Join Date: Nov 2013
The Monks Gun.
Sorry Michael. I donít think we have quite got to the bottom of this one.
It seems unlikely that the gun currently in the Russtkammer is the legendary Monks Gun beloved by early writers on firearms history.
Quoting from Ellacott (Guns . Methuen and Co 1955.)
There once lay in Dresden Museum a handĖ gun of the early sixteenth century eleven inches long, 5 inches bore ( ! ) A long serrated bar lay in a square casing above the priming pan, and above the bar was a pivoted serpentine holding in its jaws a brittle yellow mineral then called fools gold. When the pyrites was pressed down upon the serrated bar. And the bar drawn sharply backwards, a shower of sparks was rasped into the priming pan. For many years this little weapon was called the monks gun on the assumption that the German monk Berthold Swartze had made it in 1320.
Swartze being the apocryphal inventor of gunpowder. The author attaches his own drawing of the gun which we assume was based on an illustration from some antiquarian source . The gun as illustrated by Ellacot looks entirely implausible as a hand held firearm and if it wasnít for what looks like a belt hook we might suggest it was the breech from a breech loading cannon . Since we cant be sure whether the seventeenth century inventory relates to the gun illustrated or the Russfkhammer gun one implication is the later might be a historiscistic re creation of the missing original perhaps re using a genuinely old barrel
I personally have doubts as to whether it, or any other hand operated rasp ignition lock would have actually worked. A typical wheelock has a wheel speed of around 1000 feet per second. equivalent to 60 miles an hour. Therefore no matter how smartly the bar was jerked backwards it seems unlikely that it would achieve sufficient speed to raise a spark. However itís a simple idea and some might have believed that it would. The same principle was successfully developed in quadrant locks (Tower; X11-1067. Dated1619) where the wheel is replaced by a quadrant operated by a strong spring, achieving the same effect as a wheel lock but without the need for a spanner. Blair quotes Thierbach who illustrates a rasp lock operated by a spiral spring; of the kind envisaged by Marcus and also a manually operated rasp lock for a cannon.