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Pair of Chinese 12-Pounder Wood & Bronze Cannons

Daniels Antiques / Pair of Chinese 12-Pounder Wood & Bronze Cannons

Pair of Chinese 12-Pounder Wood & Bronze Cannons


These beautiful cannons were made in 1866 and 1867 in China, and were found in the Lowther castle in Cumbria, seat of the Earls of Lonsdale. They each have a non-tapering tubular construction, with a prominent raised muzzle-tin carrying the fore-sight, a recessed reinforce with drilled vent terminating in a base-ring. The base-rings of each barrel are engraved with a lengthy description in both complex and simplified Chinese characters, including the Arsenal inspector’s name “Jian Nan Zhi Zao Song Ju” along with the respective dates of inspection. Each base-ring is also fitted with prominent button catchable, a pair of trunnions at the median point, and are each preserved in fine, crisp, and unpolished condition with a natural light green patina throughout. Each cannon is on its original brass mounted carved hardwood truck carriage, with bronze cap-squares over the trunnions, elevating screw on a bronze spool-shaped casing, and the sides of the carriages are carved in relief with elaborate panels of scrolling dragons emerging against a field of stylized clouds. 

In the literal translation of the inscriptions on the barrels, the cannons are each referred to by the archaic wording “a horse-draw trebuchet”. Additionally, two synonym characters refer to “the ball which will explode like and Flower head”. A more natural translation for the inscription on barrel no. 1 would read as: “The 12th cannon was fired using a 12-pound cannon ball that was acknowledged by Jian Nan Zhi Zao Zong Ju in June 1866”. The inscription on barrel no. 2 reads identically with the exception of the date “January 1867”. 

These cannons went on to belong to the owner of Rolls Royce.


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