UNIQUE TWIN BARREL IRISH CHAIN-SHOT CANNON MOUNTED ON WHEELED IRON CARRIAGE.
SN NSN. This is a most curious and wonderful cannon which has the Coat of Arms of Ireland surmounting a “VR” cypher and the date 1848. The model is 18″ overall, 11″ wide, & about 12″ h, with a total weight of about 54 lbs, with 14-1/2″ bbls and 5/8″ bores. The marvelous curiosity is described by our consignor “Certainly one of the most unique items in the collection, this twin-barreled chained-shot cannon on a four-wheeled cart is designed to fire both barrels simultaneously as a percussion lock ignites a central powder magazine, which in turn fires into vents of both cannon, discharging them. The small magazine is provided with a rotating cover for loading. The hammer is tripped by a lever at the rear of the carriage. There are adjustment knobs for both elevation of the barrels, and divergence. The reason for enabling the firer to adjust bbl divergence is apparently to determine by experiment the optimum angle of divergence for a full-sized chained-shot cannon. Chained-shot cannon are designed to fire two round-shot, connected by a chain, simultaneously, in order to “mow down” attacking infantry or cavalry with the high speed chain hopefully traveling horizontally downrange. Literally hundreds of such chained-shot cannon were proposed during the 19th century, and many, however impractical, were patented. The major defect of chained-shot cannons was that the bbls never seemed to discharge exactly simultaneously, resulting in many gory accidents caused by the high speed chain wrapping around cannon and crew when one cannon’s discharge lagged even slightly behind the other. One such famous full sized weapon, invented by one John Gilleland, is displayed in Athens, GA. The piece was probably built in England for a wealthy Irish nobleman who had the substantial funds required to commission such a fine model. The piece is constructed to the highest standards of craftsmanship. The barrels and flame-catchers over the vents are made of brass rather than bronze, or bronze with some zinc content, as judged from the appearance of brighter ‘galvanized’ flakes in the metal. The piece was in use in England or Great Britain, since pieces of distinctively English cigarette package packs were found in its bores. No other piece much like this has been observed by the writer anywhere, so it is certainly a unique inventor’s working model. Pictured on p.201 of Half Century Scrapbook of Vari-Type Firearms in the collection of Frank E. Bivins, Jr. cataloged by F. Theodore Dexter, 1960. PROVENANCE: Frank E. Bivins, Jr. Collection. Springfield Arsenal, LLC Artillery Collection. CONDITION: Very good to fine overall. Gun appears functional. Markings all discernible. Bbls exhibit smooth bronze patina. Complex carriage & mounts appear complete & functional, and also very good to fine overall. Carriage sound & solid. 4-54107 (10,000-15,000) – Lot 2114Click here to view provenance
Auction: Firearms - March 2015
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