A pair of bronze “Manchu Cannons” cast by Father Verbiest in 1689

At present, seventeen cannons cast by Verbiest are to be found in European museums as listed in the table compiled by Stary,  www.battle-of-qurman.com.cn/literature/Stary-Verbiest-1994.pdf  all looted by a combined European force from the Summer Palace during the Boxer Rebellion. Those from the first series (1682)  are smaller than those from the second series, (1689), both series  have identical inscriptions  in Manchu and Chinese.

I purchased this pair in bronze from the great London arms and armour dealer Howard Ricketts  noted by Stary  in his listing as being in London  on behalf of Warren Anderson. They just fitted on their carriages into a 40 foot container and were shipped to Perth. They had come from the collection of William Randolph Hearst at St Donats castle in Wales, where they had been since the 1920’s. When originally sold to Anderson they came with a photograph of Hearst standing alongside one of the cannon.

With the private sale of parts of the Anderson Collection long before the Bonhams  Owston Sale, I  negotiated the sale of his set of Audubon Birds of America to Alastair McAlpine  in 2000 in part exchange for a flat in South Audley  Street  and the balance of his ornithological library to the London book dealer Max Reed. The cannon were sold by Howard Ricketts to the the Chimei Museum a private museum established in 1992 by Shi Wen-long of Chi Mei Corporation in Rende District, Tainan, Taiwan. The museum’s collection is divided into five categories: Fine arts; Musical instruments; Natural history and fossils; Arms and armour; Antiquities and artifacts. They stand either side of the entrance to the Museum.

The Australian Government would not allow the export of these highly important objects direct to Taiwan until the barrels were spiked!