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sundial cannons--sort of a historical combination of a clock and a cannon

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    Posted 1 year ago

    (2 items)

    Not sure what category these fall under but since there's a cannon involved this seemed as good as any.

    These are examples of what are commonly referred to as sundial cannons or sometimes called noonday guns. Originals date from the 17th and 18th centuries. They were sort of science-based toys custom made for nobility and the wealthy. The idea was to orient the sundial so it would tell the appropriate time. Then one would adjust the magnifying lens to focus the rays of the sun on the vent (touch hole) at precisely noon. Next, one would load the cannon with a blank charge plus add a little bit of powder exposed on top of the vent. Then at approximately 12 o'clock noon, the cannon would fire alerting anyone within earshot that it was high noon.

    Since they were intended to be left outdoors in a garden or patio, they were generally made from materials that would hold up to the elements,i.e., brass cannons mounted on marble bases.

    1st image. I built this one about 40 years ago from a kit that came from Dixie gun works in Union City, TN. It works just as it's supposed to.
    2nd image. This was produced by a company called "Sundials" back in the 1970s and was meant to be a decorative piece. However, it is still functional.
    3rd image. This one is a pure decorator piece. Whoever designed it had no idea how one of these would work and thus they angled the supports backward.
    4th image. This beauty was manufactured by a company that sells yacht or marine cannons meant for signaling and to start sailboat races. The base is teak while the etched dial is marine bronze. I found it all corroded and dirty in junktique mall. With a little spit and polish, it came out looking like it was made of pure gold.

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    1. Watchsearcher Watchsearcher, 1 year ago
      Super cool!
    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
      Great, - if it doesn't rain ! LOL. Have you actually had any luck having one work ? I've seen these and wondered if the glass would actually get the powder to ignite ? BTW, Turner Kirkland (Dixie Gun Works) was a friend and later found out he was a relative. Nice to find somebody with a common interest.
    3. cannon_jockey, 1 year ago
      The one from Dixie has always worked if I set it up correctly. I haven't tried the other, but I have tested the lenses and know that they will all ignite a piece of paper so I have no reason to think they wouldn't work. Well, except for the third example that is was designed backward as mentioned.

      Back in the mid-1970s, I lived in Memphis, Tn, so about once a month I would get up around 6 AM to drive up to Union City on Saturday. They were only open until noon. There were always a bunch of cannon barrels lining the walkway up to the front door. Turner was usually always around--sometimes, he even waited on me.behind the catalog desk. I was into leatherwork back then and tried to work up a deal with him for me to supply some leather accessories aimed at muzzleloading. We never could work out a price that was worth my time.

      I haven't been there in years, but I still buy something from them occasionally and order their big catalog about every other year or so. However, after Turner passed away and his sons took over it wasn't the same. They quit stocking all the oddball items that Turner liked, such as sundial cannon kits.
    4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
      The son(s) are adopted and didn't have his enthusiasm . He was a traveling salesman who obviously scheduled his route to catch auctions and gunshows. Knew him for yrs. at the shows with his signature bow tie. Nice guy, but shrewd. It served him well. Our ancestors served alongside my gun with Forrest. 36/32 Texas & Ross's brigade.
    5. cannon_jockey, 1 year ago
      It's amazing that I knew Turner and he happens to have been a distant relative of yours. The old saying of it's a small world comes to mind.
    6. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
      I had known him for half a century before I knew. I was talking to him at his store & mentioned that my grandmother was a Kirkland. He asked where from, I told him, and he said "Howdy cuz". Look up Rube Burrow. We are both related. Shame & scandal in the family.

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