Monday, December 24, 2012


 I will let these pictures of a set of stirrups in the Vienna Armour Museum speak for themselves.

 As usual, click on the picture to make it bigger

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Saturday, December 22, 2012


 Vienna Armour Museum, 2012.  The spangenhelms shown here are the finest I have ever seen.
Who wears spangenhelms?  Well, these ones were worn by migration period celts rather than the Romans. More information on Spangenhelms may be found here...this post is a short one designed to show the beautiful helms on display at the Vienna Armour Museum. 

Focusing closely on this magnificent gold plated steel helm, one is struck by the beauty of the symmetry, the incised decoration and the  careful use of precious iron.   This is the sixth century, the period in which the Romans are on the wane (in some places!), and young kingdoms are struggling to establish their personal image in a cultural vacuum. 
          The use of triangular shaped "spangens" is well known and to an armour maker, they look like they are better forged than chiseled out of flat steel.  The ones in the above example even look to a hasty eye to be cast, say, out of brass, but of course, they are not.  The rivets are all beautifully set round and proud, and of course the bottom row of rivets exist solely to attach the padding inside. 
            A more common type of helmet, one which is easier to make and in fact, creates less waste in production is the single wide strip which goes front to back, with a minimum of dishing.  A material like bog iron won't stand for much dishing or three dimentional deformation, so you find the below style to be more popular than the spangenhelm throughout the period from the 500 to 1100 AD.  The coppergate helm, for instance is built on the below pattern.  It looks much prettier, but the fundamental lines are the same.

These two sets are of the same helms, just from different angles.  They have been subject to a very interesting process which involves electrical rust removal.  I have done a little of that, the results always look interesting.  Folded steels will benefit most from this process, and you should pick pieces which are so rusty that there is simply no other way to clean the rust off.  

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Books, reference material

 Books.  There are so many.  Many are copyright...Brian Price's armour making volume, or Stone's Glossary are in print.  I recommend them.  It seems that nowadays anybody with a little bit of skill or knowledge seems to say to himself...gee, I could self publish this stuff.  And that is excellent, but lets face it, your book can get lost in the Amazon Noise!  Many of them are just picture books, coffee table books which look good but are not really very valuable if you want to really get into making armour.  Stylistic variations are often more the perview of antique dealers or artists rather than armourers, such books are excellent and beautiful.  David Edge's book about the Knight in the Middle Ages, for instance, is THE go-to book to make sense of all the styles and types of armour which were used throughout Europe, but good luck finding results of an assay on the metal, or a decent picture of the strap work which holds it all together inside!

    Many of the older ones are treasures from old bookshops,many were written by curators, and include catalogues of collections.  Some catalogues are VERY boring...I swear Mr. Edge wrote his fine book after he went cross eyed studying the un-illustrated catalogue of the Wallace Collection.  A phone book would be more interesting!

The Internet Archive is the finest resource I know for old, out of print, out of copyright books.  It is like the most wonderful library up the road!

 These have mostly all been scanned in, photograph by photograph.  There are a few missing or damaged pages, a few dog ears, a few coffee rings and bits of cigarette ash on the page when they photographed them.   I personally think this does not detract in the slightest from their value.

The internet archive is free.  Knowledge is priceless.  These are the books I downloaded onto my Kindle before I traveled to Europe to study the subject matter in the museums. 

There are lots more than this small sampling!  But if any of my readers get through even a fraction of this list, they will have a better handle on the subect than even Gary Gigax!

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