The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Shaffron
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1560
  • Steel and gold, embossed, etched and gilded
  • Weight: 2.59 kg
  • A354
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Shaffron, sculpted to represent the head of a dragon. This example was once thought to have been originally constructed of russeted or blued steel . However the present dark brown colour now appears to be old, dark varnish laid over a rusting surface. When new, the main surfaces were polished white steel, with the details such as the hair, teeth, etc. picked out by means of selective fire-gilding.

    The piece is elaborately shaped and etched, the upper part broadly following the shape of a horse’s head, while the lower section transitions into a monstrous snout, with the mouth yawning open. It is composed of seven parts; the main element is of two pieces horizontally riveted together (almost invisibly) with ear-guards and cheek-pieces attached by rivets, and the poll-plate by two hinges. The ear-guards are embossed and the edges are cut as acanthus leaves showing traces of gilding; the cheek-pieces, finely embossed and chased to represent muscles and the mane and forelock; the poll-plate is pierced with keyhole slots at the sides and edged with bands of scrolls, trophies and roping embossed and incised; traces of gilding remain. The cheek-pieces are each pierced with two pairs of holes for the attachment of the lining and furnished with a buckle.

    This shaffron must have belonged to a very important garniture, of similar form to that to which the visor A205 once belonged.

    This shaffron occurs in the list of armour and arms acquired by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick from D. Colnaghi about 1818, now in the Library of the Royal Armouries.