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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Oct, 2016 10:24 am    Post subject: Carrying early pistols         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I was thinking about early pistols, and how they where carried around.
Early wheel/dog/flintlock pistols are quite hefty, and I assume their primary use and mode of carry was in bucket holsters on a gentlemans saddle. But given that these where status symbols, as can be seen from elaborate decoration and fine craftmanship. Would it not be desirable for the owner to show them off also in circumstances away from his horse, say indoors?

Sizeable pockets as far as I know does not appear in clothing until the far half of 17th century (I might be mistaken on that though) and even so, why hide your magnificent pistol in your coat? Tucked in belt I seem to remember from some paintings, but that seems a bit careless for these expensive pieces?

When and where did the holster get invented?

I am familiar with the fine display-boxes that holds paired pistols, maybe they just carried them around like a briefcase Big Grin

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Oct, 2016 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, Bjorn......I'm no expert on this.....but I would presume that early pistols were carried on saddles during hunting or travel away from home. I doubt that pistols would have been carried in a box on such outings, but in some type of sling or pocket holster. As with swords and other weapons, I'm pretty sure they would be turned over to private guard if the person were visiting a royal court or other place of prestiege. There, his 'fancy pistols' would be displayed for other guests to view. Or, if they were allowed to be worn indoors, they would probably be belted, or carried in a waist sash. Just my thoughts......Anyone else?............McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Oct, 2016 4:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Carrying early pistols         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
Tucked in belt I seem to remember from some paintings, but that seems a bit careless for these expensive pieces?

Many (most? couldn't say) of these pistols intended to be carried on your person rather than just on your saddle have a flat hook on one side, similar to many warhammers, to keep them secure and stop them from slipping through when tucked under a belt or sash.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
Joined: 25 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 1:04 am    Post subject: Re: Carrying early pistols         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:

Many (most? couldn't say) of these pistols intended to be carried on your person rather than just on your saddle have a flat hook on one side, similar to many warhammers, to keep them secure and stop them from slipping through when tucked under a belt or sash.


That makes a lot of sense..I need to revisit some images because I don't think I have ever noticed those hooks. But then again, I have not really been looking, and in displaycases they would normally be hidden from view anyway Happy

That said, when do the belt holster appear, do we know? From a bit of superficial research I just did, it was invented by Jack sparrow apparently. Internet is full of fanciful bandoliers with flintlock pistols portruding every direction Wink

But all images of extant holsters seem to be for saddles. Quite a few turkish/oriental ones seem to be around still.

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course, one thing here is that most early pistols were specifically made for mounted combat, not for casual wear like modern handguns. So you have things like saddle holsters for pistols, and suspension rings on carbines, but far more rarely any concession for convenient carry on foot - it's just not what they were primarily made for.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 8:12 am    Post subject: BELT HOOKS         Reply with quote

Hej Bjorn, it seems that, apart from the BBC's awful ''Musketeers'' (where at least the firearms looked authentic) that belt hooks started to appear on naval pistols and Scottish all-steel pistols in the early eighteenth century. Have seen references to spare ones being stuffed down bucket boots (uncomfortable), however, pommel holsters were easy to unhitch and could have been carried on the man whilst on foot. Have never seen any pictorial or other evidence though sad to say.
Stephen Wheatley
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 3:16 pm    Post subject: Re: BELT HOOKS         Reply with quote

Stephen Wheatley wrote:
Hej Bjorn, it seems that, apart from the BBC's awful ''Musketeers'' (where at least the firearms looked authentic) that belt hooks started to appear on naval pistols and Scottish all-steel pistols in the early eighteenth century. Have seen references to spare ones being stuffed down bucket boots (uncomfortable), however, pommel holsters were easy to unhitch and could have been carried on the man whilst on foot. Have never seen any pictorial or other evidence though sad to say.


Belt hooks are much older than the 18th c. One of the oldest known pairs of Scottish-made pistols, with wooden stocks, are equipped with belt hooks (dated 1598). All-metal pistols dated 1611 and 1618 also have belt hooks. The belt hook was almost universal on Scottish pistols from the very beginning. Even the English-made pistols issued to the Scottish Regiments of the British army had belt hooks. Most photos of these pistols only display the obverse side of the gun, which might lead to thinking that belt hooks were not common but that is not correct. One feature of Scottish pistols made in pairs was the fitting of the locks on opposite sides of the stocks, creating a left hand and right hand gun. IMHO that was to allow them to be carried one on each side by the owner.

The belt hook was in use throughout Europe for a long time, until the end of the muzzle loading era. When revolvers came into use, with their more streamlined shapes, leather holsters were developed, although revolvers could also be stuffed in the waistband or belt if need be. I think removing the bucket type holsters used by cavalry and dragoons and hauling them around would be difficult and awkward.

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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Eric S




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 3:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Carrying early pistols         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
Hi all,

I was thinking about early pistols, and how they where carried around.
Early wheel/dog/flintlock pistols are quite hefty, and I assume their primary use and mode of carry was in bucket holsters on a gentlemans saddle. But given that these where status symbols, as can be seen from elaborate decoration and fine craftmanship. Would it not be desirable for the owner to show them off also in circumstances away from his horse, say indoors?

Why would they not have been carried in a scabbard (holster) in the same way a sword would have been. There are many examples of holsters for flintlocks, many carried two rather large flintlocks.



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Eric S




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 3:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Carrying early pistols         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:


Sizeable pockets as far as I know does not appear in clothing until the far half of 17th century (I might be mistaken on that though) and even so, why hide your magnificent pistol in your coat? Tucked in belt I seem to remember from some paintings, but that seems a bit careless for these expensive pieces?

Another method was the "silahlik" (weapons belt), worn throughout the Ottoman Empire, made from layers of leather, each with scalloped edges and containing slips to hold a yataghan sword and other weapons.

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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Oct, 2016 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two examples of 16th Century pistols fitted with belt hooks
http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-comp...ails.aspx/
http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2012/11/10/25544215.html

The hooks are often either obscured on photos or missing with the only hint at their presence being the holes left by their attachment to the stock.

I've never seen a belt holster for pistols in the 16th century, when pistols are carried without holsters (either mounted or on foot) they are worn using a hook. By the 17th century the hooks seem to become very uncommon, pistols are usually carried in saddle holsters or carried in an improvised fashion by being thrust into the sash.

"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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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2016 3:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all for the input so far, I'm learning a lot Happy

And you can always trust the Ottomans to bring something embellished as well as practical to the plate! Alas I am stuck with reenactment projects centred around the Swedish/German/Dutch cultural sphere..

But I am from now on definitely paying more attention to detail when looking at old pistols, other than just trying to identify the lock mechanism. Always worth to try to get a glimpse of the other side of it.

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Stephen Wheatley




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2016 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin, take your point about Scottish regiments and steel pistols etc, but aren't they from a bit later? I'd love to see a mid or early 17th century doglock or wheellock horse pistol with a hook if you've got any photos?
Stephen Wheatley
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2016 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Wheatley wrote:
Lin, take your point about Scottish regiments and steel pistols etc, but aren't they from a bit later? I'd love to see a mid or early 17th century doglock or wheellock horse pistol with a hook if you've got any photos?


I threw that in for interest' sake. Note what I said about the other Scottish pistols from the 16th and late 15th centuries. If you have not looked at the links in Daniel Staberg's post you might want to do so as they are wheel locks with belt hooks. I do not have any photos to provide but you may find some in the galleries on this site. The problem is, as I stated, they usually photograph the obverse side of the pistol only, at least that is the photo, displaying the lock mechanism, that gets published.

Since you live in England, a trip up to Glasgow to view the collections in the various museums should answer your question about belt hooks.

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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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2016 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the mid 1500s in England there was concern about concealed guns being used to commit murders or assassinations and legislation was passed setting minimum size requirements for firearms. The small pistols were called "Pocket Dags".

In 1584 William the Silent was assassinated by a man who had a multi-barreled wheellock pistol hidden in his clothing.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 4:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In looking for contemporary material, look what was hiding in plain sight on wikipedia all along!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Teach_Commonly_Call%27d_Black_Beard_(bw).jpg#/media/File:Edward_Teach_Commonly_Call%27d_Black_Beard_(bw).jpg

It says 1734 engraving, and here we have some sort of holster/bandolier. I'll contiune my searches.

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