The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Close-helmet with lining
  • Close-helmet with lining
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Possibly Germany
  • 19th-century
  • Iron or steel, copper alloy and textile, embossed
  • Weight: 3.89 kg
  • A185
  • Reserve Vault 1
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Close-Helmet, entirely modern, of surprisingly great weight for its relatively small size. Composed of a inauthentically spherical skull without any medial ridge or comb; grotesque, beak-shaped visor made in two parts, upper and lower, held together by a spring-catch, with two slits for the sight (which does not agree with the proportions of the human skull), and embossed ridge in front and two S-shaped piercings for ventilation; the lower part of the visor is riveted firmly to the chin-piece, which is pivoted at the same points as the upper part of the visor. The lower edge, like that of the skull, is roped and hollowed to fit over the top plate of the gorget; spring-catch fastening. There is a row of round-headed rivets over brass rosette washers at the base for the attachment of the lining straps; a quilted lining remains. Affixed to either side of the skull over the pivots, is a large, spirally embossed and dentated rondel.
    This is one of a curious series of fake mask-visor helmets. Two are in the Hermitage, St Petersburg; one (presented by the late Mr. F. H. Cripps-Day) is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; one was in the Soltykoff Collection; and other in the Herbert Graystone Collection, of which the visor has since been removed.

    The skirted armour at Vienna, long associated with Albert Achilles, Margrave of Brandenburg, includes a sallet with an authentic (and vastly superior) beaked visor of grotesque form c. 1510, together with whorl-rondels over the visor pivots. This example appears to have been the inspiration for the modern forgeries.