Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 26th April 2009, 07:14 PM   #1
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default Extremely Rare 14th to 18th Century Igniting Irons and a 16th Century Linstock

This is another topic on a kind of important early gun accouterments almost never discussed.

Igniting irons were used to manually ignite all sorts of pieces of artillery, from the biggest cannon to haquebuts and even small handguns, even well after igniting mechanisms had come into general use. With all those little noise makers (Böller) employed in alpine regions they never actually seem to have vanished before ca. WW II.

We know from original sources of information that, when needed, their heads were kept red hot in a bowl filled with live coal and finally put down the touchhole.

It is true that the earliest igniting device documented together with the earliest known illustration of a gun in the famous de Milemete ms. at Christ Church, Oxford, dated 1326, is clearly a short stick with a split upper portion and a glowing piece of tinder jammed between the jaws which could be termed a sort of linstock (first attachments). However, we have no further records of linstocks for almost 200 years after.

The next two contemporary sources of illustration attached are from Konrad Kyeser's Bellifortis of 1405, both depicting a rectangular thin archetype of iron mounted on a short wooden haft. We may therefore assume that that was the usual type of 14th to early15th century igniting devices. The oldest known actual singular piece of identical type, although in excavated condition retaining a portion of its original haft, is in my collection (see attachments).

Hence forward, 15th century practical experience seems to have developped a reinforced pear like shape of the igniting head with a thin prick to it to reach down the touchhole; the larger mass of the iron was of course apt to keep the heat for longer. Due to the nature of their use - kept red hot for hours and hence calcined, then, after left rusting away for months, bearing the same procedure all over again and again - the actual touch prick of those igniting irons has in most cases gone of surviving examples.

Again, relying on illustrative sources, linstocks with jammed in glowing tinder or smoldering slow match do not seem to have seen wider use before ca. 1500 when they were depicted in the Maximilian arsenal books (Maximilianische Zeugbücher), ca. 1502-1507. Allthough match linstocks seem to have taken over for at least half a thousand centuries from now, we still know of some large samples of early 18th century heavy artillery accouterments retaining their original igniting irons mounted on long hafts and forming part of the equipment of their original carriages.

The singular short linstock, early to mid 16th c., with the two piece zoomorphic head retaining its original blackened haft together with its original tarred cord binding on the rearward grip plus a pointed iron shoe finial for ramming the piece into the ground on intermitted action, is also in my collection while most images of other igniting irons were gathered together from various sources.

Michael
Attached Images
           

Last edited by Matchlock : 27th April 2009 at 03:00 PM.
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 07:22 PM   #2
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

More igniting irons of uncertain dates, probably 15th to 18th centuries, some of them retaining their igniting pricks.
Attached Images
           
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 07:25 PM   #3
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

Some more.
Attached Images
           
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th May 2009, 04:43 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 4,969
Default

Michael, this is yet another amazing example of the minutiae of medieval artillery and firearms that has seemed to entirely escape the notice of scholarly study. Although I admit to knowing extremely little on such topics, it is amazing that there is so much complacency toward such important detail, and thank goodness there are scholars with your tenacity at preserving such detail, which would otherwise be lost.

I would imagine that these items would be incredibly rare, as such everyday practical implements are rarely considered worthwhile components of the naturally more visible weapon itself. A cannon is hardly a disposable item, but the thing to light it with is as noted, seldom ever mentioned.

It seems interesting that in those times, the importance of igniting the powder in these arms was of course crucial, and while apparantly given considerable attention, in modern times only the effects and outcome of the action and events are of interest to most historians.

You have shown us in many cases of the accoutrements and accessories used in these times that often these implements, as well as the elements of the weapons, were given detailed designs and zoomorphic shapes, showing amazing attention to even the most mundane of devices.

This has provided a dimension to the study of antique weaponry seldom recognized in the standard literature, and to me adds an almost surreal perspective that makes it seem almost if I am actually standing there in period and viewing these weapons.

As always, a simple thank you seems insufficent! and I am always very grateful for your wonderful and personally guided tours into history.

You're the best !

Jim

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 4th May 2009 at 08:29 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th May 2009, 07:16 PM   #5
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

Actually, Jim, those plain iron igniting devices are not as rare in our alpine regions as one might think; they, just like the mostly short barrels to light with, seem to have seldom been disposed of. In Austria and Switzerland, many of those noisemakers are found to be employed as door stoppers in traditional rural houses even in the 21st century. As you noted, they, and even less their igniting sticks, are rarely ever paid notice to or mentioned, though - mostly for lack of knowledge, I am afraid.

Otherwise, as often before, your kind words scholarly spoken ex cathedra made me blush; thank you so much but I think that all of us owe you so much - and most of all our forum thankfully guided competently, eloquently and patiently by its creator.

With all my very best wishes,
Michael
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th May 2009, 01:22 PM   #6
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

Another one retaining its igniting prick.

Michael
Attached Images
   
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th May 2009, 03:22 PM   #7
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

From:

Flavius Vegetius Renatus: Vier Bücher der Rytterschafft (Four Books of Knighthood), Erfurt, Germany, 1511.

Note the V shaped cannon barrels!

Michael
Attached Images
 
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th May 2009, 04:03 PM   #8
Matchlock
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany, the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Posts: 3,808
Default

From the same book as before, 1511.

Michael
Attached Images
   
Matchlock is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 04:14 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.