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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.113-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




Breastplate with skirt, for infantry or light cavalry use, decorated in the 'black and white' fashion. Formed of a rounded, medially-ridged main plate projecting forward over the belly and fitted with movable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate and a skirt of three lames. The almost straight neck-opening and the gussets have boldly roped inward turns. The main plate is decorated with three medially-ridged, recessed bands that radiate upwards and outwards from the waist to the neck and arm-openings where they widen. The central recessed band merges with a recessed band that borders the neck-opening. The gussets at the arm-openings are secured to the main plate by modern, round-headed rivets at their upper and lower ends. The upper ones, which are fitted with octagonal internal washers, move within slots in the gusset. Attached to the top of the left gusset by a single externally-flush rivet is a plain double-ended buckle formerly fitted with a central tongue and retained by a plain, rectangular hasp. Only the hasp is preserved on the top of the right gusset. The lower edge of the main plate is overlapped by a medially-ridged waist-plate which has a low cusp at the centre and either side of its upper edge where it is attached by modern round-headed rivets to the main plate. The lower edge of the waist-plate is flanged outwards to receive a skirt of three upward-overlapping lames, decorated with three radiating, medially ridged, recessed bands that mirror those of the main plate. The central recessed band merges with a recessed band that borders a shallow, arched cut-out over the crotch at the centre of the lower edge of the lowest lame. The cut-out has a file-roped inward turn. The skirt-lames are connected to one another and to the waist-plate by a single, modern, round-headed rivet at either side. Those connecting the skirt-lames to one another move in vertical slots and are fitted with octagonal, internal washers. The skirt-lames were also formerly connected to one another and to the waist-plate by internal leathers located to either side of the centre. The waist-lame is pierced with a single rivet-hole and the skirt-lames with a pair of rivet-holes at either side to secure these missing leathers. The lowest skirt-lame is pierced to either side of the centre and at either end of its upper edge with later rivet-holes for the attachment of tasset-straps, although the original tassets would have been directly articulated to the lowest skirt-lame. Discontinuities in the alignment of their outer edges, decorative bands and rivet-holes shows that a lame must be missing between the present first and second skirt-lames.


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 18.3 cm
Height: 45.0 cm
Weight: 3.612 kg
Width: 39.6 cm

Relative size of this object

39.6 cm45 cm18.3 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.

Place(s) associated

  • Nuremburg

Acquisition and important dates

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


Mid-16th Century
Circa 1540 CE - 1550 CE


South German, Nuremberg

The surface of the breastplate and skirt now shows a dark patina. The surface between the bright decorative bands and borders was originally black from the hammer in the 'black and white' fashion. Extensive delamination of the surface of the metal has occurred at the right shoulder of the main plate.

Components of the work

Main Plate

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a rounded, medially-ridged main plate projecting forward over the belly and fitted with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate and a skirt of three lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, with recessed bands, and file-roping, with a 'black and white' style surface decoration

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: quality-control mark of the City of Nuremberg, now much rubbed

  • Location: To the right of centre of neck-opening
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: serial number

  • Text: XI
  • Location: To the left of centre of neck-opening
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: four dots on left, three dots on right

  • Location: Lowest skirt lame on left and right side
  • Method of creation: Struck internally
  • Type: Mark

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.113-1933
Primary reference Number: 18586
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 28 February 2017 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-12-05 05:23:13

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