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Tassets: HEN.M.18D-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




A pair of knee-length tassets, for use by a cuirassier, one of which is a modern restoration made of artifcial leather. The left tasset is formed of thirteen upward-overlapping lames that narrow towards its lower ends where it is fitted with a poleyn of five lames that overlap outwards from the third which is shaped to the point of the knee and expands to a moderately large, obtusely-pointed wing with a slight central pucker. The first and thirteenth lames of the tasset are longer than the rest. The first lame is pierced at the centre of its upper edge with a later hole that now serves to attach it to the hasp of the breastplate. The hole, which is cracked out to the upper edge, is pierced in a later-raised panel designed to fit over the hasp. The first lame is also pierced with four later wiring-holes as well as several other holes that may originally or at some time have served to attach the tassets to the cuirass. The holes are in some cases plugged with rivets. The lowest lame of the poleyn projects downwards and curves forward to a rounded point. The lames of the tasset are connected to one another at their outer ends by sliding-rivets, and were formerly connected to one another at their centres and outer ends by internal leathers of which only fragments survive. To compensate for the loss of the leathers, the lames have in some cases been rigidly secured to one another by rivets occupying later holes. The lames of the poleyn are connected to one another and to the lowest lame of the tasset at their inner and outer ends by round-headed rivets with internal washers. A modern strap that fastens the poleyn around the back of the knee is riveted at either side of its third lame. The shorted outer strap is fitted with a single-ended tongued iron buckle. The main edges of the tasset and its poleyn have plain inward turns bordered by single incised lines. Single incised lines also border the secondary edges of the tasset and its poleyn. The first lame of the tasset is decorated with a transverse rib, bordered above and below by single incised lines. The lowest lame of the tasset and the lowest lame of the poleyn are each decorated with thirteen round-headed rivets in a quatrefoil formation. The metal of the tasset and its poleyn shows evidence of delamination at several points.
The right tasset is a modern copy of the left tasset, made of moulded and tooled leather and artificial leather. Its lames are connected to one another and ornamented with round-headed split-pins and upholstery-nails. The tasset is stiffened at various points by thick wires sewn within its lames. The tassets have been repaired by several internal leather patches of differing shapes and sizes. The first lame of the tasset, and the third lame of the poleyn, which are formed of real leather, show much cracking and splitting. Part of the composite three-quarter armour HEN.M.18A-F-1933.


History note: Probably in the Stafford Collection sold by Christies, London, 28-30 May 1885, Lot 74 for £29. Subsequently in the Amherst Collection, sold by Christies, London, 11 December 1908, Lot 56, 32 gns. Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century#
19th Century
Circa 1620 CE - 1630 CE Circa 1800 CE - 1900 CE


The armour has a russet finish over a variably-pitted surface that may originally have been either bright or 'black from the hammer'.

Components of the work

Internal Leathers composed of leather ( fragments of left tasset)
Buckle composed of iron (metal)
Right Tasset Depth 10.3 cm Height 70.5 cm Weight 1.28 kg Width 33.0 cm
Left Tasset Depth 13.0 cm Height 71.0 cm Weight 2.94 kg Width 33.0 cm

Materials used in production


Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.18D-1933
Primary reference Number: 18013
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 January 2016 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Tassets" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-22 13:34:40

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{{cite web|url= |title=Tassets |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-22 13:34:40|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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