Flintlock Blunderbuss (Musketoon)

This old salt actually began life as a military musket or carbine. Thousands of these guns were bought and converted for use aboard privateers and merchant ships in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were also a favorite with coachmen, bank guards and watchmen. Considered ‘disposable’ in their day, few have survived.

It was quite common to shorten a long, clumsy musket and forge a wider muzzle for easy loading. The wider mouth of the muzzle allowed a seaman or coachman to quickly throw a musket ball or a handful of buckshot down the bore on top of the powder charge without using the ramrod. It also served a psychological purpose, making the weapon look particularly lethal to anyone confronted with the business end of the gun.

Short guns like this could be very handy in boarding ships and could even be shot like a pistol. When I began cleaning the years of dirt and grime from this weapon, I discovered it was still loaded with powder, a .70 caliber musket ball and some #6 bird shot.

This gun is in remarkable condition for its age; it is over 200 years old. It was probably made in Germany, initially, for some unknown army or navy. It has an iron barrel that was shortened to 17 inches (44 cm). The bore is around .70 cal. with a one-inch (4 cm) muzzle. The gun is 32 inches long overall, and has handsome brass furniture.

Yes, it throws a fine spark and I have fired it with a small blank charge. But I am selling it as a curiosity. I am not a firearms dealer. I will include some original flints recovered from a shipwreck. You are safe in demonstrating the sparking function of the mechanism. Never live fire an old iron barrel without a thorough examination of the bore. The original wood ramrod was broken off and jammed in the channel under the barrel. I took a similar one and shortened it to replace the original. It will work well.

This is a wonderful early piece of maritime lore. If only it could talk.



One of the nice things about being a dealer in unusual maritime artifacts is that you get to own many of the things you have seen or wanted over the years, but only for awhile. Eventually, for the sake of your finances, and the security of your family, you have to let them go to others who will appreciate them. This striking iron naval cannon is one of those things.

Originally cast in iron in Britain or America shortly after the American Revolution, this small cannon (circa 1790) was intended to be a rail-mounted swivel gun. It is based roughly on the Blomefield pattern of naval guns that became popular with the Royal Navy and was widely copied at the time.

These little cannons were used as anti-personnel weapons, and to fend off enemy boarding parties trying to take control of a ship. Occasionally they’d be mounted at the rail inboard at the break of the quarterdeck to discourage mutinies. They were called ‘murderers’ when loaded with grapeshot, links of chain, nails, buckshot or even small stones.

This gun was remounted on a white oak carriage in the manner of a larger gun. Often, this was done in order to use it as a signal or line gun. This gun has a bore of about 1.5 inches (4 cm). The barrel is 23.5 inches (60 cm) long. The length of the barrel and carriage together is 26.5 inches. The gun weighs about 70 pounds by itself; with the carriage, it weighs about 100 pounds.

This size and style of cannon is in demand today. Naturally, we are selling ours as a collectible. Firing these early iron guns is never recommended. If you have any questions, please call us at 207 657-2117 or email us at chinasea@chinaseatrading.com.


This is a classic double-disc, or figure-eight mariner’s cutlass in near perfect condition, one of the finest cutlasses of its kind known today..

Everything about it speaks to American manufacture, using local iron and wood, although the blade was most likely imported, which was typical back then. The blade is 23 inches (60 cm) in length and 1 3/8 inches wide, with a slight distal taper.

The grip is of wood and the guard is hammered iron. The blade is marked with the “running dog” and is dated 1806 on both sides.

The running dog mark was originally the mark of a German maker but was also used by several other blade-smiths in Britain and possibly America.

This sword has a fine provenance, having been passed from famous weapons authority Harold Peterson to merchant mariner, maritime artist and author Peter Copeland. I got it directly from Pete who was an old friend.

This cutlass still has its original edge. I have added a leather scabbard identical to the period although many cutlasses back then were sold without scabbards. Though dated 1806, this style was in use even earlier.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


This strange and interesting knife is representative of an early style of weapon that was adopted by several disparate cultures. I’ve had versions of it from Spain, Italy and Corsica. The gazelle, or antelope, horn grip was a feature of some early, Southern European fighting and dueling knives.

I believe this one, however, originates from Africa. It does not have the quality of the early Spanish version, although it does have a unique, hand-wrought flame or “kris” style blade.

Nineteen inches (48 cm) long grip to tip, this weapon shows great age. A rare and unusual knife for the collector.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities



Why, you may ask, is a boar spear included in a catalog of marine items?

Boar spears are most often found among the sporting goods of the wealthy gentry of 17th and 18th century Europe. But the noble boar spear was also a practical weapon in the hands of pikemen or boarding parties. Old illustrations even show them in the hands of Morgan’s pirates as they attacked Panama in 1671.

This boar spear is 87 inches long, with a 69-inch wood shaft and an 18-inch forged iron head. The shaft features crossed leather strips and brass tacks to ensure a good grip.

I am unsure of its age, although it is obviously very old. The iron head has the characteristic “wings” or stops that prevent the spear form penetrating the victim too deeply.

An unusual example of early weaponry.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


The spontoon was not only a weapon but also a badge of rank, generally carried by an officer of infantry on land, or by sailors and marines at sea. They were clumsy to use on deck so they were usually confined to boarding parties or shore raids when used by mariners. This is an early style of spontoon, often regarded as French, though they appear throughout Western Europe and early New World settlements. It has been well used and shows its age. Originally it was probably kept sharp and polished, it is now dulled and has a worn finish. The head is socket mounted on a blackened staff by rivets. Certainly a later shaft but appropriate for its early style. I would date this weapon from the late 1600’s to perhaps 1760. The blade and socket measure 17″ (44cm). The blade and staff together are 81″ (210cm) tall. I have had this in my collection for 20+ years.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


The bill halberd is a descendant of the bill hook, a farm tool often used as a weapon by peasants in defense of their homes or in rebellions.
It was modified by soldiers as a weapon and became a mainstay for European armies throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
In the new lands of the Americas, it was carried by the conquistadors, and the colonial militias in New England and Virginia. When Henry Morgan’s buccaneers and pirates raided Portobello and Panama in the 1660’s and 70’s, both his privateers and the Spanish defenders made use of pikes and halberds.
Here is an example of a bill halberd of that era. It has a forged iron or steel head with an armor piercing spike point and a hooked bill and blade. The hook could pull a rider off his mount or relieve an opponent of his head. It could also cut ships rigging. During the English Civil War of the 1640s, whole battalions of men fought with these weapons.
The beginning of the age of massed firepower made the halberd obsolete as a weapon.This example is 102″ (260cm) tall. it has reinforcing langets on two sides of the shaft. The shaft appears to be of the period. The iron is in excellent condition with no rust or pitting. Feel free to call with questions.