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Old 24th February 2012, 02:18 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default An Extremely Rare 16th-17th ? C. Wood-Cased Grape Shot

For a cannon; oaken container made of four parts, of cylindrical shape, the top and bottom roundels nailed with leather; inside a linen bag fixed by strings and filled with numerous lead musket balls.
Painted in red with old inventory no. 424.
Overall length 26 cm, diameter 11 cm.

Best,
Michael
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:27 PM   #2
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"Looks too good to be true" at least as far as being quite that old, but who am I to second-guess the experts at H2? We in the US, and perhaps some in UK would use the term "canister" but no one has ever cleanly defined where the dividing line is. The overall construction is much more similar to Western "canister" than grape, canister often having an enclosed cylindrical envelope, and grape often only a skeleton "stool" structure, separating plates, and/or an outer wrapping of painted or tarred canvas, tightly bound with marline or something similar.

One thing which strikes me is that just yesterday I was re-arranging some things in my company's militaria warehouse, and moved around some very modern projectiles made of plastic, constructed almost exactly like that the round pictured in the H2 sale. There are four segments around the periphery with tiny locking tabs at both ends, to ensure aligment. The interior is moulded to form a rectangular solid cavity into which cube or spherical "fragment simulators" can be placed. These are fired from a high-velocity smoothbore gun, usually 20, 25, or 30mm depending on the size payload required. I'll try and get back there soon and take some photos, because it is almost like the modern engineers looked at that old wooden projectile and said "there's what we need to build."
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Old 25th February 2012, 07:23 AM   #3
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The textile which the auction writeup terms "linen" looks much more like burlap to me, given the color, thick fibers, and very coarse weave. If so, that may assist in dating the piece if the piece is assumed to be European, since fairly good estimates could then be made based simply on when burlap came into use in a given area. Burlap comes from the jute plant, which grows in India and that area of the world. The history of its import of burlap to, say England, should be well-documented in the records of the Honourable East India Company if not in many other places. If the material is indeed burlap, then this piece may more likely date from sometime during the 18th C.

I'd think a good deal might also be learned from close examination of one of the metal tacks holding the leather onto the end, since the manufacturing technique used should be traceable to a certain range of dates.
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Old 25th February 2012, 09:49 AM   #4
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Hi John,

Thank you for your thoughtful inputs.

As to the colors in the screenshots, I would not pay too much attention to such details. All images published by that auction house tend to be discolored.

Of course there is a chance that this item may have been manufactured as late as the 18th or even the early 19th century.
I did not view it personally, so I took over both the images and the description from the auction house.

Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 25th February 2012 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 25th February 2012, 02:14 PM   #5
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Thanks Michael. I have had some other thoughts about this object, along the lines that it may not have anything to do with ordnance. My thinking began when I considered the modern plastic ones used in test laboratories. The locking tabs on both ends of each segment are more of a convenience to maintain integrity of the assembled projectile during manual loading, however the 1/8-inch-thick stainless steel disc placed on the rear of the projectile is definitely necessary, or else the segments would almost certainly separate in the bore with one pushing ahead of others. That situation would be very inefficient and might also damage the expensive gun barrel.

My point is that the oak projectile shown here simply will not function as appearance might indicate. The segments contacting the bottom of the chamber will be held in place by immense forces caused by gases flowing over the top side of the projectile (remember the considerable windage allowance in older cannons,) and I'm sure the top segments would almost immediately be torn from the bottom ones, before the latter had moved at all. This projectile would never remain intact to the muzzle. There would also be no reason to use an internal bag of "linen." In most real, antique canister rounds I've seen, when lead balls are used, they are packed in something like sawdust to help keep them from defoming due to the high G-forces upon firing. The wooden "round" shown seems to have no padding between balls.

In addition, both ends are the same, and both ends have a sharp 90-degree angle at the end, which would lend itself to the lower segments being stopped and fragmented by contact with the bore surface. As a minumum, since this had to have been made on a lathe, the turner would fashion the front end with some radius of curvature to ease the travel down the bore. Likewise, the rear end of most canister muzzle-loading rounds I've seen is rebated or has some special provision for the attachment of the cloth cartridge bag. This one is symmetrical end-for-end along with the other suspect areas, makes it an unlikely candidate for an authentic canister round in my opinion.

The leather shown bent over when the one segment is moved, seems as supple as when it was on the animal it came from, bending 180 degrees with perfect flexibility. I don't think this leather has much age.

I have to voice my humble and amateur opinion that the wooden segmented object originally had some non-ordnance purpose , and the sack of balls may have been added recently to give the object a new identity.

Last edited by cannonmn : 25th February 2012 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 25th February 2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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Hi John,

Thank you so much for your comprehensive and well considered explanation!

I must admit that I had quite similar feelings that that object might be dysfunctional, composite, or a fake when I first saw the catalog offer and so I decided neither to view or purchase it; I not even asked for aditional images, which I usually do when I see something of deeper intrerest.

Like you, the dissimilarity between what usual period grape shots look like - just as you ascertained, they are usually heavily packed forming a firm and integral unit - and the appearance of this item, both outward and inward, struck me. For a span of time, I was uncertain whether to put it up for discussion or not.

Anyway, for more information on the usual types of grape shot, I would like to recommend referring to my thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=grape+shot


Best,
Michael
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Old 25th February 2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi John,

Thank you so much for your comprehensive and well considered explanation!

I must admit that I had quite similar feelings that that object might be dysfunctional, composite, or a fake when I first saw the catalog offer and so I decided neither to view or purchase it; I not even asked for aditional images, which I usually do when I see something of deeper intrerest.

Like you, the dissimilarity between what usual period grape shots look like - just as you ascertained, they are usually heavily packed forming a firm and integral unit - and the appearance of this item, both outward and inward, struck me. For a span of time, I was uncertain whether to put it up for discussion or not.

Anyway, for more information on the usual types of grape shot, I would like to recommend referring to my thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=grape+shot


Best,
Michael


Michael, thanks, wonderful stuff there, no book has even a small percentage of those unusual projectiles. I posted the link to those pages over on the Graybeard Blackpowder Cannons... forum as I know many of the members there will be interested.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:02 AM   #8
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I posted a link back to here, on the Graybeard forum, with my skeptical comments about the Hermann H. wooden canister shot. One of the members there posted links to info and a photo of a similar-looking wooden canister projectile, and another that wasn't so similar. The one at this link is the similar one. I am more ready to accept the Hermann item as genuine now that I've seen this one.

http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things...?count=16&pos=9
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Old 26th February 2012, 10:33 AM   #9
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John, let me post that image from the collections of the Armémuseum Stockholm for a broader understanding.

This item is especially interesting as it is also a canister but the dating given varies a lot from that assigned by Hermann.

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Old 26th February 2012, 12:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cannonmn
Michael, thanks, wonderful stuff there, no book has even a small percentage of those unusual projectiles.



Thank you so much, John,

That's exactly why I established my private archive!

Best,
Michael
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:15 PM   #11
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Three others again from, Sweden? Our member "steelcharge" on the Graybeard forum must be Swedish because he finds these things with ease. A search of the "Digitalmuseum" of the Armeemuseum for the Swedish word for canister round gave me 13 pages and probably over 200 projectiles, but a number are too modern to be within scope for this forum. However the three at these links are within the family under discussion. I did not pull out any photos for separate posting because I know if it was appropriate to do here, Michael can do it much more efficiently than I can. One thing I like about Sweden is that the colder-average (and perhaps dryer) environment preserves things beyond the age at which any similar items in warmer, more humid countries have long-since disintegrated.

http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things...?count=16&pos=5

http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things...?count=16&pos=8

http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things.../S-AM/AM.062616

Also, sorry but I can't remember if I ever posted this video here before. It shows a group of us firing home-made canister rounds from an antique bronze swivel gun with about a 2 1/8-inch bore. As you can see the canister rounds we made were very simple yet they functioned effectively.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsVaT694wI8

Last edited by cannonmn : 26th February 2012 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:42 PM   #12
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Great finds, John, thank you!

Would you consent to my posting the images?

Most remarkable in my mind is the detail where you see that the internal ball load actually fills the canister - and this does make sense physically, in contradistinction to the one at Hermann that we have been discussing ...

And: you are definitely right about the preservation-friendly Swedish climate. I should add, though, that our Bavarian stored items are generally preserved quite fine as well - of course given the fact that they were not acid-treated by some museum member gone rust hysteric ... and that species is by no means extinct!

Best,
Michael

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Old 26th February 2012, 09:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Would you consent to my posting the images?


Michael, you would hear no objection from me simply because I have nothing to do with those images.

However in my humble and only partially-knowledgeable opinion, in the U.S. at least, posting the actual photos would qualify as "fair use for educational purposes" since we're not doing this with a profit motive, and we're certainly doing this to educate other members of the forum. As I recall Fair Use is included under section 107 of the Copyright Law of 1976. When material such as these photos are used for educational purposes, the weight of opinion almost always comes down on the side of "fair use."

I don't know the location of the forum's server, but if it is in the U.S., that's the best possible location as far as "fair use" for our purposes here.

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Old 27th February 2012, 03:21 PM   #14
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Ok, here they are.

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Old 27th February 2012, 03:30 PM   #15
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The others.
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:32 PM   #16
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Old 27th February 2012, 04:54 PM   #17
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Michael, thanks again, excellent information, very rare stuff, never have seen it before.

Our Graybeard member "Steelcharge" who found this stuff has one request I am conveying from the other forum:

Quote:
I'm not registered on the VS forum, so could you ask if the poster of those pictures could post the link to the lower "quilted grapeshot" in the reply number 16 (or no. xx?)

The info on that same post was for a 12pdr canister and the grapeshot is clearly smaller, probably for 1pdr. The grapeshot above it is also a really small one, for about 1.2" (quarter pounder?) gun, museum info says it's for "muskedunder" which would be a musket-type swivel gun.

Edit: If you are interested in saving some of those pictures on the Museum site, you can download quite high resolution pictures by clicking "Ladda ner bild" under the image.
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:25 AM   #18
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John,

It would make identification a lot easier for me if you (or 'Steelcharge') could post the screenshots in question with the museum's inv.nos.

All I did when searching the Armémuseum site was enter the fist link you posted,

http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things...?count=16&pos=5

and then click my way forward and backward thru the rest there.

Best,
m
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:35 AM   #19
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Default Devilish Devices of 1535

From the Cod. Pal. germ. 128, by Franz Helm: Buch von den probierten Künsten (Book on Tested Arts), 1535, preserved in the Universtity Library of Heidelberg.

Enjoy.

Best,
Michael
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Old 25th April 2012, 01:59 PM   #20
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Please see also

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=grape+shot

Here are samples of quilted grape, dated to the 16th-17th c. although it sems that they were identically made for centuries.

The first was sold Bonhams, London, 29 July 2004, at 2,400 GBP including buyer's premium. Its provenance was given as the Princely Collections of Liechtenstein.

The second I photographed in the reserve collection at the Focke-Museum Bremen.

At bottom, a scan from Johann F. (Janos) Szendrei's extremely rare book Ungarische kriegsgeschichtliche Denkmäler, Budapest, 1896, p. 379, is attached.
Szendrei describes the illustrated piece of Traubenhagel as 16th c., measuring 19.5 x 5.5 cm overall and weighing 1,100 grams. A central wooden bar of 14 cm height rises from a wooden cylinder, 5 cm high; around this bar iron balls of a caliber of 15 mm are bound in a linen bag.


Best,
Michael
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Old 27th April 2012, 07:50 PM   #21
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Relics of a very similarly constructed piece of canister grape shot of 1812:

http://images.ourontario.ca/niagara...eums/71962/data

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