Captain Midnight

Flintlock Pistol Holsters

55 posts in this topic

Other than being shoved through a belt or sash, how would a sailor from the GAoP have carried his pistol if he had one? Has anyone ever seen a holster from this period in detail?

I have one of Loyalist Arms' English doglock pistols. I had mine fitted by the company with a belt hook, but wondered about a leather holster for it. Man, it is a huge, .64 caliber monster! The ball would damn near cut a man in half if shot with it! A most excellent addition to my arsenal...

Anyway, if anyone knows where I might find details such as photos, drawings, or even better-a pattern, for a leather holster that is appropriate for the time period, could you please help me out! Thanks so much! :lol:

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I have pics of one of the holstered pistols recovered from the Whydah. How one would go about reconstructing one of these is a mystery to me. Suffice to say, it looks nothing like the holsters I've seen some renfolks wearing; it is almost reminscent of a saddle holster. I've asked the kind folks from the Whydah for technical drawings, but sadly have never gotten any.

If you look at some of the period illustrations, they don't look too far off the mark. It seems they may have been sewn to a shoulder belt.

Of course, another method is to wear them "Johnson" style, that is, according to Captain Johnson pirates were wont to wear them on "ribbands" suspended around their neck. One of the pistols from the Whydah was found with a silk ribbon.

Fwiw, I've tried ribbons, and belthooks. And a combination of both. When suspended from ribbons, if you run, or even trot, they have a tendency to clunk around alot. If you are carrying more than one, they get to be a real pain in the arse. Belthooks make things better, but things get dicey after firing. Do you really want to fiddle around with that belthook? So, I've tried the belthook and ribbon approach. That way, after I've fired, I can drop one and move onto the next without worrying about the hook or loosing the pistol because I dropped it on the ground.

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Thanks for that info, John. Would you be willing to share the pic with me? I am a cordwainer, and if the pic was detailed enough, I could reconstruct it. I have also reconstructed the Whydah cartridge pouch, which is what I use for my pistol cartridges, so the the holster would top the whole kit off and be a most welcome addition. Thanks again for your help! :ph34r:

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The belt holster (as we think of it today) did not exist in the 18th century. Holsters were part of horse equipment, and were sort of conical shaped containers with covering flaps attached to the saddle.

Carrying a pistol was normally done with a belt hook, or simply shoved through the belt or sash. Smaller pistols were simply dropped into a coat pocket. The exposed working parts of a flint lock prevent practical use of any sort of compact holster on the belt. Carrying them on a ribbon or something like that, although "period correct", is not very practical, as pointed out by Blackjohn. I suspect that after fireing, pistols carried in that fashion would have been dropped as soon as possible, if in heated combat.

The issue of what to do with it after fireing was not the same "back then" as it is for us. If in the midst of battle, the fired pistol was then used as a club, thrown to do the most damage, used to deflect sword cuts, or simply dropped to be retrieved later.

I have installed belt hooks on all my pistols. I prefer them fairly long to prevent loss when moving about, or to allow shifting of the pistol's position when sitting.

>>>>> Cascabel

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I'm a novice, what is a belt hook? When did they start being used.

I guess most images I think of are from the English Civil War and showed long, almost sheaths for fire arms, attached to saddles.

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There are pictures of a couple of the ones that I made in the archives, but I'm not sure how to post a link for my posting on the subject. See if this works :

http://pyracy.com/forums/index.php?act=Sea...osts&hl=&st=150

Or maybe this:

http://pyracy.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&...findpost&p=3783

Anyhow they are good pictures of types typical of the period.

>>>>> Cascabel

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Here be one tha'll fit on yer belt:

ph-1001.jpg

From the site Possibles Shop At $19.95, what 'ave ye ta lose?

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Thanks Captain Jim, that's a nice one indeed. I wonder how authentic it is, though? See, I'm not knocking the Ren Fair pirates at all, but I am a historical reenactor, and I want to be as historically accurate as I possibly can. I know it is very hard on some things because we know so little or have little or no historical evidence for some things, but I think it's important to do the best one can. That being said, however, I must admit that some of my crew are more of the "Hollywood" type pirates, and I say nothing at all to them about it, because I want us all to have fun together, which is the most important thing, and some prefer the hollywood version. If that is one's personal preference, I respect their opinion. The historically accurate version is only my own personal preference.

Now back to the subject at hand. I realize belt hooks were probably the most common method to carry a pistol for a sailor, and it is indeed the method I will employ for my pistol, as I had Loyalist Arms install a belt hook on mine. But the fact remains that there were several holstered pistols recovered from the wreck of the Whydah, according to Blackjohn. My question is, if they were not used by sailors, why were they on board the Whydah? From this evidence, we can presume that holsters were indeed used on board ships, even if to a small extent.

I would like to see photos or drawings of one of them to determine if a decent reproduction could be accomplished. Not having seen or read about the Whydah holsters, I will assume at least for now that they took a form similar to the saddle holsters of the period? Is this far off base, John? :blink:

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I missed Blackjohns post..... (dang)

from what I understand..... Pyrates kinda invented holsters,... (as a quick way to grab yer weapon) and also the ribbons and such......so you don't lose it overboard (on this I can say something... OK playing on the Royaliste......)

Anyway.................. if yer life depends on being able to draw and fire a weapon..... and you can figure out how to do so.. (bandoleare or what not)... well heck....... your going to do so.......... it's yer life......

Pyrates were not stupid...........................

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Thanks for that info, John. Would you be willing to share the pic with me? I am a cordwainer, and if the pic was detailed enough, I could reconstruct it. I have also reconstructed the Whydah cartridge pouch, which is what I use for my pistol cartridges, so the the holster would top the whole kit off and be a most welcome addition. Thanks again for your help! B)

I'd be more than happy to share, however that pic is one of those from my "slides phase" where it seemed like everything I took was slides, and then we'd have people over for a slide show. About a year ago I bought a scanner with a slide attachment, but took it back because it didn't do a good job with them. That being said, I believe corsair2k3 may have sent a pic of one when I asked about them. Please note, when last I saw it, it was still sitting in a vat of water under archaeological care.

The pic above, that's the one I was referring to before. I've not seen anything indicating it is period appropriate. However, if one lengthened it to cover the whole pistol, that would look about right.

And finally... just because they had them didn't mean they wore them??? I have seen a 1748 painting of a member of Trenck's Frei-Corps wearing a holster containing two pistols, and a knife. Weird.

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OH yah.... early period holsters ..... dang they look funny................

Check out ""Arms and Armor in Colonia America 1526-1783" by Harole L. Peterson.....

Aaaargh,,, the lace tops...............

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I really have to get that book someday Patrick. My friend Scurvy Hanna has it, and it looks really good.

Ok Cap'n M, you can't say I never gave you anything.

B)

That one is courtesy of Ken Kinkor. He's a great guy he is!

B)

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Ahoy, Blackjohn....

The picture almost looks like a pistol wrapped up for storage in a greased leather wrapper, judging by what appears to be cord wrapped around the handle area, rather than a holster. Any pics available from other angles ??

>>>>> Cascabel

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Ahoy Cascabel! Just how are you faring these days? I haven't seen you in a couple years, and hope you are well.

That pic was sent to me by Ken Kinkor when I asked him if he had any pics of holstered pistols. It does not appear to be the one I took a pic of when last I visited them (in 1999?). I believe, though I could be mistaken, that he said the holsters were leather, with a linen lining. (If I searched around I might be able to find some of this in writing, but that was at least one pc crash ago, if not two.) It does appear different than the one I recall taking the slide of, which was still sitting in a solution at the time.

This one does appear to have some sort of cord wrapped around it. Interesting. I wonder if this is a pic of the pistol that was found with the silk ribbon tied around it, and that's the silk ribbon? Dunno. :lol:

While it is tempting to email Ken and ask him for more pics, I'd rather just email him and ask him how he is doing instead. He's a good guy, and it seems like the only time I email him is when I want something, which makes me feel more like a leech and less like a friend.

I just realized I haven't looked at my Whydah slides in a couple years. I should probably go back through them to see what's in there...

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Ahoy back to ye, Blackjohn. All is well in my world, and best regards to you and yer Lady.....

>>>> Cascabel

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Aaargh... BlackJohn.......... ain't that th" fun of wot we do...

I'm kinda courous bout the tying with ribbons,,,,,,,,,, holsters be something compleatly different,,,,,,,,,,, we live and learn..... (or something like that.............................)

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Thanks for that picture, Blackjohn, it is a good one. I think the leather has deteriorated too much to allow me to see much detail, however. From what I can see, it is very similar in construction to a saddle holster, with a stitched in bottom. Just as an educated guess, I would think that a simple flap style saddle holster modified to fit a belt or baldric would be very close. I tend to agree that it may be the remains of a cord or ribbon wrapped around the butt of the pistol. Looks alot like a Queen Anne pistol with the grotesque mask style butt cap...

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Of course, another method is to wear them "Johnson" style, that is, according to Captain Johnson pirates were wont to wear them on "ribbands" suspended around their neck. One of the pistols from the Whydah was found with a silk ribbon.

Fwiw, I've tried ribbons, and belthooks. And a combination of both. When suspended from ribbons, if you run, or even trot, they have a tendency to clunk around alot. If you are carrying more than one, they get to be a real pain in the arse.

It was always my perception theat the ribbon method was there to provide a method of quickly discarding the pistol after it had been fired. That the pistols were origionally carried on the belt or in holsters.

Since stopping to replace a pistol mid battle, was probably a good way to get yourself killed, A pirate woud simply drop one pistol and draw the next.

Pictures of Blackbeard, who reputedly carried a multitide of pistols, show them inserted into broad leather loops attached to the strap of his cartrige pouch.

I know from experience, that carrying more than three pistols the size of Loyalist arms Doglocks is very cumbersom, so I am inclined to think that if Teach carried six pistols, they were probably smaller, Queen Anne type.

I have several pictures of 18th Century hunters which show them wearing a cartrge box suspended around their neck and apparently held in place with a waistbelt, in the same manner as one of the pictures of blackbeard, Personally, I am not sure that I would be happy about having a box of black powder cartriges suspended in front of my groin, but there you go.

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Ahoy Tall Paul,

That is quite a good idea, yours, of attaching loops for the pistol(s) to your baldric or cartridge box sling. That, along with a belt hook attached to the pistol should secure it nicely.

As far as the cartridge boxes worn at the waist or groin area is concerned, that seemed to be the norm for a long time before the shoulder-slung cartridge boxes came into wide spread use (from what I can gather happened after our period). I think this is why the smaller cartridge pouches worn in that manner were referred to as "belly boxes". I believe that the cartridge box found in the wreck of the Whydah is in fact a belly box.

Anyway, good observation about Blackbeard's method for carrying his pistols. Any chance you might have a pic of that to post? B)

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Fwiw, I've tried ribbons, and belthooks.  And a combination of both.  When suspended from ribbons, if you run, or even trot, they have a tendency to clunk around alot.  If you are carrying more than one, they get to be a real pain in the arse.

It was always my perception theat the ribbon method was there to provide a method of quickly discarding the pistol after it had been fired. That the pistols were origionally carried on the belt or in holsters.

Since stopping to replace a pistol mid battle, was probably a good way to get yourself killed, A pirate woud simply drop one pistol and draw the next.

> "In this they were extravagantly nice, endeavouring to outdo one

> another, in the Beauty and Richness of their Arms, giving sometimes

> at an Auction (at the Mast,) 30 or 40 l. a Pair, for Pistols. These

> were slung in Time of Service, with different coloured Ribbands,

> over their Shoulders, in a Way peculiar to these Fellows, in which

> they took great Delight."

> (Johnson, "A General History of the Pyrates", 231).

Oops, sorry, around their shoulders. I suspect in a manner similar to a baldric or bandolier. I've always assumed, since the valued their pistols, they didn't want to loose any, and developed this as a way to fire them, and drop them, without actually loosing them. Ymmv.

I know from experience, that carrying more than three pistols the size of Loyalist arms Doglocks is very cumbersom, so I am inclined to think that if Teach carried six pistols, they were probably smaller, Queen Anne type.

Or a mix of large and small. I'd probably drop a boxlock or two in my coat pockets if I had them.

I am not sure that I would be happy about having a box of black powder cartriges suspended in front of my groin, but there you go.

As Cap'n M points out, belly boxes aren't too unusual. The Compagnies franches in Canada were wearing a nine hole belly box (gargoussier) from circa 1700 to the mid-1700s.

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Thank you, Story, for posting that pic. Those look like holsters attached to his baldric to me. Sure, they are small pistols, but if you only had one or two large ones, this system would still work. I'm wondering...was one end of the ribbon secured to the pistol, and the other end attached to the baldric somehow? The pistol could still be held in its holster when not in use with this method, and when fired, instead of re-holstering it, could simply be dropped to dangle from the ribbon until a convenient time to re-holster it presented itself...just a thought. This might explain why the Whydah pistol found in its holster appears to have the remains of a ribbon wrapped around its butt... :lol:

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May I offer these into the melting pot?

85757763.jpg

Anne Bonny with a pair of holsters similar to Blackbeard's, but at right angles. They look to me like slightly larger pistols too.

85757690.jpg

Mary Read with similar arrangement. What interests me about this picture is that her sword, axe, and brace of pistol all seem to be on the same baldrick

85757432.jpg

Jack Rackham with similar holsters again, but opening the opposite way

85754179.jpg

A buccaneer of about 1700 with his pistol shoved into a sash.

85753672.jpg

I can't make out what's going on with Roberts' pistols here, but it might be of use to someone.

teach.gif

Another, slightly earlier than Story's, view of BB. He seems to just have rings on his bandoleer. Note: He is very clearly not wearing a belt over his coat, his cartridge box is only suspended round his neck. I know there has been some debate in the past about whether it was always secured to the belt too, and here is a very clear answer.

OK, time for me to maybe upset people. I can't help noticing that none of these pictures seem to show pistols held on by belt clips. Surely, the belt clip would make most of those precarious looking devices redundant? Does anyone have any evidence on the origin of belt clips for pistols, and whether they do actually date back as far as the GAoP? I'm not saying they don't, I've never looked into it, but it does just seem to be taken for granted...

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I generally take a lot of the old engravings and woodcuts with a considerable grain of salt. They are not photographs, and many were done by artists that never actually saw their subjects. A lot of the details are rather vague, especially in the weapons.

>>>>> Cascabel

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Ahoy Foxe,

Thanks for those illustrations. If you will look closely at the engraving of Bartholomew Roberts, (whose pistol arrangements you were unsure of) he is wearing his cartridge box on a strap slung around his neck, exactly like in the pic of Blackbeard. It seems the pistols in both illustrations are secured by loops or holsters attached directly to the cartridge box sling. An interesting arrangement, even if a bit awkward or clumsy.

I would have to agree with Cascabel, however. Even though they are the only pictures we have of what the period looked like, period engravings and other illustrations are not necessarily accurate depictions of the subjects they represent. Artistic renderings from the Middle Ages and before, right on up through our period were notorious for being very fanciful. That's not saying that there is no truth, however, in those drawings...only that you can't always take them at face value. :P

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