Object Title

Close helmet

Close helmet



Object Number



Purchased 29 September 1988. S. J. Whawell Collection, not in sale, but recorded by F. H. Cripps-Day, Notes Vol. XVII, The Armet, MS RA, P.15. Sir Henry Farnham Burke Collection, sold at Christies, 5 May 1931, lot 77 (illustrated in catalogue) to Bachereau, 145, with a different rondel, and lacking rear and lower front gorget plates. In 1929 it was offered to Clarence H. Mackay via Steven Grancy, 14 January 1929; album of photographs sent to Dean, Armour, Burke, pl. 11, 'Armour in Hall, Italian armet, late 15th century, Whawell'; letter Grancy to Mackay, 18June 1929: all this from Metropolitian Museum of Art archives.

Physical Description

The skull is shaped to the top of the head, with a medial, flat topped comb pierced by a keyhole slot for a plume attachment at the centre. It is fitted with a brow reinforcement at the front, attached by three, large, flush rivets; its upper edge is cusped with three points, the central point being flattened and embossed for the comb. The lower edge overlaps that of the skull, and has a slight flange and plain inward turn, forming the upper edge of the sight. The front edge of the skull itself is bordered by ten original flush lining rivets. The rear edge of the skull is cut straight across, with a downward point at either side; it is continued downwards with a nape defence of four lames, articulated by original flush rivets at either side, the upper two lames riveted solid at the centre. The three rivets across the rear of the skull have large, flat heads, and functioned also as lining rivets. The lowest of these nape lames has a medial, transverse angle for the neck, and is fitted with a short , crude, square section stem and a fluted roundel cut with an eight petalled edge. The lower edge of this lame is bordered by five flush lining rivets; it has been fitted with two modern gorget plates of thin metal, articulated at either side. The visor is of bellows type, embossed with four ridges with rows of three, four and three crude, transverse rectangular breaths between them, and two holes below the lowest, at either side, and a column of four holes down the centre. The upper edge has an inward flange to form the lower edge of the sight, at either side of which it has a step and a gentle curve up to the terminal, where the visor and bevor are pivoted at either side. The side edges curve down to an obtuse point at either cheek, and the lower edge is level. An original lifting peg, with an octagonal stem and fluted knop, is riveted to the right. Just in front of the lower right point, the visor is pierced with an irregular hole, cut through to the edge, which engages the spring catch on the bevor. The bevor is shaped to the chin, with a curved face opening, slightly concave upper edges to the terminal, and straight side edges, the right side edge having a round nick by the upper nape lame rivet. At the base is a flange, to which two modern gorget plates are attached by rivets at either side. The face edge and flange edge are each bordered by six original flush rivets, retaining a fragment of canvas lining band at the chin. Low at either side of the neck is a rivet hole, surrounded by an area of pitting, to which a strap and buckle around the rear of the neck, fastening the helmet closed, was fitted. At the left are two lining rivets at the side, aligned with the rivet hole for the strap and the rearmost lining rivet of the face edge. At the right is a lining rivet, matching the upper of the last two, a rivet hole nearly matching the lower, and, adjacent to the last, an original flush rivet, the flat head of which leaves a fair space inside the skull. The latter two are aligned with a rectangular slot. This is currently occupied by a rectangular sprung peg, whose modern spring is fastened by two rather miscellaneous rivets at the base, and which is operated by a push stud with an adjacent, filled, rivet hole. The slot looks original, and the original arrangement probably had a transverse spring rather than the present vertical one. The rectangular slot, however, is aligned with the present spring. At the base of the bevor is fitted one original gorget plate, articulated by sliding rivets at either side, and one modern gorget plate. The exterior is patinated but bright. The left terminal of the visor has an internal riveted repair. Other modifications are noted above.


Dimensions: Overall height: 34.5 cm ( 13.5 in), Overall width: 20.5 cm ( 8.0 in), Overall depth: 28.0 cm ( 11.0 in), Weight: 3.715 kg ( 8 lb 2.75 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Flanders

Bibliographic References

See also provenance. A photograph, inscribed 'Annex, Coll. S.J. Whawell...' is tapped into Cripps Day's G.F. Laking A Record of European Armour. Vol.II, Part III. Armets, f.p.90.


The helmet forms part of a small group of close helmets with articulated napes. Most closely assocaited is one in the Musee Royal de l'Armee, Brussels, ex-Porte de Hal collection, which is at least partially restored or composed (RA neg A3/4210 (20a)). Also close is Metropolitian Museum of Art, New York 14.25.587 ex-Riggs, ex-Soitykoff, with restored lower nape and gorget plates (H M Curtis,'2,500 Years of European Helmets', Hollywood, 1978, p.202f) The armet, Metropolitian Museum 1985. 259.3, ex-Reeves, ex-Peter Dale, and possibly from an English church, has an articulated nape and similar skull. Musee de l'Armee, Paris, G36, with embossed and etched decoration, is also very close. The close helmet, with associated visor and bevor, in Stoke d'Abernon Church has a similar articulated nape (see J G Mann, 'the Funeral Helmet of Sir Thomas Vincent in Stoke d'Abernon Church', 'Surrey Archaeological Collection', Vol.XLVII, 1941, pp.84-7).
the form of the visor is related to a large number of others, both on close helmets, and also late sallets; particularly hybrid sallet/armet, Florence BA c.1635 (L G Boccia and E T Coelho, 'L'Arte dell'Armatura in Halla', Milan, 1967, pl.159-62; note the transverse sprung visor catch on the right cheek piece, pl. 162). The attribution to Flemish production, rather than Italian, is based largely on the form and workmanship of the helmet, and is by no means certain.