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Most pirates were armed to the teeth. To survive battles in close quarters, pirates had to be walking arsenals. Pistols took time to reload, so some pirates carried more than one. Blackbeard carried six in addition to a sword, cutlass and musket. In the museum, you'll see an armory of fierce pirate weaponry, including cannons, pistols, blunderbusses, swords, boarding axes and hand tools.

PAIR OF QUEEN ANNE FLINTLOCKS

The flintlock pistols were a pirate's favorite weapon for boarding a ship. Because of its size, they were able to carry multiple pistols on their person. You will see a rare pair of 1720 Queen Anne Flintlock pistols with the inscription and mark of JN Sheppard on the underside of the 6" barrel and the inscription of London on the top. The wood and silver-inlaid handles have a silver face on their butts for pirates to tattoo their prey on the head after the pistol had been fired.

BUCCANEER MUSKET

One of the larger hand-held weapons used during the Golden Age of Piracy, this 70-inch, 10-pound musket (even without the firing mechanism) dates back to 1780. The spiral grooves in the long barrel sent musket balls spinning 'round and 'round so that they moved in a straight line of fire.

SPANISH RAPIER, CRESTED HELMET AND SWORD

All circa 1650, these items were owned by Don Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva y Enriquez. The beautiful metal work on these pieces could have only been donned by a Spanish General, Viceroy in Mexico and the Margquis de Cuellar in Spain, whose titles are inscribed on the blade. The handguard on the rapier is an intricate weaving of metal with two lions inscribed with the following: 'Phillippus IV Hispaniarium Et Indiarum Rex'. Such a beautiful piece of weaponry would have certainly defended Spain well.

Pirate of the Month

He was captured by the Spaniards in Italy and forced to serve them while chained to their galley.

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Did you know?

  • In 1684, the pirate Andrew Ranson was found guilty of piracy and sentenced to death by garrote. The rope around his neck broke and the town's friar believed his near-death experience was a miracle and demanded he be spared.

  • The pirate motto for going into battle was "iron and lead first, followed by steel." Start with cannon and musket fire and proceed to close fighting with cutlasses and boarding axes.

  • Pirates had workman's comp! Each captain took care of the injured by compensating crewmen for being maimed or losing a limb. And each captain had his own "rates:" loss of right arm, 600 pieces; left arm, 500 pieces; right leg, 500, etc.

  • The Castillo de San Marcos was built immediately after Captain Robert Searles sacked St. Augustine, Florida in 1668. Sir Francis Drake razed the city 82 years earlier.

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