Brass Monkey


The Brass Monkey is a new pirate themed sculpture.

Some time ago I had cast another treasure chest. I had another cannon and carriage sculpted in wax so I cast these in bronze, too. I also cast two barrels of an appropriate size. The barrels look properly old and scuffed up and it is my intention to use these as a powder barrels to go with my 18th century cannon.

I have purchased some cannon balls. These are 1/4 inch steel ball bearings. I now cast my cannons fully bored, so with a little powder and properly sized steel shot and a fuse my cannon will very likely fire. I haven’t tested this yet as I am not sure how safe this would be?

Now, with a functioning cannon and a barrel of black powder and some cannon balls, my last obstacle is to figure out how to stack the cannon balls so they don’t roll around on my granite sculpture base.

SKU: 20190401 Category:


According to someone’s fantasized version of history, during the days of piracy:

It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen.

Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem – how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass – hence, Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.

Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And all this time, folks thought that was just a vulgar expression?

When I first thought of this piece I hadn’t planned to create a figurine. However, on second thought, I decided to cast another pirate wench for this work as I thought it needed a focus piece.

This work is now a sister piece to my “Protecting the Booty” sculpture.

The figurine has been coloured with a heat cured decorative enamel that is virtually equivalent to hard-fired enamel.

The figure is set into a custom fabricated granite base with a 3/16 inch solid brass pin. She can be lifted off the base and the treasure chest top can be opened. This is a particularly appropriate place to hide an engagement ring if you are looking for a unique proposal.

The treasure chest contains 500 grams of bronze. The barrel is cast from about 270 grams of bronze. The barrel has been filled with bronze dust. The sculpture contains over 700 grams of bronze.

The cannon is solid cast from white bronze and also weighs over 500 grams. It is mounted on a bronze cast carriage made from silicon bronze. Both the treasure chest and the carriage have been given a liver of sulphur patina. The cannon is decorated with mermaids on each side.

The white bronze includes 58% copper, 1% lead and various amounts of manganese, zinc and aluminum. The silicon bronze contains 95% Cu, 4% Si, 1% Mn. The natural bronze is 90% copper with tin. The yellow brass has 63% copper, 1% lead, and various amounts of zinc and tin.

Height: 24.5 cm
Width: 24.0 cm
Depth: 19.5 cm
Weight: 5.7 kg