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Strange Matchlock Conversion?


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#1 Bijouxneko

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 03:49 AM

Hello, I was wondering if this type of percussion cap conversion is abnormal or not? I have been following some of the discussions about percussion cap conversions but this one is different from the others. Most conversions that I have seen have a western style hammer but this one retains its traditional Japanese serpentine hammer. The serpentine hammer is also made of iron instead of brass which I think is a feature most commonly found on Sesshu matchlocks. There is a built up area on the flash pan (Hizara) for the cap to rest upon. The conversion basically just took off the pan cover (Hibuta) and the barrel protector wedge (Ama-ooi Kusabi). The original hole for the matchlock is still on the flash pan. The caliber is 7 monme and the barrel has a Sesshu Yamada.....signature but the corrosion has eaten most of it away and I can't read the rest. Thank you for the help and I look forward to hearing what members have to say.

 

All the best,

 

Justin

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  • Hinawaju_03.jpg
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#2 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 10:11 AM

Hi Justin, normal or not is probably not the question as there was constant experimentation during these rapidly changing end-of-Edo years. Remaining converted matchlocks can retain all, some or none of the various types of conversions, through loss, or indeed later reversion back to good old matchlock.
The serpentine on yours is not for a matchlock but specially made for percussion. The spring is probably designed for a stronger downstroke. Iron was preferable for a powerful hit onto the cap, so not really confined to Settsu, even though the style of gun (eg muzzle and sights shape, width of band) and the Mei confirm it to be Settsu/Sesshu.
Your pan is a puzzle, which the photos do not really clarify. Is it extra wide? Are there two holes into it?
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#3 Brian

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 10:33 AM

Piers,

Why would the pan be a puzzle? Drill open the flash hole, put a shortened nipple in there and solder/forge closed, and you have a percussion system.

 

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#4 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 12:18 PM

Yes Brian, but in the fuzzy photo there seems to be another hole close to the barrel. Justin said there is a built-up area on the pan, which I am guessing is the nipple (or nipple base) for the percussion caps. If so that makes two vents/touch-holes...?
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#5 Brian

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 07:10 PM

Ah yes. When I play with Photoshop a bit, I see what you mean. Very odd..

 

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#6 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 07:16 AM

It is possible that frequent blackpowder flash kept down by the nipple has eroded/corroded a new hole close to the barrel, at which point the gun would have been taken out of service. Pans and vents often corroded badly with frequent use, the passage of time, and lack of proper cleaning. Many show evidence of 'Buku-naoshi', a reworking, redrilling of the pan and vent hole.


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#7 Bijouxneko

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Posted 06 May 2016 - 02:53 AM

Piers and Brian,

 

Thank you both for the replies I really appreciate it. Yes there is indeed an extra hole close to the barrel which I found odd as well. It does appear that this converted matchlock saw heavy use. There is a lot of corrosion around the extra hole which I think lines up with what Piers said:

It is possible that frequent blackpowder flash kept down by the nipple has eroded/corroded a new hole close to the barrel, at which point the gun would have been taken out of service. Pans and vents often corroded badly with frequent use, the passage of time, and lack of proper cleaning."

 

You can even see in the photos how some of the barrel has eroded away near the extra hole due to frequent use. Without the barrel protector wedge (Ama-ooi Kusabi) it really took a beating. Even the inside of the barrel of the gun shows some evidence of serious use. I would like to know what you guys think of this as well. Please see the photo for what I am refering to. Hinawaju_05.JPG

 

Thanks again for the replies and take care,

 

Justin


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#8 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 06 May 2016 - 04:05 AM

Yes, I would agree with what you say Justin. That is a fine muzzle design with those silver stripes and the silver front sight tip. A good example of Sakai workmanship. In my experience of handling these old guns, most are heavily pitted internally. This could be from several factors, heavy use and lack of proper cleaning being the most likely. Japan is very humid, so special care needs to be taken to keep rust in check, and black powder is quite corrosive. The Ama-ooi does double work, keeping rain from running down into the pan, and flash away from the iron barrel. One year with no attention and the rust horse is also threatening to bolt from the stable.
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#9 Bijouxneko

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 12:15 AM

Piers,

Hello, thanks again for the reply. Yes I can certainly appreciate the humidity level in Japan and how improper cleaning/ maintenance could quickly lead to rust getting out of control and corrosion to set in from the black powder. I am happy you like the muzzle design because it was what sold me on this particular weapon. Sakai produced a lot of nice weapons but this muzzle really hit the mark for me. I enclosed another picture of it for you. I wish I could decipher the entire signature to better pin point when this was made but the corrosion has made it illegible. "Sesshu Yamada" is all I can make out. Judging by the muzzle I am thinking it was made somewhere around mid Edo. Does that seem correct to you? Thanks again for the insight.

All the best,

Justin

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#10 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 05:10 AM

Yes, Justin, that would be a fair assessment of the date, but hard to narrow down much further as longer-lasting patterns tended to be established during Edo. Your muzzle is one of the four main types found on these hexagonal small-bore guns of between 2 and 3.5 Monme.

 

A famous smithy, there are 18 Yamada smiths listed for Sakai in Urabe San's Nihon no TeppoKaji, and two of these Sakai Yamada guns are noted as bearing a date of Kyowa 享和元年 Gannen. Then perhaps 30~50 years later in the Bakumatsu, at the end of Edo, someone might have thought fit to convert it to the new percussion style, and use extra powder to gain range against the encroaching barbarians.

 

Yamada smiths also went to other places in Japan to ply their craft. (My first long Japanese matchlock was a Hazama-zutsu from Awa in Shikoku bearing the name Yamada Gohei for example.)


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#11 Bijouxneko

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 02:53 AM

Piers,

 

Thank you for the reply and for sharing this information with me. You mentioned that this type of muzzle is normally found on the small-bore guns between 2 and 3.5 Monme. I completely agree with that and that was another reason why I was drawn to this gun beause it doesnt quite fit the mold.  This one is 7 Monme which I found odd. Even the certificate of regristration noted the large caliber size. Have you ever come across any others like this with a similar muzzle shape? I have also enclosed a picture of the signature (mei) and I was wondering if you might have better luck with it than me. I am sorry the picture is not the best, but it was the best I could do since there is a lot of corrosion present. It was a very difficult picture to take. Thanks again for the help.

 

All the best,

 

Justin

Hinawaju_14.JPG


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#12 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:57 AM

The certificate of registration? Do you have a photograph of the paperwork? Is this gun still in Japan? (It has to note the overall dimensions and bore anyway, so nothing special about that.)

That one photo is hard to make out. You may have better luck trying three different shots of the Mei under very different lighting conditions.
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