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Old 5th February 2012, 12:01 PM   #1
ericlaude
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Default Crossbow.

Hello everybody,
Could someone tell me how old is this crossbow and what is its origin.
Thank you in advance
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Old 5th February 2012, 01:06 PM   #2
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Interesting machine you got there.
Certainly old but not ancient, i guess ... within my ignorance .
Let's hear what the experts say about it.
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Old 5th February 2012, 01:17 PM   #3
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It is not something that I have seen before. IF genuine, I'd guess it is some kind of crossbow trap because of the metal string.
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Old 5th February 2012, 01:28 PM   #4
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The goats foot cocking lever should just be applied for loading of course. The form appears to be one for conventional firing (carried no mounted on something), but the extended slot for the bolt is a new one on me, as is the sectioned steel bar for a string.
As to the age, these can be deceptively modern despite the archaic form. Take out one of the flat countersunk screws on the bolt holder and look at the thread. That'll give a good idea of age.
Sort of reminds me of the second one I posted in this thread:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=crossbow
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Old 5th February 2012, 01:30 PM   #5
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Old 6th February 2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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I have a nearly identical crossbow, and have spent a lot of time researching it, including buying all the books I can find, and contacting the Royal Armoury at Leeds. They do not have a similar one in their collection. The Last two sales of similar crossbows were Del Mar Ltd in December 2011, and Sotheby's Billingshurst in 1998. The 2011 Del Mar catalog listing copied the Sotheby's listing. It said it was 17th century, probably used for firing incendiaries. Royal Armouries looked at some photos of my crossbow and concluded that it is 18th or 19th century, used for trap or incendiaries. I believe both assumptions are based on trying to explain the "steel bowstring". I believe that both explanations from the "experts" are wrong. I believe that the steel bowstring was used because of the enormous strength required to bend this very thick steel bow. Normal bowstrings couldn't handle the task. Mine has an inscription and appears to be dated 1335. Does your have a mark or inscription? I have a ton of info and many photos. I have never participated in a forum before, and don't know how much info to post, or how many photos to attach. I tried to attach a photo but it is too large. I will reduce it and include it in a separate posting. Jim MacDougald
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Old 6th February 2012, 02:43 PM   #7
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Attached is photo of "steel bowstring" crossbow that I was unable to attach to previous post. Jim MacDougald
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Old 6th February 2012, 05:16 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forum, Jim
As you can see, your photo could have been at least three times as large. Maybe the problem was not its dimensions but the file size (1 MB limit).
Actually you can post pictures up to 1280X1280 pixels, although 1024 seem to be more adjusted to the screens.
The picture you posted was 320X240. Quite a pity, as your crossbow became so less visible.
... and feel free to post as much info as you have available
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Old 6th February 2012, 11:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim MacDougald
...have spent a lot of time researching it, including buying all the books I can find....
.... I believe that both explanations from the "experts" are wrong. I believe that the steel bowstring was used because of the enormous strength required to bend this very thick steel bow. Normal bowstrings couldn't handle the task....
....Jim MacDougald


Welcome Jim.
Crossbows is out of my league, but did you check the book : "Crossbows in the Netherlands Army Museum".

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 7th February 2012, 02:37 PM   #10
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Arrow

Hello Jim,
Can you show the photos of the mark on your crossbow?
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Old 7th February 2012, 02:39 PM   #11
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Thanks! I'm attaching a hand-drawn replication of the inscription on my crossbow. The folks at the Royal Armouries (RA) believe that the date probably is 1835, not 1335, which is possible because the inscription is hard to read. But it is done in a medieval style, with colons separating entries. It just doesn't LOOK like a 19th century inscription to me. But RA is convinced that this crossbow was designed either for firing incendiaries or as a "trap" bow, most likely because it is a logical explanation of the need for a steel bowstring. A steel bowstring would be fireproof (a good thing when using incendiaries!), and a steel-stringed trap bow would be weatherproof. But I can find no evidence of purpose-built "incendiary firing crossbows" in the 18th or 19th centuries, or any other century, for that matter. Nor can I find an example of a "trap" crossbow with a steel string, especially one that was built in the 18th or 19th centuries using 15th century design. The trigger mechanism on my crossbow is extremely primitive, and not at all similar to crossbows in use for sporting purposes in the 18th and 19th centuries. I have the book from the Royal Netherlands Army Museum, but it has no similar crossbow. I contacted them, and the crossbow expert has left their museum. I also have the 1903 seminal work on crossbows by Payne-Gallwey. While it has a lot of interesting information, it does not address the "steel string" type. I am convinced that the reason this bow has a "steel bowstring" is because the extremely heavy and barely flexible bow could not have been drawn back with traditional bowstring. The bowstring would have broken or stretched. I have "cocked" this bow, and it stores enormous kinetic force. Thanks for any input you may be able to provide. Jim (Whoops! Tried to attach photo, but it is, again, too large. Will try to remake it and attach to next post)
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Old 7th February 2012, 02:59 PM   #12
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I'm stumped! I use IPhoto. I have a ton of pictures, but I cannot figure out how to make them fall within your posting limitations. There does not appear to be a tool in the IPhoto software to do this.
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Old 7th February 2012, 05:59 PM   #13
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Hi Jim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim MacDougald
I'm stumped! I use IPhoto. I have a ton of pictures, but I cannot figure out how to make them fall within your posting limitations. There does not appear to be a tool in the IPhoto software to do this.

You may send your pictures to me; we will then try and fix things.
fernando@vickingsword.com
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Old 7th February 2012, 06:10 PM   #14
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Hi Jim,
Re your problem using IPhoto. Double click on the photo you wish to use, go to FILE and choose EXPORT. Go to SIZE and choose CUSTOM. I usually set 750 as my max dimension as I tend to shoot in 2560x1920 and at 750 it reduces the file size to a postable level. Choose the DESKTOP as your export destination as when you CHOOSE FILE in the Vikingsword MANAGE ATTACHMENTS it is easy to find the right photo quickly rather than search through your albums. I hope this is helpful. If you need any more help please ask either here or in a P.M.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. You can then drag the image from the desktop into the trash and get rid of it from your desktop in the normal manner but still have your original image unaltered in IPhoto.
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Old 8th February 2012, 12:34 AM   #15
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This is a very interesting piece never seen one like this. I went though a few of my books but could not find one with the extended slot for the bolt.
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Old 8th February 2012, 11:07 AM   #16
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This is a 19th c. trap crossbow indeed.

Best,
Michael
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Old 8th February 2012, 11:29 AM   #17
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what is a 'trap' crossbow? what does it shoot? doesn't look particularly well adapted to launching clay pigeons...
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Old 8th February 2012, 12:04 PM   #18
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Hi Kronck,

I was waiting to see that insinuation to modern trap shooting using shotguns. Actually today's trap shooting has nothing to do with its muzzleloading predecessors.

In the days of old, trap guns (and much more seldomly trap crossbows) were in use since at least the development of the wheellock in the 16th c. They were installed in the woods as well as at fortified places, cocked and primed and ready to fire in order to harm either animals or people releasing their mechanism by chance. The German terms are Legebüchse (trap gun) and Legearmbrust (trap crossbow) respectively.

Best,
Michael

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Old 9th February 2012, 02:02 PM   #19
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Thanks, Norman, for your help with IPhoto. I have resized the photos and am attaching one of the crossbow, one of the inscription, and a hand-drawn replica of the inscription, because the photo isn't the same as looking at it under a magnifying glass. When looking at the photo of the inscription, you will notice the battered look of the construction of the surface on which the inscription was placed. Pretty primitive! I can send more photos if anyone is interested, showing more detail The wood is very "wormy", and the construction of the trigger mechanism and the "nut" that hold the steel bowstring are identical to traditional crossbows from the 15th century, as is the "Goat's Foot" lever. In addition, the inscription has elements that are separated by colons, a tradition in the 14th and 15th centuries. Why would a 19th century trap crossbow be so crudely built, and containing 14th century mechanisms rather than the much better trigger mechanisms designed in the 1600's? "Matchlock"..., thanks for your comment. Have you seen others like this? Do you know where they can be found? Are there any in any books or museums that you know of? When I first contacted Royal Armouries, they told me they had never seen one like this before. Many thanks for you help.
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Old 9th February 2012, 04:31 PM   #20
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Hi Jim,

No cyphers in Arabic script are known to have been used in Europe before the early 1400's, so please forget about the theory that it might be that old.

If you are interested in the shape and form of 15th c. Gothic crossbows, please see my thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7516

You will at once see the differences.

And: I cannot remember seeing any other trap crossbows at the moment, they seem to be quite rare indeed.

Best,
Michael
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Old 9th February 2012, 05:24 PM   #21
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I have once seen one with a screw clamping mechanism, all made of iron, also the stock.

I'm not sure if this is a trap crossbow trap, because these two crossbows seem to be very unstable if you place them down in postition, also the trigger mechanism is not as you would expect from a trap crossbow.
where is the eye to tie the trigger-rope to?


I think it's a crossbow that can shoot heavier arrow-projectiles away, 18thC or 19thC not earlier.

this theory unfortunately I can not substantiate with literature.

best,
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Old 9th February 2012, 05:49 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... I think it's a crossbow that can shoot heavier arrow-projectiles away ...

Reason why it is provided with a "muzzle" extension?

.
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Old 9th February 2012, 06:10 PM   #23
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Thank you, Matchlock. I need to send some detailed photos of my crossbow so that you can see how similar it is to the ones you referred me to. Photos will follow in a later post with some more explanation.
I'm really confused about the date on the trigger. While 1335 seems too early, 1835 seems way too late. The second number on the crossbow is definitely either a "3" or an "8". I have found no examples of inscriptions from the 1800's with entries separated by colons ,:, but I have seen them in 14th and 15th century examples. Also, I have not found other 19th century crossbows constructed in such a primitive way. The crossbow that launched this thread clearly has some machined, countersunk screws on it. It looks almost modern, and LOOKS like an 1800's or later weapon. Mine looks much older, especially the "wormed" wood. Mine doesn't have any machined screws in/on it, either.
Re: Arabic numerals in Europe. (This comes from on-line Wikipedia): "The first mentions of the numerals in the West are found in the Codex Vigilanus of 976. From the 980s, Gerbert of Aurillac (later, Pope Sylvester II) used his position to spread knowledge of the numerals in Europe. Gerbert studied in Barcelona in his youth. He was known to have requested mathematical treatises concerning the astrolabe from Lupitus of Barcelona after he had returned to France. Fibonacci, a mathematician born in the Republic of Pisa who had studied in Bejaia (Bougie), Algeria, promoted the Indian numeral system in Europe with his book Liber Abaci, which was written in 1202".
In spite of the above, I agree that it would be unlikely (but not impossible) that a European crossbow-maker would use Arabic numbers, as I agree that Arabic numbers weren't widespread in Europe until the 15th century.
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Old 9th February 2012, 06:52 PM   #24
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to support longer and (top) heavier arrows.
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Old 10th February 2012, 10:59 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim MacDougald
Thank you, Matchlock. I need to send some detailed photos of my crossbow so that you can see how similar it is to the ones you referred me to. Photos will follow in a later post with some more explanation.
I'm really confused about the date on the trigger. While 1335 seems too early, 1835 seems way too late. The second number on the crossbow is definitely either a "3" or an "8". I have found no examples of inscriptions from the 1800's with entries separated by colons ,:, but I have seen them in 14th and 15th century examples. Also, I have not found other 19th century crossbows constructed in such a primitive way. The crossbow that launched this thread clearly has some machined, countersunk screws on it. It looks almost modern, and LOOKS like an 1800's or later weapon. Mine looks much older, especially the "wormed" wood. Mine doesn't have any machined screws in/on it, either.
Re: Arabic numerals in Europe. (This comes from on-line Wikipedia): "The first mentions of the numerals in the West are found in the Codex Vigilanus of 976. From the 980s, Gerbert of Aurillac (later, Pope Sylvester II) used his position to spread knowledge of the numerals in Europe. Gerbert studied in Barcelona in his youth. He was known to have requested mathematical treatises concerning the astrolabe from Lupitus of Barcelona after he had returned to France. Fibonacci, a mathematician born in the Republic of Pisa who had studied in Bejaia (Bougie), Algeria, promoted the Indian numeral system in Europe with his book Liber Abaci, which was written in 1202".
In spite of the above, I agree that it would be unlikely (but not impossible) that a European crossbow-maker would use Arabic numbers, as I agree that Arabic numbers weren't widespread in Europe until the 15th century.



Jim, I can but speak from my over 30 years of study in Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance works of art, mainly arms and armor, with special emphasis on original dates and the shape of their numerals in consistency with the appearance of the respective dated object.
My archive on 15th/16th c. original dates alone comprises almost 100 mb. Believe me, none of either the cyphers or the letters on your crossbow is of a form any earlier than the 18th c.

For comparison, I attach images of the earliest known Northern European date I know of, 1407, from the groundbreaking plate of the Holy Spirit Church in Landshut, Bavaria, not far from where I live. Even though this is from the early 15th c., Roman (m) and Arabic (407, mind the High Gothic form of the cyphers!!!) numerals are still combined - and just compare this genuine Gothic Latin script to the letters on your crossbow!
And please note that the words are not separated by colons but by centrally placed square periods.

Apart from that, I have never seen such a thing as a date on trigger. Dates generally appear on more prominent parts of an item.

I do have a completely different idea though and will do some more research before posting it.

Best,
Michael
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Old 10th February 2012, 12:09 PM   #26
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Ok, I announced it and here it is.

There are a few North Italian all-steel crossbows known retaining their original all-steel quarrels (crossbow bolts), some of these crossbows fitted with a rounded pistol-grip butt like yours, and a few others with a two- or three-link chain instead of the usual string. While the one attached, dated 1562 and signed by the maker Opera de Renaldo de Visin da Asolo (preserved in the collection of the Ducal Palace in Venice, is 66.3 cm long, various similar are much smaller and are nowadays believed to have been built especially for carrying secretly and in order to use for assassinations.

A period of origin of the first half to the mid 16th c. seems to be common to all members of this very special group of North Italian crossbows. The shape of the rear sight on the attached crossbow is identical to rear sights found on contemporary matchlock and wheellock muskets.

Any thoughts?

Best,
Michael
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Old 10th February 2012, 01:24 PM   #27
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Hi there,

I tried some photoshopping on Ericlaude's images; though the colors are not correct, more details have become visible, I hope.
Telling from the both general shape and construction and the bolts/screws or rivets used, I should not date it before the 19th c. Thus this might be one of the numerous Historismus (Victorian) copies, including that certain amount of both style mingling and fantasy characteristic of that period), of Renaissance originals like the one in Venice.

As the iron surfaces clearly show significant differences in rust and pitting I assume that some older and not belonging parts were associated.

Best,
Michael
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Old 11th February 2012, 10:49 AM   #28
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Please refer also to my thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...sbow+collection

Best,
Michael
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Old 15th February 2012, 03:20 PM   #29
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Hi Michael,
You are a goldmine of information. Thank you! In the group of photos you posted, the first photo is of my crossbow, and the rest are of Eric Claude's (Where did he go???? He started this whole thing with the photos of his crossbow.) I am endeavoring to take and re-size some photos showing more detail than my earlier photos. A striking difference between mine and Eric Claude's is that his looks much more "machined", especially the countersunk screws. Mine appears much more primitive. My photo was "photoshopped" by me to be clearer, and in doing so, I changed the exposure and thus the color of the wood from very dark to very light. Next batch will have truer coloration and some better construction detail and evidence of significant worming. Is worming common in wood that is only 200 years old? Also, when researching "knights in armor" I keep seeing reference to the fact that mounted, armored knights were 'killed off" by the crossbow in the 15th century. I had thought that a steel-stringed crossbow, with HEAVY and nearly unbendable steel bow, and a Goat's Foot lever to cock it, would be the only weapon capable of harnessing the kinetic energy necessary to pierce armor. I have cocked this one and it appears to produce an enormous force when the trigger is pulled. (I did that without a bolt in it, obviously). That's why I thought this crossbow was a 14th century "Knight-killer"). In Payne-Gallwey's book, he stated that steel bows created problems because they required Goat's Foot levers to cock, and that these levers caused the bowstring to stretch. He couldn't figure out how to make it work...and he never mentions steel bowstrings. I don't think he knew there was such a thing. Odd, since he published the book in 1903, and should have known of bows such as mine and Eric Claude's. The great mystery to me is that Sotheby's described a nearly-identical bow in 1998 as "17th century, used for firing incendiaries", and this description was copied by Del Mar when they sold a similar one in December 2011. And, when i contacted the Royal Armouries in Leeds, they said they had never seen one like it, but thought it "no older than 18th century, probably used for incendiaries or trap". It would appear the RA and you, Michael, are in agreement. It is good to get this resolved, as neither of the recognized "experts" (Sotheby's, Del Mar) appears to have been right. Pics to follow. Jim
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Old 25th February 2012, 06:48 PM   #30
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A detail of the iron chain-link 'bow string' of what I call another 19th c. trap crossbow.

Best,
Michael
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