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GregLaRoche

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I just finished watching The Last of the Mohicans, again. Great movie! In it, silk is used to patch round balls and is said give them thirty more yards. Any fact to this? I think it’s a Hollywood invention. Years ago I had silk sock liners and once tried to dry them over a campfire. They just shriveled up. Not at all like cotton or wool. I don’t think silk would hold up during the combustion of BP near as well as cotton or other patching materials. Does anyone use silk for patches today ?
 

FishDFly

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Interesting prior post.

I have read that linen is the best material.
 

Grenadier1758

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Using the modern movie "The Last of the Mohicans" as a source for load information is basing load information on something the director or script writer thought sounded good. I'm surprised Mark Baker let that go. He probably didn't, but what's a technical advisor to do? Now if Cora had been wearing her linen underskirt, then the request would have made sense.
 

Art Caputo

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Film Director’s can’t seem to resist the temptation to improvise regardless of how authentic they claim to be. In the book, Cora is the sister that gets killed.
 

Jaeger

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A fellow reenactor worked for 6 weeks as an extra on Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans. He told me that most of the costumes, equipment, etc. were pretty much historically accurate because they tried to make it that way. He also said that when he pointed out a small error in a British Grenadier's uniform, the guy in charge of that dept. told him "we're making a movie, not a documentary". He was also told on another occasion to make the change to the uniform himself and to "make it happen".
 

Griz44Mag

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I just finished watching The Last of the Mohicans, again. Great movie! In it, silk is used to patch round balls and is said give them thirty more yards. Any fact to this? I think it’s a Hollywood invention. Years ago I had silk sock liners and once tried to dry them over a campfire. They just shriveled up. Not at all like cotton or wool. I don’t think silk would hold up during the combustion of BP near as well as cotton or other patching materials. Does anyone use silk for patches today ?
Silk - especially in those times in history, was a very rare and expensive commodity as it only came from Japan. Silk would come from Japan, through trade routes to Europe and then on very slow ships to the Colonies and beyond. There were no silkworm farms in the colonies or territories. There was a lot of hemp and flax though. I see the use of silk as patch material something that likely was non-existant or at best - very limited and only on an emergency basis where very expensive imported clothing was destroyed.
 

tenngun

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I think the silk came from China at that time as Japan was closed except for two ports open to Portuguese but the trade was very limited. I thinking just two ships per year.
Although I’m thinking at about this time, Italians had gotten ahold of silk worms and Italy had a silk trade.
It was God Awful expensive even then. A lady such as Cora could have Silk undergarments, provided her Scottish father didn’t find out she was wearing something so expensive in rough conditions.
 

William O.

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I just finished watching The Last of the Mohicans, again. Great movie! In it, silk is used to patch round balls and is said give them thirty more yards. Any fact to this? I think it’s a Hollywood invention. Years ago I had silk sock liners and once tried to dry them over a campfire. They just shriveled up. Not at all like cotton or wool. I don’t think silk would hold up during the combustion of BP near as well as cotton or other patching materials. Does anyone use silk for patches today ?
No fact in that at all. Just a movie myth.
 

Notchy Bob

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Film Director’s can’t seem to resist the temptation to improvise regardless of how authentic they claim to be. In the book, Cora is the sister that gets killed.
One other little detail about Cora, from the book, is that she was multi-racial and had some African heritage. The old colonel (Cora's dad) married a local lady while he was stationed in Barbados. She was multi-racial, and their union produced Cora. Cora's mom died at some point, and Col. Munro transferred north, remarried, and begat Betsy. Then, Betsy's mom died.

It's all there, in the book.

Cooper was a novelist, and not afraid to take on the social issues of his day, which in some respects are not that different from some of our own. Last of the Mohicans had it all: conflict, adventure, escape & evasion, and romance, but the underlying theme of the book was a study of race relations (Black, via Cora, but also white and native) and cultural conflict. The book was a masterpiece.

Cooper was also a keen hunter and avid outdoorsman who came to adulthood well within the flintlock era. I don't recall anything about silk patches in the book, nor do I remember seeing anything about silk patches in anything else I've read from the period. Linen, yes, and even buckskin and blanketing, but I don't remember anything about silk.

I have a couple of silk "wild rags" (big bandanas) from my cowboy action phase. That's about the extent of my knowledge of silk cloth. The lady of the house prefers cotton. The silk "wild rag" fabric is quite thin, although I have not measured it. I think it would need a tight ball and a bore with shallow grooves to effect a seal. Might work better in a smoothbore than a rifle, I would think.

This question has come up from time to time, though, and it always gets back to the movie. I would like to see a definitive and objective study and range test done by an expert marksman, comparing silk to other patching materials in terms of velocity, accuracy, and accumulation of fouling. I don't have the equipment or wherewithal to do it, and I'm a lousy shot on a good day. However, I think it would be a good topic for one of the gun writers to tackle and submit for publication.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Griz44Mag

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I think the silk came from China at that time as Japan was closed except for two ports open to Portuguese but the trade was very limited. I thinking just two ships per year.
Although I’m thinking at about this time, Italians had gotten ahold of silk worms and Italy had a silk trade.
It was God Awful expensive even then. A lady such as Cora could have Silk undergarments, provided her Scottish father didn’t find out she was wearing something so expensive in rough conditions.
This maybe drifting off topic - but still related:
Your post stimulated me to do some digging.
I found a very good article in WIKI -
Looks like the Chinese were first - with Japan stealing from them around 300AD.
Very interesting history. Especially the part about France!
 

smoothshooter

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I think the silk came from China at that time as Japan was closed except for two ports open to Portuguese but the trade was very limited. I thinking just two ships per year.
Although I’m thinking at about this time, Italians had gotten ahold of silk worms and Italy had a silk trade.
It was God Awful expensive even then. A lady such as Cora could have Silk undergarments, provided her Scottish father didn’t find out she was wearing something so expensive in rough conditions.
I have a 1750’s type or later brownish-gray shirt with two buttons at the neck, long sleeves, and long tail.
I was made by a woman from TN, I think, that was in the business of making 1750 - 1800’s era clothing.
The reason I mention this is that by texture and all appearances it is cotton.
But it is something I had never seen before- raw silk.

She said that material is popular with people to wear in the summer because it is a little cooler than linen or cotton.
And if I recall correctly she also said that while not common, there was some use of it in America during the late 18th century and beyond.

Never researched it on my own, but is there any truth to what she said?
 

tenngun

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I’ve seen it on traders tables. I’m never looked in touts history
 

Grenadier1758

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I have a couple of shirts made from the open weave silk cloth called noil. They are cooler in summer when worn by them selves and add a layer of warmth when worn between two linen shirts.
 

JonBishop

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Using the modern movie "The Last of the Mohicans" as a source for load information is basing load information on something the director or script writer thought sounded good. I'm surprised Mark Baker let that go. He probably didn't, but what's a technical advisor to do? Now if Cora had been wearing her linen underskirt, then the request would have made sense.
Mark Baker was a teacher at my high school when he went to be a part of that movie. It was a pretty big deal to us back then. It was screened in our auditorium. The other teachers pointed him out in the couple scenes he was in.

Jon
 

Jay Templin

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Silk - especially in those times in history, was a very rare and expensive commodity as it only came from Japan. Silk would come from Japan, through trade routes to Europe and then on very slow ships to the Colonies and beyond. There were no silkworm farms in the colonies or territories. There was a lot of hemp and flax though. I see the use of silk as patch material something that likely was non-existant or at best - very limited and only on an emergency basis where very expensive imported clothing was destroyed.
Silk, like every other fibre, was available in many different grades. Yes, there was extremely expensive silk. But silk is also one of the more commonly mentioned fabrics in runaway ads, and we have a number of merchants’ account books that show even enslaved people buying silk kerchiefs and bandannas. Silkworms have been raised in Virginia off and on since the 1610s, and by 1688, Gov. Berkeley sent enough Virginia silk to the king that he was able to have a suit made up of it. On the eve of the Revolution about 10% of the silk used in the colonies was of domestic manufacture. John Harrower, who went out to Virginia as an indentured servant, found that his clothing changed after he left Britain, becoming lighter and more colourful. In a letter home to his wife he described his dress “you wou’d scarce know me now, there being nothing either brown, blew, or black about me but the head and feet”. His inventory of 1774 records one flowered silk coat and a black silk cravat. He had been given two silk vest coats and pairs of cotton britches “all of them having been very little worn” by his employers.” It is true that linen, hemp, and cotton, mostly imports, were more commonly available, though.
Good article here: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1615&context=tsaconf


Jay
 

Spence10

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The Pennsylvania Gazette
August 10, 1758
From the LONDON MAGAZINE for April, 1758. For the Advantage of the BRITISH COLONIES, the following Premiums are given by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Silk in Georgia . The production of Silk, in the American colonies, being undoubtedly a proper object of encouragement, as it must tend greatly to the advantage of those colonies, and prove highly beneficial to the mother country, by promoting a very valuable branch of its manufactures: In order to forward the same, by such bounties as may operate in equal proportion to the benefit of the poorest, as well as the richest planter, the society propose to give, for every pound weight of cocoons produced in the province of Georgia , in the year 1758, of a hard, weighty, and good substance, wherein one worm only has spun, 3d. for Every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, of a weaker, lighter, spotted, or bruised quality, tho'one worm has only spun in them, 2d. For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, wherein two worms have interwoven themselves, 1d.

N.B. The premiums will be paid under the direction of Mr. Ottolenghe, superintendent of the Silk Culture in Georgia , to every person who shall bring his balls or cocoons to the public silature at Savannah, according to notice already sent to Georgia .

Silk in Connecticut. For every pound of cocoons produced in the province of Connecticut, in the year 1759, of an hard, weighty, and good substance, and wherein one worm only has spun, 3d. For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, of a weaker, lighter, spotted, or bruised quality, tho' only one worm has spun in them, 2d. For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, wherein two worms are interwoven, 1d.

N.B. These premiums will be paid under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Thomas Clapp, and Dr. Gerard Ellit, of Connecticut, on condition that a public silature be established at Connecticut, under the direction of the said gentlemen; and that each person being his or her balls of cocoons to such publick silature.

Silk in Pennsylvania. For every pound of cocoons produced in the province of Pennsylvania in the year 1759 of an hard, weighty, and good substance, and wherein one worm only has spun, 3d. For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, of a weaker, lighter, spotted, or bruised quality, tho' only one worm has spun in them, 2d. For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, wherein two worms are interwoven, 1d. These premiums will be paid under the direction of John Hughes, and Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, Esqrs. on condition that a publick silature be established in Pennsylvania, under the direction of those gentlemen; and that the balls, or cocoons, are brought to such public silature.

Spence
 

tenngun

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At that time a landsman aboard a British navy vessel got £10 6 per year about d7 per day. That was low wages esablished in Cromwell’s time.
Hom many cocoons did one need to make a pound? And you would need two to three pounds to make poor wages
 

Jay Templin

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If you listen closely to the scene, Uncas asks Hawkeye “tight weave?” To which Hawkeye says “Silk. Another forty yards.”
Implying that it’s the weave that improves the performance. Most people assume it’s the fibre. Having used scrap silk for patching, I didn’t notice any improvement over linen. What I did notice is that, like other protein fibres (hair, wool...), burnt silk stinks!
Jay
 

tenngun

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I like to try different things for wadding in my smoothies. I have a yorkie and he produces enoght hair that I could about make a dog hair suit every week.
So I thought maybe some good wads could be made from dog hair. Worked great. I made a bag, put in some melted lard, and squeezed it together till I had a wad I could pinch off an acorn sized piece and rammed home.
mess great for squirrel hunting. Just shoot in the general direction and every tree rat for fifty yards around dropped out of the trees stunned and asphyxiated by the stench.
 

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