A cannon bought for under £20 ($25) from a flea market and used to decorate a garden rockery could fetch thousands after turning out to be a 600-year-old Medieval treasure.
The bronze gun powder weapon was purchased in Hertfordshire, England before being used as a garden ornament by its owner who had no idea of its true value.
But they were left stunned after auctioneers revealed it was a 600-year-old medieval hand cannon dating back to the 1400s worth thousands of pounds.
It will be now sold by Hansons Auctioneers on June 15 with a guide price of £2,000-£3,000 ($2,500-$3,800) – more than 200 times its flea market price.
Mystery surrounds how the original seller came to own the cannon but soil residue found inside suggests it would have been dug up at some point.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “It’s a rockery rocket of a find.
“The bronze hand cannon was brought at a flea market in Hertfordshire for less than £20.
“The seller was unaware of its true context and added it to their rockery as a decorative touch.
“When we came to assess it properly we were amazed. It’s a heavy, triple-ring cast cannon.
“This type of weapon was seen in late medieval Europe around 1400-1450.
“It was the first true small weapon of its kind, the most mechanically simple form of a metal-barrel firearm.
“Perhaps it was used by a knight in shining armor. In more than 20 years in the antiques business I have never seen one like it.
“Until now, my only knowledge of late medieval hand cannons has come from reading about them in reference books.”
Hand cannons were widely used in China from the 13th century onwards. They made their way onto the battlefields of Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The first use of this type of gun powder weapon is known to have taken place around 1330 by two mounted German knights.
By 1340 weapons like these were widely used in France. The first English mention of a hand-held firearm dates back to the early 15th century.
Charles added: “It really is a remarkable find.
“Originally this cannon would have been mounted on wood with a powder bag and ram rod. It evolved to become a match-lock firearm with trigger.
“It’s incredible to think this historical treasure ended up in a rockery.
“We will never know how the original seller discovered it but, looking at remnants of soil on the cannon, we suspect it may have been dug up.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Saba Fatima and Asad Ali
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