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Old 21st September 2008, 04:15 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default 1481 - the world's earliest dated handgun

A wrought-iron haquebut barrel struck with the Munich town mark.

You will remember seeing details of it in former postings where I also explained how to correctly read the date 1481, which, in the upmost image, is also seen chiseled in Gothic stone work and contrasted with the identical date on the barrel below.
Just imagine the Gothic numeral 4 being turned clockwise by 90 degrees and you get the contemporary shape.

This is a highly important historical piece in having survived so well preserved for 527 years!

Michael
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Old 21st September 2008, 04:17 PM   #2
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This one failed to be attached.
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Old 21st September 2008, 04:19 PM   #3
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I hope it will work this time ...
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Old 11th May 2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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Hellow, Michael! what is the calibre, length and weight of this barrel?
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Old 11th May 2010, 06:16 PM   #5
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Hi Alexander,

The overall length of the octagonal barrel is 93.8 cm, the caliber at the heavily swamped muzzle is 2.7 cm, and the weight is 5.6 kg.

It is known from the Passau city archives that a number of these haquebuts were ordered in 1481 to be employed in a famous feud between two rivaling candidates for the archbishopship of Passau, Georg Kardinal von Hasler and Friedrich I. Mauerkircher, which took place from 2nd to 29th June 1482. This fact, too, makes this barrel a highly important historical object.

I attach some further images, the last three showing our piece in discussion together with two other haquebut barrels, ca. 1460 and 1490 respectively, all from the Passau Oberhaus Castle.

Please see my earlier posts for more details of these pieces.

Best,
Michael
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Old 12th May 2010, 09:34 AM   #6
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Thank you very much, Michael! But the calibre seems to much smaller than 2.7 cm. It is not mistake? I hesitate many questions but what is the width of the this barrel ?
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Old 14th May 2010, 08:00 PM   #7
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I have counted on scale the width seems about 56 mm
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Old 15th May 2010, 05:04 PM   #8
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Hi Alexander,

Sorry for answering so late.

You are perfectly right and on remeasuring I can testify both your and my measurements:

The outer diameter (width) at the muzzle is 5.6 to 5.7 cm somewhat irregularly and the inner diameter (caliber) is, as I gave it, 2.7-2.8 cm.

Best, my friend,
Michaael
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Old 15th May 2010, 08:47 PM   #9
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As some of you may have observed, the barrel - underneath a ca. 18th/19th coat of black conserving lacquer - retains its original red lead (minium) painted 500 year old surface. You can see traces of it in places where the black paint has been scratched off.

I am presently pondering over taking the later black paint off, either partially or completely, to let the piece shine in its pristine colorful Gothic glory after hundreds of years again ... Anyway, it has been with me in this condition for 30 years.

Michael
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Old 18th May 2010, 06:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
As some of you may have observed, the barrel - underneath a ca. 18th/19th coat of black conserving lacquer - retains its original red lead (minium) painted 500 year old surface. You can see traces of it in places where the black paint has been scratched off.

I am presently pondering over taking the later black paint off, either partially or completely, to let the piece shine in its pristine colorful Gothic glory after hundreds of years again ... Anyway, it has been with me in this condition for 30 years.

Michael

Impressively! was it red? I have understood correctly? Is the patina(black scale (Fe3O4)) or cleared Metal under a red paint? Whether the first coat before painting has been put?
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Old 18th May 2010, 05:45 PM   #11
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It is red beneath the black lacquer!

There seem to be only a few places of cleaned white iron.

With the black taken off it should look more or less like a barrel in the Germanisches National Museum Nuremberg; images attached (posted here before).

The barrel in Nuremberg is the remaining part of a tiller/stick haquebut, wrought iron, hexagonal (not octagonal), with changing sides at the middle and a punched decorative lozenge pattern on the heavily swamped and reinforced muzzle head; made in Nuremberg, ca. 1460's.

Its provenance is the famos Hohenaschau Castle in Upper Bavaria; I am proud to say that there is a matchlock musket dated 1633 in my collection that also came from Schloss Hohenaschau. In the 1880's it was in the collection of Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck, the first director of the then newly founded Bavarian National Museum.

I do not have the exact measurements of this haquebut barrel but I should assume it is about 75-80 cm long and quite a heavy piece.

Best,
Michael
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Old 19th May 2010, 04:44 AM   #12
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Was the paint made of minium or cinnabar on you arquebese? It was mixed by linen oil or eggs?
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Old 19th May 2010, 02:44 PM   #13
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This barrel was painted too:
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Old 19th May 2010, 05:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiridonov
Was the paint made of minium or cinnabar on you arquebese? It was mixed by linen oil or eggs?



It is minium (red lead), as I stated; nothing is known about the mixture.

m
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Old 19th May 2010, 06:47 PM   #15
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Fantastic imaculate pieces, Michael.
Say Alexander, that excelent example you posted; is the stock original or a modern reproduction?
And the iron bands and hook; are they from the period?
Fernando
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Old 19th May 2010, 07:10 PM   #16
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Hi Fernando,

I am afraid the whole piece that Alexander posted is a modern copy. There is one rather similar in the Military Museum Prague and this one, in my eyes, is a copy too.

Best,
Michael
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Old 25th May 2010, 07:37 AM   #17
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Default world's oldest?

Dear Michael,
You might be interested in an article, "The World's Oldest Dated Gun" by the late British firearms expert Howard L. Blackmore, publ. in ARMS COLLECTING, Vol.34, No. 2, pp 39-47. He discusses a Chinese hand-cannon dated 1332 (now in the Historical Museum, Beijing), and includes photos of another example dated to ca. 1409 (Rotunda, Woolwich), and three further specimens dated 1421, 1423, and 1426 (S. Yoshioka Collection). All these are of bronze with inscriptions including the dates; the three Yoshioka pieces are of a type also known to have been in use in Vietnam early in the 15th cent. The Munich iron handgun which is the subject of this thread may be an early one indeed, but Mr. Blackmore, in his GUNS AND RIFLES OF THE WORLD (NY: 1965), illustrates two Hakenbuechsen which he believed may predate it: an iron one (Historisches Museum, Bern, no. 2193) believed to be late 14th cent., and a bronze specimen (National Historical Mus., Stockholm, no. 23136) attributed to the same period.
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Old 2nd June 2010, 09:01 PM   #18
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Hi Philip,

Thank indeed your for your engaged research work.

I am sorry to say that the so called 1332 Chinese handgun is meanwhile known to be a fake - the shape of the cyphers is modern, so they must be a modern addition.

The other cited pieces I have not seen myself but as this is the European forum I confined both myself and my collection to this part of the northern hemisphere.

I posted the early Swiss pieces quoted by you on the forum some time ago. There is no doubt that the small stocked piece is datable around 1400, the hook being a working addition of ca. 1430.

Anyway, please note that the title of this my contribution clearly confines itself to dated, which per se excludes the Swiss pieces. Let me point out that, in Europe, we generally hardly find any dated painting or any work of arts and crafts before ca. 1450! (tombstones in cathedrals excepted).

In the world of weaponry, and by the the staff of the leadimg museums, my 1481 haquebut barrel is acknowledged to be the earliest known dated European handgun (cannon barrels excluded); so could we agree on solving our discourse by replacing the world's in my title line by Europe's, o.k.? .

Best,
Michael

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Old 3rd June 2010, 07:17 AM   #19
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Hi, Michael
I'd be interested in updating my reference material, please provide the source of the contention that the 1332 Chinese handgun is a fake. Though I am familiar with the gun only in photographs, the thought did cross my mind at one time when considering the piece's fairly crude exterior, in contrast to the careful attention to casting and finish on practically all of the other Chinese hand-cannons of the late medieval period (as well as slightly later Korean and Vietnamese examples) which have survived. The discrepancy is also notable when compared with the quality of casting of various utilitarian objects (bells and vessels, among other things) from China during the same time span.

That leaves the other dated examples in Blackmore's article which also predate 1481 by a good margin, but of course the argument is now moot since you have advised that the scope of your chronology excludes non-European cultures.

Please keep up the interesting posts. I am especially interested in the south German / Bohemian Schnappluntenschloss and its Portuguese and Oriental descendents, so look forward to being able to discuss these eventually.
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Old 4th June 2010, 11:32 PM   #20
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Hi Philip,

I must admit to have forgotten where I read about the 1332 Chinese handgun. It probably was in some of the earlier volumes of the Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde e.V., Berlin, 1897 and still being continued. Whenever I come across it I will let you know.

As I am not familiar with Chinese (and Far Eastern in general) weapons I cannot contribute as an expert to these. I just remember the shape of the cyphers being identical with Western modern cyphers.

I can tell from your use of the term of 'Schnappluntenschloss' that you are influenced by Rainer Daehnhardt's book Espingarda Feiticeira/The Bewitched Gun. I am sorry to say that from an impartial point of view, his book contains many essential mistakes regarding both terminology and dating. So the correct German term is of course Lunten-Schnappschloss but what he atually means would be Schwamm-Schnappschloss (snap tinderlock) as the guns he is talking about were not fired by a match cord (the heads of their tiny serpentines are far from being able to receive and hold match) but by a small and thin piece of glowing tinder (Schwamm). We have had this discussion before in several threads, very detailed and profusely illustrated, so you may wish to refer to them - especially as I published the same guns he did but with their correct origin (Nuremberg, instead of Bohemia) and date (ca. 1525, instead of 'ca. 1490' as Daehnhardt thought when erroneously following Arne Hoff's misdating of 1969.

Attached please find a characteristic Nuremberg made snap tinderlock arquebus of ca. 1525 and of the type I both inspected and photographed at large in the Západoceské Muzeum Pilsen. Of course the Pilsen armory got them from Nuremberg and they are still incorrectly labeled as Bohemian guns of ca. 1490 there - all based on Hoff's mistaken dating a gun of identical construction in the Landeszeughaus Graz to 'ca. 1490'. When first visiting Graz some 20 years ago I told the staff there that, as their gun was obviously a homemade Styrian production, it could not be dated before ca. 1525, being made after Nuremberg models. They then searched the city archives and found out that the maker's mark on that gun was the one of Peter Hofkircher, a gunsmith working nearby, who started furnishing guns to the Graz armory in 1524. So that was settled and has been regarded in all their publications ever since. After some discussions, it seems to me like Daehnhardt either does not have or does not wish to have knowledge of this fact because he continues dating all pieces too early.

Sadly, I cannot say much more on the Nuremberg (not Bohemian!) influences on the Oriental descendents, except that their lock pattern with the brass parts and springs, including their early German Renaissance decoration, of the 1520's was obviously closely followed by the Malaysian and Sri Lankan matchlocks while the Oriental butt stocks were orientated on the German double scroll style of the 1550's.

Best,
Michael
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Old 4th June 2010, 11:56 PM   #21
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Default The Graz Snap Tinderlock Haquebut of ca. 1526-30, Misdated to 'ca. 1490 by Hoff

Though being of Styrian production, it closely follows the somewhat earlier Nuremberg models.

See also some historical sources of illustration clearly depicting the use of a small piece of glowing tinder in the tiny tubular heads of those delicate serpentines, instead of a match cord.

Best,
Michael
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Old 5th June 2010, 12:23 AM   #22
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More snap tinderlocks which so far have been misinterpreted as matchlocks.

As we often see thick matchcord wrapped either around the forestocks of the guns or the arms of the arquebusier we must assume that the match was used to ignite the small pieces of tinder shown in the tubular heads of the serpentines.

Best,
Michael
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Old 5th June 2010, 06:44 PM   #23
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From Cod. germ. 734, ca. 1470; the piece of tinder can be clearly seen protruding from the tubular head of the serpentine.

m
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Old 5th June 2010, 07:32 PM   #24
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Default Snap tinderlocks in the Tunis campaign of the Emperor Charles V in 1535

Please note the red glowing pieces of tinder in the heads of the serpentines and the thick lengths of matchcord used to ignite the tinder!

Michael
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Old 6th June 2010, 06:58 AM   #25
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Default "fake" gun / R. Daehnhardt / match vs tinder

Dear Michael
Thanks for your sequence of posts with a wealth of pics! Please pass along the biblio reference on that 1332 Chinese hand cannon if and when you find it. I'd like to look into the issue of the style of the inscribed characters, the "handwriting" issue. It's an interesting contention but it needs to be examined with an understanding of non-Western approaches to writing styles; like Arabic script, many "fonts" remained surprisingly static over many centuries (even 1-2 millennia in the case of Chinese), unlike the case in Europe. Be that as it may, I realize that this is not a subject of interest to you (or germane to this thread) so I won't carry it further.

Yes, I have read Mr Daenhardt's book and appreciate the attempt to explain what is a very significant and interesting case of West-East technology transfer. But like you, I have serious reservations about a number of things in his book, ESPINGARDA FEITICEIRA. You and I approach it from opposite ends, our expertise being focused in different hemispheres. You raise excellent points (I am new to the European Armoury board, thanks to our colleague Fernando, thus have missed the earlier discussion about these guns) and I notice shortcomings in the analysis on the oriental side of the spectrum.

Whether the serpentine heads can accommodate matchcord or twists of tinder is an interesting point even when looking at various oriental gun locks which derive from these Nuremburg snapping tinderlocks (via Portugal in Goa). It varies from one culture-sphere to another. For instance, the Chinese almost immediately switched to a match-type serpentine shortly after receiving the snap lock from the Portuguese: the head is forked and opens wide enough for a cord. The Japanese (and Korean) serpentine uses a matchcord as evidenced by period illustrations and the fact that the stock is provided with a hole through which the cord runs right up to the serpentine. The Vietnamese serpentine has the same shape but its terminus is so small that only a wisp of tinder will fit there. A detached lock from Java ex-Blackmore collection has two brass tinder-holders attached by chains for keeping the smoldering stuff clear of the serpentine (and pan) until after priming--there are remains of fibrous tinder in these holders, they are insubstantial in size and clearly not twisted or braided enough to qualify as cord. All these types remained in use until the second half of the 19th cent, or even into the 20th in parts of SE Asia.
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Old 19th June 2010, 08:32 PM   #26
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Hallow, Michael! Is the 56 mm "A" or "B"? Else interesting to know the size of "C" and "D"
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Old 21st June 2010, 11:14 AM   #27
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Hello, Alexander,

The measurements you requested are as follows:

A = 4.8 mm, B = 5.2 mm, C = 4.2 mm and D = 5.4 mm.

I attach a characteristic late 15th century form of a stock that would ideally complete this barrel. As the barrel was originally painted red (and still is underneath the black layer), a dark green paint on the stock would convey a perfect impression of late Gothic color taste.

Best,
Michail
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Old 21st June 2010, 11:16 AM   #28
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Hello, Alexander,

The measurements you requested are as follows:

A = 4.8 mm, B = 5.2 mm, C = 4.2 mm and D = 5.4 mm.

I attach a characteristic late 15th century form of a stock that would ideally complete this barrel. Oak would be the best choice. As the barrel was originally painted red (and still is underneath the black layer), a dark green paint on the stock would convey a perfect impression of Late Gothic color taste.

Best,
Michail
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Old 24th June 2010, 09:16 AM   #29
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Thank you! It is a very helpful to me
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Old 13th January 2014, 08:33 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hello, Alexander,

The measurements you requested are as follows:

A = 4.8 mm, B = 5.2 mm, C = 4.2 mm and D = 5.4 mm.

I attach a characteristic late 15th century form of a stock that would ideally complete this barrel. As the barrel was originally painted red (and still is underneath the black layer), a dark green paint on the stock would convey a perfect impression of late Gothic color taste.

Best,
Michail

Michael, Is 42 mm thickness in the thinnest point or not? Is there point thiner than 42 mm?
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