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Old 26th April 2009, 08:14 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Extremely Rare 14th to 18th Century Igniting Irons and a 16th Century Linstock

This is another topic on a kind of important early gun accouterments almost never discussed.

Igniting irons were used to manually ignite all sorts of pieces of artillery, from the biggest cannon to haquebuts and even small handguns, even well after igniting mechanisms had come into general use. With all those little noise makers (Böller) employed in alpine regions they never actually seem to have vanished before ca. WW II.

We know from original sources of information that, when needed, their heads were kept red hot in a bowl filled with live coal and finally put down the touchhole.

It is true that the earliest igniting device documented together with the earliest known illustration of a gun in the famous de Milemete ms. at Christ Church, Oxford, dated 1326, is clearly a short stick with a split upper portion and a glowing piece of tinder jammed between the jaws which could be termed a sort of linstock (first attachments). However, we have no further records of linstocks for almost 200 years after.

The next two contemporary sources of illustration attached are from Konrad Kyeser's Bellifortis of 1405, both depicting a rectangular thin archetype of iron mounted on a short wooden haft. We may therefore assume that that was the usual type of 14th to early15th century igniting devices. The oldest known actual singular piece of identical type, although in excavated condition retaining a portion of its original haft, is in my collection (see attachments).

Hence forward, 15th century practical experience seems to have developped a reinforced pear like shape of the igniting head with a thin prick to it to reach down the touchhole; the larger mass of the iron was of course apt to keep the heat for longer. Due to the nature of their use - kept red hot for hours and hence calcined, then, after left rusting away for months, bearing the same procedure all over again and again - the actual touch prick of those igniting irons has in most cases gone of surviving examples.

Again, relying on illustrative sources, linstocks with jammed in glowing tinder or smoldering slow match do not seem to have seen wider use before ca. 1500 when they were depicted in the Maximilian arsenal books (Maximilianische Zeugbücher), ca. 1502-1507. Allthough match linstocks seem to have taken over for at least half a thousand centuries from now, we still know of some large samples of early 18th century heavy artillery accouterments retaining their original igniting irons mounted on long hafts and forming part of the equipment of their original carriages.

The singular short linstock, early to mid 16th c., with the two piece zoomorphic head retaining its original blackened haft together with its original tarred cord binding on the rearward grip plus a pointed iron shoe finial for ramming the piece into the ground on intermitted action, is also in my collection while most images of other igniting irons were gathered together from various sources.

Michael
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Old 26th April 2009, 08:22 PM   #2
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More igniting irons of uncertain dates, probably 15th to 18th centuries, some of them retaining their igniting pricks.
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Old 26th April 2009, 08:25 PM   #3
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Some more.
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Old 4th May 2009, 05:43 PM   #4
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Michael, this is yet another amazing example of the minutiae of medieval artillery and firearms that has seemed to entirely escape the notice of scholarly study. Although I admit to knowing extremely little on such topics, it is amazing that there is so much complacency toward such important detail, and thank goodness there are scholars with your tenacity at preserving such detail, which would otherwise be lost.

I would imagine that these items would be incredibly rare, as such everyday practical implements are rarely considered worthwhile components of the naturally more visible weapon itself. A cannon is hardly a disposable item, but the thing to light it with is as noted, seldom ever mentioned.

It seems interesting that in those times, the importance of igniting the powder in these arms was of course crucial, and while apparantly given considerable attention, in modern times only the effects and outcome of the action and events are of interest to most historians.

You have shown us in many cases of the accoutrements and accessories used in these times that often these implements, as well as the elements of the weapons, were given detailed designs and zoomorphic shapes, showing amazing attention to even the most mundane of devices.

This has provided a dimension to the study of antique weaponry seldom recognized in the standard literature, and to me adds an almost surreal perspective that makes it seem almost if I am actually standing there in period and viewing these weapons.

As always, a simple thank you seems insufficent! and I am always very grateful for your wonderful and personally guided tours into history.

You're the best !

Jim

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Old 4th May 2009, 08:16 PM   #5
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Actually, Jim, those plain iron igniting devices are not as rare in our alpine regions as one might think; they, just like the mostly short barrels to light with, seem to have seldom been disposed of. In Austria and Switzerland, many of those noisemakers are found to be employed as door stoppers in traditional rural houses even in the 21st century. As you noted, they, and even less their igniting sticks, are rarely ever paid notice to or mentioned, though - mostly for lack of knowledge, I am afraid.

Otherwise, as often before, your kind words scholarly spoken ex cathedra made me blush; thank you so much but I think that all of us owe you so much - and most of all our forum thankfully guided competently, eloquently and patiently by its creator.

With all my very best wishes,
Michael
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Old 7th May 2009, 02:22 PM   #6
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Another one retaining its igniting prick.

Michael
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Old 14th May 2009, 04:22 PM   #7
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From:

Flavius Vegetius Renatus: Vier Bücher der Rytterschafft (Four Books of Knighthood), Erfurt, Germany, 1511.

Note the V shaped cannon barrels!

Michael
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Old 14th May 2009, 05:03 PM   #8
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From the same book as before, 1511.

Michael
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Old 29th May 2009, 04:23 PM   #9
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A historic source of illustration of 1561, showing an artillery linstock quite similar to a piece in my collection.

Michael
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Old 5th June 2009, 07:18 PM   #10
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Ignition of a tripod mounted Doppelhaken (wall piece), early 16th century, using a match clamp.

Michael
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Old 7th June 2009, 02:24 PM   #11
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From Hermann Historica's April 2009 sale, Munich.
m
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Old 22nd September 2009, 04:30 PM   #12
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Default My latest acquisition

Hi there,

I am not dead, just been having some unpleasant times but I am back again with you now.

This is to present my latest acquisition, a gift from a friend of mine whom I was able to do a big favor:
an extremely rare Austrian igniting iron, ca. 1500/early 16th century, the zoomorphic head formed like that of a serpent and punched with scales, eyes, and a mouth. Originally the snout was a bit longer and probably ended pointed but that of course has rusted away in the course of the centuries and the many alternating heats the item was exposed to.

It is shown together with better images of my other three, the dates being from top:

- 14th century, the earliest known
- ca. 1500 to early 16th century
- 1st half 16th century, actually a linstock for match
- ca. 16th to 18th century

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 23rd September 2009 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 22nd September 2009, 07:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... I am not dead, just been having some unpleasant times but I am back again with you now....

.

.
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Old 22nd September 2009, 08:00 PM   #14
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Thanks so much, Fernando,

I knew you've been missing me!

Btw, where do you get those cool icons from?

Best,
Michael
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Old 22nd September 2009, 09:21 PM   #15
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Such vast resources here; it takes time to select the one find more indicated:

http://www.clicksmilies.com/


I love this one:




Fernando
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Old 23rd September 2009, 04:58 AM   #16
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Welcome back, Michael. It is good to see you posting again. Hope all is well...
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Old 23rd September 2009, 03:28 PM   #17
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Hi Mark,

Thanks a lot.

Not all's really well but all could really be worse. When you live alone many things seem much harder to bear and psychic depression often is just a heartbeat away.

Being back with you sure gives me strength though.

Fernando, I too love that fancy fencing icon! Thanks for the link.

Best,
Michael
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Old 23rd September 2009, 04:21 PM   #18
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Default Details of my serpent head igniting iron

Now ain't that a cute serpent's face?

Michael
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Old 25th September 2009, 01:16 AM   #19
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Wow! Now that looks positively ethnographic! Yes, I know it's not, but if you didn't know it wasn't Indopersian or Africanic, you might question it. I wonder why this particular igniting device is decorated so while others are so plain. Than again, I have also noticed this with linstocks...some are decorated or intricate designs, while others are strictly utilitarian. Still, its interesting to think about what the blacksmith who made yours might have been thinking about. Kinda like- 'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!"
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Old 25th September 2009, 02:43 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
...'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!"

Now, that's what call a brilliant approach .
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Old 25th September 2009, 06:07 PM   #21
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An Ethnic Item, indeed. Probably of the scottanic mountain tribes.

They are believed to have worshipped a long-necked, lake-dwelling entity named Nessi, a cult centered in the Ness region. The ceremonies involved rowing back and forth in a pirogue through the mentioned water body. This while loudly singing bawdy tunes, firing swivel guns, and imbibing large quantities of a fermented rye-based drink (aka Wees-Kee , old celtic-p language).

To do, to be. To be, to do. Doobie-doobie-do.


: )

M


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Wow! Now that looks positively ethnographic! Yes, I know it's not, but if you didn't know it wasn't Indopersian or Africanic, you might question it. I wonder why this particular igniting device is decorated so while others are so plain. Than again, I have also noticed this with linstocks...some are decorated or intricate designs, while others are strictly utilitarian. Still, its interesting to think about what the blacksmith who made yours might have been thinking about. Kinda like- 'Hmmm. I'm bored. Looking forward to going fishing this weekend. Sayyy...I wonder if I can make this thing look like a trout!"
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Old 1st April 2012, 06:00 PM   #22
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Default Earliest Igniting Irons

The smallest sample in my collection, posted formerly, the one with the fragmented haft, is the earliest known to have actually survived!
As I pointed out above, the dating criteria are based on its characteristic shape: very thin, delicate and fragile, and with almost rectangularly curved prick.

In addition to the only two related pieces of period artwork known hitherto I posted here, I found some more dating from ca. 1460, in an illuminated Gothic codex by Jean Mansel, La fleur des histoires, preserved in the Geneva library, Ms fr. 64. One of these fine and important miniatures contains the second earliest representation I have seen that is historicaly and technically correct enough to also depict the pan with live coal for heating the igniting iron!

As an aside, the fact is remarkable that 15th c. cannon carriages were vertically adjustable.

Please also note that the breech sections of 15th c. cannon were noticeably narrower than the actual bore receiving (and releasing!) the stone (!) ball.


Best,
Michael
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Old 1st April 2012, 06:04 PM   #23
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Another illumination from the same manuscript.

m
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Old 1st April 2012, 06:41 PM   #24
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Two more illuminations, from another French Gothic manuscript, Wilhelm von Tyrus, Kreuzzüge (Crusades), ca. 1465, Geneva Library, Ms fr. 85.

m
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Old 7th June 2012, 03:35 PM   #25
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Two early 18th c. igniting irons retaining their original long hafts, as part of a large piece of cannon: the bronze barrel and carriage mounts both dated 1726 - the barrel additionally cast with the Passau wolf which has become famous as the trade mark of the medieval Passau bladesmiths - ; together with two contemporary scourers (Rohrwischer); in the museum of the Fortress (Veste) Oberhaus in Passau/Lower Bavaria.
The outer walls of the huge fortress which was never conquered are dated 1499.

m
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Old 7th June 2012, 04:35 PM   #26
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For a comprehensive treatise on early matchcord used with guns and linstocks, please see

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


m
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Old 25th June 2012, 08:50 PM   #27
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Another very early depiction of an igniting iron;
from Johann Hartlieb's Kriegsbuch, 1411, Cod.vind. 3069, Austrian National Library Vienna, fol. 40r.

m
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Old 9th July 2012, 11:00 PM   #28
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Default Fine Linstocks Salvaged From the Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was sunk during the Battle of Spithead in 1545.

As Henry VIII ordered many items for his men from Northern Italy, especially the Brescia region, the zoomorphic, monster-shaped heads of the linstocks are consistent with the style of the Renaissance period.

The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth.


m
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Old 14th November 2012, 11:00 AM   #29
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P. Sixl has published in his article Entwicklung und Gebrauch der Handfeuerwafen in Zeitschrift für historische Waffenkunde vol 1.8, 1897, page 201 the image below showing a gonner firing a cannon with a hot iron (Loseisen) and holding soething like a pan (Glutpfanne?) in his left hand. The illustration is obviously redrawn after an original said to be from the manuscript Cod. 3069 of the Austrian National Library in Vienna from 1411 Online.
After checking each page of the codex I was not able to find the depicted drawing and I guess the cietated manuscript is not the correct one and the image must be from an other codex.

The image and its source is very interesting for me as I guess the pan in his left hand contains glowing charcoal for heating up the hot iron hook.

Has anybody an idea from which codex this image is originally?


Edit: "Online" Link changed to a working one.
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Old 14th November 2012, 03:43 PM   #30
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Hi Andi,
It sems as the online link seems 'out of order'.
Great image, that of the gonner; i would agree it certainly is charcoal in the pan.
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