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Old 2nd November 2008, 12:29 AM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Wrought (!) and cast iron cannon balls, 16th century

The one with the irregular surface consisting of wrought iron (!) and doubtlessly originating from the workshop of the gunsmith Peter Pögl in Thörl near Innsbruck/The Tyrol. Imagine that toil ...
When still king, Maximilian I ordered lots of iron balls for his artillery pieces from Peter Pögl during the 1490's.

The second of regular cast iron and - almost uniquely! - bearing the date 1552.

Michael
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Old 2nd November 2008, 02:18 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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These are really interesting Michael! Is it common for a date to be placed on disposable ordnance such as cannonballs? What would the reason be for this marking? Also, how is the work of a specific maker identified on these? are there markings as on weapons?

I am just curious, and really dont know much on ordnance such as cannon balls etc. I did once own a cannon ball, which I believe was from the Battle of New Orleans 1812. It sat on my desk for many years, and eventually it literally crumbled, corroded from within.

Thank you as always, for such fascinating postings!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 2nd November 2008, 01:28 PM   #3
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Hi Jim,

Apart from this ball dated 1552, there is only one other known fact of dated cannon balls. Duke Julius of Brunswick is known for having iron slag balls cast with the date 1575 and his monogram HJH in ligature.
I will find out and post something about them later.

In my opinion, only the individual historical importance of a certain date could account for such a phenomenon as dating cannon balls. This might have been a centenary, the dawning of an important battle, or even may have been done after winning a victory and in remembrance.

The provenance of the wrought iron ball is quite clear as only the smiths Sebald and Peter Pögl are known to have made such things. They soon refused to continue though because the toil was too hard and the strength of the bullets was evidently not worth the effort.

All the best,
Michael
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Old 2nd November 2008, 06:08 PM   #4
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Wonderful pieces Michael; the one with the date is fascinating, specially for being such an early date.

By the way, Jim. Napoleonic cannon balls used to have an N marked on them; maybe not all of them, but such was the procedure.

Fernando
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Old 3rd November 2008, 01:46 AM   #5
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Thank you Michael for explaining that, and mentioning the instance of the Duke of Brunswicks initials and date on the cannon balls. I was wondering if perhaps since these destructive (obviously) pieces of ordnance were being sent to destroy an enemy...that maybe as in the bombs dropped from aircraft in the wars were marked with slogans or taunting phrases toward the enemy...there might have been similar cases in medieval times.

It is known that in some instances in warfare in Biblical times, sometimes the arrowheads were marked to afford the warrior the claim to his victory over an opponent by proving his arrow was the felling one. In North America, the Indian tribes often marked thier arrows with distinctive stripes, colors or identifying features to claim the hunted game brought down.

Obviously there are differences in the arrows marked to claim prey or victims, and items such as cannonballs or bombs which carried symbolic messages, and would be ultimately destroyed themselves....but I thought the idea of personalized and symbolic messaged projectiles or ammunition an interesting aside in our study of the weapons themselves.

Fernando, thank you for the note on the Napoleonic cannonballs, which is indeed an interesting example being marked with his initial. It seems to fall into the category of property or ownership, like U.S. or C.S.A on so many Civil War items (though I'm not aware of ordnance so marked).
Early markings of all types of ordnance in England began with Henry VIII who used the familiar broad arrow, that became distinctive on British military supplies and materials, and I wonder if cannonballs or other materials were so marked.

These are instances that come to mind, and sure would like to hear more on unusually marked ordnance!!

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 3rd November 2008, 06:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you Michael for explaining that, and mentioning the instance of the Duke of Brunswicks initials and date on the cannon balls. I was wondering if perhaps since these destructive (obviously) pieces of ordnance were being sent to destroy an enemy...that maybe as in the bombs dropped from aircraft in the wars were marked with slogans or taunting phrases toward the enemy...there might have been similar cases in medieval times.

It is known that in some instances in warfare in Biblical times, sometimes the arrowheads were marked to afford the warrior the claim to his victory over an opponent by proving his arrow was the felling one. In North America, the Indian tribes often marked thier arrows with distinctive stripes, colors or identifying features to claim the hunted game brought down.

Obviously there are differences in the arrows marked to claim prey or victims, and items such as cannonballs or bombs which carried symbolic messages, and would be ultimately destroyed themselves....but I thought the idea of personalized and symbolic messaged projectiles or ammunition an interesting aside in our study of the weapons themselves.


All best regards,

Jim



Jim, I believe that you are exactly right in your reckonings based on the examples cited. I am convinced that some war lords and patriotically minded craftsmen and citiens alike indeed cherished the imagination of those projectiles being fired into the enemies' bodies - 'with our best greetings'.

In the case of the Brunswick slag balls, their date 1575 was cast in the mould. Other cannon balls are known to have been inscribed later.

Fernando, actually I have a Napoleonic cannon ball which was found in a ruined house in the medieval city center of Regensburg, some 40 km from my present home. I used to live in Regensburg for amolst 25 years and I bought that ball from one of the workers who had wrecked the ruine. Interesting enough, it is inscribed in white ink

Napoleon
25. April
1809

('Napoleon' has become almost illegible).
This was undoubtedly regarded as a reminder of Napoleon's taking Regensburg under fire and conquering it on that day.

I will also take pictures of my Brunswick cannon balls and post them.

Michael
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