"Violinderbuss"
c. 1630, Dutch
102 cm ~ Steel, brass, maple, catgut, black powder, shot

 

 Early settlers in the New World had to be prepared to defend themselves at any moment against attacks from animals, Indians and Puritan evangelists. This led to many highly ingenious combinations of household objects and weapons, such as the pikestaff-broom and the beer stein-grenade. None is more unusual and original, however, than the "violinderbuss" shown here. The original Dutch weapon, the so-called "blunderbuss," was a relatively ineffective weapon (literally a "thunder-box") whose flaring muzzle produced a loud explosion that frightened more than injured a potential attacker. 

Music was very important in Dutch colonial settlements, and one can imagine the quandary of the traveling musician of the time: how could he manage both a firearm and his instrument effectively? One bucolic fiddler solved the problem by combining his violin with his blunderbuss. As you can see, both were quite complete: the smaller powder horn on the top allowed for rapid reloading, while the trigger-guard below prevented the weapon from accidentally discharging during the windup of a fast stomp-und-skip. Apparently the barrel replaced the resonance chamber of the standard fiddle. It is not know how effective the instrument-weapon was, as the artifact is too delicate to permit either firing or playing.

 

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