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Old 6th June 2012, 02:50 PM   #1
Jean-Marc S.
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Default Origin and date of a powder flask (German ?)

Hello,

Please, would you know the date and origin of this powder flask ?
Is it German military, late 16th century ?

Thanks,

jm

NB: Questions for Super Michael
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Old 6th June 2012, 02:51 PM   #2
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length is 26 cm
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Old 6th June 2012, 04:29 PM   #3
Matchlock
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You called, Jean-Marc, and here I am!

Yes, this a fine and completely original sample of a 'military' type of bifurcated staghorn flask; dated samples of this type of early arquebusiers' flask are known from 1531 (the earliest by far, the body only preserved in the Bavarian Army Museum Ingolstadt, the top mount missing; see first attachment) until the end of the 16th c. The second oldest sample dated 1565 is in my collection, one of the bottom mounts containing a reservoir for three balls! Various engraved samples, all featuring characteristic Nuremberg-style foliage and a plain pseudo-coat of arms which sometimes has been incorrectly atrributed to the Hohenzollern family, are known to bear the date 1572. The extremely copious Hohenzollern armory collection in Schloss Sigmaringen does not contain one single flask of that type. An undated, bifurcated flask from that Nuremberg series is in my collection (the second from the right in the photo showing the row of five).

The only known period representation of that characteristic type of flask is by Jost Amman and can be dated to ca. 1560; depicted are arquebusiers with long matchlock petronels, the flask stuck in the belt on the back of one of the arquebusiers (attachments).

From all what my thirty years of research have proved, most of these flasks can be safely attributed to the period of ca. 1560-80; the plainer but much rarer samples are usually the earlier ones, of ca. 1540-50. Most of these earliesyt flasks were left unpolished retaining their original rough and natural staghorn surface; these include your piece and another one in my collection, the iron mounts of my sample still blackened and painted with red minium (Mennige): the one on the left in the photo of five, displaying the obverse with the belt hook. Most existing specimens of bifurcated staghorn flasks show a polished and engraved or carved obverse side.

There are many specimens of this type of flask around, including a horribly large number of both complete and part fakes; the most common type of part fakes comprises flasks that were originally unpolished ike yours and have been 'embellished' by polishing, carving or engraving 'in the style' of the 16th c. in later centuries, mostly the 19th and 20th c. It often takes a tremendous amount of stylistic experience to tell them apart, and many of them have found access even to renowned museum collections.

Therefore the most important point as alyways in collecting is to acquire a sample in unaltered original condition. Even most pieces that have not been 'beautified' are nowadays missing their belt hooks and/or horizontal spring-loaded cut-off at the base plate of the top mount.

So congratulations, Jean-Marc: your sample is one of comparatively few surving in completely original and unaltered condition, retaining its belt hook, the mechanics of the top mount complete with their horizontally acting powder cut-off, even though the iron mounts seem to have lost their original blackened finish. I can make out the original copper-soldering on the top mount denoting the way it was wrought. Sadly most survinig flasks feature heavily cleaned mounts polished bright which were originally blued or blackened.


Attached at bottom is another fine sample from my collection, an extremely rare and early trifurcated flask, the belt hook and mounts of which come very close in style to your specimen. That flask, on the grounds of the Late-Gothic style of its engraving of the Annunciation on the obverse, can be dated to ca. 1540; the reverse with the belt hook is left in its natural surface. It is preserved in excellent overall condition, with the engraving still very crisp and retaining its deep blackening.


Please also see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...n+powder+flasks


P.S. As you may have noticed two attachments of black and white period artwork by Jost Amman do not show up on the site although they are attached corrrectly and in fitting size. I have encountered this phenomenon several times before, always with b/w images. Sorry. They can be opened though by clicking and selecting a program from your computer.


Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 7th June 2012 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 6th June 2012, 04:42 PM   #4
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Thanks so much Super Michael !
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