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Sallet: M.4A-1939

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown (Possibly)




Sallet, with a moveable visor, for heavy field use. Formed of a one-piece skull with a long 'tail' over the neck, and a pivoted demi-visor. The skull has a rounded crown with a broad, medial keel at its apex, narrowing to a medial ridge at the front and rear. The centre of the keel is pierced with a large, circular hole between a pair of rivet-holes for the attachment of a threaded boss to receive a crest. The lower edge of the skull has a plain outward turn except at the front where it is cut away as a shallow face-opening that widens towards the bottom. The straight upper edge of the face-opening, which is flanged outwards very slightly and decorated at its edge with a single incised line, forms the upper edge of the vision-slit. Just above the level of the vision-slit, the skull is encircled by a series of twenty-one lining-rivets beneath a single, decorative incised line. The front nine rivets are externally flush with flat internal heads, while the remainder are round-headed with circular internal washers of which two are missing. The rivets and washers are all replaced, as are the buff-leather lining-band and the buff-leather loops for chin-straps at either side that they retain. A similar pair of round-headed rivets with circular internal washers retaining a buff-leather suspension-loop within the nape are likewise replaced. Five pairs of small holes around the lower edge of the skull and another to either side of the face-opening served to sew in the lining. A single hole at either side of the face-opening and a corresponding hole at either side of the visor, which served as construction-holes during manufacture, have been plugged with rivets. At the right lower corner of the face-opening is a push-button-operated spring-catch that engages a hole in the right lower corner of the visor. The mushroom-shaped push-button is probably replaced, as are the pair of small, round-headed rivets that retain the flat internal spring. The visor is attached by a pair of large, riveted, round-headed pivots. Its lower edge has a plain outward turn matching and continuing that of the skull. The straight, central section of the upper edge of the visor forms the lower edge of the vision-slit. It is flanged inwards and projects forward very slightly as a 'lip'. The rear of the visor is decorated at either side with a cusp. The upward-angled arms of the visor are decorated at their terminals with scalloped edges, and further down with a single incised line, overlaying that which encircles the skull. Bought together with the bevor M.4B-1939


History note: Sold from the collection of Duke Victor von Ratibor of Schloss Grafenegg, by Gallerie Fischer, Lucerne, 2 September 1933, lot 10, pl. 9, for SF. 3,000-00. Lent to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Major H. D. Barnes, O.B.E., F.S.A., August 1936.

Legal notes

Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum, National Art-Collections Fund and Mr E. Evelyn Barron, M.A., L.L.G., Peterhouse

Measurements and weight

Depth: 38.5 cm
Height: 23 cm
Weight: 2.575 kg
Width: 21.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Innsbruck

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1939-07-12) by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


15th Century, Late
Circa 1480 CE - 1490 CE


A similar sallet of the same series is preserved in the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds (Inv. No. IV. 499), while another formerly belonging to Sir James Mann, is on loan to that museum from his grandson, Sir James Picthorne. Both sallets, like the present, were sold from the Ratibor Collection, Schloss Grafenegg. The sallet is closely comparable in its form and details to one bearing the maker's mark of Jörg Wagner of Innsbruck in the armoury of Schloss Churburg. South Tyrol (O. Trapp & J. G. Mann, The Armoury of the Castle of Churburg, London, 1929, No. 62, and B. Thomas & O. Gamber, Die Innsbrucker Plattnerkunst, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, 1954, p. 56, pl. 16, No. 20. A further, unmarked sallet of this type can be recorded in the Collezione Odescalchi, Rome, Inv. No. 733 (N. di Carpegna, Antiche Armi dal Sec. IX al XVIII Già Collezione Odescalchi, Rome, 1969, p. 9, No. 30).

South German, possibly Innsbruck

The helmet is bright with some acid-cleaned pitting, especially on the top and sides of the skull, and the front of the visor. The inside of the helmet is painted red in a manner characteristic of items from the Ratibor Collection.

This type of helmet was very popular in the second half of the 15th century and was either worn on its own or with a bevor, a separate piece of armour covering the chin and the front of the neck, as here. The bevor was essential when this type of helmet was used for a type of jousting on horseback called, in Germany, the Scharfrennen, which was contested in an open field using sharp lances.

Components of the work

Lining-band composed of leather
Loops composed of leather

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a one-piece skull with a long 'tail' over the neck, and a pivoted demi-visor; hammered, shaped, riveted, decorated with incised lines and scalloped edges

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.4A-1939
Primary reference Number: 18364
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 14 April 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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Accession Number: M.4B-1939

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