Stool of Grapeshot
This small collection of musket balls, “quilted” or encased in burlap and twine netting with wooden ends, was a deadly package. Usable at short range, it was intended to disable as many crew as possible on an enemy ship. Loaded into a small rail-mounted gun, the quilted or stitched fabric would disintegrate upon firing, causing the shot to scatter, akin to a modern shotgun shell.
Many dozens of these stools of grapeshot would have been quilted by the crews of warships like USS Constitution. The fragile and disposable nature of the grapeshot materials makes it highly rare for it to survive the centuries intact. This example is in remarkable condition and shows the personal handiwork that went into creating weapons of war at the time.