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Backplate (body armour): HEN.M.9D-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Backplate, for field use, later adapted for use in the annual Giuoco del Ponte in Pisa. Formed of a single plate weakly shaped to the shoulder-blades and the hollow of the back. The broad, shallow neck-opening and the arm-openings have file-roped inward turns. The backplate is decorated medially with a single incised line, now much rubbed. The lower edge of the backplate is flanged outwards to form a short skirt. The edge of the skirt, which is slightly arched at its centre, has a plain, inward turn. Attached by a single, round-headed rivet with an octagonal, internal and external washer at each shoulder is a modern, leather shoulder-strap. A vacant rivet-hole located just below each of the straps may conceivably represent their original attachment-points. Pierced some way beneath each of these holes is a later hole of larger size, fitted with a lead eyelet. Attached by a single, round-headed rivet with an octagonal, internal and external washer at each side of the waist is a modern leather strap forming a waist-belt. The left strap terminates in a modern, double-ended, tongued iron buckle with rectangular loops. Attached by a pair of flat-headed rivets midway up each of its sides is a later horizontal iron strip which is stepped at its front end and must at some time have served to connect the backplate to a breastplate. Part of the composite armour HEN.M.9A-K-1933


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 16.5 cm
Height: 34.0 cm
Weight: 1.27 kg
Width: 34.0 cm

Relative size of this object

34 cm34 cm16.5 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.

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


Late 16th Century
Circa 1580 - 1590


North Italian

The backplate is bright with a variable light to medium pitting and patination overall.

Components of the work

Buckles composed of iron (metal) ( modern)
Straps composed of leather ( modern)
Connecting Strip composed of iron (metal) ( to connect backplate to breastplate)
Eyelet composed of lead

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Formed of a single plate weakly shaped to the shoulder-blades and the hollow of the back; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised and file-roped decoration

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: an eagle in display over a letter M

  • Text: M
  • Location: Left side, just below the arm opening
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: 'G' 'P'
  • Location: To left and right side of waist respectively
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Mark

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.9D-1933
Primary reference Number: 17768
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 January 2016 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Backplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-03-30 16:40:51

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{{cite web|url= |title=Backplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-03-30 16:40:51|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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