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Old 26th September 2020, 03:11 PM   #1
Victrix
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Default Austrian Zischegge/lobstertail pot helmet

Started preparing for Christmas already. Obtained this mid-1600s Austrian zischegge or lobstertail pot helmet. It has a one-piece fluted skull with 12 ribs which finish in a small flower shaped crown plate and ring finial. Some say the ring was used to hang the helmet from the saddle, and others say it was to attach field colours for identification. It has a peak with turned edge and sliding nasal bar. There’s a four-lame neck guard with flower edge decoration, and two pierced cheek pieces. This is not standard armoury munitions grade issue and probably belonged to an officer.

Many rivets are missing. Maybe these were gilted and salvaged for value?

I will clean the helmet and try to clear some of the rust gently before giving it a good oiling.

Comments welcome.
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Last edited by Victrix : 27th September 2020 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 26th September 2020, 03:17 PM   #2
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The bottom lame in the neck guard is stamped with a letter S and a number 6 or 9. Each cheek piece is also stamped with a number 6 or 9. I think these are batch marks which would be hidden under the buff leather lining.
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Last edited by Victrix : 26th September 2020 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 30th September 2020, 09:56 AM   #3
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When I tried the helmet on I discovered that the ”nasal bar” cannot be lowered vertically as the nose is in the way. The helmet is probably a bit small for me (190cm tall) but still I struggle to see how these can be used for nasal protection. It seems to me they are for decoration in Indo-Persian style. Some English civil war lobstertail pot helmets have face guards but they are attached more towards the edges of the pointed peak and not flush with the forehead.
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Old 30th September 2020, 04:30 PM   #4
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The nasal protection bar was useful to protect the face from a sword blow from an opposing rider. Unless you have a very large nose, this bar should not interfere with the wearer of this helmet.
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Old 30th September 2020, 04:54 PM   #5
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Prety cool piece. Do the back lames articulate ?
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Old 30th September 2020, 05:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
...When I tried the helmet on I discovered that the ”nasal bar” cannot be lowered vertically as the nose is in the way...

Could it be that the bar, or its holding bracket, was bent inwards due to a fall, or been hit by some accidental (or not) blow ? Have you thought of bending it out a little ?


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Last edited by fernando : 30th September 2020 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 1st October 2020, 05:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lansquenet59
The nasal protection bar was useful to protect the face from a sword blow from an opposing rider. Unless you have a very large nose, this bar should not interfere with the wearer of this helmet.



Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Could it be that the bar, or its holding bracket, was bent inwards due to a fall, or been hit by some accidental (or not) blow ? Have you thought of bending it out a little ?
.



I’m a tall person and the helmet is probably a little small. When I tilted it back a little I could lower the bar to cover the bridge of my nose at least. I have been unable to locate any contemporary graphic material which shows wearers with the nasal guard down. I think it may be more decorative than functional. If the front of the helmet is flush with your forehead then it becomes technically difficult to slide down the bar to cover the nose unless pugfaced.
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Old 1st October 2020, 05:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Prety cool piece. Do the back lames articulate ?


Thank you, Fernando.

The tail consists of lames which are riveted one plate to another. This allows for only a little movement between plates. The plates don’t compress (collapse into each other). I don’t think I ever saw a Zischagge where the plates compressed in such a manner, although the design suggests that this would be the case. On the other hand there is not much need for this since the objective is to protect the neck.
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Old 4th October 2020, 05:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Thank you, Fernando.

The tail consists of lames which are riveted one plate to another. This allows for only a little movement between plates. The plates don’t compress (collapse into each other). I don’t think I ever saw a Zischagge where the plates compressed in such a manner, although the design suggests that this would be the case. On the other hand there is not much need for this since the objective is to protect the neck.



The vendor of a similar helmet provides the following explantation

Type used in the Thirty Years' War and again in the English Civil Wars. This example with distinct evidence of that double service. Form commonly referred to as "Dutch" with ribbed one piece skull, rolled edge visor and cheek pieces, sliding nasal bar and four lame neck guard. Sound and complete with fragmentary line bands. The tail with the center leather secured by domed rivets which pierce the double plate overlap and immobilize the articulation of the neck protection. That modification clearly made during the working life of the helmet and the leather, rivets and gussets showing commensurate age. It is well established that large numbers of lobstertail helmets used in the English Civil Wars of 1642-51 were Thirty Years' War surplus. They were used by Parliamentarians who, unlike the King, had few sources of domestic origin. "Pot helmets" of the period were made with both articulated and non-articulated neck defenses. Both had their proponents and arguments. This helmet, likely as part of a group purchase was modified to respond to the difference in warfare between the two conflicts. Specifically, the Thirty Years' War was a war of sieges while the English Civil Wars were fought in the fields.

Anyone convinced ?
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Old 4th October 2020, 07:50 PM   #10
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Sounds fine to me, Raf. I was hesitating to propose a high end version in that the back lames were articulated, and you came with a fair enlightening.
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Old 5th October 2020, 10:21 AM   #11
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Let us not forget that at the time, the men were shorter than today, rare were the people reaching 1m80. Besides when we compare the many breastplates, we can see that they were not big. So I think this helmet was well suited to whoever needed to wear it. And that the nasal bar was also functional, because otherwise they would not have bothered to have a sliding system. That was coming down to the bottom just before going into combat.
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Old 6th October 2020, 07:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raf
The vendor of a similar helmet provides the following explantation

Type used in the Thirty Years' War and again in the English Civil Wars. This example with distinct evidence of that double service. Form commonly referred to as "Dutch" with ribbed one piece skull, rolled edge visor and cheek pieces, sliding nasal bar and four lame neck guard. Sound and complete with fragmentary line bands. The tail with the center leather secured by domed rivets which pierce the double plate overlap and immobilize the articulation of the neck protection. That modification clearly made during the working life of the helmet and the leather, rivets and gussets showing commensurate age. It is well established that large numbers of lobstertail helmets used in the English Civil Wars of 1642-51 were Thirty Years' War surplus. They were used by Parliamentarians who, unlike the King, had few sources of domestic origin. "Pot helmets" of the period were made with both articulated and non-articulated neck defenses. Both had their proponents and arguments. This helmet, likely as part of a group purchase was modified to respond to the difference in warfare between the two conflicts. Specifically, the Thirty Years' War was a war of sieges while the English Civil Wars were fought in the fields.

Anyone convinced ?


I take vendor comments with a pinch of salt, but like to be openminded and keen to enlighten myself.

As far as I’m aware all Zischägge I have seen with laminated neck guards had their plates riveted together where overlapping, which limit the possible movement. This is not a problem as I struggle to see why you would want a fully articulated neck guard as this is not a joint.

Some Zischägge have leather straps attached with rivets around the sides and through the middle of the laminated neck guard. I think this is generally believed to have held the lining in place, but I guess it could also have enabled full articulation of the laminated neck guard if the lames were originally only riveted to the leather straps and not each other. But I’m not convinced unless someone can show this was the case.
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Old 6th October 2020, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lansquenet59
Let us not forget that at the time, the men were shorter than today, rare were the people reaching 1m80. Besides when we compare the many breastplates, we can see that they were not big. So I think this helmet was well suited to whoever needed to wear it. And that the nasal bar was also functional, because otherwise they would not have bothered to have a sliding system. That was coming down to the bottom just before going into combat.


This may well be the case. The helmet does look a little small on me and if it contained padded lining it would have been worn by someone smaller. If the forehead then was 1.5cm or so from the front of the helmet the nasal bar could probably have been lowered.
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Old 7th October 2020, 05:26 PM   #14
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When I examined the helmet again today I found the number 1 stamped on the back of the top of the nasal bar, and the number 3 stamped on each of the top three lames of the neck guard. The numbering on the lames and the cheek pieces is very delicate and barely visible. I found them by using a torch light to shine on the inside at different angles. Jim posted an excellent article back in 2017 from the Park Lane Arms Fair, Spring 2005 journal, "What Do Armourers Marks Mean?” by Chris Dobson, master armourer.

The inside of the helmet appears to have been blackened but you can still see pitting and marks from metal impurities and the smith’s hammer work.

The fluted skull, flower shaped crown plate and lobed top edges on the back lames makes the helmet different, although these features are by no means unique for Zischägge of the time (possibly Hungarian?).
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Last edited by Victrix : 7th October 2020 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 8th October 2020, 11:47 AM   #15
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Good you find some marks; always a great thing.
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Old 9th October 2020, 08:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Good you find some marks; always a great thing.


Yes marks can add to the authenticity of the piece, and increases the connection with the humans behind it.
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Old 10th October 2020, 04:49 PM   #17
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Here is another 3
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Old 10th October 2020, 05:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
...As far as I’m aware all Zischägge I have seen with laminated neck guards had their plates riveted together where overlapping, which limit the possible movement. This is not a problem as I struggle to see why you would want a fully articulated neck guard as this is not a joint...

Some say this is an option to make a difference between wealthy or ranked owners and ordinary troopers equipment. I have even seen (here ?) a neck guard in one entire piece but with pronounced canelures, "possibly" to visually pretend articulated features

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
...Some Zischägge have leather straps attached with rivets around the sides and through the middle of the laminated neck guard. I think this is generally believed to have held the lining in place, but I guess it could also have enabled full articulation of the laminated neck guard if the lames were originally only riveted to the leather straps and not each other. But I’m not convinced unless someone can show this was the case...

Maybe i am talking nonsense but, allow me to show the lower neck guard of a close helmet, just for the sake of how the lames do articulate; not so much, but they do articulate indeed, as i have personally checked. The side rivets are 'spaced' to allow for pivoting of the leather controlled center .


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Old 10th October 2020, 07:00 PM   #19
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Thank you Fernando for making an important point. The center leather strap , if present is their to help control the articulation of the lames. The rivits securing the leather are not the same as the decorative dome headed rivits on the outside of the lames. These are normally quite high up towards the top edge of the lame often in conjunction with a central peak to the lame . Since the lames have to overlap if the dome headed rivits were used to secure the leather strap then they would have to pass through both overlapping lames in which case they would not articulate. Their are plenty of examples of Zischagges with single piece tails embossed to simulate articulated tails. These are normally rigidly fixed to the helmet and shorter so as not to interfere with the movement of the head. Longer tails are articulated for the same reason. That is the longer tail provides better protection to the neck without inhibiting movement.
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Old 11th October 2020, 10:35 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Some say this is an option to make a difference between wealthy or ranked owners and ordinary troopers equipment. I have even seen (here ?) a neck guard in one entire piece but with pronounced canelures, "possibly" to visually pretend articulated features
.


Yes, I think the Zischägge with solid plate neck guards (ridged to imitate lames) are munitions grade. The heavier ones are probably siege helmets.

Then you have the Zischägge with laminated neck defences (”lobstertail”) which also come in many shapes and forms. Some are more basic and were probably issued to troopers, or stored in armouries like Graz. Some, for princes and commanders, are incredibly decorated with engravings and lined with velvet. The Zischagge I posted with a fluted skull and some decorative elements, but without engravings, appears to be somewhere in-between for an officer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Maybe i am talking nonsense but, allow me to show the lower neck guard of a close helmet, just for the sake of how the lames do articulate; not so much, but they do articulate indeed, as i have personally checked. The side rivets are 'spaced' to allow for pivoting of the leather controlled center .
.


Thank you for this! I’m not so familiar with medieval armour and keen to learn more. I understand that for plate armour to articulate you need special rivets that allow movement and/or leather straps to hold the lames in place. As I argued previously I struggle to see the need for Zischagge lobstertail neck guards to articulate a lot as we don’t bend our necks backward (or necks break) so question how mobile these were. The helmet which I posted has laminated neck guard but no lining or leather straps remaining. Many rivets are missing and I think these may have been gilded and ”recycled.” The plates have been riveted together which has largely immobilised the lames. The rivet holes are circular. I don’t know the extent to which the lames articulated when the helmet was first produced.

The attached pictures show: 1) neck guard simulated lames, 2) lobstertail neck guard articulating lames, 3) Zischägge types and 4) from Eduard Wagner’s ”European Weapons & Warfare 1618-1648” (1979).
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Last edited by Victrix : 11th October 2020 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 11th October 2020, 11:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
... As I argued previously I struggle to see the need for Zischagge lobstertail neck guards to articulate a lot as we don’t bend our necks backward (or necks break) so question how mobile these were..

The neck guard i showed doesn't move that much, nor should all others ... i think. I guess a little contraction is enough to allow the user to look upwards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
... The attached pictures show: 1) neck guard simulated lames, 2) lobstertail neck guard articulating lames, 3) Zischägge types and 4) from Eduard Wagner’s ”European Weapons & Warfare 1618-1648” (1979).

Nice images. I gather that the drawings in 3) show the effect of an 'abnormal' articulation capacity; i would say artistic's freedom. But i know nothing ... and am not to be trusted .
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Old 11th October 2020, 11:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raf
Thank you Fernando for making an important point. The center leather strap , if present is their to help control the articulation of the lames. The rivits securing the leather are not the same as the decorative dome headed rivits on the outside of the lames. These are normally quite high up towards the top edge of the lame often in conjunction with a central peak to the lame . Since the lames have to overlap if the dome headed rivits were used to secure the leather strap then they would have to pass through both overlapping lames in which case they would not articulate. Their are plenty of examples of Zischagges with single piece tails embossed to simulate articulated tails. These are normally rigidly fixed to the helmet and shorter so as not to interfere with the movement of the head. Longer tails are articulated for the same reason. That is the longer tail provides better protection to the neck without inhibiting movement.


Thank you for clarifying this Raf. Can you confirm if the overlapping lames are riveted together at the far left and right sides or are they just hanging free on the leather straps? The attached first two pictures seem to show that the lames are riveted together at the far sides. Do they use tracking rivet holes to allow extra movement?

Can you show how much movement these articulating lames allowed in the lobstertail neck guard? Do you think many lobstertail neck guards were immobilized in more recent times for restoration purposes?

The last picture shows a solid plate neck guard with simulated lames which nevertheless also has leather straps on the inside even though it doesn’t have any lames to articulate.
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Old 11th October 2020, 11:45 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
The neck guard i showed doesn't move that much, nor should all others ... i think. I guess a little contraction is enough to allow the user to look upwards.


Nice images. I gather that the drawings in 3) show the effect of an 'abnormal' articulation capacity; i would say artistic's freedom. But i know nothing ... and am not to be trusted .


I wish I could get my hands on a few of these Zischägge now to investigate . I can’t remember properly, but seem to recall that the lobstertail neck guard lames just rattle a bit when you handle them. Never paid them much attention in the past to be honest. But maybe the Zischägge in pristine original condition do have wonderfully articulating lames. Something to look out for when I get the opportunity to handle one next!
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Old 11th October 2020, 05:02 PM   #24
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Sorry to be picky but I think its important when posting reference examples to stick to ones where the authenticity is well established. Their are some good examples on this site , but also ones where legitimate questions have been raised. Attached images are from a well established supplier located in Lithuania. To avoid confusion these are modern copies.
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Old 11th October 2020, 05:07 PM   #25
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A small note on sliding nasal bars. Many could be worn with the bulbous part at the top, then inverted to provide more facial coverage before entering battle.

I suspect the OP's nasal was, in use, a bit straighter & bent later in life. It may be possible to rotate it if the wing screw is removed so the small protruding stud at the base will fit through, acting as a grip when down, and a stop to keep it from falling out when up. I also suppose that the missing rivet holes may have been for attaching a liner and or aventail of sorts.
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Old 11th October 2020, 09:29 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raf
Sorry to be picky but I think its important when posting reference examples to stick to ones where the authenticity is well established. Their are some good examples on this site , but also ones where legitimate questions have been raised. Attached images are from a well established supplier located in Lithuania. To avoid confusion these are modern copies.


Point taken. Those modern copies you posted look extremely well made. I’m a bona fide history enthusiast with a curious mind who is slowly amassing a small armoury of military antiques. I was not aware that any reference examples I posted had legitimate questions raised about their authenticity?
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Old 11th October 2020, 09:41 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
A small note on sliding nasal bars. Many could be worn with the bulbous part at the top, then inverted to provide more facial coverage before entering battle.

I suspect the OP's nasal was, in use, a bit straighter & bent later in life. It may be possible to rotate it if the wing screw is removed so the small protruding stud at the base will fit through, acting as a grip when down, and a stop to keep it from falling out when up. I also suppose that the missing rivet holes may have been for attaching a liner and or aventail of sorts.


Yes I think the missing rivets must have been used to hold leather straps for articulating lames and the lining. I just wonder why so many rivets are missing. There are marks around the holes from washers as well. If the studs were of precious metal they may have been salvaged at some point.

Last edited by Victrix : 11th October 2020 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 12th October 2020, 10:02 AM   #28
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That reproduction example in the lower image of post #24 with that arcuated (empty) space towards the center, seems to fully suggest this is the functional articulated version.
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Old 12th October 2020, 11:10 AM   #29
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Here is a good reference example originally posted by Cerjak on this site. Note that the rivits that articulate the tail (the outer rivits ) are not the same as the rivits securing the lining band on the articulated section.
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Old 12th October 2020, 11:10 AM   #30
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Besides the possible function the leather straps perform in controlling the articulation, one must consider that, one lame itself can not roll up more than to a limited point, as it meets the upper lame.
Does this make any sense ?


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