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Old 16th September 2008, 09:04 PM   #1
fernando
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Default A hand cannon ... or not ?

This piece was already posted in the Ethnographic Forum.
Several opinnions were given, as to this would be a signal cannon, a hand cannon, or nothing of the kind.
We have settled in the hand cannon version, but not without prevailing doubts.
16th century was the age proposed by the seller, a non specialized guy, trading in a flea market. He also said it is Portuguese ... at least he acquired it in Portugal.
I would like to take the oportunity of having in this Forum persons who are within or close to this area, to request some further coments on this specimen, as well as its hand cannon plausibility.
The exterior diameter is 7 cms., the length 18 cms. The bore is about 4cms. at the muzzle and about 3,3 cms. at the bottom. It weighs 3,4 kgs.
The tube interior is sleeved.
At the stage that i was (nearly) sure this is indeed a hand cannon, i had a stock (pole, haft ?) made, to pretend how the thing would be "on the field".
Thanks in advance.
Fernando
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Old 16th September 2008, 10:53 PM   #2
Ed
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Good question. Given the bore to tube wall thickness, I (who have taken a chance or two ) would be pretty darn hesitant to fire that thing with a good charge of powder. Then again, I think that it would have been shot with shot rather than a single massive projectile.

OTOH, noisemakers typically have a little lip to hold a priming charge when they are upright.

What would you like it to be?

I think that it is well mounted and certainly could be used as a weapon. It certainly looks the part.

This really illustrates a core problem with our hobby.

In the years, say, from 1400 to 1600 how many weapons and elements of armor were produced? Think of all of the wars. Millions? Tens of millions?

OK. How many exist? 1% of the total made, less?

Therefore the argument for dismissing an object's authenticity is based on a sample of (presumed) real pieces that is in absolutely no way representative of anything other than itself.

That said, one has to be very careful in saying "I never saw one with (or without) thus and such".

I have no doubt that your piece is old, I have no doubt that it could be lethal. Though it's construction looks iffy to a man who shoots a modern S&W handgun, that is a relatively meaningless observation.

I think the correct answer to your question is that there is really no compelling evidence that it is anything other than what it purports to be.

Enjoy.


BTW ... I'd gladly put it in my own collection, for what that is worth.
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Old 16th September 2008, 11:00 PM   #3
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These thingies sometimes were simply placed within a hole in the ground and fired like mortars...

Best

M
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Old 16th September 2008, 11:37 PM   #4
fernando
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Thank you so much Ed, for the excelent observations. I must say i am very pleased with your precious input.
Yes, the absence of a lip on the fire hole also drove me to realize this piece wasn't a signal mortar or some sort of upright thunder mug ... together with the fact that it doesn't widen at the basis.
So a shooter (hand canon) it will be, given that no compelling evidence proves otherwise .
Thanks again
Fernando
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Old 16th September 2008, 11:50 PM   #5
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I got to thinking and remembered that massive wall thickness is not always a sign of authenticity.



With a relatively slow burning powder and a relatively light (stone) ball it is rather amazing how thin barrel walls can be.

Of course, Megs powder chamber was rather thick.

Hey ... why not get some liquid latex and make a casting of the inside?
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Old 17th September 2008, 12:48 AM   #6
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Well, you had them for all tastes

.
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Old 17th September 2008, 01:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed


Hey ... why not get some liquid latex and make a casting of the inside?


That, would be an interesting 'experiment' ...I remember reading somewhere that some had a larger diameter chamber where the charge was situated ....this was to allow the explosive gasses to expand more rapidly which imparted a greater kinetic force to the projectile. It would make sense to me that minature 'mock-ups' would be used to test modifications .... I assume that the bore would be coated rather than filled (producing a 'plug') ...so that the hardened latex is easier to remove.

Fernando, as you already know I have always seen your cannon as a weapon ...it certainly looks the part fixed to the stock ...but there again ...some 'weapons' I have bought turned out to be gardening implements ...so what do I know

Kind Regards David
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Old 16th September 2008, 11:43 PM   #8
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
These thingies sometimes were simply placed within a hole in the ground and fired like mortars...

Best

M


Hola Manolo

Which ones ... mine or Ed's ?

Fernando
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Old 17th September 2008, 06:59 PM   #9
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Default High-Gothic hand cannon, ca. 1380

Hi, fernando,

Your barrel is definitely datable to ca. 1380-1400 and may well be of Portuguese origin. The stock and bands are modern reconstructions but convey a good impression of what the piece might have looked like more than 600 years ago.

Several barrels of similiar shape and dimensions were dug out from the battleground of Aljubarrota; the battle took place in 1385.

The attached image is from Prestige de l'armurerie potugaise. La part de Liege. Musee d'Arms de Liege, exposition catalog 1991, p.42.

Unfortunately, this photo shows two originally separate small barrels, one round and made from wound band iron (the older) and the other (the later one) octagonal, obviously foolishly hammered into each other for some reason at some later time. So just concentrate on the left barrel, the round one, and you will see the close relationship to your piece.

I also enclose two images of a very similar barrel from Aljubarrota in my collection; it is of almost identical statistics as yours. It is made of wound band iron and fire-welded, just as those found in Aljubarrota, and may be as early as ca. 1360. There is a maker's mark, an arrow head, deeply struck in front of the touch hole which indicates that this workshop was traditionally associated with manufacturing heads for crossbow bolts and arrows. The catalog text given below also mentions a mark in front of the touch hole.

If you are a bit into earliest firearms you might like to view my other postings.

Have fun with your piece.

Matchlock
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Old 18th September 2008, 12:51 AM   #10
fernando
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Hi Matchlock,
I am eternely grateful for the outstanding information you have provided.
Now i can sleep in peace ... and even have nice dreams, once the age of this piece is even earlier that i was told in the first place.
I don't have the presumption to be acquainted with early fire (or white) arms more than in a residual level, but i can assimilate all that you have said, as also what is written in the French article.
I was aware that in Aljubarrota battle, firearms were (already or firstly) used, although with an impact more psichologic than efective, i would guess. In fact and as it is divulged, crossbows were massively used there and plaid a major role. This was the greatest example for those who consider that crossbows were the weapon "responsible" for the maintainance of Portugal as an independent nation, during a significant period.
I have read your threads on harquebuses as you posted them. They made me go and review some pages i knew i had on these weapons, namely a book offered by a Portuguese bank, in a limited edition. There are a couple interesting pictures of matchlocks there that i could post here, but then i thaught twice and considered you must already know them, and many, many more.
Once again thank you so much for the material you have posted here. I was so pleased to see pictures of your example; it does look like the "next of keen" to mine.
I would not be surprised that my piece was also dug in São Jorge (where actually the battle took place, couple miles from Aljubarrota), as i am aware that the seller has acquired it 60 miles away from such place.

Kind regards
Fernando

Clicking in the English version, there is a box titled "the battle in one minute"
... nothing much, just for the fun.
http://www.fundacao-aljubarrota.pt/
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Old 18th September 2008, 11:53 AM   #11
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I'm sorry I can't add much to this thread, but, nonetheless, wanted to say I just love how the stock and the mounting turned up for this piece. I really like it
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Old 18th September 2008, 02:48 PM   #12
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Default Matchlocks - book by a Portuguese bank

Hi fernando,

I am so glad that you appreciated my lines on your fine and early 'hand gonne' (the historic term) barrel from Aljubarrota, and thanks for providing us with the additional information.

You also mentioned a book given away by a Portuguese bank and containing illustrations of matchlocks. Unfortunately I do not have that in my - otherwise quite comprehensive - library.

So if you could please be so nice and post those images, and also the bibliographical data of that book, I would be much obliged to you.

To sort of back up my opinion that barrels which are wound up of band iron and then fire welded rang among the earliest of their kind, I enclose an image of a massive cannon barrel of ca. 1350, made exactly that way. It is in the Musee de l'Armee in Paris and is about 1,80 meters in length, with the fore end of the muzzle gone. I put my bag next to it for statistic comparison.

Now if you look at my little Aljubarrota barrel of about the same date you will see the strikingly close relationship in both shape and make.


Looking forward to receiving more information, and lots of thanks in advance,

Matchlock
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Old 18th September 2008, 02:55 PM   #13
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Default Mid-14th century barrels wound up of band iron

Oops, fernando,

Here are the correct images to my former posting: barrels in the Musee de l'Armee Paris and in my colletion.

Have fun,

Matchlock
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Old 18th September 2008, 06:42 PM   #14
fernando
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Hi Marc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
I'm sorry I can't add much to this thread, but, nonetheless, wanted to say I just love how the stock and the mounting turned up for this piece. I really like it


I can't help feeling flattered with such apreciation, as this was the first time i took the initiative to perform a "heavy duty" restoring work ... not just the little personal home bricolage.
I had seen some "hand gonne" pictures and also a "live" replica in the Military Museum. From there i decided to develop a setup that, besides being plausible, could be made by the carpenter and fitter from the neighbourwood, with my "supervising" presence, and later my own touch ups and finishing. The price i paid was peanuts ... no restoring specialists involved.
... And i see that the result achieved is quite satisfactory .
Un saludo
Fernando

Last edited by fernando : 18th September 2008 at 08:35 PM. Reason: spell
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