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Old 9th October 2019, 11:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 175
Default Helmschmied Half Armor

I bought this armor some time ago. It was (as far as the provenience goes) the property of Viscount Boyne and was in his collection at Brancepeth Castle in Durham.

I cataloged it back in the day, here is the entry.


Of bright steel, consisting of a breastplate with gussets and a skirt of two lames; a detachable skirt of three lames continuing to thigh length tassets each of five lames; and a further pair of detachable tassets, each of seven lames, reaching to below the knees. All pieces are detachable by means of notched turning pegs and matching notched holes.

The globose breastplate, with medial ridge and with finely roped turnovers at the neck and gussets, is enriched with an etched border of acanthus-leaf design with inwardly embossed and etched centers. It is pierced with two holes on the right breast for a lance-rest. Attached to the top of the gussets are the original buckles. There is a chamfered and notched pattern in three rows starting with the lower skirts of the breastplate and continuing on down the center and sides of each lame of the lower skirt, the side rows continuing down all the lames to the knees.

A finely embossed and etched border of a palmet pattern surrounds the entire inner and outer borders of the skirt and tassets and continues up the outer sides of the breastplate. The large knee plates are embossed with winged Cherubim heads, the features of the faces and wings being further accentuated by means of etching. Beneath each head is the same etched and embossed acanthus-leaf design and roped turnover as upon the neck and gussets of the breastplate.

German, circa 1520


This armor was presumably acquired by Charles Tennyson (Uncle of the poet) on behalf of Matthew Russell (d. 1822). It appears that Tennyson purchased this armor in the period 1818 to 1821 from one of the following collections: Carter (1818, 99.13), Gwennap (27 February 1821, 201.4.6), Bullock (30 February 1821, 67.15), or Cosway (2 June 1821, 93.10). These collections were the source of the armor used for decorating the Baron's Hall at Brancepeth Castle (Girouard, 1981). Russell's daughter, Emma, married (1838) the Viscount Boyne whose descendents dispersed the collections and the contents of Brancepeth after World War I.


Brancepeth Castle, the property of the Viscounts Boyne (Christie's London November 23, 1922, ill. Lot #219 60)

The Property of a Gentleman (Christie's April 17, 1923, ill. frontis piece. Lot #11).

Sotheby's July 29,1930 ($1800).

William Randolph Hearst (Gimbel's 1944, cat. no. 631 $355)

Stephan Granscay (Curator Arms and Armor Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Eric Sternberg (1985)

Brian Powers

Eric Vaule (2000)


Metropolitan Museum


On loan and exhibited at Metropolitan Museum, 1956 to 1964.

Allentown Art Museum, 1955 Catalog of Arms and Armour Exhibition on loan from the Metropolitan Museum, ill.


Cripps-Day, A Record of Armour Sales 1881 to 1924, London 1925, ill.

There evidentially exists a manuscript inventory of the Armoury of Brancepeth which was created ca. 1888.


Girouard, Mark, The Return to Camelot. Yale University Press, New London 1981.

D'Eyncourt papers T d'E H 78/22; 2 T d'E H 77; Russell papers.

Kolman Helmschmied

The Helmschmieds of Augsburg were the preeminent family of master German armourers of the 15th and 16th centuries, patronized by all the royal families of Europe. Kolman Helmschmied (1471- 1532) is the best known member of this family. He was patronized especially by Emperor Charles V of Spain for whom he made a number of magnificent suits between 1520 and 1530 now housed in the collection of the Reale Armeria in Madrid. He is well represented in all the other great collections such as the Waffensammlung in Vienna and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

This was the only known example of Kolman Helmschmied's work remaining in private hands.
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