Historic Artillery

Old guns are objects of art history, a craftsman's product, a cultural heritage and an extensive source of information about our history for the last 700 years in many areas. These include the mining industry, social-, economic-, political- and military history, technology, chemistry, contemporary society, state organisation and many more. Barely half of the guns in existence are kept by one of the many European museums. These have during the last 100 years published less than five scientific catalogues of their artillery collections. Only South Africa has thanks to a private initiative a national registration of these cultural assets.

Despite the information value and significance of historical guns, they have made no recognisable contribution to our Schools and Universities. Historic artillery is a complex subject which can also not be learned at any University. The complete recording of a gun demands detailed object knowledge, the skills of a craftsman, purpose made measuring instruments and academic experience to achieve reliable safeguard documentation. The result must be precise and verifiable in every detail. It is a pre-condition for the information base of a technical object.

The safe guard Documentation

consists of a copy of the recording sketch with all measurements and Photographs for optimal object information. It is the most important enclosure to the inventory sheet for study of the object, for managing the collection and the foundation for communication.

The technical Profile

is a comprehensive Information sheet about the gun. It consists of a schematic Sketch of the gun type and the dimensions of a specific gun with pictures and explanation of the markings. The Profile is the technical identity card of the gun, the key for academic research and for compatibility to contemporary sources. It serves without change as a response to inquiries and other need of communicating information.     

The drawing:

This consists of two copies of size A3. One copy has the key dimensions of the gun indicated. The depiction contains an aesthetic view to scale of the right side, from above, from the front and the rear. The gun's contemporary identification serves as title of the drawing. The lower part of the drawing shows separately the Coat of Arms and name of the gun founders if marked. The drawing is an optimal means of communication without language barrier or need of expertise. It serves as illustration and attractive picture, as a guide to the model builder or as source of income for the museum shop.

The Commentary

Is an additional explanation about the object with connecting points to history or sources as far as available. Depends on the gun, it may be limited to a few sentences, fill a whole sheet of size A4 or can extend to a comprehensive research up to a catalogue description if so desired. Combined with the safe guard documentation, this is the maximal possible information quantity about the gun up to the making of a full size replica.

Other Services:

These extend according do desire and requirements of the client to all matters concerning an artillery collection. In particular the inventory, administration, research, catalogue, gun carriages, artillery-equipment, historic artillery ammunition, artillery exhibitions, etc.  


The recording of an artillery collection is according to its size and the circumstances a time consuming and complex project. Great flexibility and separation of the work into project stages guarantee at any time a clear view of progress, optimal quality and cost control. The necessary work time derives from the scope of the project. A clue is the numbers of medium to large iron guns and more elaborate brass guns. The estimates of required work time refer to unknown guns with a clean bore in a horizontal position and unrestricted access from all sides. Already recorded gun types do not require new recording- and profile sketches. The recording and drawing of smaller and plainer guns requires less, very elaborate or modified guns more time.

The costs:

The project costs are defined by the scope and required time for executing the order.

The required time is defined by work hours which can be limited to a few months or distributed over several years. The cost accounting centres invariably around the individual recording visit. These costs consist of payment for the work according to order, the reimbursement of visiting expenses and work materials directly related to the visit. The costs of drawings can be reduced to a flat rate for each drawing according to agreement. The required instruments for recording and other means for the project tasks are already available and need not be acquired.

Project preparations:

The client determines the goals and scope of the Order. The projects stages are determined by mutual agreement to achieve a transparent and optimal execution of the project. This written agreement, reached before commencement of work, defines the details of the order, a time schedule and Details of the financial arrangements. An important task for the client is the preparation of clean guns in a horizontal position and accessible from all sides. Cultural and technical treasures of often significant value are hidden in every collection and wait for their discovery. The allow interrelation to historical facts, knowledge and reconstructions worthy to be shown. Artillery collection and museum should not only incur costs but also enrich society. The possibility, the means and the experience are at present available. The opportunity to make use of it is now. The general public of the present and the future will be grateful for it.

About my Person:

  • Making safe guard documentation of over 1200 guns since 1984

  • Publications and academic work, see home page (Publications)

  • Founding member of the English Ordnance Society and membership secretary 1987 – 1996.

  • Founding member of the 'Royal Arsenal Museum Advisory Group' (1990-1996), aiming for a Museum project in the previous Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.

  • Study at University of East Anglia 1990-1993 (early modern Europe)

  • Consultant and advisor work for the national gun registration of South Africa since 1996.

 Rudi Roth

2nd June 2008


For original, click on image!