Chinese and Vietnamese Cannons

and Handgonnes


(The bronze cannon above  was recovered with five more from a shipwreck in China last year)

Small Chinese Bronze signal/salute Hand Cannon!

Sorry - Sold to a Chinese Museum 10/8/2013

 Very rare piece that is in excellent condition!

Chinese Bronze hand cannon for sale  

This GREAT piece is very ornate with a animal face on the muzzle, and feet or hands on each side, a Chinese caricature, etc!

      Chinese Bronze hand cannon for sale  Chinese Bronze hand cannon for sale

It has been extensively fired as shown the slightly enlarged fuse hole.

      There is a raised area around the fuse hole.

Length: 10.75 inches (27cm)

Bore: .75 inch

  Sale Priced at: $395 US$ 

Located in California

Background Information on Chinese Cannons

"Handgonne being fired from a stand - Belli Fortis", manuscript, by Konrad Kyeser, is a remarkable manual of strategy and military engineering, 1400. It shows the beginnings of guns.

The handgun (An eight to sixteen inch iron or bronze tube held in a straight wooden stock ignited by poking a hot wire into the touch hole) appeared in the 14th century. Germany developed the first mechanical means of igniting the gunpowder in the gun. A match cord was held in a lock which pivots toward the touch hole by applying pressure on a trigger.

Miscellaneous Information on Handgonnes

"14th Century: Earliest cannon, in 1326. An inventory in 1340 is the earliest reference to a portable firearm. By 1364, references to handheld firearms become common. These were miniature cannon barrels, some mounted on poles or handles, some simply built with a hook to fit over a fortification’s wall and soak up the recoil. First reference to these as “handguns”, 1386. Late fourteenth Century, slow-match – woven cord impregnated with nitrates by boiling with gunpowder."

The earliest known metal cannon with a positive date is a Chinese bronze piece from 1279 AD, with prototypes from earlier years being constructed of bamboo.

Click above for information on Handgonnes

Links to Information on Handgonnes

The earliest known miniature cannon were the Chinese hand cannon. In all probability they existed before the birth of Christ. 

 Early cannon were made of bronze, and were very ornate, often adorned by depictions of dragon heads.  

Chinese cannons raised from the depths!


The coat of arms and eulogy inscribed in Han characters and filled with gold and silver.

 by Vu Toan 

On the evening of August 15, 2003, while catching oysters at the depth of 30m, about 36 nautical miles (57.6km) away from the mouth of the Nhuong River in Ha Tinh Province, divers touched something very hard. 

Looking at it carefully, they determined it was an incense burner. News of the discovery quickly spread to other boats. About 30 divers plunged into the sea to recover the bronze objects. 

After 17 days of hard work under heavy seas, the divers lifted three cannons with the help of a crane on a 45-tonne ship. Six of them became unconscious during the work in the deep sea but they recovered. 

Countless antique hunters have flocked to the village of Cam Linh in Cam Xuyen District since the discovery of the cannons and other artifacts. The divers gave one of the cannons to the owner of the ship for his service. Police seized the cannon before it reached the Viet Nam-Chinese border. The other two are in the gardens of Pham Tien Phuong and Tran Trong Thuong, two other ship owners. 

The cannons are 2.43m long and weigh 1.4 tones each. The barrel is 40cm in diameter, while the diameter of the bore is 22cm. A large copper band covering the barrel is adorned with silver patterns. There is an inscription in Han Chinese characters at one end of the guns that states, "The second year under the reign by King Minh Mang."

 "Minh Mang’s the second year of reign indicates the year 1821, after King Minh Mang, the second sovereign of the last feudal dynasty of Viet Nam, ascended to the throne," said Nguyen Tri Son, vice-director of the Ha Tinh Museum. "These cannons may have been made in China by order of the king. They went down with the ship during its voyage home."      

 Divers also found three large and 11 small incense burners and a tea pot. The heaviest weighed about 10kg. Delicate dragon heads, the symbol of royal power, are engraved on all of the incense burners as well as the lid and handle of the pot. 

The cannons have been lying in the gardens of the ship owners for more than two months. Responsible organizations have done nothing about the wreck and the finds since they were discovered. 

A diver, whose name was withheld, said the wreck was about 30m long and 4m wide. A thin layer of copper covered the hull. Local antique hunters frequently visited the ship. They might hide artifacts they find in another area marked on their charts, retrieving them when the opportunity arises. — VNS

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Last up-dated on 11/22/2013