Can you help solve this puzzle?

I am a volunteer at the Halifax Citadel Army Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We have a device that we are unable to identify and were wondering if you might be so kind as to view the attached photographs and give us your thoughts. The device in question is steel, has brass trunnions, (located closer to the muzzle than the breech), and a threaded brass breech cap that appears to have a central firing pin. The barrel is rifled and does not appear to have had it’s length altered. The overall length of the device, when assembled, is approximately 936 mm.

There are only two markings which we have identified to date, the first appears to be the number “7” over the letter “G”, on top of the barrel close to the breech. The second appears to be a stamped “IXXX” on the top portion of the brass trunnion. Both of these markings are evident in the attached photographs.

The device also includes a vegetable tanned leather case that appears to be missing its top closure portion. The case is fastened together with copper rivets.

Thank you for taking the time to review this E-mail, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at home or through the Museum.

Brian Delo – Volunteer

Halifax Citadel Army Museum

Keeper of Military Arms

[email protected]

[email protected]


  • E3161 Victoria Edwards

    January 17, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Although I`m not an expert in weapons, I saw a similar hand cannon on an episode of Auction Kings on the History Channel.
    Based on the markings, the device looks more like a western European hand cannon as opposed to a Chinese hand cannon. Apparently, many hand cannons were attached to some kind of stock, usually wooden.

    I assume that the Halifax Museum would readily recognize a signal cannon, which were used aboard ship to make salutes, to warn of danger, and to attract attention in the case of an emergency. I saw an antique signal cannon on an episode of Pawn Stars.

  • Fat Tony

    May 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    none of the citadel emails would work for me.

    Anyways, this is my take on the device:

    Hello, I somehow seen your blog posting about an unusual cannon-like device the Army Museum has in Halifax Nova Scotia.

    Someone suggested it might be an ancient handgonne, or a saluting cannon, I don’t think this is the case. The breech is either bronze or brass by the looks of it, with some sort of firing pin perhaps (can’t see inside of it), but it looks like the breech screws on (thread cutting on a hand-gonne in ancient times (?) – does not seem likely) – the bore is rifled with shallow wide grooves and lands. There is no scale in the shot with the muzzle (business end) but judging from the other pic with the entire barrel held up against to the measuring tape, the bore looks ~1″ or so.

    removable breech – centrally located firing pin(centerfire) – bore ~ 1″ in diameter – shallow wide grooves and lands – hexagonal muzzle – odd trunnions not located at the general midpoint of the barrel – evidence of precision machining – knurling – milling of flats, center drilled trunnions.

    I would hazard a guess and say the device was a sub caliber adapter (the British used the term: ‘aiming tube’) for a large caliber naval cannon, in caliber 1″ Nordenfeldt, firing a soft lead bullet as opposed to the hardened steel bullet with copper driving bands that the Nordenfeldt gun used to protect larger warships from torpedo boat attacks. This is possibly not the entire assembly, it could have become separated from the rest of the aiming tube kit over the passage of 100 years or so.

    I hope this helps, this is a fascinating device. Very best regards, Fat Tony, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

    Edit: Lyle guns were used for signalling etc, from what I have read.

  • Tony

    May 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Another thought just occured to me. I have done work in CFB Halifax (the museum) and have seen there some rather ornate cannons that have been made by possibly members of the Fleet Maintenance Group (formerly aboard HMCS Cape Scott), but it is my understanding that cannons were manufactured at a shop attached to the old gunnery range at Hartlen’s Point. This cannon might have been a project for a sailor working with fleet maintenance group. I would reckon that a barrel for a Nordenfeldt gun in any condition would be priceless today.

  • Tony

    May 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I wonder if the breech would be up to the pressures generated by the 1″ Nordenfeldt gun. This is a moot point as it will probably never be fired.