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Close helmet: M.1.3A-1936

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown (Probable)




Close helmet, for heavy cavalry use, decorated with fluting in the 'Maximilian' fashion. Formed of a one-piece skull with a 'sparrow's-beak' visor and bevor attached to it by common pivots, and a neck-defence of three lames. The skull has a fairly broad, flat crown and is strongly shaped to the nape. Its rear is decorated with a medial group of six flutes and two lateral groups of four flutes, all emphasised by pairs of incised lines, and diverging slightly from just above the nape. The skull is repaired with a riveted, internal patch at the inner front corner of the right group of flutes. The front edge of the skull is cut away to form an arched face-opening which has four cracks in its edge. Fifteen modern, externally-flush lining-rivets, retaining the greater part of a modern, buff-leather lining-band encircle the skull at the height of the brow and nape. The skull is pierced with a pair of lace-holes just behind the apex of the crown and just behind each ear. The lower edge of the skull is cut away in a concave curve at the rear to receive the neck-defence. The lower edge of the skull has a partial inward turn at each side. The edge has been restored on the right side with a riveted internal patch. A flat, diagonal, modern spring-strip is attached by a pair of externally-flush rivets at its rear end within the right of the neck of the skull. Riveted to the front edge of the spring are a plain, circular stud that engages a hole in the rear edge of the bevor, and, just to the rear of it, a mushroom-headed stud that serves as a push-button to release the former. The plain stud is accommodated within a notch cut in the edge of the face-opening, and the mushroom-headed stud protrudes through a hole pierced just behind the notch. Each side of the skull is pierced to receive the modern pivots that attach the visor and bevor. The pivots have small, round heads with iron rosette washers. The right pivot is riveted, while the left pivot is threaded and retained by a square, internal nut. The visor is of 'sparrow's-beak' form, with a prominent step beneath its centrally-divided vision-slit. A single incised line borders the upper edge of the vision-slit, while a pair of incised lines marks the lower end of the step. The 'beak' is crudely pierced on its upper surface with three rows of eight, four and eight small ventilation-holes respectively, and on its lower surface with two rows of four and two horizontal ventilation-slots respectively. The upper edge of the visor rises to an almost imperceptible cusp at its centre, while the lower edge descends to two low cusps at each side. The arms of the visor have rounded terminals. The bevor is strongly shaped to the chin. Its front edge is cut away to form a deep, U-shaped face-opening with a plain, partial inward turn. A split at the centre of the face-opening has been repaired with a riveted, internal patch. The lower edge of the bevor is flanged outwards to form a short, front neck-guard and has a plain, partial inward turn. The edge appears to have been trimmed and to a large extent reworked. The lower rear corners of the bevor have both broken away. The right corner has been restored with a riveted, internal patch. A hole to engage the spring stud at the right of the neck of the skull is pierced at the junction of the upper edge of the patch with the original metal of the bevor. The modern neck-defence of four downward, overlapping lames fits within the rear edge of the skull. It has a square lower edge with rounded corners. Its edges have plain, partial inward turns. The lames are connected to one another and to the skull at their outer ends by round-headed rivets with octagonal internal washers. Part of the composite half armour M.1.3A-E-1936.


History note: From its general character and condition, it is conceivable that the helmet is one of a large number of pieces formerly stored in the Imperial Arsenal of St Irene in Istanbul and possibly taken as booty from the Knights of St John at Rhodes when it fell to the Ottoman Turkish forces of Suleyman the Magnificent in 1522 (S.W. Pyhrr, 'European Armour from the Imperial Ottoman Arsenal', Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol.24, New York, 1989, pp.94 & 98-102, figs. 17, 24-5 & 26-7). According to the statements of the contemporary dealer, Samuel Luke Pratt of Bond Street, London (cited in Catalogue of Armour and Weapons formed by ... Baron Zouche of Haryngworth, Sotheby's, London, 10 & 11 November, 1920, p.ii) a large part of the armoury at Istanbul was brought to England, via Italy, about 1840. 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: 28.0 cm
Height: 25.8 cm
Weight: 1.66 kg
Width: 22.0 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Innsbruck

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1936-01-15) by Stead, E. W. and Gilbert


16th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1510


South Germany, probably Innsbruck

The helmet is bright with medium patination overall. The surface of the metal shows evidence of delamination at many points: most noticeably at the brow of the skull.

Components of the work

Lining-band composed of leather ( modern)
Rosette Washers composed of iron (metal)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Formed of a one-piece skull with a 'sparrow's beak' visor and bevor attached to it by common pivots, and a neck-defence of three lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, with fluted and incised decoration

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: large

  • Text: 4
  • Location: Inside of the brow of the skull
  • Method of creation: Painted in white
  • Type: Number

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.3A-1936
Primary reference Number: 18134
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 11 January 2016 Last processed: Monday 18 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) "Close helmet" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-03-04 16:23:23

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