Ask the Old Salt


I get lots of e-mail.  I try to answer every one as soon as I can. 


My wife says I spend "too much time" with "that pirate stuff" but I say it helps me unwind and it keeps the ol' cogs spinning and my brain busy on something other than world domination.  Which is probably a good thing.


I have received lots of e-mail at the old GOF account,  and surprisingly its not all for Vi@gr@ or pen1s en1argers.

What I have decided to do though, is put some of the e-mail I get here along with the answers.  I do have some Q&A stuff sprinkled about on the web site already.  But generally, if its about buttons, I put it in the button section. 

I am also going to post some of the comments that I get, as I really appreciate those that take time to comment (positive or negative).

On your internet page of Queen Anne Pistols for the GAoP, you have a picture there of an original Queen Anne Pistol with a barrel that does not screw off and has a ramrod attached.  You mentioned that you are not aware of the date of manufacture.  If it is of interest, I came across a picture of a pistol that is of the same type made by James Freeman in 1710.  It is referred to as a night pistol.  Instead of a solid shot, it was intended to be used with buckshot to make shooting easier at night.  Obviously, this eliminates the need for a screw barrel.  I hope this of help to you.
Jim Z

Thanks Jim.  Something I didn't know.  There are some great books out there now about the queen anne pistol, which I don't own yet but plan to acquire shortly.  Hopefully I can get more info and flesh out my website some.

Q: Do you know if pirates, or sailors from that time period, had any sort of
"high five", like we do today?

A: I have to say that this ranks up as one of the most unusual questions that I
have ever been asked.  But I don't know.  I have never read anything that would make me believe that they did.

Could I ask why you want to know?  Forming a pirate club and need a secret handshake?


Q: Do you know where I might purchase a copy of the 1990, Charleton Heston version of the dvd movie, Treasure Island...?   Jack H

A: I got into some trouble with Jack H because my answer was:

Sorry sweetie... it hasn't been released on DVD yet.
But if you go to this site and look on the right side, there is a link to coerce TNT to put it on DVD.

Short reply to be sure, but I think it was the "Sweetie" thing that upset him, after a few e-mail "exchanges",  I tried changing it to a more tongue and cheek "knucklehead" , but that wasn't quite the salve needed for the injury.  Maybe if i charged more for my services i wouldn't be so cheeky.

Q: I represent XYZ Press, and we are publishing the new book, “Tales *yada* *yada* Pirates,” which will be off the presses in the next ten days. Since your website has a books section, I am hoping that you will review our book and include it in the amazon links you have (the book will be available at Sally L

  A:  You know, I am a book whore.  I love books even more than I love fabric (that I buy "intending" to make into 17th/18th century clothing, but never do).  So sure, you send me a free book, and I will read it and review it on my site.  But just because I get if free doesn't mean I won't pan it if its crap.

Q: Got any Monmouth caps left? If possible could you shoot me a pic of it? Harry

A: Two words, "hot cakes"!  That is what they are selling like.  E-mail me for current colors and sizes (i take paypal too!) 


A: That really wasn't a question, but hey, thanks for the unsolicited catalog.  Nothing that really appeals to me though.  Interesting that it wasn't addressed "to" me, but it was addressed "to" the same person that sent it.  So maybe I was sent a Blind Courtesy Copy (BCC). Hmmmm.

But it makes me wonder, how does one find good (authentic) GAoP pirate clothing on the net? If you google "authentic pirate clothing", I am not sure that you will get any quality results.  I will experiment and get back to you on that.  I would imagine that the answer to the question above is by word of mouth.  ---"So and so" says that XYZ has good slops and voila'!

Q: Ahoy!

You have an amazing site!

While exploring it, though, I noticed that the URL
address for one of the sites listed on your page
"" has
changed. .....  TOM

A: Wow!  Somebody is actually reading the stuff on my site!  That warms the cockles of my heart... and they followed the links on my page!  If I was a gnats nut hair more cynical I would think that somebody representing the site with the changed link was prodding me to update my links.... but since I am almost, but not quite "that" cynical, I will continue to believe that it was a faithful reader pointing out another of my sites foibles.

But seriously, if anyone finds bad links or has changed your site and wants me to update my links to reflect the changes, please, drop me a line and let me know.

Q: Who makes, or where can I get an authentic pirate flag?

A: You know, its questions like this that make this all worthwhile!  Its like a fast ball, belt high, right over the center of the plate.....

No one does.

You can search the net all over till the cows come home but you will not find a single repro GAoP authentic flag (but hey, if you do, I am game and will check it out so send it my way!) out there and here is why.

As simple as it sounds, a flag has to fly, which means for 1680-1725

1) its got to be made out of a material that will "float on the wind" like silk or flag bunting (which for GAoP, was wool)


2) its gotta be pretty friggin' huge.

Wool bunting is a very light basket weave, where the warp threads are two ply and the weft threads are single ply.  Additionally, the "spaces" between the warp and the weft threads (that is the open area of the weave) is the same as the diameter of the individual threads.  That makes it catch the wind and float.  Silk, of course, can float if it is a light weave (but its expensive!)

Unfortunately, no body makes their flags out of wool bunting anymore ( I have seen some pre-wall-coming-down-soviet-flags made out of wool bunting but that is it) so finding that is the Achilles heal of authentic flag making.

Remember, pirates were not in the business of fighting other ships for their treasure/goods.  Pirates were in the business of scarring other ships into surrender without a fight, thus saving pirate lives and avoiding damage to ships and said treasure/goods.

Pirates facilitated this by devising a signal to other ships, that it would be "better for the prize to surrender peacefully and live, than invite a fight and possibly die".

Enter the Pirate Flag.

Signaling flags of the era were big.  I would think that for a standard size sloop, a realistic sized flag, at a minimum, would be 8 feet by 12 feet.  So the nylon 3x5 flags sold on e-bay are great for your bedroom wall and black light, but not for scaring merchant vessels.

Since the high horse is already saddled and out of the stables, I will continue.  My other pet peeve is the biker gang style skulls and skeletons used on modern interpretations.  Here are some pictures that date to about 1725.

The anatomy on the left (that means skeleton) is attributed to Bart Roberts and the skull and bones on the right is attributed to Stede Bonnet.  The point of this exercise though is not whose flag belongs to who, but what a GAoP artist would draw a skull or a skeleton like.

Also, the designs were not silk screened onto fabric, but instead the designs were cut out of another fabric and sewn onto the flag or "possibly" painted onto the fabric.  Its pretty hard to get the extreme detail and satanic looking skull with the medium that your average sailor would have had to deal with in making a flag.  I doubt that there was a coolest flag contest in the GAoP. 



Pirate Swords Sailors Slops 17th and 18th Century Ships
Hand Mortar 18th Century Sailors Shoes Great books about pirates
Handmortar Sailors Shirt and Trousers Questions and Answers   Q&A
Pirate Pistols Authentic Pirate Clothes Latest Pirate News
Pirate Weapons Pirate Garb  
Pirate Cutlass 18th Century Shoes Pirate Living History Site
18th Century Hanger Pirate Shoes  
Boarding Axe  18th Century Shoe Buckles  
Grenadoe 17th Century Shoe Buckles  
Belaying Pin Pirate Coat  
Pirate Flintlocks 18th Century Justaucorps  
Queen Anne Pistol Sailors Short Jacket  
Muskets and Long Arms Reproduction Pirate Short Jacket  
  Tricorne and other 18th Century Hats  
  Early 18th Century Cocked Hat  
  Monmouth - Peter the Great -Thrum Caps  


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