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Cartridge Box, Saxon Electoral Armouries, circa 1580
Cartridge Box, Saxon Electoral Armouries, circa 1580

An Exceptional Inlaid Cartridge Box, Circa 1580-90,

with Etched Iron Mounts.
Height: 12.7 cm (5 in).

Provenance: The Saxon Electoral Armouries, Dresden, probably sold prior to 1899.

Dossier as PDF

The fruitwood body of arched plano-convex section and strongly flanged at the base, the interior with five cavities, the base veneered in staghorn engraved with five acanthus rondels framed by acanthus strapwork, the outer face inlaid with panels of interlaced engraved staghorn spirals, pierced and centered on flower-heads enriched with enclosed florets, all within cabled staghorn borders, domed iron lid and frontal plate for a spring-catch, finely etched with a delicate pattern of spiralling scrolled foliage on a stippled blackened ground, fitted with three loops for suspension, with old attached collection label.

Boxes like the present one held a couple of paper cartridges filled with a premeasured powder charge and a bullet. In order to load the rifleman tore the paper open and poured the powder into the barrel. Then he rammed down the bullet with the paper wrapped around it as wadding. This was to ensure a tight fit, preventing explosion fumes from escaping the gun without transferring their energy to the shot. The principle of preloaded paper cartridges favoured the effectiveness of loading.

Suchlike cartridge boxes belonged to the standard equipment of the Trabantenleibgarde at the Saxon Electoral Court. Various types of these do exist. The most common is the so called more

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