Orsini grenades


#1

In 1858 , Orsini, an italian guy, tried to kill the emperor French emperor Louis Napoleon Bonaparte with special grenades.
He and 2 friends threw 3 grenades.
Many people (150) were injuried but the emperor was safe because the carosse was armored.

The grenades he used are not exactly the same model as shown below but are acting on the same principle.
Orsini was an italian patriot and a revolutionnaire and he fought a lot in Italy before he came to France.
This was not the first time he used such grenades when he came to france
The body is in iron and caps are put on the small brass tube.

This grenade is coming from Italy where 5 ones were discovered in the wall of an old house.
Three went to museum, one to a friend and this is the last one.

If interested make offer;
This is rare among the rarest (Is it good english?)
JP




#2

A great find. How did the grenade operate? I assume by impact, with all of the little horns sticking out. How was it armed? I wouldn’t want to carry one around for fear of dropping it.

By the way, in 1914 there was an attempt in Sarajevo on the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand shortly before he was shot by Gavrillo Princep involving a bomb or grenade. Does anyone know what the nature of that device was?


#3

you are right, by impact
no safety ! lol!


#4

This is the story in the NY Times from 1881, well worth reading:

query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr … 5F458884F9

Sort of a mystery about the explosive material used.
There’s even a connection with Custer’s Last Stand.


#5

[quote=“DennisK”]A great find. How did the grenade operate? I assume by impact, with all of the little horns sticking out. How was it armed? I wouldn’t want to carry one around for fear of dropping it.

By the way, in 1914 there was an attempt in Sarajevo on the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand shortly before he was shot by Gavrillo Princep involving a bomb or grenade. Does anyone know what the nature of that device was?[/quote]

Dennis, those pistons had percussion caps on their ends and the grenade was filled with black powder.


#6

Jean-Pierre, what an outstanding find!


#7

we were lucky! we bought a full gunshop and the owner knew the guy who fund them
We called him and we made the deal.
It is funny, as soon as money is involved they are ok to take even the foreign checks ! lol!
If you know somebody interested and with a lot of money it is to sell
(it is not mine but belongs to my friend)

jp


#8

At least for the Orsini grenade (not necessarily the one pictured) the newspaper story describes the explosive material used as having been white and granular, with a power 135 times that of black powder. Wonder what it could have been, or maybe it was just a gross exaggeration? Seems like the conspirators surely approached the assassination in a very complex manner regarding the construction of their grenades.

Strange, when I first looked at the picture, I did not initially recognize the musket nipples as being musket nipples. Just a matter of scale creating an optical illusion, as I got the impression that the grenade was much larger than it actually is. The Orsini grenades may have been somewhat larger and of a different design from the newspaper description provided.


#9

The white granular powder with “130 times the power of black powder” could be referring to flash powder of the Potassium nitrate or perchlorate type. The burn rate is much higher, so it explodes very quickly and violently with pressure waves going 25,000 fps, compared to black powder which is more like 25 fps. Maybe that is what they refer to?


#10

I’m not sure flash powder even existed in 1858. The more modern pyrotechnic flash powders as used in firecrackers, aerial bombs, etc. are generally mixtures of chlorates/perchlorates with aluminum powder, with maybe a few other ingredients. Aluminum was a scarce and expensive commodity, and it may not even have been available then in powder form. Also, films (actually plates) of the time were so slow that flash powder for photographic use probably would have had no purpose. There may have been materials of a pyrotechnic nature that had explosive properties similar to flash powder available, but I think most everything used during that period was some variation on black powder. Nitroglycerine was known at that time, but it’s not a white powder.

By the way, I have also read there is some evidence that pyrotechnic flash powders actually undergo a true detonation (i.e., supersonic burn rates) rather than a deflagration, as BP does.

Maybe there are some pyro experts that could comment on other possible materials contemporary to the Orsini grenades. Whatever was used was obviously quite effective.

Jeanpierre:"This is rare among the rarest (Is it good english?)"
A better way to say it in American English would be “The rarest of the rare”


#11

Jeanpierre:"This is rare among the rarest (Is it good english?)"
A better way to say it in American English would be “The rarest of the rare”

Thanks !!!
JP


#12

The grenade was filled with fulminate of mercury. The stuff that was used in former times for the corrosive primers. Everybody knows the unbelieveable force of a small primer cap with a very small amount of this explosive. This Orsini grenades where filled with app. 100 gramm.
They where carried in a wooden box - fixing the grenade somewhat and protecting the primed nipples. The original Orsini bombs hwere spherical and bigger app. 4 " dia. This grenade type was state of the art in that time - there was a similar grenade used in the US civil war and other states. Austria even has trials with a bomb that was used from balloons.

check this

google.de/search?hl=de&biw=1 … 0l0l0l0ll0

The grenades used in Serbia where normal serbian handgrenades.


#13

Thanks, great information. Mercury fulminate would certainly work, but fooling around with that quantity of it in a dry state would be extremely dangerous. They must have been devoted assassins.