For many years I have been researching the illusive musket oil bottle. I have challenged historians and archaeologists, to find one, at meetings and conferences. There is a brass replica of one in a German museum but they do not have an original so they remain only guess work. Because of this, I have been making them in wood and using modern chemicals to keep the oil in. The pewter ones are hollowed inside to conform to the outside, as are/were the wooden ones in my shop and they contain 20ml of oil. I have never been happy with wooden ones but at least it has allowed musketeers to display the item we see in so many prints. Now, one of my American customers has found a reference from the 30 years war. The oil bottle was recommended to be made from Zinnen. I have consulted language experts about this and the word is generally thought to mean pewter in old German. There was no specific word but there were words for tin, copper, brass &c so the case seems just about conclusive that the Germans had pewter oil bottles.
Pewter can be easily melted so this might explain why there are non extant. Re-cycling in a world careful not to discard anything of value; even leaving clothing in wills, would have been too tempting for such an item. In the first one made, the one in the picture, it weighs in at 71 grammes. A few of those would have been worth collecting off battle fields and melting down – as a kid I used to take lost golf balls back to the club house to more than double my spending money! These are all made in Sheffield in the UK’s Yorshire county where myself and the lost-wax-caster both live and work.
So, based on the prints and with reference to the German, I have turned a ‘former’ and from that the first pewter one is on display here. It is lost-wax-cast which is the technique going back to ancient times. I am investigating the possibility of other methods of production too however. More than five years of research, the cost of the metal and the failed attempts as well as the price of the moulds mean this is not a cheap product I’m afraid. I have come up with a price that will pay off those costs with the sale of the first sixty and that will take some time, so I don’t expect the price to alter for a number of years (I’m typing this 29/5/2015) so there is no hurry.
The lost-wax-caster can produce about ten per week so. If there are none in stock, I don’t expect the waiting time to be much longer than that. I hope you like it as much as I do!