Stock Number: 8377


For sale, a wonderful 17th century gunnery gauge from the Thirty Year's War. Fully engraved by hand with various scales, dated. and topped with a bust like one in Dresden's princely collection.


13-1/2 inches (34 c)



Country of manufacture


Category: Calculating


SEVENTEENTH CENTURY GUNNERY GAUGE, German or Austrian, 1629, boldly engraved “Anno 1629.” Rectangular in cross section, and tapered, the brass rule measures 13-1/2″ (34 cm) long overall, including its cast and soldered double-sided bust handle. Each face of the rule is hand engraved, one with a scale of inches (labeled “Zol”) from 0 to 12, each inch subdivided into the corresponding integral number of parts (e.g., the eleventh inch is divided into 11 equal parts!) Each inch measures approximately 24.1 mm, and is thus consistent with the local foot measure in a number of German city states (see Gilliland, SIS Bulletin 20, for an overview). The other three sides are divided nonlinearly, giving the weight of a cannonball of the measured bore diameter, for “Eisen Kugel” (Iron Balls) from 0 to 125 “Pfunt” (pounds), for lead balls (also over the range 0 to 125), and for stone balls (0 to 60 pounds). Condition is very fine.

Related gauges, one even with a bust, exist in the Dresden princely collections, illustrated in Grotzsch & Karpinski (1978, fig. 140). The present one dates from the Thirty Year’s War (1618 -1648), which raged throughout Europe and devastated Germany. It is intriguing to seek an identification of the bust, assuming it is specific, but so far this is too speculative. What we do have is a wonderful dated survival from the early 17th century. 

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David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at, and can be contacted at [email protected].

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