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    Copper Bodkins

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    Post by jds6 Tue May 07, 2013 9:33 pm

    Greetings all
    While browsing the web, I came across a interesting site. The site is about the Emanuel Point Ship. A Spanish ship that was sunk off the coast of Pensacola Florida. The ship is to be a vessel from an expedition of Tristan de Luna in 1559.
    Artifacts were retrieved from this shipwreck, and among them where 4 copper crossbow bolt heads(bodkins). I found this too be very interesting since I thought most bodkins were made of iron. Here is a link
    http://www.flheritage.com/archaelogy/projects/shipwrecks/emanuelpoint/epsAI9798.pdf]www.flheritage.com/archaelogy/projects/shipwrecks//epsAI9798.pdf

    Hope i did the link right, has some great pictures. Pages 146-150

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    Post by Hotspur Tue May 07, 2013 10:43 pm

    I couldn't make your link work but here is another I found...

    http://www.flheritage.com/archaeology/projects/shipwrecks/emanuelpoint/epsAI9798.pdf

    page 147 of the pdf...
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    Post by jds6 Wed May 08, 2013 4:52 am

    Hotspur
    That is the same link. Thanks for the correct path..
    Has anyone else heard of copper bodkins, and are there any more pictures that can be found?

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    Post by kenh Wed May 08, 2013 5:45 am

    Hadn't heard of such a thing... always iron or steel points. The whole idea of a long slender bodkin point was to slip between the rings of mail, hopefully spreading them enough to ensure penetration. Against plate-clad opponents,bodkin points were often tipped with a bit of wax. The momentary stickiness supposedly preventing the bodkin point from slipping off.

    However, in retrospect, would a soft copper bodkin not act somewhat like a hollow-point bullet - that is deforming and making a nastier, more energy-delivering wound? In particular against "semi-armored" (ie leather-clad) opponents.
    Here's what the report says:

    "In addition, Mexican Indian coppersmiths had apparently learned how to give copper a temper equivalent to steel, a distinction which, while quite useful against armor, made little difference against the unarmored bodies of the Indians..."


    AFAIK, copper cannot be 'tempered'. It can be turned into bronze or brass, however, both of which are stronger than copper...
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    Post by Geezer Wed May 08, 2013 6:32 am

    Copper Bodkins: The memoire of Bernal Diaz del Castillo mentions having native Mexican smiths make crossbow bolts with copper points. Since old Bernal was actually a participant in the conquest of Mexico, I see no reason to doubt him... and the points found in Florida reinforce his allegation.
    As for function, copper can be alloyed with tin or zinc to make bronze or brass. Either is harder than un alloyed copper... its possible any of these metals could be work-hardened: hammered for a bit more hardness, but neither would approach the hardness of iron, much less high-carbon steel, which can be found in european steel points. I suspect copper points would tend to deform on striking hard surfaces... that could be an advantage if your enemies were likely to shoot back... and yes, Aztecs captured crossbows and crossbowmen, who were forced to shoot back... Bernal sez they mostly shot at 'indian' auxilary troops, not at Spaniards.
    For those interested, Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo is a great read. Geezer.
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    Post by mac Wed May 08, 2013 12:36 pm

    In addition, Mexican Indian coppersmiths had apparently
    learned how to give copper a temper equivalent to steel, a distinction which, while
    quite useful against armor, made little difference against the unarmored bodies of
    the Indians (Rhodes, 1997:50 and South, 1988:103).

    Archeologists sometime make me want to scream.

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    Post by jds6 Wed May 08, 2013 2:06 pm

    Mac,
    My thoughts exactly!!! It's like the warning on some hair dryers- Do not use while bathing. DUH!!!!

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    Post by ferdinand Thu May 09, 2013 5:09 am

    Like people really dont know why they shouldnt 'dry' the dogg in the micro-wave oven...
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    Post by mac Thu May 09, 2013 11:07 am

    No, No....! It's not the obvious part that gets me. It's the part where they claim that the Indians could make copper as hard as steel.

    Mexican Indian coppersmiths had apparently
    learned how to give copper a temper equivalent to steel

    This is a metallurgical impossibility....and why they think this is "apparently" true is well beyond me.

    I did not see any place in the report where they even presented any evidence the bolt heads were in fact a copper alloy. We are expected to just take their word for it.

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    Post by ferdinand Thu May 09, 2013 11:13 am

    mac wrote:No, No....! It's not the obvious part that gets me. It's the part where they claim that the Indians could make copper as hard as steel.

    Mexican Indian coppersmiths had apparently
    learned how to give copper a temper equivalent to steel

    This is a metallurgical impossibility....and why they think this is "apparently" true is well beyond me.

    I did not see any place in the report where they even presented any evidence the bolt heads were in fact a copper alloy. We are expected to just take their word for it.

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    Post by jds6 Thu May 09, 2013 11:26 am

    Hahahaha!!
    Joking aside, how can these guys write their conclusion without scientific proof? Doesn't seem right to me!!

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    Post by kenh Thu May 09, 2013 1:00 pm

    Coming from 35 years experience as a science and technical writer; that report is a politically correct report, not a scientific paper or technical report, as there is far too much unsupported conjecture. The sad thing is that I live in Florida and my tax dollars went towards preparing that POS.
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    Post by Gnome Wed May 15, 2013 2:52 pm

    I've experimented a bit with soft metal broadheads and a simple copper point type made by wrapping a cone around the tip of the shaft, tacking it in place and filing the tip. Some of the brass became quite work-hardened from having to hammer them back into shape after just about every shot. The copper points were OK fired into a bale of hay, but didn't last too long even then. This was many years ago and I was only messing with it I had a bunch of sheet metal left over from a metalworking and jewelry class, no experience at the time working with even mild steel, and no money to just buy target points.
    Anyhow, just from my brief hands-on experience with copper and brass points, against any type of armor they would be useless, but use against unarmored or leather-clad opponents would probably be classified as a war-crime if practiced today. The hollow-point bullet analogy is accurate, but on a much larger physical scale: My soft metal points almost always curled in one direction or another if they hit any firm resistance, turning into a hook shape. I made a shredded mess out of those haybales, and I got pretty sick of digging them out. I don't want to dwell on what if would be like to be shot with something like that with no armor, especially when the first thing you'd probably do is try to pull it out. Ghastly.
    That being said, I still plan one day to make some silver points out of some coins, hamming them to shape while trying to keep some of the original engraving. Of course I'd never actually shoot them, I hope, but it would be cool just to have them. And comforting in my case, I'll admit. I don't believe in werewolves, but that doesn't keep me from being afraid of them.
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    Post by mac Wed May 15, 2013 5:17 pm

    Gnome wrote:

    That being said, I still plan one day to make some silver points out of some coins, hamming them to shape while trying to keep some of the original engraving. Of course I'd never actually shoot them, I hope, but it would be cool just to have them. And comforting in my case, I'll admit. I don't believe in werewolves, but that doesn't keep me from being afraid of them.
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    Better to have 'em and not need 'em, than to need 'em and not have 'em!

    Does coin-silver work, or should it be fine-silver? (I am as ignorant as a mudcat when it comes to these werewolves. )

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    Post by ferdinand Fri May 17, 2013 5:15 am

    U could also make steel points and plate them in silver! And they are also handy against vampires!! I made one with silver solder. Dipped the steel point in flux powder and heated to red hot and the solder covered it beautifully!
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    Post by chaz Fri May 17, 2013 12:57 pm

    Why not do an electroplating process with copper sulfate solution and plate the iron/ steel bodkins with copper ?

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