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Szyszak: HEN.M.94-1933

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown




Szyszak, for use by an hussar. Formed of a skull fitted at its front with a separate peak, a sliding nasal-bar fitted at its lower end with a broad face-defence, a long, laminated neck-defence and laminated cheek-pieces. The one-piece, hemispherical skull is decorated with radiating shallow flutes between a broad, recessed border at its lower edge, and a large, recessed circular panel at its apex. The centre of the circular panel is occupied by a large, transversely-pierced rectangular staple, riveted through a brass roundel decorated with concentric raised rings. Attached by six brass-capped, round-headed rivets at the brow of the skull is a moderately broad, slightly-downturned peak that projects forward to an acute central point. The rear of the peak is pierced at its centre with a later or later-enlarged rectangular slot that accommodates the sliding nasal-bar. The nasal bar is secured by a rectangular staple that is attached at the brow of the peak by the central pair of rivets that secure the latter to the skull, and is fitted at its front with a winged locking-screw. The nasal-bar is decorated with three lines of punched dots. Attached by three brass-capped, round-headed rivets to the front of its expanded lower end is a broad, transversely-curved face-defence that flares forwards and outwards at its lower edge. The upper edge of the face-defence has two semi-circular cut-outs for the eyes. The cut-outs have flanged and decoratively-filed edges. Each side of the face-defence is decorated with a raised roundel. The roundels, the space between them and the lower edge of the face-defence are fretted with hearts, crosses, circular holes and bone-shaped holes. Attached by a pair of brass-capped rivets at the nape of the skull is a later, tapering, tubular plume-holder, decorated with filed lines, small circular holes, and V-shaped nicks at its upper and lower edges. Attached by five brass-capped, round-headed rivets at the nape of the skull is a long neck-defence formed of ten medially-ridged, downward-overlapping lames that extend down the back to an acute ogival point. The tenth lame, which is longer than the rest, has an acutely-pointed, ogival lower edge. The top right corner of the first lame is broken through. The lames of the neck-defence are connected to one another by five later internal leathers. Attached by three later internal leathers within each side of the skull is a scutiform cheek-piece formed of four medially-ridged, downward-overlapping lames which are connected to one another by three later internal leathers. The first lame, which is longer than the rest, is decorated with an almond-shaped boss and pierced with nine small, circular ventilations at its centre, and cut with a semi-circular notch at the level of the eyes at its front edge. The main edges of the cheek-piece have plain inward turns. The main edges of the peak and the neck-defence have plain inward turns accompanied by narrow grooves. The upper edge of the peak, the lower edge of each side of the skull and the lower edges of the first to ninth lames of the neck-defence are in every case decorated with low cusps.


History note: Baron Peuker Collection (formed in Germany); Sold Brussels, 1854, lot 106, pl. 2, fig. Z, Sold for 35 francs; Lord Londesborough Collection; Sold Christie, Manson & Woods, London, July 1888, lot 286; Sold for £52. 10s. 0d; Purchased by Edwin J. Brett; Edwin J. Brett Collection; Sold Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 18 & 25 March 1895, lot 963; Bought in at £52. 10s. 0d. Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 32.5 cm
Height: 54.5 cm
Weight: 3.87 kg
Width: 30 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century, Late
Production date: circa AD 1680


A similar helmet is in the Veste Coburg, Thuringia.

Differences in their colour and workmanship indicate that the sliding nasal-bar and its face-defence are associated with the rest of the helmet. Differences in their internal colour suggest that the second to fourth lames of each cheek-piece are restorations. The presence of a pair of redundant leathering-holes in the second lame of the right cheek-piece suggest that the restorations have been made using old pieces of armour.

The helmet is bright with a light patination overall, except on its sliding nasal-bar and face-defence which have a slightly heavier patination.

Components of the work

Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy)
Internal Leathers composed of leather
First Lame

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a skull fitted at its front with a separate peak, a sliding nasal-bar fitted at its lower end with a broad face-defence, a long, laminated, medially-ridged neck-defence and laminated cheek-pieces; hammered, shaped, riveted, with fluted, raised, fretted, punched, filed and nicked decoration, with pierced circular ventilations and recessed borders

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.94-1933
Primary reference Number: 18543
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 27 November 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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