16th Century Prices of Weapons

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Great factoids in this book.

Page 105:

Bow, best sort- 3s. 4d.

” second- 2s. 6d.

” third- 2s.

Sheaf of livery arrows- 5s.

Sheaf of arrows, 8 or 9 inch the feather- 2s. 4d.

Page 106:
35 lb. of big shot for the ordnance at 2d. the lb. – 5s. 10d.

Page 107:

274 lb. of powder- 14l. 14s. (about 1s. a pound)

Page 112:

Corselet- 30s.

Caliver- 20s.

Harquebus- 8s.

Pike- 2s.

Bow and sheaf of arrows- 5s. 4d.

Sword- 6s.

Barrel of Gunpowder- 6l. 19s.

20 bullets- 2d.


From these figures, we get that a sheaf of 24 arrows cost 2s. 4d. At 1s. a pound for powder and 2d. a pound for lead, and assuming that half a pound of powder is needed for each pound of lead, we get a price of 8d. for 12 musket shots or 20 caliver or harquebus shots. Bows are still so much cheaper than the firearms that the archer could purchase several sheafs with the difference. I have never heard of archers carrying any more than 96 arrows, or 4 sheafs, which would have cost 9s. 4d., less than half the price of a caliver  and a third of a corselet. Thus while powder and lead was cheaper than arrows, the price of arrows is not a satisfactory explanation for the obsolescence of the bow in England.

In 1599 the bows and arrows finally disappeared from the muster rolls.The musket gained ground ; no more, perhaps, by its value, than by the special recommendation of the deputy lieutenants, 18th April, 1596, signed Sir Matthew Arundel, Sir George Trenchard, and Sir Ralph Horsey, ” to encrease armour and weapon, especially corslet and musket.” Nichols writes, that at Leicester, the queen, in 1598, ordered the bows and arrows to be refused and supplied with muskets. 
Page 114

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