A rare black and white infantry half armour, Germany, circa 1600
Weight: 8.71 kg
Length: 95 cm.
Overall length on stand: 175 cm.
This armour is decorated with blank embossed bands contrasting against a blackened ground. It comprises a burgonet helmet with two cheek pieces, a gorget
of two plates hinged with a turning rivet at the right side and closed by a sliding rivet at the opposite, two spaulders of six lames each, a breast plate,
a back plate, and two tassets of six lames respectively. On the inner side of the breast plate there is the inventory number 41 in white paint and “X4”
which repeats on the helmet, the tassets and on the inner side of the gorget.
The present armour is an example for the corselet typically used by pikemen on European battlefields of the early 17th century. Shaping large squares
accompanied by groups of musketeers they formed a deadly wall insurmountable for the cavalry. An intereresting source illustrating the use of pikes and
muskettes is the famous work by Jacob de Gheyn written back in 1607: The Excercise of Armes for Calivres, Muskettes and Pikes. Intended as an educational
drill book for soldiers it shows the manner in which contemporary pikemen were outfitted. As the book spread all over Europe, its influence on the military
strategies was immense.
Half armours such as the present piece were preserved in arsenals like the Landeszeughaus Graz in Austria, the Zeughaus Solothurn in Swizzerland or the
city arsenal of Emden in Northern Germany, all being museums today. In the 19th and early 20th century some of these institutions sold parts of their
inventory since the interest in collecting antique arms had already developed and the additional funds were needed to display the collections in the
context of a museum. It is supposably such an arsenal, where our half armour has survived the centuries, before it was sold at the art market.
There are two patches on the right spaulder, one on the left and one on the left tasset, all hardly visible from the right side. The back plate is probably
a later addition and the leathering is expertly replaced throughout. Corresponding to its age the armour’s surface features traces of wear and usage and
iron patina. All in all a nice harmonious condition pleasant to the eye of the collector and contrary to overly cleaned examples.