Allen Antiques

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16th century

Piece of mail. 16th century, likely German. Alternating rows of riveted and solid rings. Flattish form with swelling at the rivet. Watershed form on both sides of the rivet overlap. Rivet heads pronounced on the outside and flush on the inside. Rivets seem to be wedge shaped. Some losses. 10 1/2 in tall, 35 in. wide with the mail stretched wide. Rings vary in size, in general the riveted rings are larger than the solid ones, all somewhat larger than 1/4 in. inside diameter. Solid rings vary in cross section - some very thin, some more washer-like. Some of the solid rings seem to have some flats on the outer edge as if they were punched from sheet and sometimes a ring overalapped the edge of a previous ring. Includes at least one spot near a current hole that includes 2 rings that appear to be working life repairs. They are in a solid row and show distinct round rivets.

Sample ring measurements - punched rings thickness - .050, .060, .082, .044, .055, .080, .060. Riveted rings thickness - .040, .055, .056, .045, .064. Outside diameter of riveted rings .415, .412, oval-ish one .400x.435. Inside diameter is hard to measure, but a few sample punched rings are .260 and a few sample riveted rings are .280.

Detailed analysis by Mart Shearer adds:

As Wade has already provided measurement for this well-made piece of mail, there are only a few other points to be made. The size of this rectangular piece without expansions could mean it came from the belly of a mail shirt, or a piece of horse armor, or it might simply be the size woven by the journeyman for addition into some later work by the master. Although well made, there are a number of single missing rings throughout the fabric and along the edges. Modernly, these are attributed to the fictitious "mail-moth", as if an iron eating variety of insect made holes similar to those made in wool by clothes moth larvae. Tom Biliter observed that one of these missing rings is surrounded by a number of rings which have been stretched into extreme ovals, as well as riveted rings which have opened or lost their wedge rivet. Another area has two diagonally placed rings folded like taco shells. It seems likely that these were caused by some heavy impact to the fabric by a piercing blow and a small or curved cutting tool. Whether these were caused in battle, or as part of a proofing of the armor, as possibly depicted in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, fo.18v, remains to be determined.


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This site last updated Wed Jun 30 13:30:53 EDT 2021