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When Did Screws Appear In Japan?


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#1 Peter Bleed

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 02:53 AM

I looked at a rather neat pair of matchlock pistols today. One had been converted to percussion ignition - the barrel had been shortened from the breech with a nipple added at like 1:00. The hibasami (match holder) had been weighed so that it could be the 'hammer". And it seems that the internal spring had been significantly enhanced so that the new "hammer"  could pop the cap. There was ample pitting around the nipple suggesting 1) that the gun had been shot a fair amount, and 2) that gun cleaning  had not been part of gunnery training!

Beyond all that, a well placed wood screw - with a slotted head  - had been place on the base,  behind the trigger. I did not remove this screw , but I assume that this was done when the lock spring was changed.

And my question is "When did machine and wood screws appear in Japan?" I know that breech plugs were threaded in since the beginning. And I have looked thru Iwata-san's  "The Cultural History of Fasteners and Guns". but found no useful information. It seems to me that bolts and slotted screws  were NOT part of teppo technology. Were they an element of the mid 19th century? Or have I simply not seem enough hinawa-ju?

Peter


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#2 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 09:08 AM

Perhaps Ian Bottomley and Jan Pettersohn will be better able to clarify this for you.

In general what you say is correct, with the exception of Yonezawa/Seki guns and those of Satsuma, both having prominent screws in set places, and both having functional and symbolic roles. Wooden or brass locking pins were the general rule. With the advent of percussion systems the Western functional screw makes a stage appearance on both imported guns and native adaptations.
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#3 SteveM

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 10:25 AM

Japanese wikipedia says that screws (neji) first appeared in Japan 1543, along with the first matchlock rifles brought in with the Portuguese. It says the first domestic screws were screws that went into the production of matchlock rifles, but that making screws was very difficult and almost all matchlocks feature screws that were recycled from other matchlocks. It wasn't until the end of the Edo period - when the machinery could be imported from overseas - that widespread use and machine production of screws began in Japan. 

 

https://ja.wikipedia...dia.org/wiki/ねじ


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#4 IanB

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 11:00 AM

I agree with what Piers and Steve have said about screws for metal, but wood screws are another matter. I can only suppose they arrived with the Meiji restoration, but even today Japanese woodworkers seem to prefer to use superbly cut joints and dowels where we would use screws. Peter, you say this screw was behind the trigger. The Yonezawa guns which Piers mentions have a screw that enters from the bottom of the stock an fastens into the bisen (breech plug). However, if as you say the barrel has been shortened from the breech, I wonder whether the conversion would have retained this feature. Other than that, the conversion you describe seems typical, as does the pitting around the nipple from using mercury fulminate rather than compounds that produce less corrosive compounds.

Ian Bottomley 



#5 Viper6924

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 02:30 PM

This is a very interesting question. To continue the answers posted prior to this, I think its fairy safe to say that the first metal screws in Japan were those in connection to the bisen-screw. This was apparently a new technology that proved hard to master for the local blacksmiths tasked with the job.

There are very few types of Japanese matchlocks which uses screws. This is actually true for pretty much every matchlock coming out from South East Asia. The Yonezawa-matchlock mentioned by Piers is the one that stands out. It has a large steel screw securing the trigger-guard to the stock.The same screw continues up and attaches to the bisen, like Ian described. But this type of matchlock also got an iron ramrod, which on it´s tip got a screw-on cap under which a "worm" is to be found. This worm was used to remove duds. A third place you will find threads is found on the hibasami. I have included a picture from my Yonezawa. The threads are clearly visible along with an hand forged nut.

nut.jpeg

This is very rare to find on matchlocks. This feature is found on the Yonezawa, Seki and so called Kishu-guns.

That the Seki gun is more or less a straight copy from the Yonezawa is not strange. The first Seki-gun was made by an student in Yonezawa that later opened up his own shop near Edo. So that construction is highly influenced by the original Yonezawa-gun which was manufactured 1604, about 15-20 years earlier than the Seki. There are also nuts securing the hibasami on guns made near Negoro/Wakayama in Kii. Unfortunately these are all from the 18th and 19th century. The original Negoro-guns were amongst the earliest matchlocks made after Tanegashima. So it would be fantastic to find an old Negoro-teppo to see if there were any screws fitted on these.

The earliest matchlock I know of with a very similar construction to that of the Yonezawa, with a screw fastened into the bisen, is pre-Sekigahara matchlocks from the Satsuma area. These guns are quite different from the traditional Tanegashima-gun. The origin of these large caliber Satsuma guns are very interesting indeed.

So to wrap this up, I think the first screws seen in Japan were connected to the first guns from Tanehashima and was used to secure the bisen to the barrel. Judging from the few extant matchlocks made prior to 1600, I would guess that screws located on other places on the matchlock might have been introduced during the 1570-90s. Which in the end inspired the makers of the Yonezawa-gun to produce their style in 1604.

 

Jan


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#6 Peter Bleed

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 03:16 AM

Thanks to you all for these interesting responses. As I wrote this post, I felt rather like Izanagi from the Kojiki dancing in front of  a cave trying to get the real power to come out. AND IT WORKED! Thank you!. I also realize that the end of the teppo era was pretty interesting. Maybe I have a new collecting theme.  I will try to get an image and better information about the shootin' iron. Did I say thanks?

Peter


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#7 Ford Hallam

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 06:42 PM

This little tit-bit may be of interest in this thread...oops, almost a pun.

 

"Although our house was built in Japanese fashion, I wanted a door that could be locked, so I called a metalworker to make hinges. No screws were to be had. The man asked what they were, so I showed him an iron screw from one of my boxes. He took it away and the next day brought a dozen brass screws beautifully made and polished.

 

He had embedded a round stick of wood in a cylindrical mass of moulding sand and then in twelve places on the sides, screwed my screw in as far as the wood. Then he had encased the whole in moulding sand and had withdrawn the screw, withdrawn the stick and poured in the brass. He had made several such moulds, and showed me a core with the rough screws attached....That man could do anything in the way of metalwork."

My Reminiscences by Raphael Pumpelly. 1918.

 

Pumpelly was one of the first foreign experts (he was a mining engineer and geologist) to be invited to Japan and lived in Edo in 1862.


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#8 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 31 December 2016 - 12:56 AM

The mekugi for Tanto changed to reverse screws in some cases, but the few examples I have seen seem to date from the Bakumatsu.
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#9 Malcolm

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Posted 31 December 2016 - 10:09 AM

Hi Guys.,

 

Fascinating!!

 

Herewith the Book in 2 volumes that Ford quoted from:

 

https://archive.org/...ences04pumpgoog

 

https://archive.org/...ences03pumpgoog


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