Sunday, 9 December 2012

Research,Research, Research.

I have mentioned the importance of research many times before, but it never hurts to remind people. Some mistakes in what you use may just cost you some embarrasment among your fellow living historians, others can be a lot more dangerous. I contacted a well known trader some time ago regarding the authenticity of his wares, in particular his 18th century copper kettles. He said the copper kettle in question had been authenticated by the maker!!! Sorry, not good enough. People spend a lot of money on this stuff, and although you can say "well they should do their own research", the fact is that some people don't, and they put their trust in the trader.
This Trader's image suggests that this copper kettle is 18th century. I have yet to see an 18th century kettle of this size. If one existed, and documentation exists, then I would genuinly appreciate someone showing it to me.
Powder horns it must be said are like a bomb hanging off your shoulder. I know this sounds frightening, and the last thing I want to do is put people off the sport or stop living historians from carrying their powder horns, but the danger exists.
There are several ways in which a powder horn can explode. One is if you leave the stopper out after loading and a spark gets into the horn from you firing your gun. Another is wearing the powder horn when lighting the camp fire. The stopper in the end of the horn can build up a black powder residue around the stopper, and a spark landing on this can result in an explosion.
For these reasons, the base plug is NEVER glued to secure it. It is only sealed with beeswax and secured with no more than 6-8 small pins or wooden pegs the size of a toothpick. The reason for this is so that IF the horn should explode, the pressure will blow the base plug out of the horn instead of fracturing the horn.

This horn was made by a proffessional hornsmith, he sells these horns for a living. Note the copper reenforcing buttplate over the top of the plug. Note how many nails are securing this plate and the plug. The description also states that this horn is scraped thin enough to be able to see through it. So the horn sides are weak, and the base plug is strongly secured!
Seeing as this manufacturer has seeminly no knowledge of the danger he is creating for his clients with this horn, I would strongly question the safety of the other horns that he makes.
If you are going to purchase a powder horn, ask the seller how it has been constructed. If he/she can't tell you with any certainty, go somewhere else. Place your life in your own hands, not in the hands of the trader or the manufacturer.
The other problem with bought horns, is that some makers do not seal the plug with beeswax, and powder residue can leak around the base plug. The danger here is obvious. Blow into the horn and see if it is sealed.


Sara Seydak said...

Well, 1st, thank you for posting a link to my post. It's always nice to see that ones work is being apreciated.
Secondly, besides re-enacting, research is also a hobby of mine. :) There's always something one can find and do to perfect ones impression. But it's the generalization of researched information that some re-enactors do that get's me. For example: medieval dishware, specially the one made of clay, would be painted in different colors and patterns. Does that mean that I can now buy any type of painted dishware??? Just because it was researched, information shouldn't be bent to ones own will.
Post and blogs like these help to spread the word that is only found in books or old documents. It makes it easier for others to reach out for information.

Gorges Smythe said...

Wise words.

PaoloinUAE said...

Good point,
This is particularly advisable when it comes to Southern style horns with doomed plug. Some manufacturers indicate that the plug has been turned concave on the inside to add capacity, this results in very thin plug' walls where it meets the horn and invariably unsuitable for pegging, so they resort to gluing with epoxy glue. Some horns come without pegging at all......

Le Loup said...

Thank's mate, I did not know that Paolo. Appreciated.
Regards, Keith.