Rarely found in matching pairs, these 1786 models are a rare find. They are mounted on brass naval carriages, and these bronze cannons have no markings although the trunnion caps and bases are numbered. A popular cannon in the late 18th century, William Gilkerson wrote of this 40” cannon in his text on naval weapons of the American Revolution through the War of 1812.
“In all sizes, iron guns has almost entirely replaced brass guns by the mid-1700’s in most of the Western navies, but in a limited way brass remained a favored material for small swivel guns, their expense notwithstanding. Indeed by the end of the century small brass guns experienced a resurgence of favor that outlasted the age of fighting sail. Refinements in alloying and casting enabled the production of stronger-than-ever brass barrels. These enjoyed not only the customary advantages of their non-ferrous materials, but could be made lighter, with relatively thinner walls yet bigger bore.
Most were handsome guns though not so ornate as their predecessors, having shed some of the detailing lavished on artillery during the baroque period. In mitations the larger guns of their own day, the later brass swivels followed the tradition set by their borebears. Some were more imaginatively designed. In 1786 the French formalized the first known ‘model’ of swivel cannon, a brass gun that followed exactly the 1767 pattern then in use for larger guns, except the little 2.0” caliber Perrier did away with the vent astragal. Otherwise it is just half-size duplicate of the contemporary French 6-pounder gun.”