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Backplate (body armour): M.1.2B-1936

Object information

Current Location: In storage

Maker(s)

Unknown

Entities

Categories

Description

A backplate, decorated ensuite with the elements of the partial armour M.1.2-1936, probably for use by a member of the Papal bodyguard. The backplate is formed of a main plate and a skirt of one lame. The main plate is slightly shaped to the shoulder and the hollow of the back. Its broad, shallow neck-opening and arm-openings have file-roped inward turns. The turns at the arm-openings are accompanied by recessed borders. The turn at the neck-opening is accompanied by a raised band and, further in, by a raised rib of ogee form. A pair of round-headed rivets with octagonal internal washers located at each shoulder occupy holes that probably served originally to retain shoulder-straps. The inner rivet in each case has a gilt head and now retains the hasp of a modern buckle. The hasp, which is of brass, is crudely formed with a rounded end. The left hasp is broken through at two points and lacks its loop. Its detached upper end is now retained by a flat-headed rivet. The right hasp is complete and retains its large, double-ended oval buckle of cast and gilt brass. The buckle is decorated peripherally with raised pellets, and fitted with an iron tongue. A similar modern buckle and hasp, attached at the right side of the waist by a round-headed rivet with a gilt head and octagonal internal washer, served to engage a modern strap attached at the left-side of the waist by two round-headed rivets with octagonal internal washers. Only the proximal end of the strap is now preserved. Two vacant holes located to the outside of the buckle, a single hole located to the outside of the strap, and two round-headed rivets with gilt heads and octagonal internal washers located to the inside of the strap, represent the former attachment points of straps that would have served as a waist-belt. The lower edge of the backplate is flanged outwards to receive a skirt of one lame. The skirt-lame is attached to the flange at each side by a round-headed rivet with a circular internal washer. The upper edge of the skirt-lame is decorated with a single incised line. The lower edge of the skirt-lame, which is slightly arched at its centre, is decorated with a file-roped inward turn accompanied by a recessed border. The border is occupied by thirteen round-headed rivets with octagonal internal washers that retain a later fringe, matching that of the breastplate. Some of the rivets retain traces of gilding on their heads. The metal of the backplate shows some evidence of delamination at the right shoulder.
The armour is decorated on the backplate with an etched linear design of curved rays that diverge downwards and outwards and are separated by circular or oval pellets. On the backplate, the rays issue between a pair of adorsed, scrolling acanthus leaves, from the base of an urn, and are separated at their base by a pair of adorsed, stylised acanthus leaves. The decoration is gilt throughout against a blued ground. The main and subsidiary edges of all preserved parts of the armour are also gilt, as are their decorative raised ribs. Part of the composite half armour M.1.2A-C-1936

Notes

History note: Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead of Dalston Hall, Cumberland.

Legal notes

Given by Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead

Measurements and weight

Depth: 16.5 cm
Height: 43.2 cm
Weight: 1.98 kg
Width: 38.7 cm

Relative size of this object

38.7 cm43.2 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: Given (1936-01-15) by Stead, E. W. and Gilbert

Dating

Late 16th Century
Circa 1570 - 1590

Note

Although all elements of the armour are similarly decorated, they appear not to have originally been made for one another. The breastplate (M.1.2A-1936) is taller at the sides than the backplate, and decorated at its subsidiary edges with pairs of incised lines rather than the single incised lines found on the other elements. The character of the roping of the pauldrons and the turners (M.1.2C-1936) suggests that these pieces were made about fifteen to twenty years after the breastplate and backplate. It must therefore be concluded either that the armour is composed of elements of a series of similarly decorated armour, or that it is composed of unrelated elements that were originally plain and only subsequently decorated to match one another. The character of the decoration favours the latter interpretation.

North Italian

The armour has a blued and gilt finish. The bluing shows extensive patches of light pitting. The gilding shows slight pitting and some wear, especially at the roped edges.

Components of the work

Buckle composed of brass (alloy) ( cast and gilt)
Decoration composed of gilt ( on a blued ground)
Inner Rivet Head composed of gilt ( other rivet heads have traces of gilding)
Buckle Tongue composed of iron (metal)
Hasp composed of brass (alloy)
Borders
Neck-opening
Parts

Materials used in production

Steel

Techniques used in production

Hammering : The backplate is formed of a main plate and a skirt of one lame; hammered, shaped, riveted, decorated with recessed borders, raised bands, file-roping, ribs, incised lines, an etched linear design of curved rays
Forming

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.2B-1936
Primary reference Number: 18129
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 25 November 2020 Last processed: Wednesday 14 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Backplate (body armour)" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/18129 Accessed: 2022-12-10 09:56:20

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/18129 |title=Backplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-10 09:56:20|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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