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Old 4th June 2012, 10:04 PM   #1
fernando
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Default A couple mortars for comments

The usual dilemma ... or not.
Mortars for cerimony events, signal bombards, battle traps ... or remotely hand cannons.
Very sturdy examples; the larger one with 19 cms. height, 7,5 cms on the base, a 50 m/m "caliber" and a weight of 4,9 kgs. The smaller one with 16 cms height, 8 cms on the base, a 45 m/m mouth and a weight of 5,8 Kgs, due to its thicker walls.
No doubt they are rought iron.
The smaller one has a particular detail; the touch hole, having been worn due to (apparent) frequent use, had a perfect patch applied and a new hole made on the next (not opposite) side.
I wonder how old these things are.
Someone giving a hint here?
Don't forget that, even if they are not meant to be weapons, they end up being so as, due to their weight, they easily qualify to knock any adversary down .


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Old 4th June 2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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I would like a long Linstock for the piece on the right were I to be the 'Gunner' .
The other one seems like it might have employed some sort of fuse .

I think I'm becoming interested in old things that go Bang !
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Old 5th June 2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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Hi 'Nando,


It sure is a tricky thing to discern whether these short barrels are mortars or actual hand cannon that were stocked originally.

The shape and surface of these two specimen would allow both interpretations. If they were hand cannon I would say they are at least 500 years old. If they were mortars they mave have been made as late as the early 19th century. As such items were always kept in the open and hardly ever saw any care or oil they alyways look kind of rotten and 'extremely old'. The rough inner surfaces seem to suggest that they were not bored out but left the way they were when wrought around an iron core.

The feature of a touch hole spiked and relocated is a thing only found on actually very old barrels as it eemed to take a tremendous time span to wear out a touch hole to the extent that too much gas left. Apart from that, touch holes of ca. 1500 often were unusually large right from the start, as I have pointed out in former threads on my early barrels.

In any case I can add a few items from my collection to Rick's input on linstocks and especially igniting irons which were used to fire all kinds of firearms without mechanisms. I do not think though that the barrel with the smaller touch hole was meant for match ignition as match cord was at least 10 mm thick, and often even much thicker while the small pointed prick of an igniting iron could reach into a small touch hole. Unfortunately, this prick is now missing from the few suriving igniting irons.


Please see also

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ht=15th+barrels

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=linstocks

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=linstocks




Best,
Michl
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Old 5th June 2012, 02:15 PM   #4
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A few more close-ups of the serpent head of my igniting iron, mid-16th c.

The original igniting prick (ZŁndstachel) for entering the touch hole, which seems to have been an extension of the mouth (now flattened), is missing.

m
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Last edited by Matchlock : 6th June 2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 5th June 2012, 04:35 PM   #5
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Thank you for your input, Michl.
This time i would go for the mortar version, but maybe a bit earlier, like late XVIII century. What do you think?
Here they are again, after a good wash, some scrubbing with a brass brush and an oil soaking session.


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Old 5th June 2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
... I think I'm becoming interested in old things that go Bang !

I wouldn't be surprised; the similar they are to keris
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Old 5th June 2012, 04:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thank you for your input, Michl.
This time i would go for the mortar version, but maybe a bit earlier, like late XVIII century. What do you think?
Here they are again, after a good wash, some scrubbing with a brass brush and an oil soaking session.



I still can't tell for sure what exactly their use was. Remember that many 14th/15th c. 'handgonnes' were used as mortars for centuries after.

I liked them better in their original patina though.

m
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Old 5th June 2012, 06:52 PM   #8
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Default Original 16th to 17th c. matchcord

From my collection.

The first photo presents a length of characteristically thick Austrian matchcord, 15th or early 16th century, diameter ca. 1.7 cm; the other pieces and bundles of match with an average diameter of ca. 1.2 to 1.5 mm.

Attached at the bottom, in a detail of the representation of the Battle of Pavia, 1525, we see a length of matchcord carried wound around the arquebusier's left arm; as the cord is noticeably way too thick to fit the delicate jaws of match of the serpentine it was only used to light a small piece of tinder that actually ignited the arquebus.

m
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Old 5th June 2012, 08:31 PM   #9
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Fantastic, Michl !
Do they tend to desintegrate with time or they preserve themselves without much care ?
and ... do you usually see these materials out there ... like in auctions ?
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Old 5th June 2012, 09:05 PM   #10
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Well 'Nando,


Matchcord is natural hemp so it tends to disintegrate and definitely does lose a bit of material each time it is handled. Interesting enough, most of the substance is still there after such a long period of time.

I acquired two complete bundles (!) of early 17tth c. matchcord, each ca. 5 m long and formerly in the Emden armory, some 25 years ago privately.

Another bundle and various lengths turned up in international sales once in a blue moon, e.g. Christie's, Sept 20, 2007 (image attached), and the rest I got by pivate contacts. These rarest things are immensely expensive.

There is matchcord from nine different provenances in my collection.


Best,
Michl
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Old 5th June 2012, 11:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I wouldn't be surprised; the similar they are to keris


Somewhere in the Far East someone is working on this problem, 'Nando .
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Old 6th June 2012, 12:16 AM   #12
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Question Igniting Irons

Michael, is it that the Igniting Irons were kept red hot during actions ?
That being the case; no wonder ones with their original tips are rare .

The red-hot bulbous head of your serpent example would have stored more heat longer in the tip than the heavily eroded first example you show .
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Old 6th June 2012, 12:43 PM   #13
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Exactly, Rick,

That's what I noted earlier in a similar thread:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=linstocks

They were kept resting in a bowl filled with glowing coal to retain their red heat.

The bulbous, pear-shaped form on igniting irons which could hold the heat longer does not seem to have turned up before the 16th century (images attachted). But even those bulbous heads were equiped with tapering pricks (ZŁndstachel) for small touch holes which have also mostly fallen off, due to a permanent change of exposure to red heat and rust.


The photo with the big cannon was taken in the 15th c. armory of the Fortress Oberhaus in Passau, Lower Bavaria, where three of my finest hackbut barrels came from, one of them dated 1481, which makes it the earliest dated small firearm known:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=1481

The Passau hackbut barrels can be seen on the wall to the right of the cannon. The outside of the fortress walls is dated 1499.

The barrel of the cannon is dated 1726 and left to the piece two igniting irons can be seen on their long hafts, alongside with two scourers (Rohrwischer).


Best,
Michael
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Old 6th June 2012, 01:31 PM   #14
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Default The rarest original accouterment to find: matchcord or slow match

As to such rarissimae as matchcord:

The largest number of matchcord bundles ever deaccessioned from an armory was at Anderson Galleries in New York in 1927, when the complete 15th-17th c. contents of the Fortress of Hohenwerfen near Salzburg/Austria, the former armory of Prince Eugene, were sold at aution. Some of these were purchased by American museums like the Higgis Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts (images attached at bottom).

The Christie's bundle posted above (and reattached) was deaccessioned by the Higgins.

The Higgins comment that the relatively large diameter of that matchcord seems to denote use with linkstocks only can be denied on the grounds of some thirty original matchlock muskets from ca. 1656 -1720 in my collection: all of their serpentine jaws can be opened wide enough by the means of the wignut to receive (and clamp tight) any average matchcord.

As to my own thirty years of intense research, and as I mentioned above, only the earliest 15th to early-16th c. types of matchcord did not fit the very delicate serpentines of that period; therefore these arquebuses were lit by small pieces of smoldering tinder and should, as I have pointed out often before, be called tinderlocks instead of matchlocks. These pieces of tinder had to be lit before each shot with the thick slow match kept smoldering all the time.


The largest number of big bundles of early matchcord (22!) is housed in the famous Churburg Armory in South Tyrol, and in the armory of the Veste Coburg, Franconia (eight, photos attached). The eight Coburg bundles of snowwhite (all other samples are either yellowish or brownish!) slow match measure about 35-40 meters each.



The eperts of the leading auction houses in the world have attended my collection, and they all agree that the largest amount of matchcord in any private hands is assembled in mine.


Best,
Michael
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Old 6th June 2012, 02:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Michael, is it that the Igniting Irons were kept red hot during actions ?
That being the case; no wonder ones with their original tips are rare.


Hi Rick,

As I stated formerly in another thread, igniting irons had to be kept resting in a bowl with glowing coal on a fire all the time during action - and that right next to the cannon and the powder barrels!!!

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=linstocks

Attached please find the most exact period representation known to me, from Jean Mansel's illuminated Late-Gothic manuscript La fleur des histoires, France, 1453-63, Geneva Library, Ms fr. 64, fol 196r.

I posted these scans earlier; they also depict the earliest form of an igniting iron, sharply angled and still without the reinforced bulbous head and only featuring a long, thin prick; this type was first represented in Konrad Kyeser's 1405 manuscript Bellifortis (two attachments below), and the only known surviving sample is preserved in my collection, in excavated condition but retaining a portion of its original haft (the one on top in the last attachment).

Best,
Michael
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Old 7th June 2012, 03:37 PM   #16
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For a comprehensive treatise on matchcord used with guns and linstocks, please see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...0402#post140402


m
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Old 13th June 2012, 02:56 PM   #17
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Default Modern mortars !!!

How things change, with extreme velocity, reason of nowadays modern technology .
This is a firecracker (or fireworks) used multi "mortar" case , left in a garden after a religious celebration.
Wrought iron superceeded by cardbord .

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Old 13th June 2012, 04:53 PM   #18
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You Portuguese guys sure have all the luck - growing mortars in the garden!

m
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