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Kayaku-dameshi (Gunpowder tester)


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#1 Viper6924

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 10:36 AM

Not all acquisitions to the my collection must be big and spectacular. Sometimes the very tiny one´s makes me happy :)

Been after a Japanese powdertester for a while now. The hunt is over!!!

This is a kayaku-dameshi made out of copper. It´s a tad over 6 cm long with a "caliber" of about 1,6 cm. Have some scorch marks near the touchhole and also at the muzzle. So it must have been used by some previous owner.

Not being an expert on guns or gunpowder, I´ve always wondered how this things works. Of course I understand that you but a small amount of gunpowder inside and ignite it via the touchhole.
But in which way did they determine that it was a batch of "good" gunpowder? Just by the thing going BOOM?

Jan

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#2 Brian

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:24 AM

Jan,
A gunpowder tester will usually have some kind of mechanism to show the quality or effectiveness of the powder used. The front opening will lead to some kind of rotating wheel or level that changes with the power of the explosion. See the examples pictured here:
https://www.google.c... ... 00&bih=748
Yours has an open barrel, so essentially what you have there is a miniature cannon :?:
There must have been some other part to this mechanism if it was used as a powder tester I suspect. Neat little item though.
Check out this old post for info: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2554&p=63942&hilit=eprovette#p63942

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#3 Malcolm

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:21 PM

Good morning Jan and Brian,

I wonder if it's a Netsuke "Derringer".......for a Bakumatsu Doc Holiday. :roll:

Loaded with a ball, a touch from your smouldering Kiseru would be enough to ignite and cause all sorts of inconvenience close up.

Cheers
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#4 Viper6924

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 01:11 PM

"A Netsuke "Derringer", well I can probably live with that. Always wanted a small teppo :D :D :D

The reason I called it a powder-tester is bacause of some pictures I kept on my computer. I think it was Piers who posted them a while back.

That one looks to have the same basic construction as this the one I showed. Albeit much more ornate and with two touchholes if I´m not mistaken.

Interesting...

Jan

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#5 watsonmil

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 04:20 PM

Dear Jan,
Refer to the links Brian provided. I have been around guns since I was a child and daily ever since. What you have in spite of wishful thinking is simply : 1. a toy, 2. a fantasy piece purporting to be a powder tester, 3. an unusual netsuke. My bet is it is an out and out fake as I am sure I have seen two of these now which obviously came from the same maker and were being sold on Japanese Auction Sites. As a matter of fact the most recent was only a few days ago. I note it is now gone ... is this it ? It would take me all of a half hour to make one, ... another 15 minutes to load it with black powder and fire it 2-3 times ... set it aside for a few weeks and voila the necessary " it has been used " appearance. Sorry if I sound too blunt and hard, ... but it is the truth.
... Ron Watson

#6 Viper6924

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 04:33 PM

No worries, Ron! Can´t win em all. Didn´t break the bank on it, only my pride 8)

So I guess I have a modern "Netsuke "Derringer". Still, I could probably blow off my own finger if I´m not careful...

The hunt goes on!


Jan

#7 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 05:19 PM

My gut instinct tells me that Ron is right.

Incidentally the bottom of those 2 pics above shows two holes in the spine, yes, but one is not the touch-hole. It is a vertical chimney that transverses the tail, possibly for fixing/pinning the thing in some way. The hole in front of that communicates into the barrel. That one belongs to a certain Mr O, and I took that picture.

The little one above it with regular touch-hole is mine.

With no evidence of exact measuring equipment, according to Ian B, we cannot really even be sure that these were eprouvettes in the western sense.

Knowing the Japanese, though, I can imagine them testing gunpowder in the hand by feel, by sound, by flash... considering the way one of them can come up to me after a half-hour of 20 gunners' live firing and comment on the great sound that my gun made today!
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#8 Dr Fox

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 01:47 AM

Hi

Foe a moment I thought I was looking at a false breech! Where powder and ball was loaded out of the barrel assembly. When loaded was secured into the barrel, by taper and wedges, then touched off. early breech loading.

Powder tester? Don't think so.
Denis

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#9 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 11:21 AM

Jan has something else that could be added to this thread, I suspect.  ;-)


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#10 Viper6924

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 05:08 PM

You called, Sir  :)

 

From my last expedition to Japan. It´s not the biggest item in the collection but def one of my favorites.

7,5 cm with a "bore" of 0,9cm. With the classic fishtail.

 

tester1.jpeg

 

tester2.jpeg

 

 

What would the world be without good friends!!!

 

:thumbsup:

 

 

Jan


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#11 Brian

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 07:09 PM

Cute! :)

 

Brian


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#12 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 07:21 PM

Oh yes, we like that! Congratulations!
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#13 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 08:47 AM

Just fishfood for thought. If these are all described as kayaku-dameshi gunpowder testers, I wonder if and when a break was made from old-type testers to mini cannon style. Possibly after cannon foundry techniques improved into the Bakumatsu at the end of Edo?

 

The cannon is signed 三明作 underneath. I have found no records in the gunsmith lists, but one unclickable reference online to a one-time bronze foundry in Bitchu Tahashi called Sanmei, but whether it still exists or whether there is a connection or not is a multi-question for a rainy day.

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#14 Viper6924

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 11:14 AM

That is an amazing little collection, Piers. The middle one got a beautiful color.
Hope you can find some more info. The Bitchu Tahashi connection is interesting. An almost magical place for us castle freaks. You should be able to find more info about a forge/foundry up there. Take the train and have a look. It's only an hour away :)

Jan
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#15 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 11:35 AM

Yup, dems da plans! :thumbsup:


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#16 Brian

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 01:20 PM

Why would these be testers instead of just miniature cannons? I can't see how these would be of use to test powder without a measuring system.
Miniature cannon have always been made for curio and interest...I don't see why these would be any different?
 


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#17 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 01:46 PM

The old Japanese gun literature tends to call them kayaku-dameshi, and so do the dealers at the military antiques auctions. As to absolute proof, I suspect that none exists, meaning that your question Brian, is an excellent one. :clap:

 

Oh, and the prevailing theory is that the powder master tested in the time-honoured way by hand, judging the flash, the bang, the recoil and the smoke, much as we check the colour of our toast. :beer:

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