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Cuirass: M.1.4B-1936

Object information

Maker(s)

Possibly Unknown (Production)

Description

Cuirass with skirt and long tassets, of anime construction, orignally forming part of a complete garniture for the field. The breastplate is of medially-ridged, deep-bellied form with a slightly concave neck-opening, and an outward-flanged lower edge to receive the skirt. It is formed of nine upward-overlapping lames with movable gussets at the small, concave arm-openings cut into the outer ends of the first five of those lames. The neck-opening and the gussets at the arm-openings have strongly roped inward turns. The lames are connected to one another at their centres by brass-capped, round-headed, sliding-rivets with roughly cut, circular, internal washers. The rivets that connect the fourth to the fifth lame and the fifth to the sixth lame lack their brass caps. The lames are further connected to one another by internal leathers located to either side of the line of sliding-rivets, and at the outer ends of the fifth to ninth lames, in each case secured by pairs of externally-flush rivets. In addition, the first to fifth lames were formerly connected to one another around the arm-openings by internal leathers secured by single externally-flush rivets, all now missing. The fifth to ninth lames are decorated at their outer-ends with brass-capped, round-headed rivets occupying construction-holes that align with the outer of the underlying rivet-holes for the outer of the connecting-leathers. The fifth and sixth lames are rigidly connected to one another at their right ends by a modern, externally-flush rivet occupying modern holes. The gussets at the arm-openings are connected at their upper and lower ends, respectively, to the outer ends of the first and fifth lames by brass-capped, round-headed sliding-rivets with roughly-cut, circular, internal washers, moving within slots cut in the gussets. The rivet and washer at the upper end of the right gusset have been replaced by an externally-flush rivet. Attached by an externally-flush rivet within the upper end of each gusset is a modern, double-ended, tongued, brass buckle with elaborately filed decoration on its loops and a plain, round-ended hasp. Each gusset is pierced just below and to the inside of its upper connecting-hole and also at its upper outer corner with a later rivet or wiring-hole. The left end of the fifth lame of the breastplate is repaired with a riveted internal patch. The seventh lame is crudely pierced to either side, just below each of its decorative rivets, with a later hole. Riveted at either side of the second lame is a long, modern stud of circular section with a sprung lug at its distal end. These possibly replace original studs for the attachment of a reinforcing breastplate. Attached to the flanged lower edge of the ninth lame is a skirt of two upward-overlapping lames. The lower edge of the second lame is cut out at its centre in a shallow concave curve. It and the outer edges of both the first and second lames have roped inward turns. The lames are connected to one another and to the breastplate at their outer ends by modern, brass-capped, round-headed rivets with octagonal internal washers. The rivets that connect the lames move within slots cut in the first lame. The lames are further connected to one another by internal leathers located half way along each side and retained by pairs of externally-flush rivets. Both leathers are now broken. The first lame may at one time have been connected to the breastplate by a central internal leather secured by rivets occupying a single vacant hole just above the waist-flange of the latter, and a pair of such holes at the lower edge of the former, although this is likely to represent a later modification. Secured by modern brass-capped, round-headed rivets with brass rosette washers at either side of the upper edge of the second lame of the skirt are a pair of modern straps with engraved brass terminals for the attachment of the tassets. The inner straps are of black leather covered with green (perhaps originally black) velvet sewn on with yellow thread. The more recent outer straps are of black leather. The first lame is pierced above each of the outer straps with a later hole that may at one time have served to retain the straps. The right hole is now occupied by an externally flush rivet, while the left is occupied by a round-headed rivet with an incomplete, crudely-formed rosette washer. The lower edge of the second lame is pierced with three later holes at its left end, four at its right end, two to the left of the central cut-out and three to the right of it, all of which must at one time or another have served to connect the tassets in some way.
The breastplate is decorated with three recessed bands that diverge from the waist to the neck and arm-openings respectively. The upper end of the central band widens as it merges into a recessed border at the neck-opening. All three bands continue down into the skirt which is also decorated with recessed bands at its lower and lateral edges. The upper edge of each lame of the breastplate and the skirt is decorated between the vertical bands with narrow recessed bands.
Each tasset is formed of nine upward-overlapping lames, separable between the fifth and sixth lames and terminating in a winged poleyn of three outward overlapping lames. The lames become progressively narrower and more strongly curved from top to bottom. The inner and outer edges of the tassets, the inner and lower edges of the poleyn, and the upper and lower edges of its wing all have roped inward turns. The slightly convex lower edge of the fifth lame of the tasset also has a roped inward turn. Its outer end is fitted with a modern mushroom-shape stud, and its inner end with a modern turning-pin, each of which engages a keyhole-slot in the upper edge of the sixth lame. The stud on the left tasset has a brass cap. The remaining lames of the tassets are connected to one another and to the poleyn at their outer ends by modern brass-capped, round-headed sliding-rivets with circular or octagonal internal washers. The lames are further connected to one another and the poleyn at their inner ends and centres by internal leathers retained by pairs of externally-flush rivets. The leathers have in some cases torn away from their rivets. To compensate for this, the inner leather of the right tasset is now secured to the third lame of the tasset by an additional externally-flush rivet located just above the original two rivets. The inner leather of the left tasset has been entirely lost and is replaced by a later leather retained by single externally-flush rivets occupying the outer of the holes for the original rivets on the fifth lame, and later holes pierced some distance above the original rivets on the second to fourth lames. The inner ends of all lames of the tassets except the sixth in each instance, and of the first lame of each poleyn are decorated with brass-capped, round-headed rivets occupying construction-holes aligning with the inner of the pair of rivets retaining the inner leather. In the case of the sixth lame the construction-hole is occupied by the turning-pin of the fifth lame which also serves as one of the leathering-rivets for that lame. Attached by brass-capped, round-headed rivets at either end of the upper edge of the tassets are modern, double-ended, tongued, brass buckles with scalloped and engraved hasps to engage the straps of the skirt. A later hole pierced below the rivet for the inner buckle of the left tasset is plugged with an externally-flush rivet. The lames of the poleyn are directly connected to one another by modern rivets at their inner and outer ends. The inner rivets are externally-flush, while the outer ones are round-headed with brass caps. The outer rivet that connects the first to the second lame in each instance moves within a slot cut in the former and is fitted with an octagonal internal washer. The second lame of the poleyn, which is shaped to the point of the knee, has a small, heart shaped wing with a slight central pucker at its rear edge. Secured within the centre of the wing by a brass-capped, round-headed rivet is a short, modern, leather strap terminating in a modern, double-ended, tongued brass buckle with simple filed decoration, that engages a modern strap that passes around the rear of the knee and is secured within the inner end of the first lame of the poleyn by the rivet that connects the latter to the second lame. The strap is covered with green (originally black) velvet and is fitted with an engraved brass terminal. The outer strap and buckle of the left poleyn is now missing. The lower edge of the third lame of the poleyn is pierced at its inner and outer ends with keyhole-slots intended to engage, respectively, the turning-pin and the mushroom-shaped stud that were riveted to the upper edge of the greave over which it formerly fitted.
The tassets and poleyns are decorated medially and at their outer edges with recessed bands that serve as a continuation of the vertical bands that decorated the skirt. The lower edge of the medial band widens as it merges into a recessed border at the lower edge of the poleyn. The upper edge of each lame of the tasset, the upper edge of the first lame of the poleyn and both the upper and lower edges of the second lame of the poleyn are decorated between the vertical bands with narrow recessed bands.
The backplate, which is slightly shaped to the shoulder-blades, has a slightly convex neck-opening and an outward-flanged lower edge to receive the skirt. It is formed of ten upward-overlapping lames, the top six of which are cut away at either side to form deep arm-openings. The neck and arm-openings have strongly-roped inward turns. The outer ends of the sixth to ninth lames have been cut off at some time and subsequently restored with riveted patches. The lames are connected to one another at their centres by brass-capped, round-headed, sliding rivets with roughly cut, circular, internal washers. The lames are further connected to one another by internal leathers located to either side of the sliding-rivets, and at the outer ends of the sixth to tenth lames, in each case secured by pairs of externally-flush rivets. In addition, the first to sixth lames were formerly connected to one around the arm-openings by internal leathers secured by single externally-flush rivets. The leather at the right arm-opening is now entirely missing from the first and fourth lames, while that at the left arm-opening has become detached. The leather at the left arm-opening is now secured to the first lame by a small externally-flush rivet with a circular internal washer located just within the original rivet. The rivet that latterly secured the leather at the right arm-opening to the first lame is located just to the outside of the hole for the original rivet. The third and fourth lames were at one time directly riveted to one another at their outer ends. The rivet-holes in the fourth lame are now plugged with externally-flush rivets. The fifth and sixth lames were also at one time directly riveted to one another near their right end. The rivet-hole in the sixth lame is now plugged with an externally-flush rivet. Attached by a modern, round-headed rivet with a circular internal washer at each of the upper corners of the first lame is a modern shoulder-strap with an engraved brass terminal. The strap is of buff leather covered with green (originally black) velvet sewn on with yellow thread. Attached by a modern, brass-capped, round-headed rivet at either side of the tenth lame is a similarly covered strap forming the waist belt. The longer left strap has a brass terminal like that of the shoulder-straps and tasset-straps, while the right one ends in a matching, double-ended, tongued brass buckle. Each end of the sixth lame is fitted with a single-ended, tongued iron buckle. The buckles are not a matching pair, and, although old, represent later additions. They presumably engaged straps secured by rivets located in the holes now pierced in the outer ends of the gussets of the breastplate. Overlapping the flanged lower edge of the tenth lame of the backplate is a skirt of one lame with a roped inward turn at its lower edge. The lame is attached to the backplate at either side by a brass-capped, round-headed rivet with a roughly cut, circular, internal washer.
The backplate is decorated with recessed borders and bands matching those of the breastplate. Part of the composite half armour M.1.4A-E-1936.

Notes

History note: According to information probably supplied by Sir James Mann, and recorded under Acc. No. M.2-1950 in the Department of Medieval, Renaissance & Modern Works accession register, the composite armour of which the present piece forms a part was successively in the collections of [Louis] Bachereau, [S.J.] Whawell, [Sir Edward] Barry and Colville. E.W. Stead's own manuscript catalogue confirms that the armour came from the Barry collection. Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead of Dalston Hall, Cumberland.

Legal notes

Given by Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead

Measurements and weight

Depth: 35.2 cm
Height: 92 cm
Width: 41.8 cm

Relative size of this object

41.8 cm92 cm35.2 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Place(s) associated

  • Augsburg ⪼ Germany

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1936-01-15) by Stead, E. W. and Gilbert

Dating

Mid-16th Century
Circa 1550 CE - 1560 CE

Note

South German, possibly Augsburg

The cuirass has a 'black from the hammer' finish, now partly oxidised to a russet colour, with bright bands and borders showing a medium patination.

The cuirass, together with the close helmet M.2-1950, originally formed part of a complete garniture for the field. The form of the close helmet and the presence of key-hole slots at the lower edges of the poleyns for the attachment of greaves shows that the garniture was capable of being mounted as a Feldküriss for heavy cavalry use. Although the breastplate shows no holes for the attachment of a lance-rest, the latter may have been attached to a reinforcing breastplate. The roped lower edges of the poleyns show that they could have been worn without greaves as part of a Harnasch for medium cavalry and infantry use. With the poleyns and the lower ends of the tassets removed, the garniture could also have been mounted as a Trabharnisch for light cavalry use. The roped lower edge and border of the skirt of the breastplate suggests that the cuirass could have been worn without tassets altogether, possibly in a light infantry rôle.

Components of the work

Buckles composed of iron (metal) ( backplate, later additions) Buckle composed of brass (alloy) ( backplate) brass (alloy) ( modern, breastplate, tassets) Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy) ( breastplate, tassets, backplate) Internal Leathers composed of leather ( breastplate, tassets, backplate) Inner Straps composed of velvet ( skirt, breastplate) leather ( skirt, breastplate) Knee Strap composed of velvet ( tassets) Backplate Strap composed of velvet leather Left Tasset Weight 1.75 kg
Right Tasset Weight 1.82 kg
Backplate Weight 3.65 kg
Breastplate Weight 4.14 kg
Bands Borders Parts Skirt, Bands Tassets, Poleyns

Materials used in production

Steel

Techniques used in production

Hammered : The breastplate is of medially-ridged, deep-bellied form with a slightly concave neck-opening, and an outward-flanged lower edge to receive the skirt; each tasset is formed of nine-upward-overlapping lames, seperable between the fifth and sixth lames terminating in a winged poleyn of three outward overlapping lames; the backplate, which is slightly shaped to the shoulder-blades, has a slightly convex neck-opening and an outward-flanged lower edge to receive the skirt; hammered, shaped, riveted, hinged, with incised decoration and recessed borders
Forming

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.4B-1936
Primary reference Number: 18159
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 1 December 2020 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Cuirass" Web page available at: https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/18159 Accessed: 2022-07-02 10:12:47

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url=https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/18159 |title=Cuirass |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-07-02 10:12:47|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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