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Tama-igata 玉鋳型

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  • Tama-igata 玉鋳型

    Round ball molds/moulds, as with Western guns; you needed to have a way of making lead ball for your particular matchlock, and you would need to keep it close by its gun at all times if you wanted to continue to have the right size ammunition.

    At first glance Japanese ones look similar to Western ones, but there are certain common traits that help you identify them. (I once bought a ball mould in the UK and took it back to Japan as a present but it was not quite as welcome as I had expected. Maybe I was messing things up.)

    Made of iron, they mostly tend to have long flat handles and cubical heads. Often there will be a triangular locator prong and notch to align the halves of the mold head. Many have the ball size in Japanese characters cut into them somewhere, such as 十匁 Ju-monme. (10 Monme).
    You can find them in all sizes, and 10,000+/- JPY might be a rule-of-thumb price for one, but the very largest, like the guns themselves, are super rare and eye-wateringly not cheap. I believe that one of our members has a 100 Monme ball mould/mold.

    Photos welcome, as always.

    Word of warning. Sometimes what you find in the marketplace will have a small hole in either half of the mold head, for running a wire through the 'ball', which is actually a fishing weight. These are not genuine old ball molds, or if they are they have been drilled and refashioned for fishing. Interestingly fishing weights are still measured in Monme today, using the old system of weights and measures, so we can see a common or shared history.
    Last edited by Teppotai; 01-08-2020, 12:20 AM.
    Piers D - Japan / UK

  • #2
    Here are some Tama-igata or ball mold/moulds. The open one on the left is the largest at 12 Monmé. On the haft you can see the letters 拾弐番 or Jū-ni ban (No.12) in old Kanji. It also bears the owner's name.
    (A 10 Monmé ball I inserted as a quick test of size was too loose and rattled around inside.)

    D1C73B79-74D6-451C-A9D1-7CD109621ED3.jpeg

    1D8148EE-6A38-4839-8E13-C95DC7CEB28B.jpeg

    A215140C-A4C1-4E0C-9869-697B1A1C5F38.jpeg
    Last edited by Teppotai; 01-08-2020, 12:21 AM.
    Piers D - Japan / UK

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    • #3
      I love these simple but well-made tama-igata. Have a few of them in my collection, but my favorite by far, is this 4-Monme mold, given to me by a good friend.
      It’s in almost mint condition with a nice dark patina. Being a 4-Monme mold, it’s safe to place it within the military-grade category.

      Jan
      Jan - Sweden

      Comment


      • Teppotai
        Teppotai commented
        Editing a comment
        四匁 (4 Monme) we can see clearly on that one. A very nice example Jan.

    • #4
      Not having seen one of these close up, is there some kind of pincer fitted as part of its action, to trim the Lead sprue?
      Pip Pip Cheerio

      Malcolm

      Comment


      • Teppotai
        Teppotai commented
        Editing a comment
        Not that I can see, Malcolm. No pincer or curved scissor section on any of the ones I have observed. This is not to say that they did not exist, but it may be an obvious evolution that did not happen in Japan till very late. If and when it did appear, it would surely have been something from overseas. In the meantime a good old knife or separate pair of mini shears 握りばさみ must have served.
        Last edited by Teppotai; 01-08-2020, 05:51 AM.

    • #5
      I will take a closeup of one section of interest as soon as I get out of my office. Watch this space 🙂

      Jan
      Jan - Sweden

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      • #6
        Haha!
        In the meantime here is an example of Nigiri-basami (squeeze scissors)

        D81730D3-0DFD-4FDC-A56E-07D6EC143D15.jpeg
        Piers D - Japan / UK

        Comment


        • Malcolm
          Malcolm commented
          Editing a comment
          How much did they set you back, hope it was a snip!!!

        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          Ouch, the wife, it was

      • #7
        It’s all in the small details... On many of the tama-igata, you can see a grove at the top.
        To illustraste this I have included a small tama-igata along side the above-mentioned 4-Monme.
        In this grove should be a small piece of forged metal which is welded in place. During the years I guess it’s quite easy to break it off.
        Look how tightly this small piece is fitted to the head of the mold. Even on such an utilitarian piece of kit, the level of craftmanship is outstanding.

        Jan
        Jan - Sweden

        Comment


        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          Jan, the protuberance seems to be a locator lock, to cut down on misshaped ball, i.e. to create them perfectly round each time.

        • Jan Pettersson
          Jan Pettersson commented
          Editing a comment
          Sounds like a good function. How was your collection looking? All ”complete” 🙂

        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          Jan, they are pretty rusty but I found evidence on four of them that a flange was inserted there as you say. The other two look, well, part of the body/head, extruded in some way?
          Last edited by Teppotai; 01-10-2020, 11:05 AM.

      • #8
        Here's something amusing and informative, which illustrates my question about integral cutters in Western ball moulds:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng7hArHEiVM

        Pip Pip Cheerio

        Malcolm

        Comment


        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          The one I brought to Japan from the UK as a gift had a cutter integral to it, as I remember. I might ask for it back, come to think of it, and repatriate!

      • #9
        Interesting film. That cutter is a clever little device.

        Jan
        Jan - Sweden

        Comment

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