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Old 5th May 2014, 01:43 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Two Extremely Rare Small BOMBARDS, ALCOVE CANNONS, Early 15th Century

Ca. 1400-1450, probably made in Tyrol.
Of wrought iron, with clearly defined rear breech section (German: Pulversack) and touch holes on top.
They sent out limestone balls that filled the wider forward section, and were placed right at the muzzle (German: Steinbüchse).
The second item was struck with a Gothic smith's mark, a religious or magic cross symbol, possibly within a shield, called Hausmarke in German. These primitive symbols are often found on early barrels; they are unidentifiable and cannot be attributed to a certain region, let alone a certain workshop.

Overall lengths:
The first: 32 cm, the second: 33 cm.

They were sold at auction, Hermann Historica, Munich, today:
The hammer prices: 4,400 € (the first) and 6,800 € the second - plus 23 per cent commission!

Originally these would have been stocked, of course. To convey in impression of what they looked like I attached photos that I took many years ago of a similar small bombard/Steinbüchse preserved in the museum at the fortress of Hohensalzburg, Salzburg, Austria.

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 6th May 2014 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 5th May 2014, 02:52 PM   #2
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More of the Salzburg bombard.

Next I wish to introduce a similar but differently stocked bombard/Steinbüchse, preserved in the museum in Weißenburg, Bavaria.
Actually, small barrels stocked this way mostly were alcove cannons (German: Mauerbüchsen), kept, loaded and primed, on the towers and walls of a town or castle, but preferably were placed to defend the gate(s). Placed this way, they were permanently kept ready to get fired with either a red hot igniting iron (Loseisen) or a linstock clamped with a length of glowing matchcord, when the place got attacked by enemies.

A highly important, small Late Gothic (ca. mid 15th c.) alcove cannon retaining its original oak stock (!) is in my collection:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...t=alcove+cannon


Please note that detached 600 year-old barrels of guns are not that rare. What really is sensationally rare are completely preserved guns from that period, retaining their original stocks!


For more on igniting irons, linstocks and matchcord, please see my threads
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=igniting+irons
and
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=igniting+irons


The barrel and iron mounts retaining traces of their original red minium (red lead) paint.
The barrel is early 15th century, ca. 1410-30, while the crudely wrought oaken stock dates from the end of the 15th c.; when I told the museum that the piece was restocked at some later during its long working life, they would not believe me - museums! Grrr ...
Well, they had the wood dendrochronogically analyzed - and my theory was proved right. The results are attached at the bottom.

The breech is struck behind the touch hole with a Late Gothic symbol, consisting of rings forming a cross.

The measurements: overall length 61.3 cm, the barrel 31.6 cm, length of the widened forward section receiving the stone ball (German: Flug) 26.0 cm.
At the moment, I cannot access parts of my photo library comprising more than 280,000 photos of early firearms that I took in museums over more than 35 years, and especially in their reserve collections that are not accessible normally. Thus I cannot look up the bore etc.

All author's photos.

m
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Last edited by Matchlock : 6th May 2014 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 5th May 2014, 03:00 PM   #3
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The remaining photos of the Weißenburg Steinbüchse, with the results of the dendrochronology attached at the bottom.
The German text states that the earliest possible date when the oak tree was logged was in about 1460. Of course, the wood had to be left to dry for decades in that period. This is why a realistic date for stocking the barrel in its present shape is the late 15th c.

m
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Old 5th May 2014, 04:06 PM   #4
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My important small alcove cannon retaining its original oak stock, ca. 1450.
Its overall length is only 40 cm - just lovely!
The iron ring at the rear was for a chain; so this alcove cannon was originally attached to a wall, as I explained in my previous post.

Now that these two detached barrels sold so well at Herman Historica's, it is with pride that I look at my fine and completely preserved piece!

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=alcove

Best,
Michael
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Old 5th May 2014, 04:14 PM   #5
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Similar small bombards/Steinbüchsen are prreserved in the reserve collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg.

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Old 5th May 2014, 06:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
My important small alcove cannon retaining its original oak stock, ca. 1450.
Its overall length is only 40 cm - just lovely! ...

Yes, lovely. I wish it were here.
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Old 5th May 2014, 08:48 PM   #7
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Yeah, Nando,

I realize that.
Who knows, it may come your way some day ...
Let's wait and see what the future brings on.
Anyway, some very good pieces have already found a good home with you, this I know for sure.

With all my best wishes for you, my friend, your family, charming cats and your collection,
Michl
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