Writing on armour

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Colin Middleton
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Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:56 am

there is something of a fashion for text on armour amongst re-enactors, normally slogans ob helmets. Does anyone know of evidence for text painted or inscribed on armour? The only example that I can think of is the Avante Armour in Glasgow.

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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Brother Ranulf » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:02 pm

Colin,

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York), " During the fourteenth century, separate pieces of plate armor [sic] made of hardened leather or metal were introduced to protect the limbs and finally the torso itself. Leather armor [sic] could be molded [sic], embossed, or incised with floral patterns and grotesque motifs, not unlike those found in the margins of medieval manuscripts, while the edges of metal plates were decorated with borders of applied latten (a copper alloy), which were sometimes gilded and engraved with floral patterns or inscriptions."

This is vague enough to be considered dubious; does it mean armour made in Poland, Lithuania, Scotland, Spain, Italy, England or Germany? I would always be sceptical of a statement like this unless it can be supported by primary sources, or at least corroboration from somewhere like the Royal Armouries.

The only actual example I can find (only a quick search, though) is an inscription on an Ottoman armour of the 14th century: http://sofiaglobe.com/2013/08/09/archae ... erperikon/


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:29 pm

Chris Dobson wrote a good article on the cuire boullie armour of the early 14th C and there is good reference to it in Blaire and Paddock & Edger's books.

I'm hoping that I can arrange a quick trip to the Royal Armories soon, but I thought that I'd see if anyone can point me to any specific leads in the mean time.

Thanks

Colin


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:01 pm

Instances of painted and engraved/etched lettering on surviving items pick up in the 16th cent, but only because there's more of it I suspect. I have seen a morion with its owners name scratched into the brim


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Merlon. » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:23 pm

Not lettering but you can see this engraving on an armour in the Graz armourry
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graz armour_n.jpg



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:24 am

There's a similar breastplate in the Armouries in Leeds.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:36 am

That Graz bp does of course have lettering on it, the 'INRI' on the cross, just very faded. Does depend what the lettering is for. As a heraldic or motto, votive, ownership, part of the iconography?
Last edited by Mark Griffin on Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:11 am

That's one of the things that I'm trying to work out. What is written and where is it found on the armour.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Errent Knight » Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:11 pm

Sorry to jump in here. Not exactly the same but I have a similar question about bible quotes in Latin around the edges of 13th and 14th century shields. I've seen reenactors do it, but does anyone have sources for it?



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:22 pm

I've seen reenactors do it


surely that's all you need to know. Reenactors do it. It's therefore right.

Let me know if you need anything else explaining


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:47 pm

It is possible that someone has misunderstood this image from Harley ms 3244 of about 1260, showing an allegorical knight using the scutum fidei in fighting the Vices:

Trinity_knight_shield.jpg


The scutum fidei ("shield of faith") is an imagined heraldry for God, spelling out the Holy Trinity. No real knight could carry such a shield - it does not conform to the unwritten laws of heraldry. Heraldry on shields did not include written Latin text - that was reserved for mottoes. I believe the Germans/Swiss and others did start putting mottoes on shields late in the medieval period, but not in the 13th - 14th centuries.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Errent Knight » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:02 pm

Thanks, Brother. I thought it seemed a bit dubious.



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Errent Knight » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:37 pm

I asked elsewhere and these were a couple of replies.

And there's this 14th c. example of text in the Manesse, CPg 848, fo.26r: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg848/0047



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Errent Knight » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:38 pm

I suspect the motivation is the 13th century founders statues from Naumburg Cathedral. http://www.geschichte-untermain.de/bild ... ar_dom.jpg



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Errent Knight » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:39 pm

there is the teutonic grandmaster's shield with this from cca 1320's http://klinstejn.cz/1320.jpg



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:47 pm

what i have noticed is a few inscriptions written in a black gothic style, very heavy germanic lettering, when those shields quite clearly use something pretty different.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:17 pm

Finally found something on this in Blair's European Armour. He had it in a separate chapter later in the book.

He dates it appearing during the second quarter of the 14th C. Strips of decorative metals were attached to the armour, bearing designs and inscriptions worked with fine punched dots. From the beginning of the 15th C, this starts being added directly to the plates and engraving starts being used as well as the punches.

Examples that he lists are a child's sabaton at Chartres, several examples at Churburg and several examples in Germany and Vienna. This style of decoration becomes less popular in Italy after the first quarter of the 15th C, but remained popular in Germany into the 16th C.

Text on these examples include YHS, quotes from the bible (in Latin), mottos, like Avant, the names of the original owner and one has a picture of as bear marked URS!

Finally acid etching appears at the end of the 15th C and starts to replace these more laborious decorative techniques.

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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:40 pm

Coppergate helmet.

That's all I'm saying......


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby guthrie » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:41 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:Finally acid etching appears at the end of the 15th C and starts to replace these more laborious decorative techniques.

Now that's interesting. It indicates that a different branch of craftsmen were finding the uses of acids first made by alchemists. Is there a more definite date?



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby matlot » Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:36 am

Is there a way of dating the etchings as the armouries have a collection of original 15c armour which they say was etched in the 19c, including my personal fave peice which is a breast plate with a lovely pattern down the front which must have taken a long time to do unfortunately they have done it upsidedown


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Merlon. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:44 am

guthrie wrote:Now that's interesting. It indicates that a different branch of craftsmen were finding the uses of acids first made by alchemists. Is there a more definite date?

V&A Acid etching



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:18 am

guthrie wrote:
Colin Middleton wrote:Finally acid etching appears at the end of the 15th C and starts to replace these more laborious decorative techniques.

Now that's interesting. It indicates that a different branch of craftsmen were finding the uses of acids first made by alchemists. Is there a more definite date?

Unfortunately Blair is a bit vague on his dating. He gives quite a bit of detail about how it was done and how to tell one technique from another, but he's not more specific on the date.

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Re: Writing on armour

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:15 pm

In the Armour of the Austrian Princes exhibition catalogue that was held at the RA/Tower in the 1950's or 60's there was a breastplate which was said to be the earliest acid etched known (at that point) which was I think 1472. However a lot of academic water has flowed since then. I have lunch with a reasonably well known curator next Monday, I'll ask.


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Re: Writing on armour

Postby guthrie » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:59 pm

Mark Griffin wrote:In the Armour of the Austrian Princes exhibition catalogue that was held at the RA/Tower in the 1950's or 60's there was a breastplate which was said to be the earliest acid etched known (at that point) which was I think 1472. However a lot of academic water has flowed since then. I have lunch with a reasonably well known curator next Monday, I'll ask.

That would be great, thanks.



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Re: Writing on armour

Postby guthrie » Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:57 am

Of course the question is which craftsment were doing the etching anyway? I have a suspicion they might be engravers, in which case some would be familiar with the use of acids from working as/ with goldsmiths, who sometimes alchemists themselves and therefore would have made the acids to be ued in etching.




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