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Flints

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Artifact Description

The “Tortugas” wreck site contained several flints of a type superficially comparable to those used at a later date to ignite pistols’ powder charges. The presence of such small arms, first developed in France in the first quarter of the 17th century, would be especially early in a 1622 context. The flintlock is generally dated from c. 1625, several years after the sinking of the 1622 fleet, and only became popular in the second half of the 17th century. One of the “Tortugas” flints shows some sophistication but early wedge gunflints were essentially ‘do it yourself’ types.

In light of the absence of gunflints on either of the far more heavily armed 1622 Atocha or Margarita fleet ships, the function of the “Tortugas” flints remains unclear and may be related to fire lighting. Snaphaunce pistols, however, did rely on a cock with a pair of jaws that held a wedge-shaped piece of flint and were in use by 1560. So was the Spanish ‘Miquellet’ design developed in the reign of Philip II (1556-98), whose popularity peaked in the first quarter of the 17th century.


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