The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Mail standard
  • Mail standard
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • late 15th century
  • Iron or steel and copper alloy
  • Length: 73.7 cm
    Weight: 0.85 kg
  • A9
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The collar of this ‘standard’ or neck defence is a virtuoso demonstration of mail-making skill. Its' very small, heavy links are so tightly woven that almost no light can be seen to pass between them. The gaps between the links are also so narrow that the links themselves cannot rotate, but are held fast by their neighbours. The link rivets therefore remain in neat, straight rows, just as they were when the piece was made.

    Such mail was not only good protection against the cutting edges of sharp bladed weapons, it could also stop the thrust of a dagger or the point of an arrow. Since wounds to the throat would usually prove rapidly fatal, it was important to find robust armour for the throat which was also comfortable to wear. Such dense mail was an excellent solution to the problem.

    The mail which makes up the mantle of this piece has been constructed using larger, lighter links, making the material much more flexible but also less protective. This is a good example of how the makers of armour always had to balance protection against comfort and mobility. The mantle appears also to have been made by a different, less skilled craftsman than the master who made the collar. The collar could have been made earlier, and was fitted with the present mantle later in its working lifetime. Alternatively, a master mail-maker may have made the collar and then passed it to one of his assistants for finishing.