Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
With five years having pased since the author started this thread it is time to add the scan of an original watercolor of the illustrated source attached to post #1.
This is the earliest known representation of a ball mold.
It is deliberately oversized in terms of relation to the arquebuses because the artist intended to draw special attention to this small item of accouterment. Almost certainly, this ball mold was regarded as an important innovation in the techiques of warfare.
It consists of two hemispheric halves, most probably of cast brass, and two plain iron handles.
Please note that the arquebuses feature snap tinderlocks, with all mechanical parts united on a common lock plate nailed to the right side of the gun at breech level, its shape reflecting the Late Gothic style - which is remarkable considering the early stage of mechanic evolution at the end of the 15th century.
There is not yet a wing nut for tightening the jaws of the serpentine holding a piece of glowing tinder; a simple rectangular clamp moved upwards fulfilled that task.
This representation of an arquebus with a lock plate and a clamp to the relatively straight shaped tinderholder is very similar to the one known from Martin Merz's manuscript Kunst aus Büchsen zu schießen started in Amberg, Northern Bavaria, in 1473 or 1480. Martin Merz only died in 1501, which allows for a relatively late date of that illustration being added - an assumption the author of this thread strongly pleads for. It was very common with medieval manuscripts that, for some reason or another, the author, in between text and illustrations, left a number of pages empty. Most of them are still preserved empty today.
Another notable fact: there is an iron finial to either end of the wooden ramrod. We may safely assume that at least one of those tubular finials was threaded, for cleaning tools such as a worm or a scourer. Iron finials to both ends of the ramrod are a characterically early feature of pre-mid 16th century; see an arquebus from ca. 1525-35 in The Michael Trömner Collection:
The latest ball mold recorded to have been made on this earliest scheme, and still featuring brass halves for founding, obviously belonged to a Thirty Years War falconet as it casts balls with a diameter/caliber of about 5-6 cm; it is dated 1621, which may be considered almost anachronic; in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg.
The watercolor is from
Philipp Mönch: Kriegsbuch, dated 1496 (which marks the year of its beginning!), UB Heidelberg, Cod.pal.germ. 126, fol. 28v.
Re-attached are images of a ball mold of earliest type in the author's collection, one half of the head struck with a founder's mark in the Late Gothic style, ca. 1500-30, heavily worn all over and repaired in places; cf. post #13.
That 500 year-old South German type of mold was copied and kept unchanged in countries like Hungary, Albania and Turkey over four centuries. Sometimes it gets hard to define how old a certain item actually is - see posts #23ff.
I also wish to recall, and re-attach, the interesting mold that Ward brought to our knowledge in post #6, because the iron doubtlessly shows ornaments characteristic of the South German style from ca. 1500 to 1550.
Ward, could you, by any chance, please trace back the source you saved that image from, and how the description read?
All photos copyrighted by the author, except for three.