Tuesday 31 January 2012

A Ranger's Shot Pouch.

This shot pouch belonged to a very dear and close family and personal friend. When he died some years ago he left me his shot pouch and my youngest son adopted it. It is larger than the average rifle pouch because it seviced a Brown Bess musket. Now it is used with my .32 calibre flintlock Mountain rifle.

Monday 30 January 2012

Tardy of Late! New Images, New Book.

Researching is a lengthy process and never ending. Thinking is like that too for me! I have not had time to post recently because I have been busy photographing equipment and accoutrements for my new book, The New World Woodsman 1700-1760. His clothing, arms and equipment.
Then, as I have aquired more information on period fire lighting we decided to revise my book Primitive Fire Lighting. Flint and Steel and Fire-Bow, and make it a part of the new book. This has meant a lot of extra work, taking photos and transfering photos from files to files! Anyway, here is a peek preview of some of the new images.

A 19th century tobacco box with a burning glass in the lid. I must caution that this item is best not used for preparing charred tinder, or used for making fire in the tin itself, as this is likely to damage the burning glass. This item is often touted to be a Hudson Bay tinderbox, which it is not.

This is my personal fire steel that I carry with me. This is a copy of an original 18th century English steel, made by Mr Glen Mitchell of Pioneer Forge Victoria.

My Spanisg Escopeta flint lock with gold inlay. Note that the main spring is on the outside of the lock. The hammer face is screwed on so it can be replaced.

A tea bag  in my cup!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Friction Fire. The Fire-Bow. Slightly Different Approach.

For a long time I did not bother to make a video on fire-bow fire lighting, & that was because it has already been done so many times. However, I have noticed how some people have difficulty getting the smouldering ember to ignite the kindling grass (or whatever they use).
I add one other stage to using the fire-bow, that of adding extra tinder. So if you do use the fire-bow, or are learning this method, my video may still be worth watching.

Safety First. A Tragedy.

TREMONTON — A 14-year-old boy was killed Monday after accidentally shooting himself in the head with an 18th-century miniature replica cannon in his living room, police said.

I am using this piece of tragic news to remind everyone of the dangers involved with using ANY type of firearm. I don't know whether this is a case of the boy not recieving the proper instruction, or it is a matter of the boy not paying attention to what he was taught.
My Father when he was a lad picked up the barrel of my Granfather's fowler & took it outside. The barrel had just been cleaned & apparently the breech plug had been removed. My Father propped the barrel on top of the low garden gate & was looking through the bore at kids playing on the village common. My Grandfather saw him & gave him the biggest wopping of his life.
My Father told me this story when he was instructing me in the safety & cleaning of firearms at an early age. I never forgot. Firearms whether longarms, pistols or miniature cannons are NOT toys, they are a very serious piece of equipment & deserve to be handled with the greatest of care.
If you have children, please teach them while they are young & continue to remind them to take care EVERY time you see them handling a gun. I made toy guns for my boys to play with, but they knew the differnce between playing with a toy, and handling a real gun.
I had a Friend in the Territory who owned one of these working miniature cannons. He used to bring it out to my property, & it was a lot of fun. These cannons can shoot a .50 calibre round ball, that is a pretty large calibre. If you have one of these, & you have kids, do NOT let them play with it! It is not a CHILD'S toy, loaded or unloaded.

Monday 23 January 2012

History Council of New South Wales (NSW). NOTICE.

This month in history…News from the History Council of NSW January 2012

Upcoming History Council NSW Events

Happy New Year! We hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable festive season.

Theme for 2012 History Week Announced: Threads

They wore what?! Long before the fashionistas of today decided ‘the look’, dress was an important element of human expression. From status to style, culture to professional identity, clothes have defined us. History Week 2012 will explore the history of threads and unpick the meaning behind the wardrobes of the past.

Keep an eye on the HCNSW website for more information about events and ways to get involved!
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards: Australian History
Don’t forget the Prize for Australian History is now part of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. This Prize is awarded to an individual or a group for an outstanding publication or body of work that contributes significantly to an understanding of Australian history – and it’s not just for books.  Eligible works can include a published book, website, film or radio documentary, CD-ROM, DVD, other form of multimedia or a series of these works.
To be eligible, the work must be first published, produced or broadcast between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011.
Entries close 1 February 2012. To enter or for more information, visit our website.

NSW Premier's History Awards under review
Arts NSW has announced a review of the NSW Premier’s History Awards. The History Council of NSW will monitor closely the outcome. Check in on our website for more information, and find out more on the Arts NSW website.
Member Announcements


From the Ground Up: Call for submissions

In an article in the Journal of Urban History in 2002, Grace Karskens recounted an overheard train conversation in which a boy, around ten years of age, asked his brother: ‘What is Sydney? Where is it?’ In the article that followed, she noted the difficulties in conveying the complexity, substance and feel of
a city. She suggested, though, that it was possible to develop such histories ‘from the ground up and from the inside out’ through critical and substantive research into, and with, places and people.

By bringing together academics, postgraduate students and professional historians engaged with the history of Sydney and its suburbs, From the Ground Up offers an opportunity to explore the complexity of the city’s past. It is interested in illuminating the mundane, ordinary and everyday; acknowledging the marginalised and dispossessed; exposing the forgotten; and exploring the connections in Sydney between people, place and broader historical, environmental and social forces. In considering how we might rethink the history of cities, and Sydney in particular, papers might draw on immigrant, feminist, Aboriginal and environmental history, although a broad range of papers engaging with the conference themes is expected and encouraged.

A selection of papers from the conference will be collated in a special edition of the referred Sydney Journal, and published in the Dictionary of Sydney.

Those wishing to present papers should send a 200 word abstract (for a 20 minute paper), and a brief CV to the conference organisers at SydneyHistoryConference@gmail.com, by 10 February 2012. For inquiries about the conference, or proposals for panels, please contact Dr Matt Bailey.

Contact: matthew.bailey@mq.edu.au.
When: People and Place in Sydney’s Past
Where: Metcalfe Room, State Library of NSW
Date: 23-24 August 2012

Heritage Courses on Indigenous and Cultural Heritage

You might be interested in these courses being run by The University of Queensland, School of Social Science. Follow the link for more information.


Powerhouse Discovery Centre Open Day

The Powerhouse Discovery Centre kicks off its 2012 open day program with an exciting day for all the family on Saturday 11 February 2012. Highlights include a very special behind the scenes tour of time-keeping objects (and a few telescopes) led by Andrew Jacob the new Assistant Curator at Sydney Observatory, and a very special live performance with our very own Chinese Water Dragon at 11am. Young visitors can enjoy making a space mobile or paper dragon puppet to take home from our make and do craft stations.

When: Saturday 11 February 2012
Website: www.castlehill.powerhousemuseum.com

Kate Laing
Administrative Assistant
History Council of NSW
PO Box R1737
Royal Exchange   NSW   1225
T: (02) 9252 8715
F: (02) 9252 8716

Office days: Tuesday and Wednesday

John Bartram 1743. Shelter & Food.

A Blanket as Shelter. Bartram, 1743.

Morgan, Baynton & Wharton, Traders, 1768.

Winter Trade By Griffing.

A letter from Morgan to Baynton and Wharton:

Baynton & Wharton, 1768.

I shall impatiently await the Arrival of our red Strouds &c, with-
out without which We shall suffer greatly in our Sales. Should any Accident have happend to them I recommend to you to send at least 100 Pieces of the already described Fabrick, as soon as possible.

I have already sent you a gen^ Order for the Goods which are in
demand here & which will afford a great Advance Mess" Clarkson
& Jennings drew it out, but I fear the Am* may be beyond your
Capacity. If so, I would have you generally confine yourselves to the
Articles therein mark'd with an A particularly those mentiond in the
inclosed List But a small Part of those markd B, will be very
necessary. As to Muscovado & Loaf Sugar, Coffee, Chocolate, Mens,
Womens & Childrens best & common Leather Shoes, Tin Ware —
Pewter d° Silver Truck, Appalachia Handkerchiefs — Beaver Traps,
& Soap, you cannot send too great a Q^^ but an assortment will
occasion quicker Returns & prevent Traders going to New Orleans.

Pray dont forget to send the Jesuits Bark by the first Opportunity
I expect to eat a pound of it myself if it comes in Time. We are
greatly distressed for Want of Medicines & shall be much more so in
two or three Months if Mr Wharton does not bring a small Supply.
I flatter myself that ere this you have forwarded to Fort Pitt A
considerable Part of the Goods I sent an Order for P Silver Heels &
Mr Young & That that [sic] they will be despatchd to this Place
before the Fall of the Waters — We shall be in Want of the following
particular Articles, Viz
Loaf Sugar
Muscovado d"
Hyson Tea
Bohea d°
Shoes very large in the
instep but not high
quarterd fine &
coarse Mens Wom-
ens & Childrens
Tin Ware
Pitch & Cordage
Pewter Basons &c
Brass Candle sticks
Writing Paper
Spike Gimblets
Tap Bores
3 Largest Scale Beams
Steel Spurs Short of all Sizes
Salt Petre
Worsted or Cruels
Short Pipes
Blotting Cloaths
fine Irish Linnens
fine Chintz & Callicos
White & red Flan^
Black Barcelona
Cravats & Hkdfs
Bandana d°
small Gilt Trunks
Bed Ticken in Pieces
Table Cloths
Candle Wick &
Candle moulds
black Kip Hides
tannd Sheep Skins
Beaver Traps
Nails & Iron Mongery
for building of Houses
scyths & Sickles
scyth Stones
Knives & Forks
Garden Spades
Axes, of the best sort
A large Q*^ of English Cheese
12 lb Beeswax
Shirt Buttons
fine y^ w^ Cott Checks
blue & red striped
Ginghams & Cott
Apalachia Hhdfs
Mens Boys & Womens
worsted Hose & th"*
G milld Hose &
Mitts & Gloves
Felt & Castor Hats
brass Jews Harps
Castile Soap
Playing Cards
6 best Whip Saws
2 Mill Saws
Bar Iron
Red Stroud &c &c
principally the Indian
Silver Truck as wrote for

Saturday 21 January 2012

Our Grease Lamp.

When we lived without electricity we used a combination of rushlights, candles (home made), and grease lamps. One grease lamp I made from a tin, but it was not as pleasing to look at as the one below. They are smoky though, and the ceiling colours in the living room and kitchen in Elm Cottage are much darker because of using this lighting.

Friday 20 January 2012

Pioneer Handbooks: - How to make rushlights. Plus My Images.

Pioneer Handbooks: - How to make rushlights.

Our two rushlight holders. These supplied us with light for many years.

 Hold the weight up and the jaws open.
Let the weight down, and the jaws close to hold the rush stem or a taper.

University Artifact Images. Permission Granted.

Some of these items such as the gun parts can be dated to 1840, but of course items such as the ball mould and the lead ladle could be a lot earlier. The clay pipe fragments are believed to be later than 1700ad.

The lower image is of a stone ball mould. Both the ladle & the ball mould demonstrate the enginuity and improvisation of the period. Although we still need to be careful when using experimental archaeology to produce period items, this does open some doors.

My thanks to the University of Florida for allowing me to publish these images.

University of Florida Digital Collections Home

Thursday 19 January 2012

A Sketch of the Crude Lead Ladle.

I have been studying the photograph of the lead ladle, & the more I look at it the more I am not sure which way up it is. Enlarging the image allowed me to sketch the ladle, but it became so pixelated that I could not tell if it was the right way up or not! Anyway, I have made a rough sketch so we can better understand what we are looking at.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Finally I have a first ! The First ! I have found documentation for a bag ladle !!!

To say I am a little excited is an understatement. I have been 30 hours researching over the past two days, and finally found what I was looking for.  It has ben a bone of contention for a long time now whether or not woodsmen carried ball moulds & lead ladles in their shot pouches. I can not prove they did, but I have good reason for carrying these tools in my shot pouch. Trouble was, there has been no documentation for small, short, light lead ladles.
Now you no doubt remember seeing the lead ladle I carry and use. I made this about 20 years ago, and I did not copy it from an original. I made it at the time because I had the need, and I thought that if I used common materials and common 18th century tools, combined with a simple design that most anyone could come up with and produce, then that was as close as I could get at the time.
But now I have found documentation in an image of an original ladle, Indian made, and almost exactly the same as the one I made. Only two differences, (1) it is cruder in make, and (2) the crimp on the socket to insert a green stick is on the top instead of on the bottom as mine is.
Unfortunately the document and the image of the original is copyright, so I can't post it here. But I will give you the link. Please bare in mind that I have edited the original image by isolating the lead ladle so I could better identify it. You may need to do the same.

Friday 13 January 2012

My shot pouch and contents.

Swan shot, bird shot, ball, tool pouch: pin punch, grease, screw, turn screw, flint, flint leather. Ramrod leather thong, cow's knee lock cover, ball mould, lead ladle, bar lead, tow wadding, pan brush, vent pick, powder charger/measure, vent quills, loading block, Powder horn.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Dangerous Information!

Webster's Online Dictionary


"In the USA, standard grades of black powder run from the coarse Fg grade used in large bore rifles and small cannon though FFg (medium and smallbore rifles), FFFg (pistols), and FFFFg (smallbore, short pistols and priming flintlocks). "

The above information is not correct.  Accepted grades for calibres are: Up to .45 calibre 3FG. .50 calibre & larger 2FG. Same for pistols. 3FG can be used in larger calibres providing the recommended powder load is adjusted to lower the pressure. 4FG should NEVER be used as a main load, NOT in any ammount. This 4FG is a very fine powder & a modern invention to be used to prime the PAN on flintlock guns (priming horns & special priming powder was not used in the 18th century). If you were to load a gun with 4FG/ffffG, it will likely explode the barrel causing death or injury to anyone standing in the close vicinity.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no contact address on the above site, so I am unable to contact them & correct this error.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The Fur Trade in Australia? The Beaver Rat and More.

I first heard about the Beaver Rat and how it used to be trapped for its fur from an older neighbour here in New England. There used to be Beaver Rat in Boorolong Creek, just down the bottom of the mountain from where we live. How early this Beaver Rat fur trade started I don't know, but one assumes that if it had been a large industry there would be more information to find.

Definition of BEAVER RAT

: a golden Australian water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) with an elongated flattened body, broad flat head, short limbs, large feet, and a short heavy white-tipped tail.

Fur seals. The loss of furs from other sources was a major incentive leading to massive hunts for various types of seal. The animals were usually clubbed to death when they came ashore to breed. The pattern was familiar - the discovery of large populations of target species, the development of intensive hunting leading to extermination or depletion, the move to a new area. The first phase (1780-1820) was directed at the southern fur seal in many areas of the southern hemisphere and was carried out by sealers from Europe, Russia, Canada and the U.S. http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/bio65/lec05/b65lec05.htm

The Australian Mountain Brushtail Possum. We have a lot of these in Wychwood Forest.
The Australian brush tailed possum was introduced into New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur trade.   http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/threats-and-impacts/animal-pests/animal-pests-a-z/possums/facts/   

Eugène von Guérard, The barter, 1854, oil on canvas.
(Trading possum furs).  

Australian History Video, Part 1.

A Little Info on William Buckley. A Video.

A Call to Wings: Sweet tea.

A Call to Wings: Sweet tea.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

18th Century Carrying methods and my Blanket Roll. A Video.

Recreating The 18th Century Punch & Judy Show. A Link.


Gettysburg 150th attendance. The American Civil War.

Dear All

Please pass this on to any whom may  be interested. I have set up an email list for planning for Gettysburg 150th attendance.

The list is open to any reenactor, military or not, from any group, any side. Non-reenactors who are attending are also welcome if they are interested.

The list is designed to help us all stay in touch about what Australians might do in the US and at the reenactment.

It is NOT an indication of definite attendance. Join up if you are at all interested and hoping to get there if you win Lotto.

It is NOT about coordinating Australians as a group - it is designed for us to discuss who we are hooking up with, where we might all meet up after the battle for a beer, who might like to travel somewhere before or after, help with finding a unit, help with kit, accommodation, etc.

The details of the email group are here:

This is a reenactment of the war where Americans fought Americans in the 19th century. The North fought the South.
The photos below are original photos taken during the civil war.

I have heard it said that some Americans are still very passionate about who won & who lost.

Jugged Hare on The Old Foodie's Blog.

I give you the earliest recipe I know for ‘Jugged Hare’. It is from Hannah Glasse’s Art of Cookery (1747)