Object Title

18 pr gun

18 pr gun



Object Number



This gun was sent to England in March 1857 in place of the great 15th century gun No.XIX.164 which General Lefroy had hoped to obtain from the Turkish Government. It was brought by H.M.S Sphinx and was apparently mounted on a carriage 'having two wheels, two pins linch, two wood coins, an elevating screw and sponge with stave' (1857 Tower Remain, Armouries MS. 1. 21).

Physical Description

With the exception of the ribbed muzzle, the entire surface of the gun is decorated with an intertwined design of pomegranates, vines and tulips. It has dolphins of conventional form, and there are lugs at the vent for a hinged cover (now missing). The trunnions are positioned markedly below the centre line. A large leaf at the end of the chase, near the muzzle, forms a cartouche which is engraved with a poem in six couplets:

'That sun of sovereignty who casts his rays over East and West, namely Sultan Ahmed III, the ruler whose attendants are as numerous as the stars.
Gave the command to his misisters for the creation of this new gun and thus that ruler whose qualities are those of Rustam struck fear into the soul of the foe;
Such a gun, fearful in form and roaring like a dragon, spouts flames when it draws breath.
If the enemy hear the roar of this thunder-voiced gun, in an instant all the circumstances of oblivion are revealed to them.
So that the heavenly sphere shall conquer the land of evening with the morning sun and expel the darkness.
May that noble Chosroes (i.e. Ahmed III), strengthening the fortress of religion and state, conquer the world.'

The first reinforce is engraved with the weight and length of the gun, the weight of the shot and a date:
54.5 kantars 8 okes (3086.4kg = 3ton 3qtr).
19 karis (19 span = 14ft 3in)
9 okes (11.55kg = 25.5lb); in the year 1126 (A.D.1714). The upper surface of the base ring bears the inscription in relief: 'The work of Ibrahim, chief gunfounder of the Sublime Porte, in the year 1120 (A.D.1708-9).' The face of the muzzle bears two rhyming couplets in relief:

'This newly constructed gun was made at the Sultan's command By the illustrious Ali Pasha, the adornment of the land.
On seeing its flame-sprouting muzzle, Durri spoke the words (date)
'Cunningly wrought, beyond price, what a fine new gun of Ahmed Khan'.
The last line of the quatrain 'cunningly wrought...Khan' forms a chronogram concealing the date 1120 A.H. The sides of the base ring are engraved with two inscriptions: on the right, in Turkish 'Presented by the Exhalted State as a souvenir to the illustrious State of England in the year 1273 (A.D.1856-7)'; on the left, in English, A present from H.I.M. Abdul Mejid to H.B.M. Queen Victoria 1857'.


Dimensions: Length: 14 ft 2 in (170 in) (431.8 cm), Overall length: 15 ft 6 in (186 in) (472.4 cm) Weight: (from inscription) 3 ton 3 qtr (3086.4 kg)


Serial Number None visible


5.5 in (14 cm)


Places Turkey

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, P.174-175.


As shown by the inscriptions it was cast in the reign of Sultan Ahmed III, 1703-30, by order of the Grand Vizier, Chorlulu Ali Pasha, who held office from May 1706 to June 1710. The profuse decoration of tulips and pomegranates is characteristic of the period often called by Otterman historians 'the Tulip Age'. The verses were composed by the poet Ahmed Durri Effendi (d. 1772) who held several important government offices. Among other poetical works, he composed Ali Pasha's epitaph when the latter was executed in 1711. Most famous for his involved chronograms he was also a noted calligrapher, and the engraver of the verses on the gun, in an elegant Sulus hand, may have been following a text written by Durri himself (see F. Babinger, 'Die Geschichtschreiber der Osmanen und ihre Werke' (Leipzig, 1927),326). A similar gun by the founder Ibrahim, cast in the same year as No.245, is preserved at Istanbul in front of the church of St. Irene.