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Old 27th February 2012, 02:10 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default A Very Rare Brunswick Iron-slag Cannon Ball Dated 1575

... and bearing the initials HJH in ligation, for Duke Julius of Brunswick (Heinrich Julius Herzog). Diameter ca. 10 cm.

Julius was much interested in artillery, firearms and fortification, and especially in wheellocks. Though they did not match leading period standards set by the ones produced in Nuremberg and Augsburg, either in design or in technical respect, they seem to have a standing of their own among a group of collectors on today's market.

Two more dated and initialed cannon balls are in my collection.

Just ended on ebay.

m
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Last edited by Matchlock : 27th February 2012 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 2nd June 2016, 04:43 PM   #2
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I am very pleased to have received one of these cannonballs. The date and monogram are well visible, much more in real than in pictures.
I wish Michael was here so that i could exchange with him a couple perspectives arising from this thread he started, as follows:
Assuming the person in the markings is indeed HEINRICH JULIUS (1564-1613), we would have that, at the date these cannon balls were cast, he was only eleven years old. Is this plausible ? I have tried to find any event on his life referring the date 1575 but, among many dates, this one doesn't appear.
I could also ask why the monogram is composed of three letters, as it could also be a pair of HH.
I also wonder why these balls were not cast for Heinrich's father, JULIUS (1528-1589) as his living period is more consonant with this ammunition date. Their titles are almost the same, but the father has no HEINRICH in his name.
Amazingly the German auction text only mentions JULIUS and, unfortunately, the translating engine is not exact on what touches some vital parts of it.
It is also interesting that Michael mentions that the ball is cast of iron-slag; in fact it weighs much less than an ordinary iron ball with the same diameter. Why were these balls made with iron-slag ? not certainly for economic reasons but, there must be a reason for that. Could it be that iron-slag is a better splinter when hitting the target ?
Anyone here willing to help me better understand this whole situation ?

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Old 2nd June 2016, 05:23 PM   #3
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As far as I know the "HJH" doesn't stand for Heinrich Julius Herzog, but for the firm, who made this balls in 1575. This was the "Herzog Julius Hütte". "Hütte" stands for smelting work or metallurgical plant, as says my dictionnary.
Why they made the balls from iron slag I have to check..............
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Old 2nd June 2016, 06:01 PM   #4
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Thank you so much Corrado; it makes a lot of sense.
I knew "Hütte" was a vital key term in the auction text. I have also read that Duke Julius (father) had a strong interest in mining, namely in the region of Harz, a word i could also read in the text.
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Old 3rd June 2016, 03:57 AM   #5
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And of course, you picked up two of them in order to give one to your bestest friend on this side of the pond!

Congrats, Fernando! Very nice edition to your collection!
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Old 3rd June 2016, 10:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
And of course, you picked up two of them in order to give one to your bestest friend on this side of the pond!

Congrats, Fernando! Very nice edition to your collection!


Ah, ah .
Thank you Mark.
In fact, it was a kind soul that spotted it and organized its acquisition.
Lucky me
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Old 3rd June 2016, 11:21 AM   #7
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Old 3rd June 2016, 12:30 PM   #8
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Old 3rd July 2016, 01:33 AM   #9
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I wonder about the slag part. The cannon in question were rifled so that impurities that changed the cross sectional weight distribution would not be "averaged out" during flight. That would lead to erratic flight.

I would think that the purest of pure material would have been sought after for producing these critters.

I have participated in cannon shoots at Camp Grayling in Michigan, USA where very serious guys shoot black powder cannon. My son was on a team for an 8" siege mortar, unrifled, naturally. The team had their ammo numbered and would load it according to a mark so that it was always loaded the same way. Presumably to account for any impurities. Based on that observation, it seems unlikely to me that slag was used. Is there any documentary evidence to support the use of slag for making projectiles?

Fernando, you could allow us to cut one of your specimens in half so we can be sure.

Picture shows the kid firing the mortar. Really amazing to experience that.
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Old 3rd July 2016, 07:19 AM   #10
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a very interesting link on cannon balls for those who are able to understand German

http://kanonen-kugeln.de/kanonenkug...C3%BCtz-kugeln/

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Old 3rd July 2016, 03:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
I wonder about the slag part ... it seems unlikely to me that slag was used. Is there any documentary evidence to support the use of slag for making projectiles?
Fernando, you could allow us to cut one of your specimens in half so we can be sure...

I only have one of these ... and am too zealous to keep it entire .
I am not keen on ballistic dynamics, neither i am a shooter (army time sufficed). But i take it that, in 1575 cannons were not rifled (were they ?) and erratic trajectories would be in the daily menu.
However nothing avoids that these ammunitions were only cast as a token to commemorate the opening of the Duke's foundries.
That the example in discussion (and others of the same lot) is slag, i would have now doubts; you don't need to judge it by its general atypical aspect, as its weight speaks for itself, being significantly lighter than iron: 2056 grams for an approximate 10 cms. diameter.
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Old 3rd July 2016, 05:25 PM   #12
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To Duke Julius the effectiveness of his cannon balls made of slag was well known. This slag of the cannon balls contained ca. 10% of heavy spar, 15 % of zinc and 10% sulphur. These ingredients avoided the natural healing process of wounds. The balls have been made with Diameters of 180, 94 and 74 mm and sold in great amounts to interested buyers.
Some years ago such balls in an amount of more than 1000 have been found during digging works.
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Old 3rd July 2016, 05:41 PM   #13
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Great input indeed, corrado .
That info eliminates a couple ambiguities.
I will then infer that my example was part of such lot ... and will refine its diameter to 94 m/m. .
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