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Old 18th March 2014, 02:38 AM   #1
M ELEY
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Default Incendiary device? Grenade? Or what?

I picked up this odd item a number of years ago (note in the second and third pic that the 'wick' and wooden cap are for show only) at an antiques mall with no provenance or explanation as to what it was. The item appears very old, is made of a light-weight black clay and while fragile, I can squeeze it in my hand without cracking it (i.e. It's not so delicate that it can't be handled). It is slightly bigger than a gulf ball and completely hollow. It measures roughly 2 1/2" tall and approx 7" total diameter. My hand gives a corresponding size. Now, the question is...what is it?

When I first bought it, it had a very old piece of cork stuffed in the top that crumbled away. I wasn't sure if I smelled any residue or not. I can't tell if it is scuffed or had weal markings on the outside at one time. Perhaps I'm being fanciful, but I think this is an incendiary carcass or stink pot/bomb? I think we can rule out a few things it's probably not. I doubt it held incense, candle wax or a plant! The bottom is completely round and it wouldn't have been practical as any of those type devices. As a container holding liquid, it would be very prone to spilling. I guess it could be a one-off pottery piece, but I can't imagine it would have been easy to make such a thing just for fun? It reminds me of the early grenadoes that were used by the buccaneers of old, but they were made of iron (same shape and even with a raised lip. See Warren Moore's 'Weapons of the American Revolution' ,pg 215, ex.A-166 grenade found at Fort Ticonderoga). What got me thinking about this piece was Matchlock's incendiary grenade thread with it's glass French bombs, which are similar, but much thicker. In use, this little item could have very well held a volatile liquid or even black powder. In Gilkerson's 'Boarder's Away', he mentions clay stink pots, so I thought this could be another possibility?

Has anyone seen anything like this? Was black pottery used for such things? Were there Spanish colonial grenadoes like this? What type of clay was used? Anyone want to weigh in on this odd piece?

Pictures to follow! Have to resize them!
Mark
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Old 18th March 2014, 02:46 AM   #2
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Pics resized-hopefully!
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Old 18th March 2014, 11:24 AM   #3
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Hi Mark,


You called and here I am, right at your service ,


What you've got here may well be a small clay hand grenade of ca. 15th to 18th c. type. This does not necessarily mean that your little clay guy is of Western provenance; it may be Oriental and go back to ancient times when Greek Fire was employed.

As I tried to show, hand grenades often even consisted of greenish to yellowish glass in the 17th and 18th centuries. I attached photos of some, together with clay grenades, from the vast supplies of Forchtenstein Castle, Austria, and two period illustrations.


There is a very detailed recent Austrian study by Franz Felberbauer, "Die Handgranaten der Grenadiere der Fürsten Esterházy aus Gusseisen und Ton im Zeughaus der Burg Forchtenstein" (the cast-iron and clay hand grenades for the grenadiers of the Princes Esterházy, at the Armory of Forchtenstein Castle), in: Waffen und Kostümkunde, 2012, vol. 2, pp. 181-220, and 2014, vol. 1, pp. 1-52.
I scanned a few images from that essay and posted them here for you.

The two photos at the bottom of the clay grenades in the glass case, together with the two model cannon carriages, I took some 25 years ago in the Fortress Oberhaus, Passau, Lower Bavaria.


Please see also my thread on incendiary items, grenades, quoits etc.:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7085



Best,
Michael
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Old 18th March 2014, 02:58 PM   #4
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What about dimensions, Michl ?
Isn't Mark's example too small for a grenade or equivalent device ?
Say yes ... so that i can propose him to dispatch it to me
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Old 18th March 2014, 03:10 PM   #5
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Well, Nando,


It is tiny, indeed.

On the other hand, if I remember it correctly, the 1,000 year-old samples from the Egyptian period of the Fatimids were quite small and delicate as well. And the 17th c. clay hand grenades at Forchtentein Castle, Austria are of an average diameter of only ca. 10 cm.
I am about to get into contact with a real scholar on this field of hand grenades and will ask his opinion. He did research on a great number of clay and glass grenades kept in the Forchtenstein Armory. Maybe we will all know better then.


Best,
Michl
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Old 18th March 2014, 03:20 PM   #6
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Whatever you find, keep it secret from Captain Mark
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Old 18th March 2014, 03:34 PM   #7
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hahah, maybe we can team up Nando and go dig for our own grenades
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Old 18th March 2014, 05:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus den toom
hahah, maybe we can team up Nando and go dig for our own grenades

Don't tease me; i may take it seriously
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Old 18th March 2014, 07:49 PM   #9
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Well Nando, when you have some spare time...

But untill than, something i believe to be a grenade thrower or a very cruel trick on a homeless person.
http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/me...currentpage=195





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Old 18th March 2014, 08:42 PM   #10
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Excellent find, Marcus ,


This is from the well known book by Franz Helm, Von den probierten Künsten (on well-tried arts), 1535.

It does show a device to hurl a grenade, and the attached pages are very notable for depicting related stuff that is of interest for our thread!


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Old 18th March 2014, 09:02 PM   #11
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Thank you Michl,

I was already pondering about the possible ways to hurl these grenades around, but i had no clue about relevant sources until i found this manuscript.

The 'red' grenade on the second image of your above post, is this some sort of rope with a grenade at the end which was hurled trough the air like a scottish highland game (sorry for the weird phrasing).

and the grenades at the bottom of the same picture, do they have secondary charges inside metal containers/explosives (there seems to be a little hole in each of the grey tubes).

Best,
Marcus
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Old 18th March 2014, 09:11 PM   #12
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Hi Marcus,

The group of hardcore reenactors at the Veste Coburg, especially Armin König, knows a whole lot about these fireworks; the museum also holds some highly interesting original items. To me, these matters are a bit aside, just too far out of my trodden path.

You should contact the Veste Coburg, they certainly have good material.

Best,
m
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Old 19th March 2014, 02:58 AM   #13
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Thank you, gentlemen, for remarking on this piece. Yes, Michael, you really did come through for me and I truly value your knowledge on these. I read your other thread from end to end, but didn't post this there until I knew it might be the real deal. I do hope the scholar you mentioned might have something to add as well.

Fernando- But of course I would need one of these if I am to take any ships in the Indies! Cap'n Mark

Nice find on the grenade launcher, Marcus! I've always been fascinated by the flintlock musket types with widened barrel.

Fernando- Small!? Are we comparing sizes here!?

The interesting thing about mine is that it is completely hollow, not like the thicker examples such as the size-ways viewed illustration of a small pocket amid the thick clay 'walls'. Although not eggshell thin, this piece seems made to shatter on impact. Although small, it would have held a similar amount of powder due to the open cavity. Perhaps it was only used to ignite flammable textiles? Distract an opponent with a small flash of powder? In Gilkerson, he mentions stink pots and smoke pots being made of breakable pottery, but unfortunately doesn't show any pics of such items. To date, I have only seen one verified stink pot from an Elizabethan wreck, complete with barnacles. It looked basically like a clay jar with small ahndles on either side, but was flat bottomed. I've seen the early stink pots and clay incendiaries from the Middle East dating to the Crusades, but they were also larger affairs of mostly gray clay.
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Old 19th March 2014, 08:25 AM   #14
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Hi Michael,

Thank you, i will investigate

M Eley, could the grenade of yours be some sort of post medievalish molotov cocktail? In Michael's thread about incendiaries, there is also a part about incendiary quoites which probably would have splashed around when lit and cause flesh melting burns
Though the quoites are solid, i am sure that there is also a liquid exuivalent (maybe just oil/tar with sulphur)? pure guess work of course
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Old 19th March 2014, 09:02 AM   #15
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Hello Marcus,
I imagine that is very possible. In naval warefare, there was Greek fire that was contained in vessels. In maritime/pirate tradition, there were stink pots, which contained foul-smelling weeds, animal dung, sulfur, etc, and made to shatter and spray on impact! (lovely to get hit with the rank stuff- ).
I'm hoping that perhaps the material mine is made from might shed some light on what nationality, era, or area of design. I know it's crazy, but the reason I asked about Spanish colonials and if they had grenadoes is because the pottery material mine is made from reminds me of Pueblo Indian pottery- that black, brittle clay from the American Southwest. Anyway, jst thinking aloud!
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Old 19th March 2014, 11:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
... Fernando- Small!? Are we comparing sizes here!? ...

Oh Mark, old chap !
I am beyond compare
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Old 21st March 2014, 02:34 AM   #17
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Yes you are, Nando! Yes, you are!

I'm very psyched to get a bit of good news for a change (I had a particularly bad day otherwise!). In Michael's newest thread in incendiary arrows, he posted pics of Italian glass/clay grenades that are nearly spot-on for mine! Not to say mine is Italian, but I think that it cinches it that it is indeed a bombard/incendiary. Typically, when I present a 'mystery piece', it usually ends up being something mundane (As in 'Hey, I just liked up a cool Malabar Moplah knife!!! and then, it's -'Sorry, old chap, that's a Brazilian pizza cutter! ). Nice to have found something for a change!!

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Old 21st March 2014, 11:53 AM   #18
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Hi Mark,


I brought those Italian grenades over here to your thread as well; they deserved it.
The caption reads that the first two grenades are dated to ca. 1700, the third 18th c., the fourth and sixth 18th/19th c., and #6 is 18th c.

And I wish you had more often the chance to detect something really valuable!


Best,
Michael
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Old 21st March 2014, 01:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
...Typically, when I present a 'mystery piece', it usually ends up being something mundane (As in 'Hey, I just liked up a cool Malabar Moplah knife!!! and then, it's -'Sorry, old chap, that's a Brazilian pizza cutter! )...

Capitão...
I hate to tell you that your 'mistery piece' is a snuff container .
However, as i am an eclectic collector, i am ready to soften your despair and will accept that you dispatch the thing to me ... against a combined fee
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Old 21st March 2014, 08:41 PM   #20
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Ahhh, a snuff container used by Blackbeard, no doubt! I think I'll just hang on to this one for a while!

BTW, Fernando, do you still have your excellent clay example you made the fuse for? She was a beaut as well. I'd love to add a bunch of different grenade types to the collection. Always fascinating to see what people come up with to hurl at each other! That paper grenade still comes to mind!! That example was on this forum, I think?

Michael, thanks again for adding this information here! I'm saving it for my files!
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Old 22nd March 2014, 03:48 AM   #21
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I AM MOVING A FEW PICTURES FROM AN OLD POST ON PIRATE WEAPONS TO ADD TO THIS POST FOR REFRENCE. THERE ARE DRAWINGS OF SEVERAL TYPES OF GRENADE , FIRE BOMB DEVICES AND 3 OLD ISLAMIC CERAMIC GREANADES.
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Old 22nd March 2014, 03:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
... BTW, Fernando, do you still have your excellent clay example you made the fuse for? She was a beaut as well...

Yes ... and i was later cherished with an early real fuse by an illustrious acquaintance; but it so delicate and fragile, that i decided to keep it in an acrylic box and let the fake stay in the grenade.
This Ingolstadt example measures 13,5 cms in diameter and weighs 2680 grs.

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Old 22nd March 2014, 11:53 PM   #23
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Yes, that's the one! Hey, yours really is bigger than mine! That fuse is incredible! Hmm, I wonder of which acquaintance you speak?

I love the markings on the outside of yours. Are they some sort of arsenal marking? They really highlight the piece. For that matter, on Barry's examples (thanks for adding these, Vandoo!) we see rather elaborate decorations on those 10th-12 c. grenades. Seems odd to produce such artistic expression on an item meant to be quickly destroyed? I first thought they were just to add a better gripping surface, but now I'm not so sure.
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Old 14th October 2014, 07:30 PM   #24
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A Grenade or Fire Pot found in the Elizabethan shipwreck off the Island of Alderney of the 1580s/1590s. And a drawing of a publication cieted as "Andrew 1964". The Alderney Museum, Alderney, Guernsey

http://www.alderneywreck.com/index....efacts/grenades
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Old 15th October 2014, 08:24 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
........... I love the markings on the outside of yours. Are they some sort of arsenal marking? They really highlight the piece. For that matter, on Barry's examples (thanks for adding these, Vandoo!) we see rather elaborate decorations on those 10th-12 c. grenades. Seems odd to produce such artistic expression on an item meant to be quickly destroyed? I first thought they were just to add a better gripping surface, but now I'm not so sure.


On his little article about the grenades at Ingolstadt Stadtmuseum on http://www.ingolstadt.de/stadtmuseu...um/r-36-004.htm the purpose of the markings are unknown to the author and director of the museum Kurt Scheuerer. The grenades were found under a roofed construction at the cities town wall which was supposed to be a workshop where the grenades were made. My theory is that the markings on the grenades represent manufacturers signs of the potters like stone cutter's marks on building stones of medieval cathedrals.

Fernando, congratulations to your nice precious... As we can not afford original piece we ordered some reconstructions of the Ingolstadt grenades from our potter which we will - hopefully - receive next month
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Old 15th October 2014, 09:59 PM   #26
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Thank you Andi.
For general perusal, here are pictures of the place where the grenades were found, the recovery and a crosssection of one of them at the museum.


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Old 15th October 2014, 10:55 PM   #27
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Manual fire devices were a vital means of combat in periods like the 16th/17th centuries. Their use was massive and a resource much greater than cannons, i guess for both economic and technologic reasons. Episodes of combats involving such devices narrated by period chroniclers are abundant. Fire pots, panelas de polvora in portuguese (meaning gunpowder pans) were thrown or dropped onto the enemy, either in naval combats as also on land, like sieges and other, with extreme efficiency. Apparently the Portuguese (also) used the skill of German specialists they had in their ranks in the making of these devices.
To give an idea of how these things were a rather significant part of the armament, here is an inventory of the Mombaça fortification, mentioned by chronicler Antonio Bocarro (1594-1642):

16 cannons (5 iron and 11 bronze)
32 muskets
113 haquebuts
1000 cannon balls (713 iron and the balance of stone)
40 small boxes of lead bullets for the shoulder arms.
238 kegs of gunpowder
578 panelas de polvora (fire pots)
138 grenades
36 fire lances
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Old 17th October 2014, 01:33 PM   #28
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Of course towards the end of WW2 the Japanese also manufactured pottery grenades as an emergency measure known as Type 4 I think .... here is one I have. The size is that of a cricket ball.
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