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Michael Parker




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Apr, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject: What could this shattered votive pistol be?         Reply with quote

Dear friends,

I am trying to come up with a catalog entry of about 1000 words about a shattered pistol deposited in a church in Naples during the 20th century, but I know nothing about votive firearms. Among other things, I would like to know whether this object was a serviceable gun at one time, or if it was deliberately created in an old-fashioned style specifically to serve as a toy or a votive object. It appears to have been violently broken, but how did it get that way?

There is a short catalog entry about it, but I am not good enough at reading German to understand it. Can anyone share their experience on what this object is, who might have made it, and what it's for? What kind of sources might tell me about this specific category of object?

Name: Votive Pistol (Shattered)
Collection: Museum Kloster Asbach
Accession Number: Kr. D 88
Date: 20th century
Medium: Iron, wood
Place Created/Found: Madonna dell'Arco of Naples, Italy
Bibliography: Gockerell, Nina. Glaube und Bild: Sammlung Rudolf Kriss. München: Bayerisches Nationalmuseum 2009, p 191.



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Shattered_Pistol_Armory_Size.jpg
The only Photograph Available at this time.

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Votive Pistol Text.jpg
An excerpt from the catalog, referring to the pistol.

"This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries."
-Sir Walter Raleigh, upon being allowed to see the ax that would behead him, 29 October 1618
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Ralph Grinly





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

Posts: 305

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2016 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I certainly can't help with a German translation, but the pistol appears to be an early to mid 19th century percussion pistol. Judging from the condition, it appears to have suffered a catastrophic barrel failure, possibly by double charging with black powder, or loading with more modern smokeless powder. Maybe the shooter deposited it in the church in thanks for not suffering a serious injury ?
I'd certainly say that this was originally a serviceable pistol, but as to the maker, it's anyones guess. Most pistols of this sort either had the makers name engraved on the ( now missing) lockplate or on the breech end of the barrel. IF it's on the barrel it may be obscured by rust, along with any proof marks. IF there are such marks on the barrel, you may be able to check on where and when the pistol barrel was made
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Martin Moser





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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2016 11:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the German text, that basically only says that among other things people also deposited tools and that pistol that broke during usage and might have hurt them but didn't (at least not fatally). No details on what exactly happened or other context about the owner.
Cheers,
Martin

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Cornelius Engelhardt





Joined: 27 Feb 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2016 12:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Summary:

Items like this would be donated after people had been healed. The items usually had a connection with the injury/sickness.

In this case, it's a "krepierte" pistol.

It means that the barrel shattered when a shot was fired. No reason for the failure given though.

The implication is that it caused a serious injury and the injured person donated it after being healed.
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Michael Parker




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2016 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ralph Grinly wrote:
Well, I certainly can't help with a German translation, but the pistol appears to be an early to mid 19th century percussion pistol. Judging from the condition, it appears to have suffered a catastrophic barrel failure, possibly by double charging with black powder, or loading with more modern smokeless powder. Maybe the shooter deposited it in the church in thanks for not suffering a serious injury ?
I'd certainly say that this was originally a serviceable pistol, but as to the maker, it's anyones guess. Most pistols of this sort either had the makers name engraved on the ( now missing) lockplate or on the breech end of the barrel. IF it's on the barrel it may be obscured by rust, along with any proof marks. IF there are such marks on the barrel, you may be able to check on where and when the pistol barrel was made


Thank you for offering an interesting starting point. I will ask my professor if he has had any chance to look at the marks. I wonder why it's cataloged as 20th century if its construction suggests 19th century. Maybe that's when they originally collected it?

I'm not very familiar with firearms in general. Is that rusty metal bit near the lock supposed to be the nipple/cone on which the percussion cap is placed? When a firearm is overcharged and explodes, is it normal for the front of the barrel to burst like that while leaving the lock and breech relatively unscathed? The hollow wooden area for the lock appears mostly undamaged and the breech doesn't appear to have burst. I wonder why they bothered removing the lock plate if it hadn't already blown off in the explosion, since I'd expect it to still be attached otherwise.

Cornelius Engelhardt wrote:
Summary:

Items like this would be donated after people had been healed. The items usually had a connection with the injury/sickness.

In this case, it's a "krepierte" pistol.

It means that the barrel shattered when a shot was fired. No reason for the failure given though.

The implication is that it caused a serious injury and the injured person donated it after being healed.


Thank you for this summary of the text!

"This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries."
-Sir Walter Raleigh, upon being allowed to see the ax that would behead him, 29 October 1618
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Ralph Grinly





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

Posts: 305

PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 5:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's quite possible it WAS deposited in the 20th C. It's not unknown for some people to come across an early firearm and think " Hey..this looks in OK condition, lets see if I can get it to work" Through ignorance, they then load it with modern day smokeless powder., not realising such powder is considerably stronger than the old fashioned black powder the gun was originally made for. Also, the construction of the barrel may have been weakened by being put away un-cleaned since the last time it was fired. Black powder residue attracts moisture, if left in a barrel, it will cause corrosion and weaken the barrel.
The moral of all this is..IF you have an old black powder weapon, NEVER try to fire it without having it totally checked over by a reputable gunsmith, and then have the barrel re-proofed by a certified proof house. Better yet, get yourself one of the modern day reproductions of the old arms and use those
And yes, that protruding part is the nipple block where the percussion cap is placed. As for why the barrel split as it did, well, in a lot of pistols, the barrel thickness is greatest at the breech, and it tapers down towards the muzzle. Also, you'll note that where it is damaged, the barrel is unsupported by the stock. and there is also a split in the barrel at the muzzle. Why the lock itself is missing, I can't speculate. It's quite possible ( probable ? ) that it WAS blown off at the time of the explosion, as the wooden stock looks like it's been severely damaged as well. Judging from the picture, there's a large piece missing on the right hand side..and it also appears that it's cracked on the top, around the breech tang, all of these would have affected the lock plate.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 02 May, 2016 3:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The gun either had a flaw in the barrel metal, was overcharged or perhaps the ball was not rammed down sufficiently on the powder charge before it was fired, creating an obstruction. Whatever the cause, this is a classic case of a ruptured barrel.

The lock may have been blown off or, if still serviceable after the accident, it may have been removed to be used elsewhere. The pistol appears to be mid-19th c. Other than that, it would be considered as junk to a collector.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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