Breastplate with lancerest



Early 17th century. Of long, flat-sided form with a defined medial ridge full-length to a residual "peascod" dip below the waistline. The shallow intergral flange dips toward the fork, and flares out over the hips. The very edge of the flange is incised obliquely, and bordered above and below a broad sunken transverse band with a pair of triple incised lines which extend along the perimeter and medial line of the breastplate. There are no gussets, the edges here as well as the neck strongly outwardly turned, slightly boxed and obliquely incised. At its upper terminals the breast is pierced with a vertical set of three punched holes, the lower of which are fitted with modern, pierced lugs for the backplate straps. It appears that the upper set of holes once held leather straps with buckles, with the lower mounted with short posts as well as those on either side of the lower half of the breast (now rivet-filled). The set of four may quite well have been mounts for a plackart (see below). The basal flange has a dome-headed stud at each extremity (the right stud is modern), to engage the slots of the tassets. Near the fork is a set of four pierced, flattened lugs attached to rectangular plates, in turn to the flange inner face. At the left edge inner face is a generally similar plate of elongated octagonal form and bearing traces of apparent tinning. While these mounts are apparently of old metal, they seem to be later additions. The rivets about the perimeter seem to have been for a liner, now lost. The breast is pierced on the lower right side with a vertical pair of non-threaded holes for the attachment of a bolted lance-rest. This is of the vertically-folding type, on a rounded and cusped irregularly-trapezoidal plate, itself vertically pierced with a pair of threaded holes. The screws have thick, slotted heads, and are associated. One of the square, mitered nuts is lacking. The rest seems to have been incorrectly mounted onto its base in recent years; an alignment dot on each is 180 degrees out of alignment. The pivot is repaired, with a modern pin and washer. The rest's faces are incised with 9/10 pairs of obliquely-cut lines. At the pivot are indications of a surface blackened by a heat-and-oil treatment.

Curator's Comments

A very similar breastplate appears on lot 85, an English three-quarter armor from the 2nd quarter of the 17th century; sold at the Tower of London sale in 1974. See references. This was previously sold at Sotheby's 4 December 1953, as lot 43. A reinforcing breast, given as early 17th century, possibly Greenwich, is similarly formed and decorated to ours. This was lot 68 in the Tower sale, ex-family armories at Thame Park, Oxford, and sold at Hampton & Sons 13 January 1920, part of lot 301.


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