Purchased from the Great Exhibiton, 1851
The shield is of hide, lacquered black and provided with four ornate gilt bosses on the front. Marks in the lacquer suggest that this shield has reused the hide from an earlier shield, there being marks on the outer surface to show that originally it was provided with larger bosses. The existing bosses all have a central hinged flap that can be opened to reveal the muzzle of a very short pistol barrel. On the inside the shield has a single central grip screwed at each end to two blocks that link the breeches of the barrels and which house the mechanisms for the percussion guns. The hammers of the pistols can be individually cocked but both are activated by the single trigger, positioned to be operated by the fingers of the hand holding the shield.
Thom Richardson, An introduction to Indian arms and armour, Leeds, Royal Armouries, 2007: 15
The shield is mentioned in 'The Illustrated London News', 31 May 1851, p. 491: 'a shield, manufactured in the Arsenal of His Highness the Rajah of Kola in the States of Rajpootana, is also very ingenious. It has four gold bosses, in each of which is concealed a pistol'. Like many items made for the exhibition, they were never really intended for use.