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Old 14th March 2014, 06:50 PM   #1
Marcus den toom
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Default English civil war lead powder cap

Most of us probably have seen the wooden powder flasks hanging from a belt (a bandolier). These powder flask contained an exact amount of black powder for one single shot.
I came across this item, a lead powder cap for such a wooden powder flask. It had originally 2 rings as did the powder flask a cord was knotted to these two parts so to prevent them from beeing seperated.

This example was found at a digging site at Newark, England. It dates most likely to the English civil war and is in quit a good condition, considering the structural integrity of lead.
Lead was, due to the Derbyshire lead mines, a common ore in England and was used for all sorts of things, like lead glazed windows, during and after the 17th century.
Maybe because of this excessive amount of lead, it was also used as a powder flask end cap, instead of the more common wooden plug?

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Old 14th March 2014, 08:12 PM   #2
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I think I remember reading somewhere that wood caps were prone to jamming because of swelling in damp conditions , hence lead or pewter caps were a preferred alternative.
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Old 14th March 2014, 08:21 PM   #3
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Hi Raf,

I think you have a good point right there, especially when you think about the weather conditions in England.
As far as i can grasp, the lead end caps are mostly found in England. Other countries more to the south are generally less damp thus a wooden plug might work better.
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Old 15th March 2014, 10:14 AM   #4
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Hi Marcus and Raf,


Here is another British instance of a leaden cap for a powder measure from a bandelier, and one of the powder measures on one of my perfectly preserved bandeliers from the Emden armory is completely made of lead, not just the cap, and all covered with black leather; the other measures are all made of wood.

I guess I should also point out once more what I wrote on bandeliers in my thread, post #8:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...%27s+bandoliers
The earliest powder measures for arquebusier's bandeliers in the 15th c., according to sources of period artwork like the Bavarian Landshuter Zeughausinventar (armory inventory) of 1485 where they are called 'hultzein ladung' (wooden load container), consisted of drilled wood shaped in a lathe. By the early-16th c., the measures for each load on arquebusier's bandeliers were mostly made of tinned iron, as the tapestries with scenes from the Battle of Pavia, 1525, depict.


Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 15th March 2014 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 15th March 2014, 11:01 AM   #5
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Some close-ups of the - highly fragile! - tinned-iron powder measures on my early-16th c. bandelier, and some unique late-15th c. brass caps from such measures, figured, embossed and pierced with Late Gothic tracery and lettering in Gothic minuscules; the script on one samplle seems to read 'maria'. They are all from my collection!

For details on early-16th c. bandeliers, please see also

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=bandeliers

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=bandoliers

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=bandoliers

and

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=bandoliers


At bottom, two details from Melchior Feselen's painting The Battle of Alesia, dated 1533, depicting arquebusiers wearing bandeliers with small metal powder containers/measures.


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Last edited by Matchlock : 15th March 2014 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 15th March 2014, 11:38 AM   #6
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Truly amazing pictures, Michael! I love the details, which I have been able to get a view of so far. Some of these are in your collection you say? Wow!
Can you tell perhaps how the leather is attached to the apostles? Glued or sewn on or a combination of both?
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Old 15th March 2014, 11:53 AM   #7
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Hi Martin,


I'm glad you like my pieces as all these bandeliers, bundles of matchcord and caps for Gothic powder measures are in my collection.
Marcus will remember seeing most of them when attending me. I'm not sure though whether he noticed the small Gothic brass caps in one of my glass cases. They range among the greatest rarities of historic weaponry.

The leather was scratched down to an extremely thin layer, watered and wrapped tightly around these powder measures/'apostles'/powder flasks; no glue was needed. It can be easily scratched off nowadays, which makes these items so fragile!


Best,
Michael
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Old 15th March 2014, 12:33 PM   #8
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Visiting your collection was the most educational experience i ever had, but due to our time limit we didn't get to the gothic brass caps . I am sure you could tell a story about every item of more than an hour each, but i didn't have a sleeping bag so we will save that for next time (i hope )

Why was the complete powder measurer made out of lead on your bandelier from the Emden armory? It would seem to me that they are haevier and more fragile than the wooden ones? Only the weather factor is of less importance on these lead powder measures. The powder inside such a lead measurer would, i think, be less prone to humidity and thus be more effective when shot?
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Old 24th March 2014, 02:48 PM   #9
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As so many specimens are dug up in Great Britain we may safely suppose that in the Cromwellian Age, the caps of wooden powder holders on English musketeers bandeliers were often made of lead, certainly due to the moist weather on the island.
The term 'powder cap' used in some desriptions on the site linked here is not quite correct of course; actually they are not caps for powder but for powder holders or measures.

http://finds.org.uk/database/search.../objecttype/cap

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Last edited by Matchlock : 24th March 2014 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 1st April 2014, 06:04 PM   #10
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Thank you Michael,

I recieved the lead end cap today and made better pictures of this common gold
This neat little thing smells like sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride), anyone knows why this might be? I read on the internet that ammonium chloride was used to clean metals for tin coating...






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Old 1st April 2014, 07:20 PM   #11
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I guess Michael will not react for a while. He is off to the orthopedic clinic .
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