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E Stafford




PostPosted: Sun 24 Feb, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject: concealable crossbows         Reply with quote

I've seen a few sites that are selling pistol crossbows, which are supposed to be from the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Just wondering if they are real. Some of them don't look like they could support the bolt at all. One that does look like it was an assassin's crossbow from a site that has been down for a while. Basically, a prod and ballista style release on top. Also, does anyone have information on the Chinese sleeve arrows? Thanks in advance.
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 12:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe the crossbow you are referring to is called a Balestrino / Ballestrino.

See attached pictures.

The first which is broken up into 3 parts is from Hermann Historica (a German Auction House)

The second is from a website of a crossbow maker that makes period crossbows.
I've been trying to find his website for the last 30 minutes without any luck and its not in my favourites / bookmarks.

The third from memory is from a Polish forum site that I happened upon about 12 months ago. I couldn't read the writing on the forum but I saved the pic, so I don't know if this is a replica or what.


I'm afraid I don't have any other information to share about this particular type of crossbow.


In the Bibliography section of the book "European Crossbows: A Survey by Josepf Alm" (Royal Armouries):

An Assassin's Crossbow
Journel of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries 15

The Assassin's Crossbow
Journel of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries 17

The Pistol Crossbow
Journel of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries 20

The Assassin's Crossbow
Journel of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries 39

I think all of the articles relate to the Balestrino type crossbow. According to the Bibliography they are all illustrated.

If anyone knows of a website where I can buy these from please let me know.

Danny
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E Stafford




PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eek! Eek! Eek!. That first example is GORGEOUS!!! Thanks so much.

Addition after post: just so I make sure, the catch was slid up to the string, attached, and then cranked back with the screw, is that correct? Thanks.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting. I'd always considered such weapons a little dubious. I wonder how powerful they were. They seem to have caused some fear. Were they actually better than throwing a knife?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

I think the one at the Ducal Palace is somewhere around 80 pounds draw from something I read but cannot find anymore. It would be able to kill a man but from fairly limited ranges I assume. But consider hunting bows are from 55 to maybe 75 on average clearly it could kill a person. My guess is the trick is in the very thick stubby steel bows. I assume these would never have been used on the field of battle as you'd have to be really close and any armour would likely counter it unless a foot away.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately, you can't simply compare the draw weight of bows and crossbows to determine power. You have factor in draw length as well, among other things. 80 pounds over a few inches isn't the same as 80 pounds over the twenty plus inches you'd have in a hand-drawn bow.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

Never said it was the same. The one in the ducal palace has a very short draw length of only a few inches probably but cannot remember if I have ever seen it written anywhere. I assume 80 pounds over 3 inches still enough to kill a person from close range. As I said before my guess is it was not a battlefield weapon and would be for relatively close ranges but I'd bet further than a thrown knife.

RPM
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding the effectiveness of the small pistol crossbow: I have a modern one, about 80lbs, which cost me all of $40. It shoots a short, lightweight aluminum and plastic projectile. Despite the fact that its made as cheaply as possible it definitely has the potential to be lethal at close ranges.
So I'd guess that something of similar size, made out of steel, by a skilled and dedicated weaponmaker, would be just as effective if not probably more so. Its not unreasonable to assume that a competant assasin would also poison the bolt in case it stuck in an otherwise less than lethal spot.
Maybe the reason why potential targets for assasination feared these weapons out of proportion to their accuracy and power, is that anyone really could use one, and there was no real chance for defense against the attack compared to a sword or dagger.
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Robert MacPherson
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some years ago I built a miniature all steel crossbow. The bow is about 8 in.(200mm.) from knock to knock, 11/8in.(28mm.) tall, and a little over 5/32in. (4.2mm) thick. It draws 13/4 in.(44mm.) I've never bean able to measure the draw weight, but I believe it to be in the range of 2 or 3 hundred pounds. It draws with a built in screw. I used to shoot it's little 41/4 in. (110 mm.) bolts around the shop for fun. The conical "target points" will put an unsightly dent in an unhardened back plate, but they will bounce off of a piece of upholstery foam. covered with garment suede (which I think is probably not a bad approximation of say, someones butt). By sharp contrast, however, the same bolt with an acute diamond shaped head will easily penetrate the suede and foam target. In fact it will penetrate 6 0z.(2mm.) shoe leather, up to it's tiny little fletches. Indeed when shot against 1/4 in. (6mm.) sole leather, the very point of the head will just barely penetrate.
As my crossbow is proportioned and scaled similarly to the surviving miniature crossbows, I believe it's performance is probably not far off of what could be expected of the real ones by their original owners. I thing that such crossbows were probably toys, rather than weapons as, such. That is to say, expensive and dangerous toys for rich boys.
If anyone is interested I might be able to figure out how to post pictures of my bow ( I'm afraid I'm a kind of a Luddite really).

Mac
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just thought I would resurrect this post as I've found 3 more Balestrinos:


http://www.artito.arti.beniculturali.it/Armer...re.asp?L=L

Then find the following and click on them:

L 10 BALESTRINO APPARTENUTO A UN PRINCIPE DI CASA SAVOIA, ITALIA SETTENTRIONALE (FINE DEL XVII SECOLO O XVIII SECOLO)

L 12 BALESTRINO A VITE


http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_detail...a8af265384


Can anyone translate the above from Italian to English?

I wish I had more information to provide, but unfortunately I don't.

Enjoy

Danny
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is also ione of these bows in Leeds Armouries, but I have no picture sorry.

That last one shown has a monster prodd for the size of bow and I would think 200lb would not be unreasonable for it.

The projectiles would have to be narrow to get good penetration, with as has been pointed out a very short draw on 2-3", so they would need a minimal cross sectional area, so I would think knitting needle rather than pencil, and after all any deep puncture wound into the thorax or abdomen would likely be terminal.

That being said, I cannot think that being an assassin was either a long lived or prosperous business and owning such an object, if found by any authority, would be like a neon sign saying execute me. The lavioushness of them screams money, and yet I doubt an assassin would invest that kind of money, nor a high end maker want to be associated with making one. In a nutshell I too would propose them to be rich mens toys - though lovely ones.

Yet another thing that is on my list of things to make............

Tod

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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I'd use "silvered" bolts, rather than depend on the perfect shot. A spoonful of mercury makes the tyrant go down. Big Grin
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Harold R.





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
The lavioushness of them screams money, and yet I doubt an assassin would invest that kind of money, nor a high end maker want to be associated with making one. In a nutshell I too would propose them to be rich mens toys - though lovely ones.



My education about things like this is rudimentary at best, but that sounds pretty logical to me.
If I were an assasin using a weapon like that, I'd want it reliable and CHEAP. No sense in putting money into something you might have to ditch after you've made your hit and you also wouldn't want any kind of specialized work done on it that could lead someone back to the maker, who would then lead those people on to you.
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Eric W. Norenberg





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo and Harold make a good point...

What is the likelihood that this is not an assassin's weapon, but rather a rich man's "hold-out" piece, not unlike one of those .45/ 410 ga. derringers... not terribly effective, as pistols go, but certainly a reasonable deterrent to a footpad or burglar type who finds himself on the pokey end. A person wealthy enough to commission a piece as ornate as this might be well-regarded enough, socially, to have little to fear if caught with an otherwise forbidden weapon on his person.

Thoughts?

-Eric
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few years ago I broke up with a girlfriend and needed to take my mind off things until Monday morning and the work grind again. The result was a small boxed set of a 1/8th scale war bow, rack of steel tipped bolts, foldaway target and back stop and lots of little wooden people painted red all with lead bases.

Did this have any purpose for being at all - absolutley not, but it was fun and I could shoot it down the dinner table after a beer or two (max range about 50yds with 2" bolts). (And no my dinner table is not that long)

If I had serious money and I wanted a similar sort of toy but some other mug got to spend 4 months making it then I suspect I might end up with one of those shown.

Quote:
Eric Norenberg wrote
What is the likelihood that this is not an assassin's weapon, but rather a rich man's "hold-out" piece, not unlike one of those .45/ 410 ga. derringers... not terribly effective, as pistols go, but certainly a reasonable deterrent to a footpad or burglar type who finds himself on the pokey end. A person wealthy enough to commission a piece as ornate as this might be well-regarded enough, socially, to have little to fear if caught with an otherwise forbidden weapon on his person.



Possibly civil defence, but most were made in the era of pistols so I think just for fun.

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jun, 2010 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to kind of go against the grain on this one, I don't want to say definitively because I have never handled let alone shot an antique, but I think these things were possibly used for assassinations.


You have to keep in mind a couple of things. The first is about Renaissance Italy. Assassinations were not just the vocation of the kind of low level professional criminals we think of today who would pull a hit on somebody, but the hobby of high ranking aristocrats, patrician burghers and even members of the College of Cardinals all of whom assassinated one another fairly routinely in the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries Hence very nice rings and broaches were made with compartments for poison or drugs, beautifully wrought stilettos galore, and perhaps these little 'toys' as well.

Second, like some other folks in this thread I've played around a bit with modern toy crossbows. A cheap 80 lb draw "pistol" crossbow probably qualifies as a lethal weapon only against maybe rats, or possibly small birds. It just isn't powerful enough to hurt a grown man unless you were extremely lucky. In other words definitely a toy. A rather dangerous (to the user) 180 lb draw pistol crossbow that I had for a while on the other hand would shoot these crappy aluminum bolts halfway through a two inch thick oak door I had in my yard from about 20' away (and always ruin them). I think that would indeed be enough to kill someone, or cause a serious life threatening injury, if you hit them say in the neck or the face. I would think a toy could be more like in the 80 lb range that you can easily span with your hands, rather than the 200-300 lb range you need a miniature jack to span.

It's still not nearly as powerful as a longbow or a pistol but, neither were these



...and they were used for a couple of thousand years as weapons (incidentally, with poison)

I have also read (admittedly, in modern historical analysis) that these small crossbows and pistols both created a minor outrage and a mini-legal crisis when they first appeared, due to the danger of assassinations. Pistols are much more effective but, they were also very loud and created a telltale plume of smoke, instantly marking the assailant. A crossbow like this could be used with some hope of effectiveness, then concealed briefly, and discarded at the first opportunity if necessary, all without drawing any undue attention.


Think of it as a silenced .22 Baretta 70 S. A lot of people think of a .22 as a toy. It's certainly not nearly as effective at killing as an Ak-47 or a Mac-10, but it was, incidentally, the preferred weapon of the Mossad for about 40 years.

Just my $.02.

J

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Nov, 2010 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have a look at this thread http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...balestrino there is a lot of cross useful information

Tod

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