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Old 26th May 2014, 04:31 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default 16th and 17th Century Ramrods and Their Tools - Worms and Scourers

Hi everybody,


Early wooden ramrods, especially those of 'military' guns, were generally fitted with one or two threaded iron finials (German: eiserner Setzerkopf mit Innengewinde). As these finials were made of rolled up sheetiron, they mostly show traces of copper or brass welding over their entire length. They were geared up like that to receive small tools for cleaning the barrel, like a scourer, or to extract a ball with the help of a worm.
Such iron finials on wooden ramrods were in use for at least 500 years, and right up to the late 19th century.

Please see attachments depicting wooden ramrods with threaded iron finials, for various little tools to screw in. It was in the famous and unique Landeszeughaus in Graz (Styrian Armory, Austria), that I took hundreds of photos of ramrod finials of 16th century matchlock muskets. (All in all, and over two decades!, I documented their firearms in more than 3,600 images!).
There, those screw-in tools are preserved in literally 'untouched' condition, and in the so-called 'patch' boxes of the buttstocks of thousands of long guns treasured, with most of them stored on their original racks for at least 360 years ....

I also attached an early 16th century drawing, from the Löffeholz ms., '#2' (only a preliminary term which I assigned to that - generally unknown! - early 16th century jewel of historic weaponry). It was obviously authored in either Nuremberg or possibly Swabia, and in about 1520-30. There, inter alia, is depicted a wooden ramrod with an iron finial to both! ends, together with a vast selection of tools to screw in - see attachment.
Furthermore attached are images of an incredible number of those very rare 16th to 17th century worms and scourers in my collection, some scourers even being combined with a turnscrew!

Now please don't expect me to explain, let alone prove how that might have worked, both possibly and actually - especially when that little tool was screwed to the short iron finial of a wooden ramrod that was at least 120 cm long. For that was the average length of a wooden ramrod for a 'military' long gun of the late Renaissance period of ca. 1600 - like a matchlock or wheellock musket ...
Moreover, may I impress you with the fact that an average musket of that period was about 160 to 170 centimeters (63 to 67 in.) long, meaning a - usually attuned - barrel/ramrod length of about 126 to 135 cm (ca. 50 to 53 in.)!

Attached find images of my comprehensive collection of 16th and 17th worms and scourers.


Please also see:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18557


Have fun studying!
Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 27th May 2014 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 26th May 2014, 05:03 PM   #2
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More attachments.

m
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Last edited by Matchlock : 26th May 2014 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 26th May 2014, 05:46 PM   #3
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More photos of my scourers and worms, as well as of 'military' matchlock muskets, ca. 1590-1660, all retaining their original wooden ramrods with iron finials, nearly all of which are threaded.

Author's collection and photos.

Best,
Michael
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Old 26th May 2014, 05:56 PM   #4
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A frontal view of a scourer and worm, 16th/17 century, in my collection.

In some cases, though, those iron finials on wooden ramrods were not threaded; attached find samples of such 'military' matchlock guns of ca. 1525 in the Graz Armory, and of a snap matchlock arquebus of ca. 1525-30:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...eter+hofkircher,

a fine snap tinderlock Landsknecht arquebus of ca. 1525-30:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...t=arquebus+1525,

and two Suhl/Zella matchlock muskets of ca. 1630 and 1650:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...kets+suhl+zella,

the latter three in my collection.


Author's collection, and photos copyrighted by the author.

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 26th May 2014 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 28th May 2014, 03:35 PM   #5
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Here are contemporary depictions of woden ramrods with iron finials, by the artist Jörg Kölderer. From 1495 to ca. 1515, he illustrated the inventories of the Tyrolean arsenals by order of King Maximilian, who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1508.

Attachments from cod.icon. 222, fol. 114, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München.

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Old 28th May 2014, 07:23 PM   #6
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Hi Michl,


Thank you again for this extensive thread.
Do you know about an assay/research report on the stretchability of (different types of ) wood. Or are there written documents from the 1500s/1600s about the issue of ramrods that break?

I also like your profile picture, is that one of your guns that is beeing fired?
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Old 28th May 2014, 07:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus den toom
... is that one of your guns that is beeing fired?

Yes, of course; the man is a shooter
When he fires one of his magnificent matchlocks, the whole of Bavaria stops to listen
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Old 29th May 2014, 08:18 AM   #8
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This picture turned up recently in a U.K. auction. Described as a scene in a forge it appears to show the undercroft of a substantial building where persons are engaged in cleaning and maintaining , rather than manufacturing
arms and armour. The small glass bottles look interesting. With something that looks like a wick or quill used for oiling your recently cleaned wheelock ?
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Old 29th May 2014, 09:27 AM   #9
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Great find, Raf,

Do you have more close-up details of that guy maintaining the wheellock saddle carbine? To me it looks as if he is wiping the pan, and/or is applying some oil.
I sent you a PM; could you please mail the link to the site of that auction house - provided their catalog can still be viewed online.

Although the buttstock of the carbine is hidden by the guy's right leg, the gun seems to be of post-Thirty Years War second half 17th century type, ca. 1670-1700, a span to which most surviving 'military' wheellock saddle carbines can be assigned - see attachments.
By the 1680's, the form of the buttstock, which at that period was of Baroque style 'paddle'-like shape, began to lose its rounded belly, at the same time adopting the straight so-called 'French' buttstock. For about 350 years of experimenting with various shapes, right through the Gothic and Renaissance styles, that straight and flat French form with the beveled edges became generally accepted. It obviously is ideal for man to aim, both orthopedically and ergonomically. Even today, it is still found almost unaltered on many modern English shotguns.
By ca. 1600, the French sense of style had generally prevailed over the former 16th century Italian Renaissance influence, all over Central and Northern Europe including Britain, Ireland and Scotland. This was true for arsenal weapons as well which usually lagged behind in style, as compared to arms ordered by the nobility.


Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 29th May 2014 at 10:39 AM.
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