Object Title

Flintlock firework gun - by James Ermendinger

Flintlock firework gun - by James Ermendinger

Date

1685

Object Number

XII.3913

Provenance

Acquired from R.A. Lee, Bruton Place, W.1. April 1976, sold as lot No. 195 of Christie's sale 11th December 1975.

Physical Description

The rounded lockplate is engraved with foliate scroll work and the name of the maker I ERMENDINGER. An iron ignition tube within the stock contects the pan with the centre of the breech of the barrel. The two piece stock of pine is covered with layers of paint and varnish giving the surface a natural brown colour. Originally, however, it was almost certainly painted black. Around the breech the stock is carved in the form of a lion's head, from the mouth of which issues the barrel. The iron furniture is decorated in places with engraving. The side-plate is of foliate outline and is engraved with leaf motifs. The trefoil shaped reinforcing strap of the rammer pipe is now missing. To the left-hand side of the fore-end was originally attached a sling bar, now missing.
The barrel is of very large calibre, but is contructed of thin sheet metal beaten into a cylinder round a former and then brazed and rivetted together. The breech is in the form of a domed cap brazed to the end of the barrel. It is pierced in the centre to accept the igunition tube. On the top of the barrel at the breech is the name of the maker JAMES ERMENDINGER and, above, the monogram of Prince George of Denmark, addorsed G's within palm leaves.

Techniques

hand made

Materials

Dimensions

BarrelLength16.5inches
BarrelLength419mm
OverallLength37inches
OverallLength940mm
OverallWeight2.97kg

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number none

Calibre

3.25 in

Inscriptions and Marks

Name
I ERMENDINGER
lock
engraving

Associations

Notes

This is one of two almost identical guns the Royal Armouries which were made by the London gunmaker James Ermendinger for Prince George of Denmark, consort of Princess, later Queen Anne. They can probably be identified as two of the eight 'Grenade' guns which are listed in a manuscript catalogue of prince George's collection of arms, which appears to have been drawn up at the time of his death in 1708.
James Ermendiger, a German by birth, was granted English nationailty in 1689, but had been working in London for a number of years previously, certainly from 1679 in not 1677. He was working as a gunmaker to Prince Rupert until the latter's death in 1682 and is recorded as gunmaker to the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1689 he was appointed to the prestigous post of Chief Gunmaker to the Tower of London, but his appointment was rescinded by the House of Commons following a petition by the London Gunmakers Company. He died in 1693.
The stock of the third gun of this type is also in the Royal Armouries Collection (XII.1033). These guns, with barrels of weak contruction, seem likely to be intended to shoot not grenades, but fireworks. Ornamental versions, like this, were probably used to launch decorative fireworks for festive occasions. Plainer versions would probably have been used to launch military fireworks such as flares.