8th April 2012, 09:13 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 4,310

Hi 'Nando,

I of course knew that this existed but thanks for the good new images!

Just in case they are available in higher resolution, please mail them - including the measurements! Thanks anyway, my friend!

Yes, your piece is actually the only seemingly existing - at least the only I have noticed within more than 30 years of closest possible investigation - to come to my knowledge, apart from the one mounted in the famous earliest Berne gun (attached once more) the stock of which seems more or less contemporary, with the hook obviously being a post-ca. 1430's addition. So, all recorded samples included, there seem to still exist ten woldwide at best!

What, apart from their general appearances, is an extremely early feature in both our barrels (at least in my humble eyes as I remember you gave me the honor to explain years ago ) is the fact that the back-breech area is still remarkably long before the smith actually dared strike thru the touch hole. This reflects the earliest gunners' basic fear of the piece exploding.

In my experience, this is one of the earliest criteria of defining the highly important, as obviously totally unrecorded, development after the Loshult gun and my Aljubarrota barrel. The latest, in other words most 'modern', criterion after my still all round Aljubarrota barrel is that the general appearance is now octagonal, meaning Gothic, throughout.
The earliest High-Gothic stylistic criteria are in my opinion the facts that these ca. 1400 barrels are
- octagonal
- and that their flats are of alternatingly irregular width.

In contrast, the few earlier known barrels all seem to follow the obsolete Romanic style scheme of round sectioning throughout.
For such a very rare earliest barrel made of wound banded iron, please see

Please remember that the color image of the Berne gun attached was taken by the Historisches Museum Bern on special order by me and they charged me a horrid sum for this single image, so please respect my rights. Thank you! The gun has not been on display or accessible to anybody since at least the 1960's.

The measurements and b/w photos scanned from Wegeli's 1949 inventory.

None of the photos or line drawings sadly shows the position of the touch hole which is most important for assigning its early date but the 1948 description given by Rudolf Wegeli luckily records that it is located 3 cm in front of the rear end of the barrel, which is a bit less than is the case on both 'Nando's and my barrels.

I should add that the bore of my barrel, as shown in the photos, has definitely got drilled out at some later time during its working life; the last photo in the foregoing post depicts where the center of the drill entered the bottom of the breech.
The description of the Berne sample does not mention this important question but telling by the cross-section line drawing of the conical 'bore', notably widening towards the muzzle, we may assume that it has survived 'untouched', just the way the barrel smith folded the barrel around a conical core some 600 years ago.

I am most curious to see more of the bore walls and inside bottom of your piece, 'Nando!

Another similar handgonne barrel, more or less contemporary, attached below, is in the Musée de l'Armée Paris. One last small Steinbüchse firing lime stone balls, round and with small breech but wide bore, contemporary but somewhat larger, attached at bottom, and retaining its original stock, is also in Paris.

A more staged and notably larger but similar late Stein- or earliest Bleibüchse (firing the first lead balls) in the Esterhazy arsenal at Burg Forchtenstein, notably larger and of early-15th c. date, is the latest attached here.
Its general appearance is quite close to the Russian sample discussed in the beginning.
Its measurements are:
overall length 37.5 cm
maximum outer diameter 13.7 x 14.6 cm
bore 50 mmm, given +/- ca. 5 mm of internal roughness
bore length 6 balls of bore diameter
weight 17.5 kg
All data from a DWJ (Deutsches Waffenjournal, periodical, Schwäbisch Hall) article published in June 1998.

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