Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Mid to Late 16th Century Patrons for Paper Cartridges
The earliest patrons or cartridge containers (Patronenköcher) seem to have been made as early as the 1540's, mostly in Nuremberg but, in the 1580's, also in Brunswick and Suhl, the latter for Saxony. The earliest dated sample known is of 1554.
They all consist of a wooden body drilled out for 4-7 paper cartridges and set into an iron frame which, in some cases, covers the wooden core completely. The lid is spring loaded and there are a few iron loops for leather straps to carry the patron. The catridges were stored with the balls bound on top. For loading, the patron was grabbed at the ball and drawn out, the ball was bitten off by the musketeer's or harquebusier's teeth, the powder was filled into the barrel, the ball went after it smoothly (as it was usually of smaller caliber than the barrel it rolled down easily) and the paper was crunched up and put down the muzzle. Then the whole load was rammed down the barrel with the ramrod.
The usual number of cartridge holes of ca. 4-7 indicates that this was the average number of rounds that 16th century guns could fire before at least the touch hole, and probably the barrel as well, had to be cleaned. There are, however, some patrons known to have received as many as 11 cartdriges. Interesting enough, we do not know of one single contemporary source of illustration of a patron although they are known to have been used together with both pistols and long guns but only for 'military' and semi-military purposes (e.g. by The Royal Saxon Electors' Guardsmen (Trabanten-Leibgarde).
The iron frame was mostly blued, on the Brunswick and some Nuremberg patrons it was finely embossed, and on some highly decorated patrons it was etched and the outer side of the wooden core was sometimes inlaid with engraved bone plaques. They matched the guns in style that they were used along with.
I attach samples from my collection and from other sources.