Sunday, 7 December 2014


 This last week was an extremely busy one, with the Long Melford antiques fair on Wednesday. So busy that I can't remember much of it. However the two photographs here are of one of the items I purchased at Bonhams, on the Wednesday of the week before, and I think it will make rather a good

                                     MYSTERY OBJECT.

It's not quite as easy as it looks, and I shall be pleasantly surprised if anyone can give me the proper name for the item (there are at least three), the country of origin, and the date it was made, within about twenty years. The top picture shows it with all the parts folded away. The lower one shows it with various bits unhooked, so they can be seen. One part of the item is missing.

                                         Good guessing, and Good Night.


Rog said...

English bullet crossbow ca 1840?

Crowbard said...

Hi Mike,
Your stone bow or bullet-shooting crossbow is a variant of the cross-bow developed initially for birding and small game taking. The piece missing from yours is the double cord and stone-pouch sometimes referred to as the harness. Originally the bullets were small balls of fired clay but small rocks or pebbles were commonly used. Half-ounce leaden bullets were frequently used in the stronger English stone bow developed in the late 18th century and I suspect your mystery object is one of these dating from about 1780 in view of the style of the stock, trigger guard and the size of the bow-spring; and I didn't look it up in Bonhams sale catalogue despite you pointing us all heavily in that direction.
Honest Guv.

Mike and Ann said...

Rog! That is brilliant! The only thing I'd correct (and that is a matter of opinion, and we'd not be far apart anyway) is that I'd date it a bit earlier - say 1790 - 1820. They were certainly still being made in 1840, but the stock would have been rather more gun like at that date.

Rog said...

If only I'd been devious enough to think of looking back at the auction catalogue on line! ;-)

Pat said...

It looks like some sort of weapon.
Pre war.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. With Roger, you are right on all points.
Hello Pat. You are absolutely correct on both points you mention.

paul cully said...

O.K. I think I've got it sorted. In future, the bould Crowbard gets a five response handicap so that he has to wait until at least that many other people have had a stab at it and then he can tell us what the answer really is.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Paul.Ref your last comment, in the ordinary way Crowbard tends to come up with the first answer (often the right one) and then I hold that answer back until everyone else has had a shot at it. This time Rog pu up the right answer straight away (much enhanced by the brevity of his reply). This was almost immediately followed by Crowbard's reply (rather longer, with more information) so I printed them both, and hoped for bits more information from the rest of my readers.

I do have a decision to make about the item. A good friend (my barber in fact) and a very good restorer (and a keen collector)of weapons, has offered to restring the stonebow. He has lots of the correct string left over from the last stonebow he put back into working order, as it's the sort of job he likes. This sort of stonebow has a double string with ivory/bone spacers, with a leather pouch in the middle. It's a highly specialised job, and although I've restrung two two or three of them in the past, I have no bowstring by me. The weapon is not in the best of condition, but would probably look better with the right sort of string in situ. It's the usual decision between good restoration or complete originality. I think I've already decided to let Bill have a go at restoration, but I'd be interested to hear my readers views on the matter.

Mike and Ann said...

Names for this object :- stone bow, bullet bow, prodd, latch.

Crowbard said...

Fascinating Mike, I had thought that the name prodd (despite looking like a Welsh word) referred specifically to the Italian stone bow and that latch referred only to the releasing mechanism. You frequently expand my education Mike; thank you.
As previously stated I consider it entirely at your discretion as to when and whether you publish any comment of mine. Regretably I must make my comments as they occur to me else risk losing them entirely in the absence of my short term what you may call it... er ... thingy... or possibly my instantaneous forgetory.
My thanks to Paul for his unswerving faith in my guessing ability; I much appreciate the 5 place handicap but fear it may not be genuinely warranted.