Original Item: Only one available. Possibly the oldest item recovered by IMA from the Palace of Lagan Silekhana, in Katmandu, Nepal is this very early Matchlock Cannon also referred to as a "Hand Cannon” because of the rear spike extension. A hand cannon (also called a gonne) is a very early form of firearm. It is possibly the oldest type of portable firearm, as well as the simplest type of early firearm, as most examples, like this one, require direct manual external ignition through a touchhole without any form of firing mechanism. The hand cannon was widely used until at least the 1520s in Europe and Asia, where matchlock firearms mostly supplanted it. Early engravings of the Battle of Crecy between the English and the French in 1346 show foot soldiers holding the very first firearms ever adopted and this hand cannon is a very similar form.
The hand cannon was a simple weapon, effectively consisting of a barrel with some sort of handle, though it came in many different shapes and sizes. Although surviving examples are all completely constructed of metal, evidence suggests that many were attached to some kind of stock, usually wooden. Other examples, like this one, show a simple metal extension, or spike, which extends from the barrel acting as the handle or base.
For firing, the hand cannon could be held in two hands while an assistant applied the means of ignition. These could range from smoldering wood or coal, red-hot iron rods, to slow-burning matches (glowing taper). Alternately, the hand cannon could be placed on a rest and held by one hand while the gunner applied the means of ignition himself. Projectiles used in these weapons were varied, with many utilizing a variety of different ammunition. Some fired pebbles found on the ground, while others fired more sophisticated ammunition such as shaped balls of stone or iron or arrows. Later hand cannons, such as this one, were made with a flash pan attached to the barrel, and a touchhole drilled through the sidewall of the gun instead of the top of the barrel. The flash pan would have had a leather cover to keep the priming powder dry until the moment of firing and to prevent premature firing.
This small Cannon has 1 3/8” bore and is just under 38" in overall length with 26” barrel. This very hand cannon is featured in our DVD documentary, "Treasure is where you find it" and was discovered in lowest basement of the old palace. This cannon is real and it is very old, possibly the late 16th, 17th or the early 18th century. This is a one of a kind opportunity and belongs in a museum.