These Seventeenth century powder boxes (Called ‘charges’ in the C17th) and a primer bottle (referred to in military manuals just before the war as ‘touch box’) are displayed on a bandolier (often known in the period as a ‘collar of charges’ with a bullet bag. All the boxes are turned on a period treadle lathe and the leather is all hand sewn. They are copies of those contained at the Royal Armouries collection which is now held in Leeds in Yorkshire, UK. I have video footage of my visits to the collection when I took the measurements: find the playlist here . There are several types in the vaults (not on public display) and I can reproduce any of them faithfully. These powder boxes hold around nine drams of black powder because they have been ‘turned’ as specified during the English Civil War, and not simply bored, so that the capacity is greatly increased. The Discovery Channel’s weapons expert bought some from me in 2011 and he is considering using them in a programme because they demonstrate the increased capacity required for the more ‘claggy’ C17th powder, used before improved C18th refining methods.
I can make to order. The touch box is the size of the original, with the little ‘nipple’ styling on the lid and comes with a ‘stopper’, again as seen at the Leeds Armouries. The belts were around 51″ and, like a strap, not sewn to a ‘V’. You will notice the holes are punched in pairs which keeps the strings close together, which I think might reduce the strain on the outer edge of the lids where the guide holes are. The bullet pouch has a flap through which a leather toggle protrudes. There were many types of bullet bags used but the most common one is shown in the close up and that is the one; that is the type I send out with this belt. I stuff some paper in the pouch to make it look as though it contains bullets. The primers had replaced the outmoded flasks by the time of the English Civil War and authenticity conscious re-enactors should be able to use them on the battlefield as the ‘stopper’ will prevent stray sparks from reaching the contents. I am willing to turn to specifications and with different types of wood, but the price may well need to be adjusted for this.
Leather is the highest quality I can get from the local tannery but it may vary slightly from that in the picture. The dark brown colour is the same as those i’ve examined, unlike the lighter colour of the leather used for buff coats and baldricks at the time. The leather is purchased in a raw state and treated, oiled and dyed and waxed by my wife here at home. All efforts are taken to recreate the belts that can be seen in museums.
The pewter oil bottle makes a nice addition to the pewter top bandolier. They are in many period prints but no example has survived other than perhaps a brass one in a German museum but they cannot confirm it is an original. From a primary source reference from the Thirty Years War to a ‘zinnen’ oil bottle, mine is made from pewter.
I have a Facebook page I hope musketeers around the world will use to say where they will be Going BANG around the world.
I finish these beech wood boxes in accordance with the specification of the day and I can provide painted ones also, for those who wish to depict the New Model Army. ‘Bandoliers to bee of wood with whole bottomes to bee turned within and not boared, ye heads to be of wood & to be laid in Oyle, (vist) three times on & to be coloured blow & white strings with strong thread twist & with good Belts at XXd. Peece…’. Order for 1,500 to the bandolier makers Thomas Bostock, Henry Thrall and Richard Rumsey in June 1646. PRO 30/37.. There are many other indications that the boxes were hollowed much earlier than this, non the least that the originals I have examined are like this and, the most compelling argument that it is impossible to contain the standard issue 1/2lb of powder in boxes that are simply drilled. The stopper is tapered so that it jams in to the hole and is attached to the cord for security. The shoulder rest is a direct copy of one in the Tower of London collection as is the rest of the bandolier. You can see the originals in the You Tube link I have given above; they are faithful reproductions. Please remember this set will accommodate much larger amounts of powder than needed on a re-enactment battlefield so care should be taken when filling them.
I can also make the New Model Army blue and white string which is made from waxed linen. Normally the NMA had blue boxes too. The set I will be sending out will have brown tarred linen string. The lids are made from pewter that has been melted down from C18th tankards and, on one occasion, a collection plate so I cannot guarantee they are lead free. They are based on battlefield finds but there are so many different types on the battlefields around England and they are so badly damaged that there is no standard format for me to follow so I have surmised they were cast by the soldiers themselves when the wooden lids broke so mine are gravity cast using a soap stone mould. They have they been turned so the solder marks down the seam can be seen just like the originals. The largest single set of metal tops was found at Marston Moor, to my knowledge and there were nine tops; still not a full set but pretty close. These were found in an area that could have been occupied by both sides and my design is a close copy of those. Please remember the boxes will accommodate much larger amounts of powder than needed on a re-enactment battlefield so care should be taken when filling them.
I have referred to ‘apostles’ in the title because they are often referred to as such. It is not a term I can find in the period and appears to date back to a C19th historian whose foot note was taken for a direct quote from the C17th. Though these belts are made to the original size, I can make them longer if required; a good measure is that the collar of charges should fit easily between the hand and elbow of one arm so it can be put on with that arm; the bullet bag should be at elbow height, to conform with contemporary engravings.
I’m currently making these. I do not ‘dip’ them until an order is received and the dipping process takes three days.
You can see me making bandolier boxes at some shows and Sealed Knot musters around the UK. I make them on my C17 reproduction lathe which has been built to Joseph Moxon’s specifications. You can see my YT videos of the lathe at the Master Webbe channel.
WARNING It is the responsibility of the user to check the charge your musket is proofed for when using these bandoliers.
Instruction. Measure the correct amount of powder in to the boxes.
Wood can sometimes be unpredictable. If you have a natural breakage or crack within the first year of use, re-enacting can sometimes take its toll, simply send me a picture of the damaged item and I will replace it free of charge