Fine Antique Breech Loading Salute Cannon Based On US Naval Deck Guns, Philadelphia Ca. 1898 


A rare and very impressive brass and Bronze mounted steel signal or salute cannon built to fire 12-guage blanks, circa 1898. This cannon is based on 5" and 6" breech loading rapid fire deck cannon of the period. These guns served as primary armamant on US Navy Cruisers and secondary armament on Battleships in the early days of the US steel navy, during the Spanish American War, and into the first decades of the twentieth century.

This very handsom cannon was built employing a side swing interrupted screw breech (like that of the full size naval cannon), working recoil, traverse, and elevation mechanisms. This tour tour de force in mechanical engineering features a sophisticated firing mechanism activated by a firing lever located below the breech. The firing pin is automatically cocked when the breech is closed and locked. The firing pin can also be cocked by hand.

Over the past forty + years we have seen only five examples of this type signal/salute cannon. They all shared the same basic steel, iron, and bronze forgings and castings for their pedestal mounting, barrel sleeve, barrel and basic breech block. However, each cannon has differed in its breech block details and firing mechanism. this is the first example wherin the breech block housing swings to the right when opened.

We originally thought these fabulous salute cannon could must have been built at a US Navy Yard or US Naval Gun Factory where the industrial grade machinery and ordnance technology required to create the heavy forgings and castings for these working and firing models was available in addition to the highly skilled machinists needed to complete the cannons. Through the research of one of our customers, we learned these cannon were likely built at the Northeast Manual Training School in Philadelphia, begun in 1890 and renamed Thomas A. Edison School with a new and magnificnent building in 1905.

In the late 19th century, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was a major industrial center hosting a major US Navy Yard, the William Cramp Shipyard, a steam engine factory, and other industries. The first four steel warships built for the US Navy were built at the William Cramp yards. Designing and building naval vessels and ordnance is a specialized business and we think both government and private naval contractors would have been anxious to employ engineers/machinists trained at the Northeast / Edison school for the work needed. We feel the heavy rough forgings and castings required for these cannon cwere likely provided bythe Navy and/or Wm. Cramp while the inventiveness, machining, and excellence of manufacture were the products of the students doing their best on these three dimensional final exams. We believe the building of the first USN steel warships in Philadelphia and the advent of the Spanish American War in 1898 likely gave the cannons-as-exam-program an additional boost. 

Please see the links below for information on the school and a picture of a model cannon built there in 1905 with a variant breech/firing mechanism.

Click Here

This vexceptional signal/salute cannon has excellent proportions and displays excellent craftsmanship This cannon is in excellent original condition. the steel barrel and breech sleeve retain nearly all their slightly age faded blued finish. The breech block is natural steel with excellent natural patina. All brass and bronze fittings have excellent light age patina, and the iron cannon base and mount have nearly all their original dark finish

This is a great example of a rare and most impressive antique American salute / signal cannon with very interesting linkage to an important era in American history.

Dimensions: length 24" , breech dia. 2", bore 12 guage, base diameter 7", height 8", weight 28 lbs.

Price: $3500.00