$1,000 reward offered for stolen 1795 Spanish cannon

On the night of November 2, a Spanish bronze cannon from 1795 was stolen from a suburban Detroit business and its owner is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to its recovery. Matt Switlik, cannon collector and expert on historic field artillery, had brought the cannon to the Edston Plastic Company in Romulus, Michigan, to have a plastic replica made for a museum to use as a donation container.

The thieves were looking for a far more pedestrian haul of easily sold power tools and scrap metal. They made off with 20 of the former and several 200-pound boxes of aluminum. The cannon was hidden in the back under some racks and a coffin blanket. The thieves stumbled on it entirely by accident when they rolled out a coil of wire.

The cannon was cast in Seville in 1795. The crest of King Charles IV of Spain is engraved on it, as is the date, a serial number of 3610 and markings indicating it was made from copper from Mexico and from the Rio Tinto government mines in southwestern Spain. The 2.6 inch caliber weapon is 42 inches long, weighs 225 pounds.

Matt Switlik purchased it as part of a matched pair in 1974 from Inez Bandholtz, the widow of Maj. Gen. Harry Hill Bandholtz who acquired the cannons in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and brought them back to Michigan when he retired from the Army after World War I.

The cannon is far too identifiable to be sold to collectors, so if the thieves do anything, they’ll try to sell it for scrap. The $1000 reward is double what they would get for the scrap value of the copper alone.

Switlik, a historian who collects cannons, paid $1,000 for it nearly four decades ago and now values it at about $12,000. He’s getting word out that his cannon was stolen to collectors across the country and sent an e-mail to 600 people Tuesday.

“As a stolen piece, it’s not worth anything,” said Forrest Taylor, owner of www.cannonsonline.com based in Maryland. Taylor buys, sells and reproduces cannons and said collectors will know Switlik’s cannon was stolen if they come across it.

Taylor also said he believes that the cannon’s actual value may be closer to $20,000.[…]

“I’d sure like my cannon back,” Switlik said. “The other one is lonesome.”

The Romulus police are investigating leads from the crime scene and looking for surveillance video any neighboring business might have. Anyone with information about the cannon should contact the Romulus Police Department at (734) 941-8400.


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Comment by D. B. Cooper
2011-11-13 00:08:11

I hope this isn’t already gone to the scrappers. This reminds me of a bell stolen from a Buddhist temple in Tacoma and the theft of the Waddell sculptures. Scrappers are ruthless.

Comment by livius drusus
2011-11-13 13:41:07

They are, and even though the owner immediately contacted all the scrappers in the area, they could easily have looked the other way when the cannon came in. :(

Comment by Jr. Fry
2012-04-07 19:06:46

Hello, I’m from Michigan and need help to the right resource. Well today I took my cannon that has Spain on top of the Barrell and it fires black powder. The museum of Monroe county that has a lot of history on cannons but not for me.
The one that I have is 28″1/4 long from tip of cannon to the hitch, the steel cannon is 15″ long, the wooden wheels are 11″1/2 and it has the rods with brush on the end of cleaning inside. Mr. Switlik or Switleck is a retired historian museum director and has wrote a book on cannons that were used in the Raisinville river etc… He told me to find a website in the international for Spain cannons and I’ve have photos and hope you can help me.
Thank you, Jr Fry and my email is Jrfrench9@ gmail.com

Comment by Jr. Fry
2012-04-07 19:22:43

Thank you Mr. Switlik’s on today’s help. I feel like a fool now for writing all this down and not really thinking of speaking to you today. And I’ll look into another site. I hope that your quest on finding your cannon. You helped me today which I’ve been looking for a bit of answers on mine. I will keep and eye out to help you. Jr.

Comment by John Morris
2012-12-24 09:06:07

Jr. Fry, your cannon is a repro originally imported by Connecticut Valley Arms in the 1970’s. Thousands were imported, all marked “Spain” on the barrel.

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