GPS location: 44°44'31"N 65°31'08"W
Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Close up of name LE VIGOUREUX (The Vigorous One) on a French bronze cannon
Close up of name LE BELLIQUEUX (The Warlike One) on a French bronze cannon
Close up of name EL TOSICO (The Poisonous One) on a Spanish bronze cannon
A Short Illustrated History of Cannon...
The cannon of the late 1600s (and well into the 1700s) was an ornate masterpiece
of the foundryman's art, covered with escutcheons, floral relief, scrolls, and
Many guns were personalized with names cast in raised letters on the gun.
Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, has a 4-pounder "San Marcos,"
and, indeed, saints' names were not uncommon on Spanish ordnance.
Other typical names were El Espanto (The Terror), El Destrozo (The Destroyer),
El Toro (The Bull), and El Belicoso (The Quarrelsome One).
The inscription Ultima ratio regum, "the last argument of kings," was|
widely used on European ordinance during this age of royal absolutism.
BronzeBronze is an alloy of copper and tin commonly used in
18th and 19th century artillery. Often mistakenly called brass.
Brass versus BronzeBRASS: An alloy composed of copper and zinc
and not suitable for ordnance.
BRONZE: An alloy composed of copper and tin
and definitely suitable for ordnance.
BronzeA metal made of two or more pure metals (pure chemical elements),
mixed and melted together, is called an alloy.
Any alloy, or mixture, of copper and tin is called bronze.
Many bronze alloys also contain small amounts of other materials.
Bronze was one of the first alloys developed by metal workers
in ancient times. The Mesopotamians ushered in the Age of Bronze
about 4500 years ago. In the earliest fortified towns bronze was
used for shields, helmets, and battle axes.
4000 years ago the Chinese made early coins of bronze.
Bronze melts at a lower temperature than iron, reducing the
manufacturing cost. Bronze is softer and weaker than iron,
but bronze resists corrosion (especially seawater corrosion)
and metal fatigue better than iron. Because it does not rust,
bronze was preferred aboard ship or in seacoast forts.
Originally "bronze" was a term for copper alloys having
tin as the only or principal alloying element. In modern usage the
name "Bronze" is seldom used alone, and a term such as
"Phosphor Bronze" or "Aluminum Bronze" is used for
identifying alloys of copper and tin with small amounts of other
elements added to produce special characteristics.
Brass or Bronze?As we prepare almost every issue of The Artilleryman Magazine
the confusion of "brass" and "bronze" comes up in things
written in an earlier time period when the terminology was
incorrect, or by modern writers who don't know the difference.
We recently came across this in Harold L. Peterson's
Round Shot and Rammers (Bonanza Books, 1969):
"In almost all the contemporary [18th and early 19th centuries]
references the term used is brass. Bronze is almost never mentioned.
Yet the alloy itself sometimes consisted only of copper and tin,
which would make it bronze according to a modern definition..."
The only brass guns were those made by the uninformed.
All surviving antique cannon of a copper-based alloy are
in fact "bronze." The actual definition of "gun metal" was
90 percent copper and 10 percent tin, which was the
strongest of the various bronze alloys.
— Submitted by Bill Anderson, 1st Continental Artillery
Online source: Brass or Bronze? — The NWTA Spy, Spring 2000
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