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William Scheuch





Joined: 25 Aug 2013

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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject: Was Hand-me-down armor a common event?         Reply with quote

knowing the costly nature of arms and armor, was it common practice to inherent armor and wear it in the field? would there be a patchwork of older kit amongst the merchant and lower classes who could not afford much new armor? would said older armor be resold at discount by armorers? ( kind of like used car salesmen)?
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's a good question and I have no helpful knowledge. Happy

But I have wondered sometimes if the reason we don't see many surviving helmets and other pieces of armor is that if they were fitted well for a certain customer, when that person died the helmet was melted down to make another piece of metal, maybe not armor but another tool. Because good iron was always short in supply and expensive, but since some wearable pieces were too specifically fitted to hand down, while swords and other weapons could be easily passed along.

Given all the many wars throughout the ages, and warriors wearing armor and helmets why don't we see more of them compared to weapons?
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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hopefully someone can chime in with some actual historical info but from my experience the difference between fitted and off the rack armor is so great that I don't think people could just go picking up any old piece of armor and expect it to be immediately wearable.
That being said though, if you sent your hand-me-down or looted armor to a professional they could probably modify it pretty well. So off-the-rack? Doubtful. But re-tailored stuff could give you good performance for much less than a custom kit.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't be surprised if *most* armor was handed down at some point! Huge amounts of original armor and helmets survive, really, from all eras. And while a few pieces were clearly modified or repurposed (there's a famous kettle hat that apparently ended up as a cookpot), mostly old armor was made into other armor. "Melting down" wasn't done with medieval technology, though a number of armories and museums cleared out collections during the scrap drives of World War I and II. Sad but true! I have heard that pieces of old mailshirts made great pot scrubbers. And there was certainly a booming trade in second-hand armor. Hey, the stuff keeps working!

Matthew
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 7:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?...musachinum
Will of William de Grantham, pepperer; 25 March 1348
Quote:
To be buried in the chapel of S. Anne and S. John Baptist, near the church of S. Antonin. Bequest of forty pounds of wax wherewith to make round tapers to burn around his corpse in the churches of S. Antonin and S. Mary de Vaucherche and elsewhere; also of sums of money for the maintenance of chantries and funeral expenses.......To John de Gonewardby tenements in the parish of S. Mary de Vaucherche which the testator received from his brother Robert, and in the vill of S. Orner which he received from his brother John; also to the same his best aketon, a pair of plates, a pair of musekyns and a pair of Bracers, one aventail, a bacinet with timbrer, a pisan, a pair of jambers, a pair of quissers covered with linen-cloth (cum panno de camaca), and a pair of iron gauntlets;


http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66934
Quote:
Snypston (Nicholas).—To be buried near Johanna his wife in the church of S. Laurence de Polteney. Bequests to the chaplain of the college of the said church, to the parish priest and chaplain of the church of All Hallows the Less upon the Solars (super solariis), &c.; also for painting an image of the Blessed Mary therein, and to the pardon of S. Paul (ad perdonem Sancti Pauli). To Mabel his wife he leaves certain tenements in the parishes of All Hallows the Less in the Ropery and S. James de Garlekhithe for life; remainder to Johanna and Alice his daughters in several tail; remainder in trust for sale for pious uses. To William Prodhomme he leaves a basinet with aventall, a pair of plates with legharneys, vambras, and rerebras. To Edmund Oliver a barrel (barellam) for keeping linen (armour ?) and a fur of young otters (de juvenis otres). To Robert Steping a coat of mail and cetelhat; and to John his servant his cotharmur. Dated London, 1 March, A.D. 1391. Roll 121 (146).


Quote:
Offham (John), apothecary.—To be buried in the church of S. Mary Magdalen de Milkstrete. Bequests of money and wax tapers to the said church as well as to his fraternity at Brokham and the churches of S. Peter at the Cross of Chepe and of Bassingeshawe.....To William Ponk, formerly his apprentice, a sword, a pair of plates and a pair of gloves of plate, his best basynet, and a painted box.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicolaysen, I heard many armors were melted during the industrial revolution.

To be honest, before I got into this armor thing I have never given a though on it. It's like most people just want to give the sword a swing or two, and armor comes in second.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been interested in Japanese armors and various western armors for a while. Actually, I was more interested in collecting armors and studying them than swords, though of course I am passionate about the weapons. I was able to see some nice collections in Japan, but have not seen much in European museums yet. I had read that in the Migration era IN BRITAIN {edited}, very few helmets had been found, namely the Sutton Hoo, Benty Grange, Coppergate and Pioneer. Maybe these are the merely the finest surviving examples, but it's the time period I am most interested in. Another favorite time period/culture, La Tene/Halstatt, I haven't found anything about armors and helmets, only shield remains, but have only begun reading about this. Sorry if my simple vagary seemed too far-reaching. Just trying for some conversation and appreciate Matt and Mart's knowledge.

Last edited by J. Nicolaysen on Fri 25 Apr, 2014 9:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 9:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was at the Met the other day. Most of the european armors I saw were 15th 16th even 17th century, and one 14th. I did not see any dark age stuff other than one broken helmet that looked like a spangenhelm and a very well preserved sword, you can even see the pattern weld. The Japanese have a good collection of their stuff, and some of the blades they have looked very new consider it was forged 300-400 years ago.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2014 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a friend who has a morion that was resized at some point. It had a slit cut up the back, it was opened around an inch, maybe a bit more more and then a plate riveted in to fill the gap. What is lovely is that the morion is quite plain - very munition; the insert plate on the other hand is opulently engraved and clearly came from an earlier and richer suit.

Recycled armour, rather than reused but it makes for a morion with real character.

Tod

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Apr, 2014 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Datini was a merchant from Prato who made a fortune by buying used armour after a battle and reselling it.
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Tobias Capwell





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PostPosted: Sat 26 Apr, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good question!

I've come across quite a few descriptions of armour clearly described as being 'of old fashion'. A number of the inventories give the impression of armour moving down the social ladder as it grows older. A bascinet originally worn by a knight in the fourteenth century continues to be used by a billman in the fifteenth.

I've also seen some fascinating objects which illustrate the same process. There is a very fine pointed bascinet at the Musée de Valere in Sion (Switzerland) which was probably made c. 1370, but was later fitted with a burgonet-style peak, probably in the sixteenth century. A once high-status helmet finds continued use in the hands of a town militiaman.

T
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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
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PostPosted: Sat 26 Apr, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart's quotations make it pretty clear that it was not unusual for people to hand down armor. Unfortunately they don't specify whether it was subsequently modified for fit or just worn as is, but all practicality suggests the former was probably the way to go.
"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Apr, 2014 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In 1588 Sir John Smythe complained about the muster at Tilbury not having properly-fitted armour. I think his main complaint is the lack of arming doublets.

"And because that no man can conveniently and fitly be armed, unless he be first properly appareled for his armor and also for the use of his weapon and that in the camp and army of Tilbury in 1588 whereas there were regiments of diverse shires with diverse bands both of demi-lances and lighthorsemen I did see and observe so great disorder and deformity in their apparel to arm withal, as I saw but very few of the army that had any convenience of apparel and chiefly of doublets to arm upon, hereof it came to pass that most of them did wear their armor very uncomely, uneasily..."

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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2014 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tobias Capwell wrote:
Good question!

I've come across quite a few descriptions of armour clearly described as being 'of old fashion'. A number of the inventories give the impression of armour moving down the social ladder as it grows older. A bascinet originally worn by a knight in the fourteenth century continues to be used by a billman in the fifteenth.

I've also seen some fascinating objects which illustrate the same process. There is a very fine pointed bascinet at the Musée de Valere in Sion (Switzerland) which was probably made c. 1370, but was later fitted with a burgonet-style peak, probably in the sixteenth century. A once high-status helmet finds continued use in the hands of a town militiaman.

T


and while this was more of an upper class thing, it's noted in a book on the Graz armoury cllection, that maximilian armour, declined in fasion by around 1525 and by 1540 was 'passe'

so therefore we have a whole lot of pieces of maxililian amour, that i'd assume were either repurposed, or flogged off to make way for the next big fashion in armour. would these perhaps also trickle down to the hands of more lower class soldiers maybe, especially the breastplates as they were more commonly used by infantry than the rest of the harness
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2014 1:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

armour was totally re-used, passed down, refurbed and all sorts. It was also lent, borrowed and undoubtedly stolen. Right from the highest (Henry VIII lent out an old harness to Lord Lisle who had none and the french were looking twitchy) to old stuff in town arsenals that were pressed into service if times dictated.

The mendlesham armoury in Suffolk still has a chest of armour ranging in many decades of styles, it was still meant to be used, even if items were considered old and archaic. Sadly, out of the many thousands of similar collections country wide its the only one extant.
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Ryan S.





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think a person's wealth had a lot to do with it. I mean a lot of the armor we have belonged to kings who had multiple suits, some which I wonder if they were worn in battle. Clothing was very important in that day, and was a signifier of class. The same would also apply to armour. It would be a big deal to make sure one was up on the fashions. The old armor might be kept, although, it could be neglected. Rich noblemen weren't always very frugal, although the poor one would have to be. I remember Don Quixote used an old set of armour, although it wasn't old fashioned enough for him, so he made it a plaster bevor.
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