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Powder flask

Powder flask

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cuir bouilli leather with chiselled iron mounts

  • Museum number:

    611-1893

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This powder flask was used to carry gunpowder. A measured quantity of powder was drawn off by using the spring-loaded pivoting cap on the nozzle.

Firearms became more and more sophisticated during the 16th-century but still required a number of accessories to load and operate them. The main charge, placed in the barrel with the shot, was carried in the powder flask. Smaller priming flasks contained fine-grain powder for priming the pans of wheel-lock firearms. Flasks were attached to a bandolier, a type of sling worn over the shoulder or around the waist, from which hung the various accessories required for a weapon including spanners for the mechanism, measured charges, powder flasks and priming flasks.

Arms and armour are rarely associated with art. However, they were influenced by the same design sources as other art forms including architecture, sculpture, goldsmiths' work, stained glass and ceramics. These sources had to be adapted to awkwardly shaped devices required to perform complicated technical functions. Armour and weapons were collected as works of art as much as military tools.

Like the pistols and guns that accompanied them, decorated flasks were costly items. Inlaid firearms and flasks reflected the owners' status and were kept as much for display as for use. Daggers, firearms, gunpowder flasks and stirrups worn with the most expensive clothing projected an image of the fashionable man-at-arms. The most finely crafted items were worn as working jewellery.

Physical description

Cuir bouilli leather flask embossed and cut with a relief representing Samson and the Lion, with chiselled iron mounts

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

16th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Cuir bouilli leather with chiselled iron mounts

Dimensions

Height: 20.5 cm, Width: 11.8 cm, Depth: 8.2 cm

Descriptive line

Cuir bouilli leather powder flask embossed and cut with a relief representing Samson and the Lion, with chiselled iron mounts, Germany, 16th century

Production Note

Attributed to Italy on accession

Materials

Leather; Iron

Techniques

Cuir bouilli; Chiselling

Categories

Arms & Armour; Metalwork; Tools & Equipment; Accessories

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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