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A Very Rare Teppo Pill Lock


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#1 watsonmil

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 04:15 AM

I would like to describe a very rare and interesting Japanese Teppo of the late Edo Period. But first a little background information should be disseminated.   Gun makers the world over had been interested in developing an ignition system to replace the Flint Lock mechanism.  Napoleon had ordered French scientists, engineers, inventors to devise a more reliable ignition system than the Flint Lock.  By 1800 several compounds had been discovered that were capable of detonation when struck by a sharp blow.    A French scientist Claude-Louis Berthollet had been experimenting with such compounds with the intent of not ignition but of replacing black powder as a gunpowder.  He abandoned his research when he found that the compounds were too explosive and forceful to act as a propellant.
 
    A Scottish Clergyman and amateur chemist by the name of Alexander John Forsyth was also experimenting with these compounds as early as 1793.
His idea was not to find a substitute for black powder but rather a better ignition system to detonate the black powder charge contained in the barrel of his gun. You see he was an avid waterfowl hunter and often found on rainy days his flintlock shotgun was prone to misfires.  It was to him that credit is given for the use of a compound and the development of his scent bottle dispersal of the percussion sensitive compound ( Fulminate of Mercury ) is to be credited.  His system although effective was so delicate that few firearms were built on his invention. He patented his invention in 1807.
 
    It probably falls to a British Gun Maker by the name Joseph Manton ... who actually formed the explosive compound into a tiny pill.  Thus with a single pill sitting in a tiny recess in the pan ... finally an easily workable SIMPLE system of ignition was developed to replace the flintlock.   Far from being perfect this pill was so tiny as to be easily dropped and again the system was only in favour a very short time before the invention ( supposedly by several inventors  ) was developed but credit is generally ( although erroneously ) given to an American Joshua Shaw who patented it in 1822, ... that being the percussion cap.  Although of little significance to this article it has pretty much now been proven to be the invention of a French gentleman Monsieur Prelat in his patent of 1818.   A small cup shaped piece of copper closed at one end that not only contained the ignition compound but could be fitted over a nipple with a vent leading to the main barrel charge.   It was not until the 1850's that the percussion cap was integrated into a metallic cartridge containing all in one unit, .... the ignition, the powder charge and bullet.  By the late 1860's the metallic cartridge had made the percussion system obsolete and for the most part the metallic cartridge is to this day the most common form of ammunition.
 
    Now on to the specimen pictured.   Although very little is known of the development of percussion detonating compounds in Japan. It is known that one Sakuma Shozan a chemist and physician in Matsushiro Fief in Nagano Prefecture was experimenting with detonating compounds in the early 19th century.  It is almost certain that he would have learned of the experiments being carried out in Europe via " Learned Books " being imported into Japan.   It seems to follow that a certain gunsmith by the name of Katai Kyosuke Naotetsu from Shinshu may have been converting a few existing matchlocks to the PILL system of ignition by inserting a solid striking pin into the mouth of the matchlock serpentine.  This being around Bunsei 10 ( 1827 ).  This may be true as he is credited with upgrading the pill lock by the addition of a sliding pill box In Tempo era ( 1830 - 1844 ) as seen on the gun presented here as well as those found on page 171 of Tairwa Sawata's book on early Japanese Firearms.  
 
   I do not know if Katai Kyosuke Naotetsu was the builder of this firearm pictured or if he is solely responsible for ALL of those pictured in Taira Sawata's book, ... but I believe ALL were created in the same workshop.  I base this conclusion on the unique similarities.  Note the style of sliding pill dispenser ( little or no variation ).  The stock shape of each, ... the assisted lever for cocking the serpentine, ... the serpentine shape, ... the iron ramrod of peculiar style ( fitted with a hinge arrangement for withdrawing and inserting in the barrel and then fitting the handle into the muzzle when not in use ), ... the exiting of the ramrod from the stock part way down the stock.   Trigger's and trigger guards pretty much identical.   With the exception of the hinged ramrod ( a rarity on any matchlock but are found ) and of course trigger and trigger guard, ... I know of no other similar examples in Japanese firearms. 

 
   This particular example weighs in at 3.5 kg.  It is 95 cm in length.  The caliber is 1.55 cm therefore 6 monme.  The only missing piece that I have noticed is a small round iron cover for the firing pin arm spring.  This could easily be made up and replaced with a little caution as to the thread size of the screw which would have held it secure.  
 
   I will continue this article in the next post with photographs of the features found on this rare Teppo.  As always any errors or omissions are mine alone.
 
  NOTE:  Sadly since beginning this article, ... I was forced to sell the example I had purchased in France without ever having my hands on it.
It is a long, frustrating story but the Pill Lock Teppo will NOT be coming to Canada.  Please see my explanation here :
 
Dear All,
It is a long, frustrating story but the Pill Lock Teppo will NOT be coming to Canada. French Post Office will not ship, UPS will not ship, FedEx will not ship, DHL will not ship. Only Purolator Courier were willing to ship. The parcel weighed less than 7 kg. I believe in actuality, it weighs 5.3 kg. All French Customs and Canadian Customs cleared. I thought finally ... Then Purolator Courier phoned to get my approval .... Freight charge to ship to Canada .... $ 2428.30 US dollars. Purolator said they would only ship to a Customs Broker in Canada, ... so I would also have to pay Brokerage fees. Just having it shipped to Canada was going to cost me far more than I paid for the gun.
I was then making arrangements to fly over myself and pick it up, ... bringing it back as personal CARGO luggage. This was fine, ... but another
$ 615.00 ( economy fare return ) it is an off season right after the New Year so I was able to get a reasonably priced air fare ... and this is not including incidental travel , and other expenses. There is also the worry about THEFT in Airport Cargo both in France and Canada as Air Canada said it would have to go in a locked gun case ( talk about an invitation to theft ). Since I could only afford to be away 3 days ... with counting time in Airport check in, actual time in flight it added up to 40 hours out of 48 hours given the time difference between France and Canada. My health is not up to that ( I doubt a much younger person's is ). Fortunate ( in a sad way ) for me, ... a friend in France bought the gun from me at my cost.
This issue of shipping has become nothing but a nightmare.

PS. The National Sales Manager for Purolator Courier ( based in New York ) was to call me .... I guess she never had the guts.

... Ron Watson
 
  

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#2 watsonmil

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 04:20 AM

CONTINUATION OF PILL LOCK PHOTOGRAPHS

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#3 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 04:25 AM

That looks to be in lovely condition Ron. :thumbsup:  Congratulations on the find. Such a sad story regarding international carriage. Has the world gone mad? :steamed:

 

Oh, and the interesting background information is an informative read too! :clap:  


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#4 Brian

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 09:45 AM

Outstanding example! What a beautiful and rare gun.  :clap: 

Nice article Ron. I'm fine tuning the great feature here where posts like this are turned into articles in their own section, and this one will be one of them. It will be a great resource.

 

Brian


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#5 Gunome

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 12:14 PM

Hello Ron,

 

Great article ! Thanks for all that explanations.

Sorry that international shipping issues cannot be solved and you cannot get it. :(

 

Sébastien


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#6 Jean

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 12:54 PM

Hi Ron,

 

Fantastic article.

 

IMO due to its length, it should be classified as carbine. (It makes me think to my Winchester 30.30 but I should not say it is a saddle gun), It should have been a carbine for a mounted rider, hence the sliding ring on the backside.

 
..

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#7 IanB

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 02:34 PM

Ron,  My heart bleeds for you and your loss. The gun you illustrate is virtually identical to one I bought at Christies a few years ago for the Royal Armouries collection. It was in a sale of items from the 'Tokyo Sword Fittings Museum'. The RA gun is a cavalry carbine with the same captive ramrod, pill dispenser, sling fitting and hammer cocking lever on the outside of the lock plate. I suspect a small unit were equipped with similar guns.

Ian Bottomley 



#8 watsonmil

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 03:26 PM

Dear All,

    As both Jean and Ian pointed out this is a Carbine ( Bajou - Zutsu ).  Thank you for pointing out this oversight in my writing of the article.

 

... Ron Watson



#9 Jean

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 05:52 PM

Thanks Ron for this article and also for giving us the Japanese name for such a carbine.
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#10 Jean

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 11:50 AM

Hi Ian,

 

Have some pictures of the teppo you bought for the Royal Armories Collection?


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#11 Robert Mormile

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 10:24 PM

Why not disassemble the gun and ship in in parts over a few months.  This way you are only shipping “Japanese metalwork” and “Japanese woodwork” instead of a gun?

 

Guess it’s too late now but, just an idea for the future…

Robert



#12 jason_mazzy

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Posted 08 January 2015 - 03:08 AM

That is what i had suggested


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#13 watsonmil

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Posted 08 January 2015 - 05:04 AM

Dear Guys,

    There is no point in beating a dead horse.   The Post Office, DHL, UPS, PUROLATOR, TNT, ... have all stated they are not interested in shipping firearms and at least some ... NO WEAPONS period.  They made it abundantly clear this includes PARTS of Firearms.  If I were in France, ... I am pretty sure I could have arranged shipping, ... but I am not in France and there is only so much one can ask of a friend.   After Purolator telling me they would ship, ... they came back to me with the ridiculous figure of $ 2438.30 US ... knowing full well that anyone with half a brain would decline.  As I previously stated, ... I could have flown over myself and brought it back as Cargo Luggage ... BUT... it would have to be locked in a hard gun case.  Most outfitters I know in Canada and the USA tell their clients NOT TO BRING YOUR OWN FIREARMS as a gun case is an invitation saying :  STEAL ME ... instead we will supply you with hunting rifle and ammunition.

    I appreciate your suggestions, ... but enough already.  I worked on arranging shipping for a full bloody month to no avail and even had free lance shipping agents working on the problem.

Weapons whether Antique or modern are rapidly getting to be a NO GO in spite of the LAWS of the two nations involved.  The PO's, Courier Companies make their own rules ... and you Sword Collectors had bloody soon see the writing on the wall.

    I at one time operated one of the World's finest Antique Weapons/Militaria/Fine Art/General Antiques businesses in the world. I never got rich, I did it for the love of history and to preserve what little is left.  Shipping was one of the major reasons I shut down. I also had one of the best collections of SOE/OSS/WWII Resistance artifacts supplying International collectors, Governments, Museums with the very rarest of artifacts from Enigma Machines to the most deadly of Assassination Devices thought up by man.  I SAW the writing on the wall post 9/11 and thankfully cleaned house.  With today's restrictions I would have been stuck with thousands of dollars in inventory not to mention my personal collection which luckily for me I also disposed of.  Take Ivory as another example ... and see what the bloody Obama government has done, .... all in the stroke of a pen and be smug and sit back thinking oh well it wouldn't happen here.  Well my friends try shipping a piece of Antique Ivory and see the hoops you must jump thru no matter where you live outside of an Asian country of course ( the biggest importers of poached ivory ). 

    If anything destroys the collecting of NIHONTO it will be shipping issues, government restrictions and the general populations obsessiveness with Political Correctness and peoples apathy in view of the so called Nanny State doing all your thinking for you.   I am truly sorry for painting such a bleak picture, ... but prove I am wrong ... PLEASE. :bang:

... Ron Watson


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#14 bubba-san

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 03:15 PM

Very good reading , Ron .   Thanks for the Valuable information ...........  James



#15 estcrh

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 05:33 PM

Ron, this is for you (currently for sale in Japan as far as I can tell), attributed to Katai Kyosuke.

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#16 estcrh

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 05:43 PM

This one is in a Japanese museum, attributed to Katai Kyosuke.

 

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#17 Brian

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 07:39 PM

Wow....amazingly interesting, and evidence of the experimentation that was going on. Would love to see more of those mechanisms. Largely of iron?

Obviously by the same workshop or maker from appearances. What is the going price on this beauty?

 

Brian


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#18 estcrh

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 09:56 PM

Wow....amazingly interesting, and evidence of the experimentation that was going on. Would love to see more of those mechanisms. Largely of iron?

Obviously by the same workshop or maker from appearances. What is the going price on this beauty?

 

Brian

Here is some additional information on these guns, maybe someone who speaks Japanese can translate.

 

 

傍装式雷火銃

 

信州松代藩士片井京助が江戸時代後期に造った新式騎兵銃。片井は藩命でこれ造ったが、藩はこの銃の余りに強力なのを恐れて秘密主義を取り、厳重に管理したので、国難の折にこの様な発明を公表しないのは大儀に反するとして片井の実子佐野三郎は銃を持って脱藩し、開明的な老中阿部伊勢守定弘の元に銃を持ち込んだ。幕閣はこれを受けて松代藩に銃の献上を求めたので、この銃は公開されることとなり、試験射撃で頗る良い成績を収めた片井は古作の鞍と鎧を拝領した。
 構造は細かい工夫が多い。先ず銃口が漏斗状になっており弾を込め易くなっている。更に槊杖は掌握部が湾曲しており扱い易くなっており、また環によって銃身とつながれているので取り落とすことが無い。そして薬室部の前方右側銃床に真鍮性の104㎜×14㎜の箱を取り付け、この中に150㎜×11㎜×11㎜の口火用の火薬玉を容れて置く容器をスプリング仕掛で差し込んで置いて、射撃する際にこの容器の前端を押すと、火薬玉が一粒ずつ火皿の中に落ちると言う仕組みになっており、これを傍装と言う。またこれに撃鉄で点火するので、騎乗していても雨天でも使用可能である。この銃は通常の火縄銃が1発撃つ間に3発は撃てるとされた。
 片井京助はその後にも文久3年に死ぬまで後装式銃、連発銃、銃剣付き銃、弾力銃を発明したと言われるが、その詳細はつまびらかでない。ただ、優秀な気砲(空気銃?)を製造して藩より表彰された。
口径:16㎜
全長:104.5㎝(銃身長:75.8㎝)
後装滑腔燧石式 固定式照門 着剣不可能
 

 

 

 

 

Brian, you can contact the owner and see if is still available, this is the item description. 傍装雷火式火縄式兼用銃

TEL: 06-6974-1186 e-mail address nrj41188@nifty.com

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#19 estcrh

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 12:20 AM

Here is another example from Gorge Stones book.

 

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#20 estcrh

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 02:38 AM

From another book on firearms.

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#21 Jean

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 11:25 AM

Dear All,

The Bajou Jutsu is back from thorough revision. Here are a few pictures. The gun was totally knocked down by a professional gunsmith greased then reassembled, the pill distributing system included. The system had been by the past knocked down but incorrectly reassembled. A new cache was designed to replace the one missing together with the corresponding screw covering the spring which can be seen in the first pictures. I add a few pictures of which one is a mon. If someone can indicate me to which clan it belongs. You can see the holes were pills are fed in the system and the trap which enables to distribute them

Ps: as stated in another thread, I can't imagine why the first pictures was loaded head down.

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#22 b.hennick

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 10:49 PM

I miss Ron!


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Regards,
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#23 jason_mazzy

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:44 AM

agreed.


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#24 Brian

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 10:35 AM

Excellent job Jean!

I am VERY jealous. This is an amazing gun to own. :wub:


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#25 estcrh

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 04:12 PM

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#26 SwordGuyJoe

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 05:10 PM

When I stop wasting my money on swords, I'm going to get into these things! Lovely.

#27 estcrh

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 06:30 PM

Dear All,

The Bajou Jutsu is back from thorough revision. Here are a few pictures. The gun was totally knocked down by a professional gunsmith greased then reassembled, the pill distributing system included. The system had been by the past knocked down but incorrectly reassembled. A new cache was designed to replace the one missing together with the corresponding screw covering the spring which can be seen in the first pictures. I add a few pictures of which one is a mon. If someone can indicate me to which clan it belongs. You can see the holes were pills are fed in the system and the trap which enables to distribute them

Ps: as stated in another thread, I can't imagine why the first pictures was loaded head down.

Jean, can you take a good full length photo?



#28 Jean

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 10:35 PM

Yes I think I can Eric. I'll try to do it tomorrow.
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#29 Gasam

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:35 AM

Hi again
Just quikcly, one possible (even likely) reason for images showing upside down is:

Picture was taken on cellphone held upside down. ( very easy to do since often touchscreen is used to take picture). Some cellphones have extra info in the images metadata stating that the image was taken with the phone upside down, and many image apps use that info to display images the "right" way (actually the wrong way since cell was upside down).
Some image apps will ignore this info and instead read only the metadata saying "this way up". Probably so this forun software. Sorry for typos and cramped text, using cellphone:-)
Best regards,

G. Samsonsen

#30 Jean

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 12:51 PM

Taken with my ipad. All pictures were taken in the same way.
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