Object Title

Scale armour

Scale armour



Object Number



Acquired from the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Physical Description

Comprising a waist length garment opening at the front, with pointed shoulder flaps of leather lined with coarse linen and bound at the edges with gold orris herringbone braid. Sewn and riveted to the leather are close-set, downward overlapping iron scales. Those around the neck are hinged, and fitted with a swivel hook and loop to fasten the coat. Down the centre of each shoulder are rows of square scales hinged together, with hinged, pointed scales at the edges. All of the scales are slightly convex, shield shaped at the bottom and cut to a central point at the top. The rivets that pass through the leather are positioned in the centre of each scale. The interior is lined with dark green velvet.


Dimensions: The distance from shoulder to hem is 472 mm, the widhe across the chest region being 434 mm. Weight: The weight of the coat on its plywood support is 4.7 kg.

Inscriptions and Marks



Bibliographic References

J. Hewitt, Official catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859, no. xv.196, p. 102

Viscount Dillon, Illustrated guide to the Armouries, London, 1910, no. xv.157, p. 2. Illustrated Plate 30


A careful examination of this armour shows that it has been constructed from older scales. Each of the real scales is pierced with two small holes on either side of the widest point, and by a single hole at the pointed apex. In addition, most scales have been shaped with a notch between the pairs of holes. In their present position these holes cannot be used because they are obscured by the neighbouring scales. The hinged plates around the neck have small ornate external hinges. The other hinged sections have integral hinges formed at the edges and the scales attached by them are flat and show none of the subtle shaping of the rest. It would seem that this whole armour has been re-made from an older scale piece for the Great Exhibition.