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Old 24th September 2013, 08:03 PM   #1
dana_w
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Default What is the earliest contemporary description or illustration of a blunderbuss

I am looking for the earliest contemporary description or illustration of a blunderbuss like weapon in England. According to Merriam-Webster (AKA Britannica) the first known use of the term blunderbuss was in 1654.

The blunderbuss with its short barrel, large expanding bore, and flared bell shaped muzzle, is one of the most recognized antique weapons in the United States. It has long been associated with the Plymouth Colony founded by the English Separatists (Pilgrims) in 1620. Even though Pilgrims are often pictured with a blunderbuss, most researchers agree that it is highly unlikely that they had them. There are however many examples of early firearms with flared muzzles.

The earliest description I've found is said to be from Sir James Turner in 1670:

"The Carabineers carry their Carabines on Bandileers of leather about their neck, a far easier way than long ago, when they hung them at their saddles. Some instead of Carbines carry Blunderbusses, which are short Hand-guns of great bore, wherein they may put several Pistol or Carabine balls, or small slugs of iron. I do believe the word is corrupted, for I guess it is a German term, and should be Donnerbuchs, and that is Thundering Guns." (By Hand-gun, he is referring to an individual weapon, not a crew-served piece such as a cannon.)

Attached are some photos of the earliest blunderbuss I own. It was made in the late 17th or early 18th century. Brass barreled blunderbusses like this one, were usually made for naval use. Note the ring attached to the stock. Sailors often needed to tether their weapons so that they wouldn't lose them in high seas, when boarding, or when climbing. Note the dog lock style safety.

The barrel is by John Sibley, and the lock by Francis Smart. Both Sibley and Smart made weapons under contract to Ordnance (Royal Navy / Sea Service) as well as the Hudson's Bay Company and the Royal African Company.

I've posted a few more blunderbusses at my google plus site:
https://plus.google.com/113925773621267228721/posts
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Old 24th September 2013, 11:53 PM   #2
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Dear Dana:

According to D. R. Baxter, "Blunderbusses", in John Thurloe State Papers, Secretary of State of Oliver Cromwell, in 1654 haymención of trebuchets (blunderbusses, in the arms of the Royalist (Royalists) against the Protectorate. Miismo The year the "100 brass blunder bushes "" are included in the list of innventario of the Expedition to Spain (Hispaniola Expedition)

Sorry for the translator
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Old 24th September 2013, 11:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando K
Dear Dana:

According to D. R. Baxter, "Blunderbusses", in John Thurloe State Papers, Secretary of State of Oliver Cromwell, in 1654 haymención of trebuchets (blunderbusses, in the arms of the Royalist (Royalists) against the Protectorate. Miismo The year the "100 brass blunder bushes "" are included in the list of innventario of the Expedition to Spain (Hispaniola Expedition)

Sorry for the translator


That is a great lead. Thanks Fernando K!
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Old 25th September 2013, 03:46 AM   #4
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Dana, perhaps this may be of some help, keeping in mind, of course, terminology is a mine field. From Francis Markham in "Five Decades of Epistles of Warres", London, 1622, Bk. IV, p. 133 refers to the late invented Dragoones 'being not aboue sixteen inch Barrell, and full musquet bore'."

Dragon is a heavy-caliber carbine carried by dragoons, from which they are said to have derived their name, though the converse seems equally derived. Dragon seems to have gone out of use in favor of the term musketoon. So says Claude Blair et al of Pollard's History of Firearms.
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Old 25th September 2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miqueleter
Dana, perhaps this may be of some help, keeping in mind, of course, terminology is a mine field. From Francis Markham in "Five Decades of Epistles of Warres", London, 1622, Bk. IV, p. 133 refers to the late invented Dragoones 'being not aboue sixteen inch Barrell, and full musquet bore'."

Dragon is a heavy-caliber carbine carried by dragoons, from which they are said to have derived their name, though the converse seems equally derived. Dragon seems to have gone out of use in favor of the term musketoon. So says Claude Blair et al of Pollard's History of Firearms.


Hello Miqueleter. Thanks for adding your input. It seems to me that we have wandered together into the terminology mine field before. You probably notice how carefully I constructed the description “blunderbuss like weapon in England”.

I would love to have a definitive description of the distinct differences between a Dragon / Dragoon, Musketoon and Blunderbuss. Unfortunately most authoritative definitions are like this one from the Tower of London's William Reid. (Encyclopedia Of Firearms, Harold L. Peterson, Page 222, 1964)

MUSKETOON
A type of musket with a short, smoothbore barrel and large bore; by inference, a soldier armed with a musketoon. The term was loosely used, and no satisfactory definition is to be found in contemporary descriptions that range from "short bastard snaphaunce musquetts" (1688) to the shortest kind of blunderbuss (1772). W.R.
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Old 25th September 2013, 02:52 PM   #6
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A definition of blunderbuss in The Oxford Universal Dictionary Illustrated, first published 1933.

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Old 25th September 2013, 02:55 PM   #7
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Amazingly and although the flared muzzle is not (often) mentioned in english definitions, its translation to portuguese (and not only) implies (generaly) in a bell shape barrel mouth.
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Old 25th September 2013, 03:10 PM   #8
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Hello everyone

According to the same source (Baxter) Frontsperger Leonhardt, in 1566, in his "Von den Kaiserlichen Kriegsrechtem", talks about guns that shoot 12 to 15 bullets, cannon 1.1 / 2 foot, used by troops during assault .

Sorry for the translator

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Old 25th September 2013, 03:12 PM   #9
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Just for the fun, here is a portrait in a Brazilian satyrical magazine, showing a controversial religious figure, backed by a group of buffoons armed with old bacamartes (blunderbusses) trying to block the Republic ... end XIX century.

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Old 25th September 2013, 04:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando K
Dear Dana:

According to D. R. Baxter, "Blunderbusses", in John Thurloe State Papers, Secretary of State of Oliver Cromwell, in 1654 haymención of trebuchets (blunderbusses, in the arms of the Royalist (Royalists) against the Protectorate. Miismo The year the "100 brass blunder bushes "" are included in the list of innventario of the Expedition to Spain (Hispaniola Expedition)

Sorry for the translator


The 1654 quote provided by Fernando K, which comes from D. R. Baxter's "Blunderbusses" seems to be the one being referenced by Merriam-Webster, Britannica, and The Oxford Universal Dictionary. This quote is from a Feb 2010 article in Guns Magazine. The article also lists Baxter's book as a reference.

http://fmgpublications.ipaperus.com...NS0213/?page=26

In 1684, "An Account of Allowance of Ordnance to H.M. Shipps" documents that blunderbusses were issued to naval vessels based on the number of cannon on board. "Thus a ship of with 100 cannon was entitled to 10 blunderbusses."

I think Miqueleter was trying to points out that there (may well be / were) earlier almost identical weapons known by a different names.

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Old 26th September 2013, 02:33 PM   #11
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In a private message Miqueleter suggested that I check out Observations upon the History of Hand Firearms and their Appurtenances by Samuel Rush Meyrick Esq (1827). I've been able to locate a copy via Google Books.

The Dragon


The troops called Dragoons have been most absurdly said to have been so denominated from the Draconarii of the Romans They were raised about the year 1600 by the Mareschal de Brisac in order to be superior to the German Reiters who used the pistol to so much advantage On this account they had a more formidable weapon like a small blunderbus the muzzle of which being ornamented with the head of a dragon gave it its denomination and from this weapon those who used it were called dragoneers and dragoons Markham in his Souldier's Accidence printed in 1645 thus describes them The last sort of which our horse troops are composed are called Dragoons which are a kind of footmen on horsebacke and do now indeed succeed the light horsemen and are of singular use in all actions of warre their armes defensive are an open head piece with cheeks and a good buffe coat with deep skirts and for offensive amies they have a faire dragon fitted with an iron worke to be caryed in a belt of leather which is buckled over the right shoulder and under the left arme having a turnill of iron with a ring through which the piece runnes up and downe and these dragons are short pieces of sixteen inches in the barrel and full mus quet bore with fire locks by which he means wheel locks or snaphaunces also a belt with a flaske pryming box key and bullet bag and a good sword Grose who in his Military Antiquities has given a representation of a dragoon as he was equipped about ten years earlier erroneously infers that the weapon had its name from the troops Captain Cruso applies the designation dragoon to the lancier as well as the horseman who used a fire arm though this must have been an extension of the term confined to England In his Military Instructions for Cavalry published in 1632 he says There are two sorts of dragoons the pikeman and the musketeer The latter is to have a strap or bolt fastened to the stock of his musket almost from one end to the other by which being on horeback he hangeth it at his back his burning match and his bridle in his left hand The English appear from this in the first instance to have adopted the name and duty of the dragoon rather than his true equipments and compelled him to submit to the inconvenience of a match lock piece and the carrying of a burning match Sir James Turner seems to have formed his strange opinion from this fact his words being For what they got the denomination of dragoons is not so easy to be told but because in all languages they are called so we may suppose they may borrow their name from dragon because a musketeer on horseback with his burning match riding a gallop as many times he doth may something resemble that beast which naturalists call a fiery dragon This was the surmise of an English writer in the time of Charles the Second Pere Daniel who published his Mili9e Fran9aise in the time of Louis the Fifteenth imagines they were called dragons from the celerity of their motions and the rapidity with which they ravaged a country thereby resembling the fabulous monster of that denomination and a modern German writer gives this as the true origin of the name But a moment's reflection will show that it might equally as well have been applied to the mounted arque busiers and indeed a fortiori from their having been the first troops on horseback with fire arms A Manuscript in the Harleian library at the British Museum marked 6000 and entitled A brief Treatise of War &c by WT in the year of our redemption 1649 shows the equipments of dragoons at that period As for dragooniers they are to be as lightly armed as may be and therefore they are onlie to have as followeth calivers and powder flasks I would also have each dragoonier constantly to carrye at his girdle two swyn feathers or foot pallisades of four feet length and a half headed with sharp iron heads of six inches length and a sharp iron foot to stick into the ground for their defence whereas they may come to be forced to make resistance against horse This extract will account for the use of a larger species of fire arm than the dragon which had been their original weapon as it shows the necessity for it arose from the frequent use of dragoons when dismounted The dragon will be found among Skelton's engraved Illustrations.
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Old 26th September 2013, 08:58 PM   #12
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In 2011, the Colorado Gun Collectors Association published an article entitled Myths of the Blunderbuss, by Melvin Flanagan. The article was originally published in the American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin #96 September 2007.

In the article Mr. Flanagan takes on the assertion by noted weapons historian and author Harold L. Peterson, that the Pilgrims did not have blunderbusses, and that the blunderbuss' flared muzzle had very little effect on the dispersion of shot.

Mr. Flanagan also mentions a “matchlock blunderbuss, traditionally thought to have been used in battle on the Zuiderzee in 1573, probably dates c.1600 and is in the Westfries Museum at Hoorn, no. K 31. A patent was granted to a Fenrick Theilmans of Echten on October 26, 1598 for a type of gun called a "Donderbus" that could be used on both land and sea and could shoot a pound of shot approximately 500 paces.”

The Colorado Gun Collectors Association host copies of the article here:

Part1: http://www.cgca.com/Documents/2011May.pdf
Part2: http://www.cgca.com/Documents/2011June.pdf
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Old 26th September 2013, 09:27 PM   #13
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I have been looking for examples of carbine like weapons with dragon-head shaped muzzles (Dragons?). This is the first that I have found.

It was exhibited at the Utah Gun Collectors Association October 2001 Gun Show, and labeled "Matchlock Carbine circa 1490".

http://www.ugca.org/ugca1001/ugca1001main.htm
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Old 27th September 2013, 03:10 AM   #14
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Dana

Don't know much about muzzle dragons, but early English blunderbusses, maybe. This early blunderbuss is all I have been able to find so far. Earlier than this, one needs to look toward the Netherlands and Germany, I think.

The image is poor quality because the image in the book is poor quality. It is from the "The Blunderbuss 1500-1900" by James D. Forman

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 27th September 2013, 02:45 PM   #15
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Thanks Miqueleter! That may well turn out to be the “earliest contemporary description or illustration of a blunderbuss like weapon in England”. Is there any more information in the book about who made the blunderbuss, who owns it, or which museum it is in?

From the photo it looks like the blunderbuss has a doglock, so I did a few searches using the terms “blunderbuss”, “doglock” and “1650”. Here is what I found at Andrew Bottomley’s website. It was listed as sold.

A Very Rare early Flintlock Dog-Lock Blunderbuss with a brass barrel, manufactured by "TAYLOR" (probably Godfrey Taylor of London). Brass butt-plate, steel trigger guard, side nails and steel saddle bar. Godfrey Taylor worked in London Circa 1678-1701. Overall length 33 inches. The lock plate engraved with floral motifs and the name "Taylor". The heavy brass barrel struck at the breech with 3 proof marks, the first one is clearly "GT". Very good and completely "Untouched" condition. This is the first time that this item has been offered for sale since 1951. Ref 6901.
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:11 PM   #16
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Sorry, Dana, what you see image and caption-wise is all the info there is on the gun. No credits, citations, or end notes in the booklet. The lock does indeed have the back catch on the hammer "ala dog lock". However, there appears to be no steel (frizzen)spring-either missing or designed to be internal. Hard to tell. Where is Brian Godwin when you need him!
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miqueleter
Sorry, Dana, what you see image and caption-wise is all the info there is on the gun. No credits, citations, or end notes in the booklet. The lock does indeed have the back catch on the hammer "ala dog lock". However, there appears to be no steel (frizzen)spring-either missing or designed to be internal. Hard to tell. Where is Brian Godwin when you need him!


Sad, sad, but maybe someone here will recognize it.... someday.
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:26 PM   #18
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Dana et al

A quick look in my Dutch firearms books revealed a musket of circa 1640 having a flintlock with the frizzen spring located on the interior of the lock. So perhaps that is the case with this blunderbuss lock. Just sayin'
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miqueleter
Dana et al

A quick look in my Dutch firearms books revealed a musket of circa 1640 having a flintlock with the frizzen spring located on the interior of the lock. So perhaps that is the case with this blunderbuss lock. Just sayin'


We'll never know without a better photo.
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Old 5th October 2013, 12:24 PM   #20
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Hi Dana W,


The oldest illustrative source relating to blunderbusses is, in my opinion, a contemporary drawing of the murder of Thomas Thynne, London, 1681 (1st attachment) where the raiders employed such big-mouthed guns.

Real blunderbusses are known from as early as the 1560's-70's; the very few surving examples are of Dutch origin. Attached please find a scan of p. 181 from Arne Hoff's Dutch Firearms. The match serpentine, trigger and guard are all missing from the illustrated sample which can be closely dated to the 1570's, the fore end is a modern replacement, and so is the wood surrounding the barrel tang.

Attached next is a fine and completely preserved military matchlock blunderbuss, Dutch, the stock and lock ca. 1620 (early Thirty Years War), the barrel reused from an older gun and dating as early as ca. 1560-70; the pan and swiveling cover are working-time modernizations of ca. 1620, the toe and nose of the buttstock show old cracks but are both the original, just reattached. The stock with the wide-flared fishtail butt is of oak; the muzzle diameter of the very heavy wrought-iron barrel is 5 cm! The ramrod is iron, too, and is the original (author's collection).

Next in line are author's photos of the most impressive Dutch matchlock blunderbuss barrel I have ever seen, ca. 1560-70, the swiveling pan cover missing; the muzzle diameter is 8 cm!!! The barrel stages divided by filed moldings closely correspond to those on the barrel of my sampe.
I took the photos 20 years ago when that huge monster was sold at auction.



Best,
Michael
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Old 5th October 2013, 12:27 PM   #21
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And something funny:


Last not least I include some illustrations of how 20th and 21st century mankind has come to visualize the Pilgrim Fathers: equipped with a blunderbuss where matchlock and wheellock muskets would seem appropriate ...


m
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Old 5th October 2013, 12:44 PM   #22
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As to the dragon-mouthed barrel illustrated in post # 13, this 'gun' with the spurious date 1490 is a wellknown crude fake, with not one single part being old, let alone original. It is ridiculous to any arms historian!
It is not a blunderbuss, either ...

For genuine dragon- or sea-monster mouthed barrels - all of them are North Italian (Val Trompia), all consist of wrought iron and alll were made in the 1520's-30's - please see my threads

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=monster+barrel

- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=monster+barrel

If original, all those arquebus gun barrels are far from being blunderbusses; their caliber was those 14-16 mm that were characteristic of all short barrels of the first half to the mid of the 16th century.


More complete and rather plump forgeries from that very same source attached! BEWARE!!!


Best,
Michael
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Old 5th October 2013, 10:53 PM   #23
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Welcome back Michael, and thanks so much for your input. You are a valuable resource, and your presence has been sorely missed.
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Old 6th October 2013, 05:23 AM   #24
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Dana et al,

Now we will get answers. The matchless Matchlock is back. The Bavarian Connection was very much missed.
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Old 7th October 2013, 07:02 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi Dana W,

The oldest illustrative source relating to blunderbusses is, in my opinion, a contemporary drawing of the murder of Thomas Thynne, London, 1681 (1st attachment) where the raiders employed such big-mouthed guns.

Real blunderbusses are known from as early as the 1560's-70's; the very few surving examples are of Dutch origin. Attached please find a scan of p. 181 from Arne Hoff's Dutch Firearms. The match serpentine, trigger and guard are all missing from the illustrated sample which can be closely dated to the 1570's, the fore end is a modern replacement, and so is the wood surrounding the barrel tang.

Attached next is a fine and completely preserved military matchlock blunderbuss, Dutch, the stock and lock ca. 1620 (early Thirty Years War), the barrel reused from an older gun and dating as early as ca. 1560-70; the pan and swiveling cover are working-time modernizations of ca. 1620, the toe and nose of the buttstock show old cracks but are both the original, just reattached. The stock with the wide-flared fishtail butt is of oak; the muzzle diameter of the very heavy wrought-iron barrel is 5 cm! The ramrod is iron, too, and is the original (author's collection).

Next in line are author's photos of the most impressive Dutch matchlock blunderbuss barrel I have ever seen, ca. 1560-70, the swiveling pan cover missing; the muzzle diameter is 8 cm!!! The barrel stages divided by filed moldings closely correspond to those on the barrel of my sampe.
I took the photos 20 years ago when that huge monster was sold at auction.

Best,
Michael


I have been researching the information thoughtfully provided by Michael (aka Matchlock). It turns out the illustration of Thomas Thynne's 1681 / 1682 murder in Pall Mall is by James Basire I (1730-1802). Most sources that I have found date the illustration to about 1775. Thomas Thynne's tomb can be found in Westminster Cathedral south choir aisle. It also has a depiction of the murder, but I have been unable to find a good photo of the tomb or date its construction.

I have been reading about the matchlock blunderbuss on display at Westfries Museum at Hoorn, but the photo from Arne Hoff's Dutch Firearms is the first that I've seen. Wow! There seem to be some who question the 1570 date. see: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...26&postcount=12

Thanks again Michael for sharing the photos on the military matchlock blunderbuss in your own collection.

Attached image is from:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/f...e=gr&GRid=20770

Additional Info:
http://www.westminster-abbey.org/ou...e/thomas-thynne
http://hoydensandfirebrands.blogspo...-pall-mall.html
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Old 19th October 2013, 06:59 PM   #26
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In May of 2013 Glenn Beck’s studio Mercury One sponsored an exhibition entitled “Independence Through History”. Among the items on display was William Bradford’s Bible, which accompanied the Pilgrim leader across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower. The bible is from the collection of Brent Ashworth. It was displayed along with a Pilgrim’s Hat and a “Blunderbuss Gun”. The first photo below was taken by Jonathon M. Seidl of the Blaze ( http://www.theblaze.com/stories/201...on-museum-tour/ ). The second photo is from the local ABC news station ( http://www.4utah.com/story/sold-out..._tky8KfJrauwrDQ )


I have some serious doubts about the “Blunderbuss Gun”. It looks a lot like some 18th or even 19th century Blunderbusses that I have seen attributed to Turkey / North Africa and the tourist trade. What do you think?
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Old 21st October 2013, 10:59 AM   #27
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Maybe a banger ... but hardly a shooter
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Old 19th November 2013, 06:00 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dana_w
Welcome back Michael, and thanks so much for your input. You are a valuable resource, and your presence has been sorely missed.




Thanks a million, Dana,

It is with some horrible delay I cannot account for that I am allowed to respond!

Words like yours really demonstrate what I have been missing as much as my health: my forum friends!

Let's get it on, folks, the story never ends: boom chucka, boom chucka, boom chucka ...


Best,
Michael

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Old 19th November 2013, 06:06 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miqueleter
Dana et al,

Now we will get answers. The matchless Matchlock is back. The Bavarian Connection was very much missed.




Hi Miqueleter,

Matchless? Me???!!!! Man, I tell you I own about 15 meters of original matchcord , plus a lot of lengths which I have put into the serpentines of my guns! No kidding ...!
Nobody's gonna call me matchless unless he is up to mess around with that Bavarian connection!

Thanks a million anyway,
and best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 19th November 2013 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 19th November 2013, 07:50 PM   #30
Miqueleter
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Touché Michael! I should have remembered match cord. Doh!
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