Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Here are some fundamental thoughts on identidfying and dating simple pieces of firearms accouterments like ball molds.
Basically, they seen to have been developed in the Germanic regions, first emerging during the 2nd half of the 14th century and consisting of two rectangular halves of soapstone.
Any identifaction and dating should be done considering the fact that in most cases, with the exact circumstances of detection of an item and its original provenance unclear, only formal criteria can be defined.
E.g., even soapstone was kept in use for ball cast in Northern America until at least the era of the Revolution Wars in the late 18th c., and American molds for both single or multiple cast still looked the same then as they did in Old Europe around 1400, and this also true for the rest of the world, and for brass molds, at least since ca. 1500 when they got loops for attaching scissor-like iron handles.
In many instances, the latter, especially when coming from South Eastern Europe, including countries like Romania, Albania and Turkey, where they stayed in use throughout the muzzleloading era, most specimens seem a bit less well wrought than they were in the Germanic regions from where they once were imported, with their handles no longer showing the characteristic Late Gothic/Early Renaiance stylistic criteria, like knob finials to the iron handles or a founder's mark.
This is why the author had to wait for four decades before he found a mold which united all basic early criteria, including old repairs denoting a very long working life and surfaces of iron and brass that bore witness of a great age, plus a founder's mark in the Gothic style; still he cannot be absolutely sure that even his sample was made in Turkey, and only in the 18th c. ...
My computer will be on "intensive care" at a workshop for the rest of the week.