Original English 15th/16th Century Hand Cannon - Museum Restored During the Victorian Era

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Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This came from a very old New York Collection and is nothing short of extraordinary. This is a single iron barrel hand cannon of only about 5" in length and just over a half inch bore. It is said to be one of a small lot of similar barrels found in the mud of the River Thames, near the Tower of London in the very early Victorian era, about 1840. Apparently these were taken by the Crown Armories and were restored to what they once were for Museum Display.

The iron barrel is original to the late 1400s to the early 1500s, and the rest is Victorian restoration to what it looked like in its working life. The Tower Armories had many totally original examples to base their accurate restorations upon.What we have measures about 31" in overall length made of a wood stock that is perfectly straight with a widened bulge towards the from to accommodate the barrel, which is held in place by two hand forged iron rings.

Behind the barrel there is a large iron spike jutting from the underside leaning slightly forward, which measures about 4" in length. At first it was believed to be used as a weapon once the cannon was discharged, then it was proposed to be used as a front hand grip something on the lines of a modern rifle. However the museum authorities consulted say it was for steadying the the gunners aim by either hooking it over a wall or leaning it against a wall for support.

The most interesting detail is that that barrel appears to have TWO touch holes, one at the very rear and one on top about 1 3/4" along the barrel toward the muzzle. The rear hole was pointed out to be, not a touch hole but the "stand" for the smoldering match, which was nothing more than a short length of cord or twine that burnt very slowly and that when the cannon needed to be discharged the gunner used his hand to direct the smoldering end to the touch hole and the weapon would fire.

Lastly there is a small aluminum tag wired to one of the barrel hoops stamped with some letters and numbers:-  M. K. - 63.1 which we have assumed is a Museum display reference, being the gallery, display case and Inventory number.

A very interesting item, with the most important portion being perhaps 500 - 600 years old. Nicely presented and ready to display.


Year of Manufacture: c.1500 - restored c.1840
Caliber: .5 inches
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 5 inches 
Overall Length: 31 inches

Feed System: Muzzle Loading

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