Thursday, October 25, 2007

A little more about armour

This post will be a bit more technical than usual....sorry. But then, this IS a blog devoted to armouring....

Back in '03, I got some remarkable "hands on" study of real armour, courtesy of the the curator, Mr. Michael S. of Heritage Malta. If you click on the pictures you will see details of armours which I have now incorporated into my own work. Only by picking up and handling armour will you ever get a handle on the complexity involved. For instance, arm harness such as the one in the picture below are surprisingly light gauge metal. Metallurgical analysis of the armour had just come in....the metal was actually slag free iron, rather than steel....or at least steel as we know it today. Some ivory tower armourers had theorized that the metal was actually high carbon tempered steel...which would keep its shape and still be light and strong like a watch spring. These late period pieces made for men who could afford the best were not high carbon hardened and tempered steel. I think the closest thing we have to this kind of metal would be low carbon "mild" steel. (So much for the ivory tower.)
The brown colour is mostly dried old grease, not rust. Makes you re-evaluate the idea of the "knight in shining armour". I suspect that medieval armours looked much like this when they were worn into battle. In the above picture, you can see a couple of very important details. Firstly, the integral articulation of the rerebrace....the top rotates freely around the bottom, and cannot come off. The top part is joined to the bottom lame of the spaulder with a key and slot. You can see the key just at the top, almost hidden against my unfortunate tee shirt. The second thing would be the marvelous fit between the elbow cop and the upper and lower cannons (rerebrace and vambrace respectively) Third, the riveted join between the "wing" and the "coulter" (elbow cop) which makes you think that possibly this was a later repair. I believe this is the inside of the arm....so perhaps a simple rivet would do. The ornate spaulder (above), a little rusty, in need of some tender loving care. Interesting details...aside from the decoration....the three lames overlapping at the upper part, the holes for the picadills, and the rather crude rivets going down the upper arm lames. I think the leather was replaced by steel strapping in order to make this armour into a statue....hence the rough non-characteristic riveting work. The raised decoration was so common, I wonder if it was formed by sinking the metal into a die? Just speculation....there are plenty of hammer marks on the inside to assume that all the raised decoration was made with hammers. Though of course, the chasing and chiseling are always hand done by an artist with a steady eye!
Above is a good illustration of the inside...showing all the hammer marks really well. You never see pictures of the inside of armour! I know, this is only interesting to professional metalworkers like me...hang in there!


Getting the info right from the curator himself.


And I could not resist including this picture of two armour makers with big grins! Yeah! (oh, and before anybody takes issue...I am holding that armour with paper between my nasty old fingers and the antique, and holding it under the fume hood. It will be cleaned with acetone in a few minutes, right now it is looking pretty grundgy.

1 comment:

templarum said...

Dear Mr.Fedun,
I am Chev.C Mangion Cavarra (O.S.J.) and I know Mr.Mike Stroud personally, as I am the person whom Heritage Malta commissions to produce Accurate Historical copies of whatever it is they require, ranging from recreations of missing pieces,steer ups,sword hooks,sword chaps to whole armour for display purposes.
As I was reading your article(A little more about armour)referring to the last paragraph,I was quite surprised on how you qualified Mr.M Stroud to be an Armour Maker.As far I know Mr.Stroud is the Curator and is NOT an armour maker,a very knowledgeable man indeed on Arms and Armour and I have great esteem towards him in this regard.So in case you didn't know, I am the Armourer for Heritage Malta and soon I going to have my website of which I will gladly let you know about.

Thank you,

Best regards
Chev.C Mangion Cavarra (O.S.J.)