Author Topic: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence  (Read 640 times)

Offline JHeath

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"Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« on: January 12, 2022, 08:57:08 PM »
I noticed this starter in a cased c.1810 flintlock.

It looks like a mallet, but obviously is not intended to be used as a mallet. The rod section is not a handle, it would break if you used this as a mallet.

[edit: re-reading the quote below, I think maybe the ball was first tapped with the end of the barrel-shaped handle, not by slapping the top, but by using the rod as a handle. So it is a "mallet" but not one you really whack things with.]

This has to be a loading "mallet" as named in old texts. And it surely was called a "mallet" only because it resembled a mallet.

To give a parallel, seamen used a lever called a "serving mallet" to seal rope by wrapping it tightly with small cord. See photo. You don't hit anything with a serving mallet. It is purely a lever that resembles a mallet. So they called it a mallet.

[corrected] Sir Michael posted this a while back:

[block quote]

"The British Army Rifle Regiment were equiped with what was referred to as a loading mallet.  However, no detail descriptions or instructions for use have ever been found.

"Along this same line, I found this regarding a similar device used by the U.S. Army:

'Practical Instructions for Military Officers, for the District of Massachusetts, published 1811

'Equipment

'The balls attached to the cartridges are enclosed in a linen or milled leather patch well saturated with grease; when the powder is emptied into the rifle, the ball is to be separated from the paper, placed upon the muzzle and driven in with a stroke of the mallet, as will be described in the exercise of the rifle. . . .

'V. Load!  One Compound Motion
Turn up the right hand and shake the powder into the barrel, pressing the cartridge with the thumb and finger, to force out the powder; instantly bring the paper to the mouth and with the teeth separate it from the ball and, patch, which place upon the muzzle, the stitched side up, and instantly slide the left hand to the muzzle and place the fore finger upon the ball; at the same time, with the right hand, grasp the mallet, draw it partly out, and seize the handle.

'VI. Drive Ball!  One Compound Motion
Bring up the mallet, flipping the finger from the ball, and with one or two strokes drive the ball into the muzzle; with a quick motion, place the end of the handle upon the ball and grasp it with the thumb and finger of the left hand, and with a few smart strokes upon the mallet with the right hand, drive the ball down the full length of the handle; instantly return the mallet to its sheath and seize the ramrod with the thumb and finger of the same hand, the thumb up. "

[end block quote]

I think the starter in the photo is original to the set, that it was called a mallet because it resembled a mallet, and that it was used exactly as "short starters" today are used.








« Last Edit: January 22, 2022, 12:45:13 AM by JHeath »

Offline JHeath

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2022, 09:21:22 PM »
Also, I think these aren’t found in American kits because you can start a ball with a knife handle and the typical American didn’t want to carry unnecessary stuff. In England most hunters were never far from the mansion, probably had people to carry things, and weren’t going to starve if they had a starter but not enough flints.

Offline Daryl

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2022, 10:33:27 PM »
Mallet "starters" and starter pegs (metal) were issued to the rifle "brigades"?
The ball "starter" in the case is quite similar to what we use today.
Daryl

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Offline smylee grouch

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2022, 06:29:10 AM »
Yep, same basic tool just a different name.  :)

Offline JHeath

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2022, 07:46:49 AM »
Mallet "starters" and starter pegs (metal) were issued to the rifle "brigades"?
The ball "starter" in the case is quite similar to what we use today.

I don't know about the metal pegs, I don't think so. The info relating to military use came from [corrected] Sir Michael.

I think they placed the ball on the muzzle, tapped it with the "mallet" so the ball was flush with the muzzle, then used the full length of the shaft to start the ball, driving it with a blow and a push of the palm on the barrel-shaped head.

There's a long tea-tempest about starters not being period-correct for American hunters. The argument is that starters such as ours today did not exist then, or at least have never been found in an old shooting kit.

I had seen vague references to starters in some uncertain form being attested in the 1830s, and to some kind of mallet being used.

Based on the fact that nobody is arguing with me -- my standard metric -- I'm going to say that starters were known to British flintlock shooters, were used by military and at least some civilians. And I'm going to say that those starters looked like this Durs Egg model, and were called "mallets." And I'm going to venture that few Americans were familiar with them, and that the average American rifle hunter didn't need to carry more stuff around, and was okay just using his knife.

I am sure there is more to the story. I think jaegers were originally loaded without using a patch, and the bare ball driven with a mallet to swage it into the rifling.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2022, 12:47:14 AM by JHeath »

Offline Daryl

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2022, 06:51:12 AM »
Not sure when Remington started making barrels 'for the trade', but by the mid 1800's, the muzzles were turned for "guide bullet starters".
The iron pegs thing I posted, came from a British period paper.
I don't remember more than that.  "IT" is entirely possible the soldiers quickly "lost" the pegs.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Online Clark Badgett

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2022, 03:23:44 AM »

"Along this same line, I found this regarding a similar device used by the U.S. Army:

'Practical Instructions for Military Officers, for the District of Massachusetts, published 1811

'Equipment

'The balls attached to the cartridges are enclosed in a linen or milled leather patch well saturated with grease; when the powder is emptied into the rifle, the ball is to be separated from the paper, placed upon the muzzle and driven in with a stroke of the mallet, as will be described in the exercise of the rifle. . . .

'V. Load!  One Compound Motion
Turn up the right hand and shake the powder into the barrel, pressing the cartridge with the thumb and finger, to force out the powder; instantly bring the paper to the mouth and with the teeth separate it from the ball and, patch, which place upon the muzzle, the stitched side up, and instantly slide the left hand to the muzzle and place the fore finger upon the ball; at the same time, with the right hand, grasp the mallet, draw it partly out, and seize the handle.

'VI. Drive Ball!  One Compound Motion
Bring up the mallet, flipping the finger from the ball, and with one or two strokes drive the ball into the muzzle; with a quick motion, place the end of the handle upon the ball and grasp it with the thumb and finger of the left hand, and with a few smart strokes upon the mallet with the right hand, drive the ball down the full length of the handle; instantly return the mallet to its sheath and seize the ramrod with the thumb and finger of the same hand, the thumb up. "

[end block quote]

This is not instructions from the US Army, this is from the state of Massachusetts. In for far as I know there does not exist any US Army material on this particular subject and there definitely is no evidence extant of the US Army ever procuring sheaths for mallets and the Rifleman's bag is much too small to hold one on the inside. We do know that there are several people that have examined many original rifle barrels that show a definite coning to the ends for ease of loading.
Psalms 144

Offline JHeath

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2022, 06:41:43 AM »

"Along this same line, I found this regarding a similar device used by the U.S. Army:

'Practical Instructions for Military Officers, for the District of Massachusetts, published 1811

'Equipment

'The balls attached to the cartridges are enclosed in a linen or milled leather patch well saturated with grease; when the powder is emptied into the rifle, the ball is to be separated from the paper, placed upon the muzzle and driven in with a stroke of the mallet, as will be described in the exercise of the rifle. . . .

'V. Load!  One Compound Motion
Turn up the right hand and shake the powder into the barrel, pressing the cartridge with the thumb and finger, to force out the powder; instantly bring the paper to the mouth and with the teeth separate it from the ball and, patch, which place upon the muzzle, the stitched side up, and instantly slide the left hand to the muzzle and place the fore finger upon the ball; at the same time, with the right hand, grasp the mallet, draw it partly out, and seize the handle.

'VI. Drive Ball!  One Compound Motion
Bring up the mallet, flipping the finger from the ball, and with one or two strokes drive the ball into the muzzle; with a quick motion, place the end of the handle upon the ball and grasp it with the thumb and finger of the left hand, and with a few smart strokes upon the mallet with the right hand, drive the ball down the full length of the handle; instantly return the mallet to its sheath and seize the ramrod with the thumb and finger of the same hand, the thumb up. "

[end block quote]

This is not instructions from the US Army, this is from the state of Massachusetts. In for far as I know there does not exist any US Army material on this particular subject and there definitely is no evidence extant of the US Army ever procuring sheaths for mallets and the Rifleman's bag is much too small to hold one on the inside. We do know that there are several people that have examined many original rifle barrels that show a definite coning to the ends for ease of loading.

I was quoting [corrected] Sir Michael I don't know the citation. "District of Massachusetts" sounds sort of federal but again I don't know the source. There were a number of non-authoritative militia-law compendiums and manuals published back then as a resource for state officers.

Personally I'm not interested in the minutiae of mallets or starters or such. But their modern use is a subject of debate over authenticity. Since I noticed a ball-starter that is old enough and mallet-like enough to explain some things, I posted it.



« Last Edit: January 22, 2022, 12:48:08 AM by JHeath »

Offline Dphariss

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2022, 07:43:12 PM »
I always thought this was interesting. No starter but it does show a bullet board. But then starters primary used, form my standpoint, is to reduce stress on the rifles wrist. I can start with just the loading rod. But on some rifles I use a starter. Like my swivel breech.
Its in “Kentucky Rifles and Pistols 1750-1850”


Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.  Jame Madison
 Its been happening for over 100 years.

Offline Ky-Flinter

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2022, 05:22:14 AM »
I've been trying to remember making the quote attributed to me and I'm drawing a blank, so I did a little digging.  It seems I was not the originator of the quote in question.

I found this in a reply I made in December 2019.....
Quote
This has been discussed here a number of times.  Something similar to what we today call a "short-starter" was used by the US Army at least by 1840.  The response below is from 2014......
https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=32559.msg312499#msg312499

Further digging showed a similar topic, using this same quote (although not by me), was discussed in Nov. 2011.

Ron
« Last Edit: January 18, 2022, 05:27:43 AM by Ky-Flinter »
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Offline JHeath

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2022, 12:43:46 AM »
I've been trying to remember making the quote attributed to me and I'm drawing a blank, so I did a little digging.  It seems I was not the originator of the quote in question.

I found this in a reply I made in December 2019.....
Quote
This has been discussed here a number of times.  Something similar to what we today call a "short-starter" was used by the US Army at least by 1840.  The response below is from 2014......
https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=32559.msg312499#msg312499

Further digging showed a similar topic, using this same quote (although not by me), was discussed in Nov. 2011.

Ron

Ron:

You are absolutely right. I misattributed the pasted quote. It was from Sir Michael, on the thread you correctlylinked. My apologies to you, and to Sir Michael. Thank you for catching it, and for so diplomatically bringing it to my attention.

JNH

JNH

Offline JHeath

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Re: "Mallet" short starter origin evidence
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2022, 12:49:26 AM »
KY-Flinter:

Ron, I edited my posts to correct the attribution.

JNH