Monday, May 10, 2010

Old barrel helms

These un-dated barrel helms were in the Tower of London Museum in Leeds. We are looking at the age of chain here, though for the purposes of jousting, these heavy helms would have been ideal.

Here is a close-up of the helm. The damage is, well, understandable. It is iron after all. however, details worth noting are the amazing narrow eye slots. The rivets instead of forge welds. The nasal which comes out a bit in front. Ahhhh so THAT's how they made room for the nose!

The above helm is remarkable in that the eye slot seems to be nothing but a saw cut in the edge of the helm. Makes me wonder if it is possible to see out of it! However, that big piece of metal with the smiley face holes is a door, with a hinge on the left side, and a fastener catch on the right side, so it may have been open most of the time, and only slammed shut at the last second.

The houndskull here is much the same design...clearly made for jousting. Two halves of heavy steel form the body, and a most menacing pointed nose with not enough breathing holes for comfort in them. This face plate slides up when not protecting the fellow's face. Note the integral gorget. That's different!

A later period close helm way in back. Does it belong here I wonder?

click on the above picture to see all of them together.

The helm on the far right is also a real "pot helm", made for function, not looks. There is something very "medieval" about that helm. The high frankenstein forehead clearly provides a ton of protection from rocks being tossed off the battlements, and the face plate is open until needed, at which time, it is nice and cozy and safe against arrows and such.

I wish these were dated, but I suspect the only real way to date them would be to examine medieval manuscripts with similar equipment being shewn. However after having read on another fighting blog that medieval armour was uniformly light duty, I just had to point out that a lot of the real fighting was done by guys in good heavy armour.

Late breaking news....

> I have a comment about your blog post from 10 May, 'Old barrel helms'. I'm
> afraid all those pieces are 19th century fakes from the workshop of the
> infamous Samuel Pratt. They were believed to be original when first sold or
> "discovered", but have since been proven fake. That whole little room on
> the Tournament Gallery mezzanine was dedicated to 19th century medievalism
> and fakes, which is why the close helmet was with the helms. I don't know
> where they will be when the new Tournament gallery opens later this summer.
> Hopefully they'll be better labeled, at least.
> Regards,
> Nick D

So I checked with my copy of Laking's book, and what a surprise, the very same pictures I have up here are shown to be fakes. Ha ha! I consider myself to be "punked"!!!! I urge anybody who has an interest in armour (and their fakes) to check out Mr. Lakings books. Here is a link to the relevant page.

ip-location map zoom


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff as usual Bill.

I am hoping to get a chance to go to both the Frazier Museum (Louisville, KY) and the Higgins Armory (Worcester, MA) and maybe the Cleveland Museum of Art at some point this year.

STAG said...

Maybe I can fit in your suitcase....