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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Apr, 2014 9:08 am    Post subject: Early 16th century arquebus         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

I am in the process of recreating a Landknecht of the first half of the 16th century. I have recently had a replica of a Schwammschlossbüchse (snap tinder lock gun) made after a ca. 1525 original from a private collection. I am now experimenting with how the gun might have been fired under contemporary conditions.

Through expert help on another forum I learned that the tinder was "cut in rectangular, rather short pieces, each meant to be used for one shot only. This piece of tinder was put in the small head of the matchholder; with 15th to mid-16th century guns, the heads of their matchholders were actually too tiny to receive the rather thick matchcord.
The tinder was lit by means of a piece of glowing coal or smoldering match."

Firing the gun I found that the tinder actually can be good for up to about 5 shots (the piece being about 2-3 cms long). What happens is that the part protruding from the holder burns off quickly but then, the tinder being encased by the tubular holder seems to get little oxigen and only glows very slowly. if pushed forward be means of a needle of sorts and blown on, it rekindles and is good for the next shot.

I attach a few pictures of the gun for your enjoyment!








Cheers,
Martin

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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Apr, 2014 12:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin,

That's bloody brilliant. Could I bother asking who you commissioned this piece from and what the process/price was like (PM is fine). I do black powder shooting primarily with original 19th century percussion rifles. I've held off on getting a reproduction matchlock because of the rather dull look so many seem to have. Obviously the maker of your gun is a fine craftsman... I would love to know more about it! Thanks in advance.

-Gregory
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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Apr, 2014 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Greg,

glad to hear you like it :-)
Sent you a PM ...

Cheers,
Martin

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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Apr, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great looking arquebus, the work of a master craftsman. It is rare to see such a high quality reproduction of these early firearms, particularly one fitted with a tinderlock rather than a matchlock.

Very interesting to read your description of the tinderlock in action. Tinderlocks were very common in both military and civilian usage in Sweden and Finland during the 16th Century and still same some use in the early 17th Century. Yet even specialised historians writing about the weaponry of the period tend to do little more than note that they existed and never bother to described how they worked in any detail.

Here in Scandinavia the main reason for the popularity of the tinderlock seems to have been that it was cheap and that tinder was fairly easy find locally while matchcord had to be imported to supply the quantities needed by an army involved in active fighting. At least by the early 17th Century the military version of the Swedish tinderlock was actually able to hold a matchcord as well but it is more clumsy in operation than a proper matchlock.

The one thing your descriptiion has me wondering about is the idea that a piece of tinder was to be cut into pieces only good for a single shot. Having to fit a new small piece of tinder when reloading not to mention having to try to light it sounds like asking for problems in combat conditions. Your experience that a even such a small piece of tinder is good for several shots makes the solution sound much more workable. The question is how much it impacts the rate of fire?

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Apr, 2014 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very attractive archebuse. Big Grin Cool

I am curious about what kind of tinder works, how to make or prepare it for use ?

I also would find this useful for the same reasons that buying or making slow match can be a problem, and having an alternate way to use a smouldering bit of stuff very useful if one had to improvise some sort of ignition system when slow match was hard to get or even if one ran out of slow match.

For " a modern context " this could be useful if one could find black powder and shot and not be able to easily find matchcord.

( Always the " popular " Zombie Apocalypse Scenario Wink Razz where finding slow match might be difficult or near impossible after one has burned up any one already had )

Also useful work around for casual target practice ?

I was thinking that one could even try a cigarette clamped into the matchlock's match holding jaws as an improvised ember ?
( I don't smoke, and I don't want to become a smoker by accident by lighting cigarettes for my matchlock ..... Laughing Out Loud )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Apr, 2014 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The "Schwamm" in "Schwammschlossbüchse" is the German word for tree growing fungi, the Swedish word for this kind of lock is "svamplås" lit. "mushroom-lock" in English. My assumption has always been that these names come from the use of tree fungi as the tinder used to fire the weapon. English wikipedia referes to this stuff as Amadou http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou

The attached image from the 1502 Zeugbuch shows a landsknecht firing an arquebus were the lock seems to be fitted with a stick of tinder(?) rather than a piece of match.



 Attachment: 187.7 KB
zeugbuch_knecht_with_tinderlock.jpg


"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Raman A




Location: United States
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Posts: 143

PostPosted: Tue 08 Apr, 2014 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would it be possible for you to record yourself firing it? It's a beautiful piece and I'd love to see it in action. The color scheme looks absolutely stunning, and the craftsmanship looks top notch.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Funny thing, I tried a couple of things to see how they would burn or smoulder as improvised tinder.

The paracord obviously just melted into a puddle of plastic and I sort of knew this in advance but then I looked at an old face towel in my bathroom and just on a lark cut a small patch from this very old towel and got an interesting result:

A) First I lit it with a match and after I blew out the flame I got a small ember at the end of the piece of cloth.

B) Second the ember would glow when blown on very much like a slow match and also it was actually difficult to stop it from continuing to slowly burn and very hard extinguish. ( But also not prone to burst into an uncontrollable flame like untreated cotton rope I've tried before ).

So, it produced a lasting ember with minimal ash.

I didn't wait long enough to see how long it would take for the towel bit to stop glowing, but it did last a good 10 minutes before I flushed it down the toilet to not set the house on fire by throwing it in the waste paper basket.

As a more or less conclusive test I blew on the end of the ember and I then touched the glowing ember to the tip of an ordinary house match and it lit the match. Surprised Big Grin

Now, I wonder if this towel, which I assume is some sort of cotton, works better because it's an old towel with maybe years of being exposed to soap which might have conditioned the cotton to smoulder and to keep on glowing ?

Another test would be to try various, but newly purchased cotton towels to see if they behave the same way ?

Bottom line is that, at least with this towel I could cut up small rectangles of it for improvised slow match, and if this is generally true of most cotton towels it would be a good substitute for the harder to find or make slow match. Wink Big Grin [/u]

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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all,

thanks for the replies and comments. To be more precise, this is, as Daniel correctly states a so-called "Schwammschlossbüchse". The Schwamm refers not to a sponge but to the tree (tinder) fungus (Baumschwamm or Zunder (tinder) -schwamm in German).

Quote:
Here in Scandinavia the main reason for the popularity of the tinderlock seems to have been that it was cheap and that tinder was fairly easy find locally while matchcord had to be imported


Thanks, that is interesting to know, Daniel!

Quote:
The question is how much it impacts the rate of fire?


The advantage of replacing the piece of tinder after every shot is of course the same degree of safety as when removing the match after every shot before reloading and then fixing it to the lock again. (you still have something aglow in teh vicinity of open powder, so safety is a relative term). Keeping it in and just nudging it forward may be a degree less time consuming overall.
I still have to try out how much time it actually takes me to fire a number of say 10 shots. But before I do that I first need to spend a couple of hours drilling the movements, as that is where the greatest potential does lie. We experienced that when firing out reproduction of a Roman scorpio, where, after several hours of drill over 2 days we where able to raise the ROF from 6 to 13 bolts per minute (with a 3 man crew).

Quote:
I am curious about what kind of tinder works, how to make or prepare it for use ?


I tried both untreated and nitrated tinder fungus so far with the arquebus. Nitrated tinder catches the spark more readily, but also burns off a bit quicker. So I prefer to go with untreated tinder fungus, especially since apparently the arquebusiers carried a piece of match (e.g. wound around the arm) with them to ignite the tinder with that.

Quote:
The attached image from the 1502 Zeugbuch shows a landsknecht firing an arquebus were the lock seems to be fitted with a stick of tinder(?) rather than a piece of match.


Yes, I kow the picture and am wondering about this as well. With my arquebus it is hard if not impossible to fit a longer piece of tinder in to stans out like this in the back. But other locks are different and I can well imagine this to work with them ...

Cheers,
Martin

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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2014 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I do not have a video, I can at least offer a picture of myself firing the piece:


Cheers,
Martin

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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2014 5:23 am    Post subject: Early 16th century arquebus         Reply with quote


So that's how the arquebus works. Now I see.
And, by the way, what's that in the crate next to the Roman sword, Martin? Is it armour?

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

off topic :

Quote:
And, by the way, what's that in the crate next to the Roman sword, Martin? Is it armour?


Yes, my segmentata, I built that almost 20 years ago ... my oh my, time flies...



Cheers,
Martin

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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent stuff, Martin! Thanks for the PM - I appreciate the details. Cheers!

- Gregory
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Isaac D Rainey




Location: Evansville Indiana
Joined: 29 Sep 2012

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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is a beautiful arquebus. Who made this piece? I have been searching for reasonably priced early firearms and whould like to know how much did that gun cost?
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