The Wallace Collection

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Sallet
  • Sallet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Saxony, Germany
  • c. 1580- c.1600
  • Steel, pewter and leather
  • Weight: 3.033 kg
  • A189
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Jousting helmet, or heavy sallet and bevor for the 'Pallienrennen', a style of joust practiced at the Saxon court in Dresden in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
    Of bright steel, consisting of a sallet with high comb and neck-guard forged in one piece, the sight cut in the front, the lower edge coming well forward, and is covered by a short visor pivoted on either side of the skull and held by a spring-catch. The visor-catch was probably originally operated by a thong rather than by the present peg. In the centre below the sight a stout screw projects, to which the buff is bolted by means of a large, wing-nut. The bevor or buffe has a hinged door in the right side fitted with a spring-catch and has a sliding bolt operated by a thong, and the right shoulder has a flange turned slightly forwards to protect against lances skating across the body. The two small holes in the door are for the rectangular internal staple through which this bolt passed. There are two round holes on the neck, and two vertical sets of three round holes in front for bolting it to the rest of the harness these were identified by two and three dots beside their holes. The lower edge of the helmet rests on pegs at the sides of the buff. The lower edge of the visor falls within the lower edge of the sight. The two pairs of eyelet holes on each side of the back of the skull are for the laces of the missing cross-straps. Fragments of the buff-leather lining survive in the tail of the sallet.
    The edges of the comb and the border of the neck-guard are roped, and the latter has sunk borders emphasised by cusped lines in the style frequently found on Saxon armour. The edges of the sides of the chest-plate are finely serrated. Two pairs of eyelet holes on either side of the back of the skull are furnished with pewter washers in the form of rosettes. There are two pairs of holes at the back of the comb for the attachment of a supporting arm from the backplate unique to this type of Saxon jousting armour.

    The bevor of this helmet, or one exactly like it, is depicted in Pickert's lithograph which he gave to the Baron de Cosson in 1868 (see A80 - reproduced by Von Reitzenstein Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 1962, pp. 34-50, Fig. 3). A189 belongs to a series of jousting armours made for the Elector Christian I of Saxony (1560-91). The device connecting the helmet by means of the two holes in the neck area of the sallet to the centre of the back-plate, which is present on most of the surviving examples of complete harnesses of this type, may be a later adaptation. It is noticeable that it has never been fitted to the parts for the Dresden course of the garniture of about 1590, of Duke Friedrich-Wilhelm of Saxe-Altenburg, now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (W3065).
    Several pairs of complete armours of this type are still at Dresden (Hänel, Kostbare Waffen, Pl. IX). Two were in the Mackay Collection, U.S.A., and two in that of the late W. R. Hearst (sold Christie's, 27th July, 1939, lot 54, and Sotheby's, 1 June, 1934, lot 140). A sallet of this type is also in the Musée de l'Armée (H 53). Armours for the Scharfrennen (run with single-pointed lances in the open field) as practised at the Saxon Court are fitted with either a targe and a relatively small passguard for the German course, or a grandguard and a large pasguard for the Italian course. An example of each type is in the Kienbusch collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (cat. nos. 17 and 16, Pis. XVII and XVI respectively). They were used occasionally for tournaments in Dresden until just before the Second World War. It is thought that all of these armours were made by either Wolf von Speier of Annaberg (died 1580) or Peter von Speier II (died between 1606 and 1615), the Saxon Electoral Court armourers (see Seidlitz, Die Kunst in Dresden, II, 1921, pp. 260-1). J. Schöbel (1975, p. 29, No. 6) has recently added the name of Wolf Peppighorn to those who worked on this group of armours. A complete armour of this sort for the Italian course, formerly in the collection of W. R. Hearst, is now in the Royal Armouries ( II.70; Dufty and Reid, 1968, PI. LVII left).