Partial armour
  • Partial armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, Saxony
  • Date: c. 1610
  • Medium: Low-carbon steel, air-cooled, gold, silver, silk, tow, canvas, leather, braid and copper alloy, incised, embossed, painted and gilt
  • Weight: 23.085 kg, total weight
  • Inv: A68
  • Location: European Armoury II
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Further Reading

    Possibly part of a large garniture made in Saxony for Duke Johann Philipp von Weimar (1597-1639). Of bright steel incised with pairs of parallel, vertical lines; the gorget differs from the remainder, in that instead of lines it has narrow, sunken flutes.

    It consists of:

    CABASSET, made in two halves joined together at the comb, which is only slightly embossed; at the base is a row of fluted steel rosette-washers secured by brass-capped rivets for the lining strap; the washers retain traces of gilding; slightly sloping, narrow brim of the same width all round. The rivets hold a strap on the inside which appears to have carried a fringe of green silk (cf. the other parts). The edge is turned under and bordered with brass-headed rivets; tubular steel plume holder at the back; the underside of the brim is painted green, and a quilted half-lining of canvas, stuffed with tow, remains. The washers of the helmet and the various buckles have been hatched with silver and then fire gilt and there are traces of gilding in the flutes of both the helmet and the left side of the breastplate.

    Long GORGET, intended to be worn over a buff coat without other armour, of single plates front and back, the former extending over the chest; the back furnished with swivel loops for the pauldrons and turning-pins to lock the two parts together; both are flanged at the neck, the edges turned under and bordered with brass-headed rivets and furnished with escalloped leather piccadills bound with braid, formerly green.

    BREASTPLATE of solid construction, the central ridge descending to a point at the bottom; the base is flanged to receive the tassets, the lower edge chamfered and turned under, with four straps (modern) for the tassets.

    BACKPLATE of solid construction like the breastplate and weighing a pound heavier; the lower edge flanged; furnished with swivel buckles at the shoulders, and a waist-strap with a double-winged brass buckle.

    TASSETS of six heavy lames, square with the corners rounded, the upper with two swivel buckles (formerly gilt). The edges are turned under and bordered with piccadills of scalloped leather round with green silk braid.

    PAULDRONS of nine plates in all, comprising two upper lames, one main plate and seven covering the upper-arm to as far down as the elbows. The edges turned under, bordered with brass-headed rivets and with leather piccadills like the rest; buckles at the shoulder and on the last lame of the arm; the fifth and sixth lames of the right pauldron have been transposed.

    Round SHIELD or buckler, of bright steel decorated with pairs of incised lines radiating from the centre; the spike (bearing traces of gilding) is square in section and projects from an eight-petalled rosette; the edge turned under, bordered with brass-headed rivets and fringed with scalloped leather, bound with green silk braid; the back retains the tattered leather lining (original) and some of the rosette-headed rivets which secured the arm and hand-loops.

    Probably German (Saxony), about 1610.

    Provenance: Henry Courant (?) (1 Armure gravé et son Bouclier, 2,500 fr.; Receipted Bill, 6 February, 1866; Comte de Nieuwerkerke; illustrated in an anonymous dealer's photograph among the papers of W. H. Riggs in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, priced at 1,000 f.

    This armour compares very closely to a number of other pieces of armour of the same period, and all decorated with the same narrow vertical bands or ‘pinstripes’. The most important comparisons are now in the Worcester Art Museum (ex-Higgins collection): A jousting armour for the German joust of peace at the tilt, thought to have belonged to Duke Johann Philipp von Weimar (1597-1639)(inv. no. 2014.1136); a rear saddle steel (inv. no. 2014.960); and a shaffron (inv. no. 2014.73), on which the gilding is especially well preserved. These pieces were attributed to Saxony is by Higgins Armoury curator Walter Karcheski, based on the belief that they are part of a garniture with the diversity of further elements decorated in the same style that remain in the Kunstsammlung Veste de Coburg (inv. no. L9; communication with Jeffrey Forgeng 29 March 2022). Indeed, this single garniture could also have once included A68, since there is no duplication of parts.