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Old 10th September 2011, 10:54 PM   #1
rickystl
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Default 16th Century German Staghorn Powderflasks

Hello all. Here is a new item for my collection. It's complete and in working order. Any opinions to it's origin and data? It's made of staghorn with iron mounts. The metal parts have a thick dark patina. My thinking is early 18th or mid to late 17th Century? Maybe German? The patina is too thick to make out any identifying marks. I'm trying to decide if I should remove the top layer of the patina, leaving the original layer in tact. Should I do this? Thanks for looking. Rick.
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Old 11th September 2011, 08:49 AM   #2
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I would say don't touch it!!!! It is gorgeous!! Great find. Congrats!!
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Old 11th September 2011, 03:00 PM   #3
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Hi Rick

What a beauty! Congrats indeed!!

Best
Gene
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:08 PM   #4
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Hi Rick,

Fine piece indeed!

This sort of staghorn flasks was made from the 1530's to the 1580's in Nuremberg, Germany. The characteristic Nuremberg leafwork engraving identifies yours as truly Nuremberg made. It is datable to exactly 1570-75. There never are marks on these so please to not take anything off the authentic surface. Remember that originally, the iron mounts were not bright but blued or blackened in order to achieve a nice contrast to the white polished horn on the front; with authentic flasks, the rear is almost left in the original rough natural staghorn surface. Yours even retains its belt hook, so congratulations!

Most of this kind of staghorn flasks offered for sale nowadays - and even preserved in museums! - show later alterations to either the top vertical cutoff lever and its double arm spring plus removal of the belt hook, and/or the engraving is mere fantasy. It really takes a lot of stylistic experience to identify an original piece.

A small number of these flasks, usually the earliest of ca. 1540-50, were left in their original staghorn surface all over and were mostly meant for military use together with petronel matchlock arquebuses. We know an engraving by the Nuremberg artist Jost Amman of ca. 1560 showing that combination, with the staghorn flask attached to the belt of an arquebusier's back.

I include that engraving and an image of the five staghorn flasks in my collection, from left:
Nuremberg, military, original staghorn surface, ca. 1555, the iron showing remains of its original minium paint
The Tyrol or Bavaria, dated 1565 (from Christie's, 1990), with a rare ball reservoir
a very rare three-way flask, Nuremberg, ca. 1540, engaved in the late Gothic style
Nuremberg, identical pieces known dated 1572
Nuremberg, picturing a couple within Nuremberg leafwork, ca. 1580 (from Sotheby's, The Royal House of Hanover, 2005)
All of them retain their full mounts and belt hooks.

More details to follow.

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 11th September 2011 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:35 PM   #5
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Hi Rick,
It looks like this fascinating thing has two legs and is running over to my house .
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:45 PM   #6
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Hi 'Nando,

One of mine is even three-legged, so the choice is up to you!

Best,
Michl
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:48 PM   #7
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Two way and three way staghorn flasks, Nurembeg, ca. 1570 and ca. 1540 (the left, the lower center iron cap missing, as well as the two cord rings from the top mount).
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi 'Nando,

One of mine is even three-legged, so the choice is up to you!

Best,
Michl


The three legged one would run so fast that i (am afraid i) couldn't catch it when it passed by .
... Just joking; the left one in post #7 would do fine .
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Old 11th September 2011, 06:59 PM   #9
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Two unusally fine variants, the first South Tyrol, ca. 1550. On this sample, even the back of the staghorn body is polished bright, as is the case with my flask dated 1565. The second completely of embossed and gilt brass, Augsburg, ca. 1560, the right lower mount containing a ball reservoir, the belt hook missing from the back.
Both preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum London.

Best,
Michael
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Old 11th September 2011, 07:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Rick,
It looks like this fascinating thing has two legs and is running over to my house .

Hi Fernando!! I'm going to attach it to my belt so it can't move
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Old 11th September 2011, 08:43 PM   #11
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Hi Michael!! As usual, thank you so much for the outstanding information on this piece. WOW!! Even better than I expected. And, thanks for posting your wonderful collection and the additional photos, etc.
I won't touch the patina on mine. Don't know what I was thinking
Attached is a better photo of the head assembly. It's in perfect working order, with no parts missing.
Only one small problem: On the back of the belt hook was a very small pin that fit into a small hole in the staghorn to to keep the belt hook from moving back and fourth. Well, the pin broke off with the small piece still in the horn (see photo). It was this way when I bought it. I'm thinking of having the tiny piece of pin drilled out, and have a new pin soldered on where the old one was. The soldering won't show. I have the right guy that can do this, and I even have tiny pieces of iron pins that are 200+ years old that I can use. What do you think? Thanks again for your help. Rick.
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Old 11th September 2011, 09:27 PM   #12
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Hi Rick,

There was not a pin but a screw thread soldered to the underside of the belt hook or made out of an iron pin rivited there. Of the two holes in the horn, I guess the upper was the original one. Just take out the top mount transverse screw and take off the belt hook and you should find the remains of the thread.
At the same time please screw off the side cord rings, take off the top mount and look inside whether the horizontally moving cut-off plate is still riveted there. You should also find greenspan from the copper soldering processs.
Was there ever powder in your flask?

Please take good images of the inside and show us! The outcome would be highly interesting.

Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 11th September 2011 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 12th September 2011, 01:40 AM   #13
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Hi Michael. Will do. I'll take it apart this week and report back. Yes, it should be very interesting. Rick.
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Old 30th September 2011, 08:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Hi Michael. Will do. I'll take it apart this week and report back. Yes, it should be very interesting. Rick.

I just LOST the text to my message. I'll report back later. Meantime, here are some pics. Rick.
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Old 6th October 2011, 06:53 PM   #15
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Hi Rick,

The outcome rexactly responded to what I expected, even the horizontally acting oblong cut-off plate is still there - great original condition for 1570!

The black lacquer on the iron parts is hundreds of years old arsenal care; I would plead to preserve it all exactly the way it came down to you.

What I cannot see: Just put your finger into the flask to check whether there are remains of powder on the inner sides!

And: could you identify the remainder of the broken-off threaded pin on the inner side of the belt hook?


Best,
and congrats again,
Michael
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Old 7th October 2011, 03:58 PM   #16
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Hi Michael!! Glad you were able to see the photos of the flask dis-assembled. Some how when I posted this last set of photos I accidently deleted my text. Have no idea how I did it?
The flask has been re-assembled now. I even ran a pipe cleaner through it but could not find any powder. Darn However, there was a slight staining inside that did show evidence that powder was once there.
The tiny threaded piece that helped to secure the belt hook: There are actually two threaded pieces, one directly on top of the other, corresponding exactly with the two holes on the outside. A camera could not pick this up.
Both of the broken threaded pieces are old. Under magnafication I could just barely make out where the first pin was ground off (a long time ago) on the belt hook itself and another threaded piece was added (a long time ago) and subsequently broke again.
But, all the pieces are there and working!! It's great that both the measuring and shut off springs are not broke.
Earlier in my Post I mentioned that I was thinking of repairing the tiny pin - yet a third time in it's history. But, this would require drilling out one of the old threaded pieces and "soldering" a new piece on. That would be altering the piece to far. Therefore, I will keep it in it's current condition on display in my collection. Rick.
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Old 7th October 2011, 07:07 PM   #17
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Hi Rick,
Well done!

I attach a similar but somewhat earlier staghorn flask sold at auction by Stockholm's Auktionsverket im May this year. It is a bit variant in the style of both mounts and engraving and clearly represents the Far Northern taste. THe soldier depicted is engraved all'antica, in the antique Greek or Roman manner with his malchus sword and shield.
On the basis of the spout lid the spring of which is hammered out of the same piece of iron as the lid and just bent back, instead of made separately and then riveted to the grip, as in most of these flasks, I would date it to the 1540's.

Rick, when you authored this thread nobody could imagine what is was to be about. Would you consent if I asked Fernando to change its present title to '16th Century German Staghorn Powderflasks'? I would add more stuff then.

Best,
Michael
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Old 7th October 2011, 07:44 PM   #18
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Hi 'Nando,

Thanks for fulfilling my request so fast!

Best,
Michael
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Old 7th October 2011, 09:31 PM   #19
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Hi Michael!! Thanks for your reply and thanks for posting yet another wonderful looking flask!! Yes, I see the difference in the design of the valve spring. No problem changing the Title of this Post. Sounds better. Thanks for allowing this 'Nando.
At first, I was somewhat hesitant to dis-assemble the flask. But, inquiring minds wanted to know. By the way........are you not happy that I dis-assembled MY flask instead of one of YOURS? LOL
I wonder how long this paticular style of flask remained in vogue in Germany? Would you say about 1530-1600? I know staghorn flask were popular in Europe through the 1800's. But the similarities of these early examples here is interesting. There are probably no surviving examples with the same engraved design. Do you have a guess as to what/who the figure on my flask is supposed to represent? Thanks again for all your help. Rick.
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Old 7th October 2011, 11:04 PM   #20
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Hi Rick,

Believe me, I disassembled all my flasks and guns!!!

How else could I have known what to expect to find in yours?

Apart from the diverging engravings on Northern, Swiss and French staghorn flasks, most of the motifs on South German (Bavarian/Nuremberg) flasks are based on period artwork engravings by Renaissance masters as Virgil Solis and Jost Amman. They usually depicture a man and/or a woman in 1550's-60's costume, framed by Nuremberg foliate work or just decorated with that Nuremberg foliage without any figures.

In South Germany, dated examples are known from 1531/2 to 1572, so I would say that that form became obsolete in Germany by the 1580's. Swiss and French flasks, as well as Hungarian ones, are completely differrent and may habe been made as late as the 17th and 18th c. (the latter). Not to gorget forget all those 19th c. remakes and modern forgeries!

Best,
Michael
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Old 11th October 2011, 06:18 PM   #21
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Now this is a sample that was apparently made in relatively large numbers in some Nuremberg workshop. It shows a coat of arms with 4 quarters in black and white crowned by a crest, a tournament helmet, which has sometimes been attributed to the Hohenzollern Dynasty. I'm not certain, though.This same shield, framed by the famous Nuremberg leafwork (foliate), is known from a few of these samples bearing the date ANNO / 1572 in the white quarters - on this sample shortened to Ao = 1572 and three crosses and a crescent / half moon respectively in the white quarters. There are many identical items known left undated, including one piece in my collection (see image with a low of these flasks in my glass case above). Of course, they can all be contributed to Nuremberg and the early 1570's.

Please note the fine original condition, the mounts retaining much of their original blued finish.


Best,
Michael
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Old 12th October 2011, 08:57 PM   #22
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Hi Michael!! Once again, THANK YOU for your help.
WOW!!! That last one is in incredable condition!! As I view the pics I'm wiping the drool off my mouth. And the identification is so interesting. Unbelievable. Thanks for posting. Rick.
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Old 13th October 2011, 08:00 PM   #23
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This nice sample, also Nuremberg, ca. 1570-80, was sold Bonhams S.F. a few years agao.

Best,
Michael
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Old 15th October 2011, 07:20 PM   #24
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Another fine sample, Nuremberg, ca. 1570's, engraved with a couple in Renaissance costumes after scetches of the 1560's, esp. Jost Amman; preserved in the small Thuringinan museum Schloss Burgk and photographed by the author ca. ten years ago.

m
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Old 16th October 2011, 06:17 PM   #25
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This one, of the same 1570's Nuremberg type, and engraved with what is probably the Hohenzollern arms although the top crest is missing, was sold at Galerie Fischer, Lucerne.
The decsription mentions that the belt hook is missing.

m
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Old 16th October 2011, 06:30 PM   #26
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Two variants in the motifs of the engraving can be seen on these two ca. 1560-70 flasks. The first depicts a nude couple, the second a religious scene, the baptizing of Christ in Jordan River. Both are certainly not of Nuremberg origin. Sold at Czerrny's, Sarzana, Italy.

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Old 16th October 2011, 06:44 PM   #27
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Two relatively early samples, both sold at Galerie Koller, Zurich, a few years ago.

The first ca. 1540, probably depicting Hercules and the lion; the second ca. 1555, engraved with a votive motif of a Landsknecht pledging allegiance to Christ, which we often find on breast plates of the same period.
The third ca. 1580, engraved with a female figure holding a sword.

Probably none of them was made in Nuremberg.

m
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Old 16th October 2011, 07:12 PM   #28
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And one of the finest samples in existence, probably Augsburg, ca. 1550, the mounts blued and with gilt engravings, the obverse of the body carved in high relief with a Renaissance idyll, the belt hook missing from the reverse.

Offered at auction at Hampel, Munich, in 2008.

m
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Old 17th October 2011, 05:10 PM   #29
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Offered by Peter Finer in 2009:

- Nuremberg, ca. 1550, one of the lower iron mounts including a spring-loaded ball reservoir for approximately three balls (very rare).

- Nuremberg, 1570's, engraved with a motif well-known from what has been posted here.

Best,
Michael
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Old 17th October 2011, 06:23 PM   #30
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Rick,

In this zoom you can see that belt hooks were normally attached by a transverse screw thru the top mount and a threaded pin beneath screwed in the horn for stabilization.

Best,
Michael
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