European Mail Shirt 16th century
Shirt of mail. 16th century, likely German. Long sleeves. Rings of flattened form. Slight swells at the rivets. Wedge rivets. A band of smaller rings around the neck. Open at the front. Overall formed of alternating rows of solid and riveted rings. A band at the front on each side formed of all riveted rings. Rings in the body app. 5/16 in. i.d., often forming slight ovals instead of perfect circles. The smaller rings at the neck app. 3/16 in. i.d. The 'collar' formed of 11 rows of small links and one row of normal sized rings at the border. App. half of the sleeves formed of somewhat heavier all riveted rings with cruder rivets. Careful inspection shows that this sleeve extension has been added with butted rings and is closed by a row of butted rings so this was almost certainly added after the working life of the shirt. Significant losses. Round brass collection tag with '707'.
Additional analysis by Mart Shearer:
The first thing I noticed when picking up this shirt is the heaviness of the lower sleeves, a condition which seems to make little sense as a defense.
Detailed analysis by Mart Shearer:
As Wade's notes already observe, these oval rings are attached (and indeed are seamed into a tube) with opened riveted rings, showing these pieces are not original. The lower sleeves are all riveted, made with wedge riveted rings of flattened, oval form. Five rings were measured from both sleeves, with an average external diameter of 12 mm (0.47") parallel to the rivet, and a diameter averaging 10.7 mm (0.42") across the rivet. The internal dimensions averaged 9.1 mm (0.36") across by 6.4 mm (0.25") inside the rivet. The wire thickness averages 0.84 mm (0.033"). Although the wire is clearly flattened, the width to thickness ratio remains less than 2.5:1. Rivet height of the wedge rivets averages 2.25 mm (0.09"). These added oval rings are much stouter and in better condition than the majority of this front-opening shirt.
Detail images on an inch scale. The first shows a section of the outside of the body, the second and third show outside and inside of the front edges including a section of the collar. Microscopic images show:
If you have any questions, please send them to Wade Allen
This site last updated Wed Jun 30 13:30:53 EDT 2021