Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
14th-15th c.: How Powder and Ball etc. Were Kept Before Powder Flasks Appeared
As both additional and preliminary notes to my thread on earliest trapezoid powder flasks of the 16th c.,
I would like to post the few earliest sources of period artwork depicting vessels like bags, belt pouches, ammunition chests (Zeugtruhen) and late 15th-early 16th c. powder horns.
Again, this is a subject nobody has cared to do research in so far.
The earliest known dated illustrated sources seems to be as late as the 1480's. Unfortunately, we do not know how arquebusiers carried their ammunition on them for about 100 years before. They must have used some kind of leather bags or pouches though which must have been logically equiped with compartments for powder, balls and wadding - plus some early sort of powder measure for one round.
By the early 16th c., depictions of powder horns, bandoliers and flasks have become quite frequent; such small accouterments did not seem important enough to illustrate during the 14th and 15th centuries although they must have been in use.
Remember: clothes did not have pockets before ca. 1600!
The earliest devices to go and carry ammunition and small accouterments, such as wadding or cleaning tools, seem to have been leather bags and pouches, either worn on the belt or around the shoulder. Early-16th c. arquebusiers are also frequently shown to carry leather 'purses' which actually were belt bags and contained a lot of small compartments, accomplishing manifold purposes and helping the soldier carry all those little things of importance - including ammuntion and tools for his arquebus. In many cases, an additional powder horn and shoulder bandolier with powder measures for each round can be identified.
Powder horns are recorded from the 1480's to the 1530's when flasks - either wooden and trapezoid or wooden and round, as well as of staghorn (antlers) - seem to have taken over.
Interesting enough, powder horns saw a late 18th c. revival as scrimshaw horns in the U.S. colonies.
Attachments, from top to bottom, showing excerpts from
- the Swiss Berne Chronicle, 1483, by Diebold Schilling
- the Lower Bavarian Landshut Armory Inventory (Zeughausinventar), 1485, by Ullrich Beßnitzer (small wooden powder measures, the predecessors of bandoliers!)
- the Tyrolean Maximilian Armory Inventories (Maximilianische Zeugbücher), 1495-1515
- Hans Schäufelein, The Triumphal Procession of the Emperor Maximlian I, ca. 1513
- a North German watercolor of ca. 1515-20, in the Museum of the Fürstentum Lüneburg
- the Löffelholz ms, Nuremberg, ca. 1525-30, depicting a shooting range with an ammunition chest and powder measures and - in color - all the many arquebusier's accouterments!
- the Battle of Pavia, 1525, in a painting by Ruprecht Heller in the National Museum Stockholm, and a series of Brussels tapestries in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples
- The Battle of Alesia, Bavaria, 1533, by Melchior Feselen
- Nuremberg Landsknecht woodcuts of the 1530's
- a Swiss Landsknecht watercolor by Johann v. Schwarzenberg, 1530's-40, Kantonsbil. Appenzell, CM ms. 13, 54r