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Priming flask

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt and silvered cast brass

  • Museum number:


  • 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

Gilt brass case with cast silvered brass mounts

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


ca. 1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gilt and silvered cast brass


Height: 8.9 cm, Width: 7.6 cm, Depth: 3.7 cm

Descriptive line

Gilt brass priming flask with cast silvered brass mounts, Germany, ca. 1600


Brass (alloy); Gold; Silver


Gilding; Silvering


Arms & Armour; Metalwork; Fashion; Tools & Equipment; Death; Accessories; Firearms


Metalwork Collection

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