Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
And please call me Michael.
I will add a lot more photos, and of course I will try and find out about the guns that originally belonged to these sabres, the scabbard/sheath of each fitted with a cartridge bag each. Both the sabers and the firearms formed the armament of the Styrian carters from about 1560-90.
The leather cartridge bag of the scabbard of each saber held a tinned iron tinned-iron cartridge container consisting of five caliber-size tubes soldered together.
The Michael Trömner Collection holds such an original cartridge bag retaining its tinned-iron cartridge box, and all preserved in fine, virtually ‘untouched’ condition for some 440 years. The inner width of each small tube is 14 mm, corresponding to .55 caliber. In the late 16th century, this was regarded as rather ‘small bore’ whereas it was the most common inner diameter of the barrels of both matchlock and wheellock arquebuses from ca. 1500-1560. My sample still even holds considerable traces of black powder as fine as meal powder – and an original paper cartridge! According to my experiences, black powder from that period will not even burn any more, let alone explode.As black powder was not grained yet in those days, the three components – sulphur, saltpeter and charcoal – have demixed long since and got moist over the centuries. See attachments in the following post.
I remember purchasing that bag from the German dealer Dieter Schempp, at an antique weapons show in Stuttgart in the early 1990's. At 980 Deutsche Mark/490 euros, it was all but cheap for such a small object; I was aware, though, of the fact that that little piece was an extreme rarity and purchased it right away.
It was to turn out that I acted right for I have never come across the like of it ever since. That guy Schempp, who lived near the Bodensee, often sold objects that came from the Graz armory; as I was the one collector he usually offered these things first I acquired most of my Graz related pieces of accouterment from him, and for more than 30 years.
The fact is known among old and skilled collectors that in the 1970’s and 1980’s, a member of the staff of the Graz Landeszeughaus took lots of items – all not documented and photographed at that time – from the reserve collection/depot rooms and sold them, right after closing time of the Graz museum, to a tiny group of three or four Austrian collectors who regularly met at a nearby Gasthaus. A great collector, and long-time friend of mine who lived in Linz/Austria, told me all about it, he, too, acquired a lot of items that way. Sadly he died a few weeks ago. Of course, all those objects were sold for a song, like a supper and a few pints of beer.
Apart from that, the Graz armory/Joanneum officially sold hundreds of pieces of all kinds of weapons, armor and accouterments on various occasions; they also still trade in pieces from the Landeszeughaus/Joanneum depots when collectors offer them an item they are interested in but cannot buy it.
My friend Armin König and I eye-witnessed that fact in September 2005 when the Graz curators Dr. Muchitsch and Dr. Toifl were willing to trade in many objects, among them a short cast-bronze Late Gothic handgonne. I still keep their emails inviting us and stating their willingness to trade and swap items from their collections.
That is a story of its own, though; so let us get back to those cartridge bags.
I do not know if Graz holds any records identifying the sort of guns the Styrian carters employed but they must have been short wheellock arquebuses. Attached find images of such a wheellock arquebus, ca. 1580-90, and preserved at the Graz armory.
Enjoy the photos, as they depict details which hardly anybody has ever been given the chance to detect - or has cared to before I started doing research in such far-out things. Thanks to internet publishing, now we can study each and every little detail magnified and zoomed up to a multiple of its actual size! This quality just cannot be matched by any kind of traditional print media, not matter what book, journal article or catalog!