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Purchased from the trustees of Sir James Mann, 1981. Formerly owned by Samuel Pratt, to Lord Londesborough, sold Christies 4 july 1888 lot 272, 13 guns; Pitt Rivers collection; bought by Mann in 1930.

Physical Description

The almond-shaped skull has a sharp medial ridge rising to a central point and a shallow, slightly flaring neckguard. The face opening slopes down gently from the centre, is angled down at the temples and curves into the neck edge. All the edges are plain. The upper edge of the face opening is bordered by lining rivets, with a central rivet hole above the level of the others. There is a row of original lining rivets at the nape of the neck, rising slightly at the centre, and a hole above the ear for the visor pivot. The helmet was modified by Samuel Pratt about 1850 into a basinet by trimming the neckguard and bordering it with close-set holes for the attachment of a fake / replica aventail, and fitting it with a fake / replica visor, enlarging the pivot holes at the temples. The holes bordering the neckguard were plugged after the piece was acquired by Mann. New visor pivots were made by C Smith in RA Conservation on 24 July 2002, for mounting the 19th century visor.


Dimensions: height 276 mm, width 194 mm, depth 225 mm Weight: 1505 g

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Flanders

Bibliographic References

Journal of the British Archaeological Association VIII, 1853: 354, fig. 38 on p. 264

C R Beard, 'Vicissitudes of a helmet' Connoisseur April 1933: 245-8


This helmet belongs to a difficult group of helmets, many of which come from English churches. It is quite probable that Pratt acquired it from such a source, for it appears to have been painted with floral scrolls for funerary use. The differential corrosion caused b this painting was the source of Bear's mistaken assumption that it had been decorated with a gilt latten framework. Although Grimshaw's modifications, which may have included reshaping the neck, were noted by Dillon and de Cosson during the Londesborough sale, the idea that it was a basinet remained unquestioned. The group of sallets with pointed skulls to which this belongs can be divided into two groups. The conventional group includes the St Mary's Hall sallet from Coventry (Laking 1922 II: fig. 365, Edge & Paddock 1988: 114)), both marked with split crosses over ro attributed by Claude Blair to Martin Rondel, a Milanese armourer working in Bruges who is recorded supplying armour to the Paston family in 1473, the unmarked sallet from Rhodes in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (no. 931.49.22, Karcheski & Richardson 2000: 11), Musee de l'Armee, Paris no. H.34 at the Musee de Cluny. The second group, which have bevors and represent the transition from sallet to close helmet, all come from English churches, the Pluckley/Gwynn sallet (Royal Armouries no. iv.1879), the Stourton sallet (on loan to the Royal Armouries no. al.40) and the Godshill sallet (Richardson 2001). Similar transitional sallets are shown in a Portuguese tapestry of about 1480 (R de Santos, As tapecarios da tomada de Arzile, Lisbon, 1925, est. III) and in the illustrations by Jean Tavernier to D Aubert, Chroniques et conquestes de Charlemagne (BibiliothÞque nationale Brussels MS 9066, f. 427r, R Lejeune and J Stiennan, The legend of Roland in the Middle Ages, Phaidon, London, 1971 II: pl. 396). Another Flemish connection is the sallet laying at the foot of the bed in Hieronymous Bosch's 'Death and the miser' about 1485-90 (The National Gallery of Art, Washington, Samuel H Kress Collection, no. 1952.5.33). In all these illustrations the bevors and visors of the sallets are pivoted separately like great basinets, whereas on the surviving examples they have combined pivots. In 2002 the lost visor made by Pratt reappeared in a New York collection, was then returned to the Italian auction house whence it had come and was then purchased by the Royal Armouries to reunite this interesting combination of fake and real helmet.