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Old 2nd November 2008, 01:29 AM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Wrought (!) and cast iron cannon balls, 16th century

The one with the irregular surface consisting of wrought iron (!) and doubtlessly originating from the workshop of the gunsmith Peter Pögl in Thörl near Innsbruck/The Tyrol. Imagine that toil ...
When still king, Maximilian I ordered lots of iron balls for his artillery pieces from Peter Pögl during the 1490's.

The second of regular cast iron and - almost uniquely! - bearing the date 1552.

Michael
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Old 2nd November 2008, 03:18 AM   #2
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These are really interesting Michael! Is it common for a date to be placed on disposable ordnance such as cannonballs? What would the reason be for this marking? Also, how is the work of a specific maker identified on these? are there markings as on weapons?

I am just curious, and really dont know much on ordnance such as cannon balls etc. I did once own a cannon ball, which I believe was from the Battle of New Orleans 1812. It sat on my desk for many years, and eventually it literally crumbled, corroded from within.

Thank you as always, for such fascinating postings!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 2nd November 2008, 02:28 PM   #3
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Hi Jim,

Apart from this ball dated 1552, there is only one other known fact of dated cannon balls. Duke Julius of Brunswick is known for having iron slag balls cast with the date 1575 and his monogram HJH in ligature.
I will find out and post something about them later.

In my opinion, only the individual historical importance of a certain date could account for such a phenomenon as dating cannon balls. This might have been a centenary, the dawning of an important battle, or even may have been done after winning a victory and in remembrance.

The provenance of the wrought iron ball is quite clear as only the smiths Sebald and Peter Pögl are known to have made such things. They soon refused to continue though because the toil was too hard and the strength of the bullets was evidently not worth the effort.

All the best,
Michael
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Old 2nd November 2008, 07:08 PM   #4
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Wonderful pieces Michael; the one with the date is fascinating, specially for being such an early date.

By the way, Jim. Napoleonic cannon balls used to have an N marked on them; maybe not all of them, but such was the procedure.

Fernando
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Old 3rd November 2008, 02:46 AM   #5
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Thank you Michael for explaining that, and mentioning the instance of the Duke of Brunswicks initials and date on the cannon balls. I was wondering if perhaps since these destructive (obviously) pieces of ordnance were being sent to destroy an enemy...that maybe as in the bombs dropped from aircraft in the wars were marked with slogans or taunting phrases toward the enemy...there might have been similar cases in medieval times.

It is known that in some instances in warfare in Biblical times, sometimes the arrowheads were marked to afford the warrior the claim to his victory over an opponent by proving his arrow was the felling one. In North America, the Indian tribes often marked thier arrows with distinctive stripes, colors or identifying features to claim the hunted game brought down.

Obviously there are differences in the arrows marked to claim prey or victims, and items such as cannonballs or bombs which carried symbolic messages, and would be ultimately destroyed themselves....but I thought the idea of personalized and symbolic messaged projectiles or ammunition an interesting aside in our study of the weapons themselves.

Fernando, thank you for the note on the Napoleonic cannonballs, which is indeed an interesting example being marked with his initial. It seems to fall into the category of property or ownership, like U.S. or C.S.A on so many Civil War items (though I'm not aware of ordnance so marked).
Early markings of all types of ordnance in England began with Henry VIII who used the familiar broad arrow, that became distinctive on British military supplies and materials, and I wonder if cannonballs or other materials were so marked.

These are instances that come to mind, and sure would like to hear more on unusually marked ordnance!!

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 3rd November 2008, 07:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you Michael for explaining that, and mentioning the instance of the Duke of Brunswicks initials and date on the cannon balls. I was wondering if perhaps since these destructive (obviously) pieces of ordnance were being sent to destroy an enemy...that maybe as in the bombs dropped from aircraft in the wars were marked with slogans or taunting phrases toward the enemy...there might have been similar cases in medieval times.

It is known that in some instances in warfare in Biblical times, sometimes the arrowheads were marked to afford the warrior the claim to his victory over an opponent by proving his arrow was the felling one. In North America, the Indian tribes often marked thier arrows with distinctive stripes, colors or identifying features to claim the hunted game brought down.

Obviously there are differences in the arrows marked to claim prey or victims, and items such as cannonballs or bombs which carried symbolic messages, and would be ultimately destroyed themselves....but I thought the idea of personalized and symbolic messaged projectiles or ammunition an interesting aside in our study of the weapons themselves.


All best regards,

Jim



Jim, I believe that you are exactly right in your reckonings based on the examples cited. I am convinced that some war lords and patriotically minded craftsmen and citiens alike indeed cherished the imagination of those projectiles being fired into the enemies' bodies - 'with our best greetings'.

In the case of the Brunswick slag balls, their date 1575 was cast in the mould. Other cannon balls are known to have been inscribed later.

Fernando, actually I have a Napoleonic cannon ball which was found in a ruined house in the medieval city center of Regensburg, some 40 km from my present home. I used to live in Regensburg for amolst 25 years and I bought that ball from one of the workers who had wrecked the ruine. Interesting enough, it is inscribed in white ink

Napoleon
25. April
1809

('Napoleon' has become almost illegible).
This was undoubtedly regarded as a reminder of Napoleon's taking Regensburg under fire and conquering it on that day.

I will also take pictures of my Brunswick cannon balls and post them.

Michael
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Old 3rd November 2008, 07:13 PM   #7
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Thank you Michael,
Allow me to post my few humble specimens, mostly dated from the Portuguese Napoleonic invasions (1809-1810); can not precise whether they are British, Portuguese or French, but they were dug in famous battle spots. Some are solid shot, others are grape shot or canister.
Fernando

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Old 4th November 2008, 01:19 AM   #8
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Impressive ball collection indeed, Fernando - thanks a lot!

Grape shot is extremely rare to find, congratulations.

I attach some images of early grape shot (quilted grape) of (probably) the 16th and 17th centuries, all pictures taken in museums and in the London auction house of Bonhams.

Michael
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Old 14th October 2011, 03:58 PM   #9
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Wink A CANNON BALL ... AND A BOWL

Let me show you my just arrived example of wrought iron ball, most certainly forged by the same Peter Pögl. Its provenance is a German auctioner and its acquisition had the support of a Bavarian member we know very well .
Its weight is about 1400 grams; with a diameter of 7-7,5 centimeters, we could colloquially call it a 3 pounder ... could we, Michl ?

The strange thing is that this ball was included in a auction lot, comprehending two items, the other one having a rather strange aspect, the kind of thing i may never know what it is. Destiny had a great part in this event as, considering this iron (so heavy) artifact was too obsolete and senseless to compensate for the shipping cost, we gave instructions to leave it behind and just ship the ball. Guess what? for some reason they ended up shipping it together with the cannon ball and now here i am, punishing you guys with some photos, wondering whether someone around (a metallurgist?) would tell what (the hell) this is.
For myself i can't go further than guessing this is some kind of casting box, or(counter) mould, left out from a specific casting job.
But then, why should it appear in an auction together with an early cannon ball ? .
Its diameter is 18 cms (7") and its height is 7 cms ( 2 3/4") and it weighs nearly 2 Kgs. (4 1/2 pounds.)

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Old 14th October 2011, 04:29 PM   #10
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The name for this thing in the auction was gießkelle.
A casting ladle ... something like a crucible ?
... Plausible?
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Old 14th October 2011, 04:36 PM   #11
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Fantastic acquisition Fernando! and it is wonderful to have this fascinating thread revived with this kind of enhancing new material.
I am really looking forward to hear from Michael, and I am really curious on how the ordnance made by Pogl is identified...in there a marking so indicating?
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Old 14th October 2011, 04:54 PM   #12
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Hi Jim,
Glad you are aware and came in .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... I am really looking forward to hear from Michael, and I am really curious on how the ordnance made by Pogl is identified...in there a marking so indicating?


Michl has already posted his conclusions on this issue; take a look to the last paragraph of post #3 .
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Old 14th October 2011, 05:50 PM   #13
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Thanks so much Fernando. I hadnt reread (obviously but appreciate the direction. It is hard to realize the difficulty in producing these, but when reviewing the dynamics and 'technology' at hand it becomes understandable.
So basically, though unmarked, only these two makers were producing at this time so other subtle characteristics must lead to differentiation.

Best,
Jim
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Old 14th October 2011, 06:49 PM   #14
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Hi 'Nando,


Congrats, and I'm so glad it finally arrived!

Personally I don't believe we'll ever find out what exactly that bowl shaped iron item originally was. As I told you before I don't think it has anything to do with the process of casting iron as the object itself seems to be cast, telling from the porous surface and the relative thickness of the iron. I would expect such an item to be of thin wrought iron. Even if it were so, and the long handle were missing, it would not belong to a wrought iron cannon ball.

As I stated when authoring this thread I own the only other sample known so far. We only know of their existence and their makers, the Pögl workshop in Thörl near Innsbruck/The Tyrol, where the Maximilian main armory was 500 years ago, by written sources when the - then king - Maximilian I ordered thousands of these wrought balls because he believed in their greater effect as compared to cast balls.

Though I am not much of an ordnance expert, I think calling it a three pounder ball would fit. In this case I would attribute it to one of the smaller types of Maximilian artillery, e.g. a wroughht iron falconet.


Best,
Michl

Last edited by Matchlock : 14th October 2011 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 14th October 2011, 07:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thanks so much Fernando. I hadnt reread (obviously but appreciate the direction. It is hard to realize the difficulty in producing these, but when reviewing the dynamics and 'technology' at hand it becomes understandable.
So basically, though unmarked, only these two makers were producing at this time so other subtle characteristics must lead to differentiation.

Best,
Jim



Hi Jim,

I should like to point out the obviously visible main difference between cast and wrought iron in that cast iron items usually have a relatively regular and porous surface and, when 500 years old, tend to losses, while wrought iron has a quite irregular but smooth surface, and the traces of the hammering process can be identified. As the iron is much harder and very compact, it will grow less rust and is more stable.

I repost my sample by Peter Pögl, 1490's, for easier comparison.

Just imagine the tremendous amount of muscular toil when three or four smiths had to hammer a white or red hot iron lump to a more or less round shape ...

Best,
Michael
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Old 14th October 2011, 11:59 PM   #16
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Hi Michael,
Thank you so much for your patient and explicitly explained response, and for posting again this example. Now I understand perfectly! As always, you're a great professor!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 15th October 2011, 05:08 PM   #17
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Hi Jim,

I much prefer being called an avid student!

Thank you so much,
and with all my very best wishes,
Michael
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Old 26th January 2017, 02:24 PM   #18
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There is an important message from 1618 Bohemia which speaks about marking on cannon balls.

.. Trćka – bohemian nobleman and owner of several iron foundries (“Hammern”) on Sazava river, which was on the line between Habsburg army and Bohemian rebel army in 1618, is accused by nobles that he is making and selling cannon balls to the enemy Habsburg army.. and even that he marks them with his mark ... (cited from Skála ze Zhoře: Historie česká, 1626, version published 1984 by Jos. Janacek)

Unfortunately there are no known balls survived with such a marks..
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Old 26th January 2017, 02:41 PM   #19
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Interesting information, Lars.
and ... welcome to the forum .
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Old 26th January 2017, 03:22 PM   #20
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I would like to join Fernando in welcoming you to our forum Lars!!
It is wonderful to have these threads from years back revived, and having new information added to add to the compiled data in them.

These threads are actually sort of an ongoing archive which are in a sense a thriving corpus of knowledge with valuable information and key discussion for arms researchers for years to come.

Our late friend Matchlock was an amazing researcher and contributor in the arms collecting and research community, and there is no finer tribute than to have his work continued, just as you have done with your thoughtful entry.

Looking forward to having you with us, and knowing more on your fields of collecting and study, and thank you again!!!

Jim
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Old 27th January 2017, 02:15 PM   #21
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Thank you guys! I'll try not to disappoint this community
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Old 27th January 2017, 05:07 PM   #22
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You may fire at will, Lars ... no serious restrictions
By the way, have you been here ?
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=julius
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Old 23rd September 2017, 03:58 PM   #23
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Hi Fernado and others, (btw thanks for posted nice thread)

I think that there is an article which could be important (hope it isn't here already - if i didn´t mised it above).

Arne Homann 2015: Artlleriegeschosse aus Schlacken - Eine Welfische Erfindung des 16. Jahrhunderts. In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte, Band 96.

you´ll find there "Herzogs Wolfenbutel" marks
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Old 23rd September 2017, 08:39 PM   #24
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Hi Fernando
The un identified item to me looks like the metal that solidified in the ladle as the pour of the molten iron was carried out.
After the metal total solidified the ladle was tapped out and this casting of the inside of the ladle was made?
When I made lead soldiers I would end up with the same shaped object of lead which I would throw back into the smelting container.
Sad to see the old matchlock posts coming up. I will toast himwith a glass of wine tonight.
Regards
Ken
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Old 26th September 2017, 11:07 AM   #25
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Thank you for sharing your conclusion, Ken.
... And i think Matchlock saw you toasting from up there .
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Old 26th September 2017, 12:32 PM   #26
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The 24 pound cannon ball on the far right was fired in 1760 at a French fort on an island near Montreal Canada. The broad arrow marking was discontinued around 1800.
Left is a 24 pounder, a 12, a fuzed 24 and the 24 pounder from 1760.
The small cannon ball was found in a bag of coffee beans to add weight, my uncle gave it to me when he was with Nabob.
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Old 28th September 2017, 05:28 PM   #27
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This is most of my collection by now; two large stone 'pelouros' (one Portuguese granite and one German limestone), a couple howitzer grenades, one German handmade (Peter Pögl), one dated (Herzog Julius) a couple for falconets and a few from the Peninsular War, including grapeshot. Te smaller ones are on top of a cabinet, to prevent cats from playing around with them.


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