Object Title

Close helmet

Close helmet



Object Number



Purchased at auction, Christie's 5 March 1855, lot 2689. From the Bernal collection.

Physical Description

This helmet has an unusual visor in the form of a human face. It is a virtuoso example of metal working: the moustache and nose were not attached but made as one with the visor. It is one of the finest examples of embossing, the art of drawing and raising steel. In the late middle ages it was common to wear masks and costumes for special occasions, including parades as part of the tournament festivities. The moustache may have signified masculinity, age or status, or illustrated a well-known joke which has sadly been forgotten. The decorative visor can also be removed to reveal a practical barred visor for use in the tourney.


Dimensions: height 261 mm, width 235 mm, depth 341 mm Weight: 3.82 kg

Bibliographic References

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate XC b.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1