An exceptional very early bronze barrel, 12 gauge ” Strong, New Haven” signal cannon on its original and rarely seen FIELD ARTILLERY CARRIAGE.
In the period following the Civil War celebrations of July 4th, GAR veterans events, and yacht racing became major events in the USA and the demand for small cannon intended to fire ‘salutes’ and signal the start of races greatly increasing. Existing cannon built for this purpose were all muzzle loading pieces fired by fuse or percussion cap. The “Strong Firearms Company, New Haven, Conn.” developed a breech loading cannon which fired center fire commercial cartridge blanks, making the use of salute and signal cannon much easier and safer for all concerned. Consequently the ‘Strong Firearms Company” became the most famous builder of the most popular signal and saluting cannons of the late 19th century. Production of these cannon in several different sizes and calibers continued into the 1930s. Today ‘Strong’ cannon are avidly collected by arms and nautical antiques collectors….and some are still used on the 4th Of July, and to start yacht races. It is believed the company began building their famous signal and saluting cannon around 1884. In 1886 they secured the patent for their well known rotating breech cannon with breechblock appearing as part of the cannon barrel.
This cannon is an example of the earliest ‘Strong’ cannons built prior to 1886. There were two variation, one was a small cannon chambered for .45-70 US military blanks, the other was like the one shown here, chambered for 12 gauge commercial blanks. The breech loading mechanism of early ‘Strong’ cannon – which could be called, ‘first models’, was very interesting; a side mounted breech lever was pulled outwards withdrawing a cylindrical locking bolt, the breech block (cascabel) could then be drawn rearward and swiveled to the left when clear of the barrel thus exposing the chamber. In addition, an extractor was fitted to the breech block which would draw a fired cartridge case far enough out of the chamber to be grasped by one’s fingers – please see detail pictures. The earliest ‘Strong’ cannon also differed from later models in having stepped barrels as opposed to the later straight tapered model. Markings also varied with the earliest cannons marked, “STRONG F.A.Co., PAT APPL’d FOR, NEW HAVEV,CONN”, the later, usual markings show the date of Strong’s patent. This cannon also bears its markings on the rear of the breech rather than the top of the barrel near the breech as usually seen.
Early production, or first model, ‘Strong’ cannon with first type breech mechanism are rare, they had a short period of production. This ‘Strong’ cannon is a particular rarity in that ‘Strong’ built this cannon on a FIELD ARTILLERY CARRIAGE. Few early ‘Strong’ cannon are known in this configuration, in fact field artillery carriages are seldom encountered on ‘Strong’ cannon of later models. This original field artillery carriage is built of cast iron with adjustable barrel elevation and cord operated firing hammer. By far the major production of all 12 gauge ‘Strong’ cannon were built with brass mounted mahogany naval type carriages.
CONDITION: This cannon is in excellent original condition. the barrel has a lovely mustard patina with no evidence of ever having been polished, and the breech mechanism works well. The cast iron carriage retains 97% strong original black Japan-lacquer finish. This cannon shows verty little use and would be difficult to up-grade.
This great looking and quite rare ‘Strong’ was found in a Newport, RI estate and is fresh to market.
Dimensions: overall length 14″, barrel length 10″, wheel diameter 6″. weight 12.8 lbs.
Price: $1850.00 – SOLD