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.