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Old 18th July 2014, 08:21 PM   #1
Guillaume
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Default Leeds small hand cannon

Regarding the small hand 'cannon' found by a mudlarker in Leeds, now in the Royal Armouries:

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ims/news/hand_cannon.html




I have not been able to find anywhere this has been discussed and was wondering if anyone had either any theories on it or knew more details about it. I am curious if it is complete and if it had a tiller or was stocked, etc. The press release says it is hoop and stave construction but at 240mm that seems awefully small for that type of construction.

Thanks

Last edited by Guillaume : 19th July 2014 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 19th July 2014, 09:19 AM   #2
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There are no further informations known to me yet but in view of the circumstances of its find, it is unlikely that more details such as its mounting can be achieved from the piece, especially as this seems to be a unique object without any comparison finds

What I am also wondering is: how did they have dated the find? Only by typological methods? In order to achieve a more reliable dating an analysis of the irons chemical composition would be helpful but in view of the size of the object it will not be possible without damaging the piece.
Is it an original of the 15th Century? Or maybe only a model of the 19th Century? I really hope the first one.

Last edited by Andi : 19th July 2014 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 19th July 2014, 09:48 AM   #3
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I just found an other press release of Royal Armouries

http://www.royalarmouries.org/what-...ouries-in-leeds

Quote:
Unique “hand cannon” on show at Royal Armouries in Leeds - Thursday, 20 August 2009

Royal Armouries CEO, Janice Murray receiving a gift of a early hand cannon from about 1500 from Mr Tony Pilson A unique “hand cannon” – measuring less than 10 inches long and dating to the late 14th or early 15th Century – has been gifted to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

The wrought-iron gun was originally thought to be a 19th Century ship’s whistle after it was discovered in the mud of the River Thames in the mid 1990s.

Weighing just over a pound, the robust, rod-like object was the subject of much curiosity and discussion by historians. The object will now be x-rayed and dated, but many experts favour the view it’s a small “hand cannon”, dating from medieval times.

The rare find was spotted by a “mudlark” – a person issued with a Port of London Authority permit and Crown Estate Commissioners to investigate the Thames foreshore. It was then passed on to fellow mudlark, Mr Tony Pilson, who is celebrated among other things for his collections of medieval and early-modern toys and buttons.

Mr Pilson presented the rare find to the Royal Armouries (RA) on Wednesday (August 26) as an outright gift. The Royal Armouries have bought a diverse range of relics from him in the past 25 years, including an eel spear, child’s sword, arrowheads, a shield boss and toy pistols.

The RA officially thanked Mr Pilson for the outstanding gift, at Wednesday’s presentation, jointly co-ordinated by Geoff Egan of the Museum of London.

Describing the hand cannon, Mr Egan said, “Of the many thousands of finds seen over the years from London’s waterfront, some stick in the mind as exceptional. One such was found in the mid 1990s, and only now is set to take its rightful place in the national collection of Arms and Armour – the Royal Armouries in Leeds.”

He added, “Early firearms in the late Middle Ages, whether cannon or hand guns, are very unusual in this country. It is well known that some early cannon were small enough to be carried by individual soldiers, though it is doubtful that manuscript pictures of them being wielded in the hands during battles reflect more than their novel portability (most of these small weapons are depicted set on firm supports of one kind or another). The term ‘hand cannon’ is therefore open to interpretation. To actually hold one during firing would have meant almost certain trauma from the recoil – if the device did not actually blow up both itself and the unfortunate holder.”

The hand cannon is now on show in Leeds, before it will return to the banks of the Thames, where it will form part of a display focusing on treasures from the Thames in the RA museum in the Tower of London.
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Old 19th July 2014, 04:06 PM   #4
Matchlock
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Hi Guillaume,


I was among a very small group of people to first get notice of that barrel in the 1990's:


A unique “hand cannon” – measuring less than 10 inches long and dating to the late 14th or early 15th Century – has been gifted to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

Rob Stevens
Royal Armouries Museum
Leeds
Tel: 0113 220 1978
Email: rob.stevens@armouries.org.uk

and

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ims/news/hand_cannon.html

Gift to the Royal Armouries of an exciting rarity - a medieval gun

A small 'hand cannon', late 14th or early 15th century, has been offered as a gift to the Royal Armouries. The wrought-iron gun was made by forming a tube of gutter-shaped iron staves reinforced by a series of hoops and bands heated and shrunk on over it. It has a total length of only c.240mm (about 9½ inches) and weighs 550gm (just over a pound).

The gun was found on the foreshore of the Thames at London in the mid 1990s. The original mudlark passed it on to Mr Tony Pilson, a mudlark celebrated among other things for his collections of medieval and early-modern toys and buttons (both are now in the Museum of London).

The Royal Armouries have bought 45 finds from Mr Pilson over the last 25 years. They range from 14th century gauntlet fragments to 18th century miniature cannon. The acquisitions are as diverse as an eel spear, a child's sword, arrowheads, a shield boss and toy pistols.

The Royal Armouries tried to acquire this hand cannon not long after it was found but was unable to raise the funds required. Mr Pilson decided not to sell it and has kept it ever since. He has now decided to make an outright gift of it to the Royal Armouries. (This was negotiated by Karen Watts together with Geoff Egan of the Museum of London).

The Royal Armouries is home to the United Kingdom's national collection of arms and armour, including artillery, and is based in Leeds. Karen Watts is the Senior Curator of European Armour at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, and both teaches on the MA in Medieval Studies and co-supervises a number of IMS PhD students. For information see here.


At first glance,
I basically disagreed with the timeline of dating assigned to it by the Royal Armouries Leeds,
"
late 14th or early 15th Century".
Today, I still do - and even more so - , after becoming older but wiser a quarter of a century later.

According to the strict
dating criteria set up
for the first time everby Michael Trömner,
and found proven in hundreds of instances,
as well as on carefully comparing that item with a number of very similar barrels,

some of them showing
the same characteristic staging represented by a number of reinforcing rings,
the author is convinced of the fact that that little barrel in discussion should be
correctly dated
'ca. 1450',
give or take a span of ten years,
which is
the mid 15th c.,
AND
corectly defined as the main portion of a fragmented former tiller gun.

Neither can it be called 'singular' by any means, nor is it a complete piece.
Actually their barrel is nothing but a fragment missing
either
its originally long rear socket for a wooden tiller stock,
or
its originally long wrought iron tiller.
Anyway, whatever rear handle or kind of buttstock that barrel was fitted with some 560 years ago - it was crudely replaced by a barrel tang which, for its shape as well as for obvious reasons, dates from the second half of the 1640's, the later years of the Thirty Years War! - a
period of time when, out of sheer emergency, many older barrels were re-used and 'modernized'.

Among experts, this is well-known fact and has been stated and proven by the auhor several times in his threads and posts, and by many hundreds, if not thousands of surviving guns still preserved in Old Austrian and German arsenals, e.g.
the Landszeughaus Graz,
the Veste Coburg,
the
Západočeské muzeum v Plzni/Pilsen
and
the
Rüstkammer Emden.


Eventually:
As the value of that item seems to be regarded literally immense, it actually would not sell for more than about 1,000 GBP at any arms & armor auction.


For close comparison, please cf.
my thread on a group of finely preserved!

tiller guns of
ca. 1450,
one of them,
without reinforcing rings but with reinforced octagonal breech,

in

THE MICHAEL TRÖMNER COLLECTION.

Please cf.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...montjuic+castle

and, for basic reading, cf. my thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=montjuic
The reinforcing rings were fire-welded and addedby the barrelsmith while the iron was still in red heat, allowing it to cool down, thus tightly merging with the surface of the barrel.

All of the
m were offered as a lot to Ed for 4,000 USD by a dealer in 2009 ...
Both their general form and the actual length of their barrels ware almost identical to the Leeds fragment thought to be unusually 'tiny'.

All surving samples from that period, starting with the earliest forerunners known as the

Bohemiam pipe guns (German: Böhmische oder Hussiten-Pfeifen) dating from the later years of the Hussite Wars, ca. 1430-40, and not fitted with reinforcing rings yet.
Please note attachments,

the one at the bottom, and all following photos, depicting Bohemian pipe guns from the 1430's
, preserved at the Museum of Tabor, Czechia.
They all retain their rear original sockets, the hafts are modern replacements.
The socketed barrel shown on all images from the 2nd is 42 cm long, its bore measures 20 mm.

Best,
Michael




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Last edited by Matchlock : 19th July 2014 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 19th July 2014, 09:44 PM   #5
Guillaume
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Thank you for the great information. I never knew I would be talking to an eye-witness regarding it! If i may ask a few questions, not to contradict but to clarify since I've only seen 2 pictures of it:

I have no doubt that the hoops were forge welded and shrunk on hot, however they really look insubstantial as far as actually strengthening the barrel (confer other hoop/stave barrels where the hoops are quite large). Is it possible it is a solid, welded barrel (not staves) and the hoops are there as decorative or other purposes?

Regarding the tang/tiller: If there was originally a long tiller, how long do you think it was?

From the perspective of the 2 photographs, the end actually looks rather flattened and curved down, similar to how your "alcove cannon" here is attached .
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18049

Is it possible this one was adapted to such a configuration?

Do you have any idea the caliber of the piece?

Thanks
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Old 19th July 2014, 09:50 PM   #6
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That makes perfect sense. I appreciate the response. I have been going over your images and am beginning to see the comparison.
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Old 19th July 2014, 11:14 PM   #7
Matchlock
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The attachments depict Bohemian pipe guns (German: Böhmische oder Hussiten-Pfeifen) from the 1430's, preserved at the Museum of Tabor, Czechia.
They all retain their rear original sockets, the hafts are modern replacements.
The socketed barrel shown on all images is 42 cm long overall including the socket, its bore 20 mm.

For more on that type of longarms cf. my threads:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...montjuic+castle
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=montjuic


m
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Old 23rd July 2014, 11:54 AM   #8
Matchlock
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Attached find my email and letter to Rob Stevens of the RA Leeds on 20 July 2014; as my email is still kind of broken I had it sent through a friend of mine.
I wonder if the RA reply - and if they do, what ...

Of course I am going to have Rob linked with this post as well.


Best,
Michael
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