Object Title

Cannon and carriage

Cannon and carriage



Object Number



Purchased, Sotheby's, 1 July 1987, lot 109.

Physical Description

Comprises a small cannon of bronze of rather vase shape - that is it swells slightly from the breech to the region just before the trunnions then tapers down to expand again at the muzzel. At the breech, and in 5 other points along the barrel there are raised bands of 2, 3 or 4 convex mouldings. The plain cylindrical trunnions are set on the midline of the barrel. On the upper surface are two sights, that at the rear being a simple block, the foresight with a lower step at the rear. Both sights are pierced by a transverse hole. Behind the rear sight is the vent, drilled in a circular depression enclosed by a shallow square fence. The cascabel is of square section with filed off edges pierced by a square tranverse hole.
The carriage is of hardwood formed from two side pieces and a base which sits between them and held in place by mortices and tenons. The sides step down in an arc to form a lower region at the rear. Near the front and back are axle blocks, also morticed through the sides and held by square wood pins fitting in grooves in the outer faces of the sides. These pins hold the whole carriage together. On the outer ends of the axles are mounted simple wooden wheels, also held by wooden pins, those at the front being larger than the rear. The wheels do not reach below the base of the carriage but were designed to run on rails fitted to a sub-carriage. There is a hole in the middle of each side piece one of which is filled by a short length of brown cord. In the centre of the base are two iron staples that hold the remains of a pivoting iron strip that would, by hinging it up and down, have allowed regulation of the elevation


Dimensions: The length of the carriage is 3830 mm, the length of the barrel is 3810 mm, the width of the carriage is 145 mm and the maximum width of the barrel is 8622 mm. Weight: Weight of the barrel is 11.5 kg, the weight of the carriage is 2.1 kg.


Serial Number None visible


26.8 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

On the upper face of the cascabel is the character sho meaning 'upper'. Under the barrel is a nine character inscription which appears to begin 'true swift messenger . . .' or 'quickly dissuade an assembly ...'.


Places Japan


The presence of parts of an elevating mechanism, and the apparent reading of the signature, may suggest this is a signalling gun or a small cannon for crowd control.