German Gothic Breastplate 1480-1490
Composed. Formed of two pieces joined by a bolt. The main plate with a low medial ridge, plain angular, outward turned rolls at the neck and arm holes. The roll at the neck forming a vertical front edge then rounded over the top. The roll tapers nicely at the ends. The arm rolls of similar, but not as nicely executed form. The arm holes each with three one sided step flutes parallel to the rolls. Plackart rising to a central squared off point pierced with four hearts, the center with a vertical keel. The upper edges of the plackart with two parallel flutes. The outer of these is a step, the next seems symmetric. Bottom edge of the plackart flared to carry a fauld. The parts have been together for all of its modern history, but they are associated. The plackart and upper are secured to each other by a central bolt which threads directly into one of 4 holes pierced in the upper. The bolt is likely from the same period and the threads fit the threads in the upper. The top hole is cleanly cut, the bottom three are significantly mushroomed inward around the edges. As currently displayed, it sits a little tall, and the waist line will appear to be straighter than it would have been originally. Plates show signs of delamination and wear through cleaning. There are two small dents in the upper breast. These look like they may have been caused by impact from a square pointed weapon.
Measurements: Total weight 4 pounds 12.4 ounces (2.169 kg) - upper breastplate 3 pounds 8.2 ounces (1595 g), plackart 1 pound 4.4 ounces (580 g). 9 7/8 inches wide at the top at the outside of the arm rolls, tapering out to about 10 1/2 inches where the armholes sweep out under the arms, 13 3/4 inches wide under the arms, 11 inches wide at the waist. Upper breastplate 12 7/8 inches tall at the center (measured straight on the inside). Neck roll 0.37 inch tall and 0.50 inch wide at the center. The roll tapers to 0.18 inch wide and 0.12 inch tall at the end. The thickness of the upper breastplate is extremely variable, between .019 and .097 inch. I expect that some of the thickness has been lost due to cleaning. If there is any pattern at all to the thickness, it would appear that the upper thins some under the arms and in areas that might have been covered by a larger original plackart. Plackart .038-.068 inch thick, pretty randomly distributed. As a guess the lack of intentional thickness management appears to confirm that these parts were originally part of lower quality armours.
Provenance - H. Wendel, Munich 1926, Stephen V. Granscay by 1933, Howard M. Curtis sold Christie's London 31 Oct. 1984 lot 273, a private French collection.
Exhibited - Brooklyn Museum 1933 no. 16, Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences 1935, Allentown Art Museum 1964 no. 64 (illustrated in the catalogue on page 41).
If you have any questions, please send them to Wade Allen
This site last updated Mon Dec 27 11:29:14 EST 2021