Object Title

13 in mortar and bed

13 in mortar and bed

Date

1683-1684

Object Number

XIX.132

Provenance

These mortars together with the gun No.XIX.53 and perhaps also No.XIX.54 (q.v) were captured in the course of the raid on Cherbourg in 1758.

Physical Description

Two very similar examples of the 'mortier de 12 pouces', cf XIX.133. On each mortar the breech section is of rounded form, and the chamber is spherical with a short neck, the vent leading into a small hemispherical hollow in the base of the chamber. There is a lifting loop at the muzzle and a single dolphin placed transversely on the reinforce. The chase bears a panel inscribed NON SOLIS RADIOS SED IOVIS FULMINA MITTO (I send forth not the rays of the sun but the thunderbolts of Jove), and below, on the reinforce, are the arms of the Duc du Lude, 'Grand Maitre de l'Artillerie'. On the breech is a shield bearing the royal arms of France backed by the Sceptre and the Hand of Justice; below the priming pan of the vent, which is ornamented with a soldier's face, is the inscription KELLERI HELVITII FEC. DVACI and the date, 1683 for XIX.132 and 1684 for XIX.133. On the former the right trunnion is marked 286 over 2840, the latter figure probably being the weight, the left 98 over 65. On XIX.133 the numbers are respectively 2840 and 1 over 77. The muzzle of this mortar is damaged, probably by the fire of 1841.


BED
Of iron, that of XIX.132 being stamped with the number 169 in several places and, on the left bracket, with the weight 22-0-?. The markings on the bed of XIX.133 are illegible. The beds are of English pattern and were supplied after the arrival of the mortars in England.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Length: 3 ft 4 in (40 in) (1016 mm); Height: 1180 mm; width: 1070 mm; depth: 1580 mm Weight: 27 cwt 1 qtr 8 lb (1387.9 kg)

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number nvn

Calibre

13.3 in

Inscriptions and Marks

Right trunnion: 286 over 2840 Left trunnion: 98 over 65

Associations

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.128-129.

Notes

'Jan (Johann) Balthasar Keller'
1638-1702, and his brother Jean Jacques, 1635-1700, natives of Zurich, were both skilled bronze founders. They entered the French service in 1654, Jean Jacques becoming 'Commissaire de l'Artillerie' at the Paris cannon foundry. His brother, the more artistic of the two, became 'Inspector de la Fonderie de l'Arsenal' and in 1666 published an engraving by le Pautre showing the various kinds of highly decorative royal cannon cast by him. In 1669, after the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the Kellers were ordered to set up a foundry at Douai. Although they also helped to establish and supervise foundries at Besancon, Pignerol and Breisach, the majority of extant pieces by them were made at Douai. The two brothers became naturalised Frenchmen in 1674 by gift of the King, but on their cannon inscriptions (written in Latin) they always indicated their Swiss origin, HELVETII, and sometimes their birthplace, TIGURO. Jean Balthasar was responsible for several bronze statues at Versailles, but his finest work, etected in the Place Vendome, Paris, was the 21ft high statue of Louis XIV cast in 1694 after the design of Francois Girardon. An oil painting in the Schweizerisches Museum, Zurich (No. GKS 2935), shows the founder with one of his cannon pointing at a statue presumably cast by him.
It would appear that the Kellers had more success with their statues than with their guns and, as early as 1684, the Marquis de la Freseliere, 'General de l'Artillerie', reported to the King that of ten mortars of a new type supplied by the Kellers six had failed in the proof; thirty of the old type, of which this one may be an example, had fared better, only ten being rejected. By 1694 attacks were being made openly on the quality of the brothers' cannon casting and, although a 'Memoir' was published in their defence, Jean Jacques was force to resign. Jean Balthasar seems to have retained his reputation and Saint Remy in his 'Memoires d'Artillerie' (first published Paris, 1697) referred to him with great respect, illustrating his design for a 24pdr gun as an ideal; but he too was eventually replaced at Douai by Claude Berenger de Falize. See 'Nouvelle Biographie Generale'; P Reimer, 'Aus franzosischen Geschutzgiesseren unter Ludwig XIV', Z.H.W.K., II(1900-1902), 179-91. Henri de Daillon, Duc du Lude, a distinguished soldier, held the office of 'Grand Maitre de l'Artillerie' from 1669 to 1676. He died in 1685.
The French 'mortier de 12 pouces' is nearly equal in size to the English 13in mortar, the 'pied du roi' equalling 12.78in.