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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 2:53 pm    Post subject: Sallet Thickness?         Reply with quote

The other day I read some remark, don't even remember where now, about a particular sallet being "thick enough to withstand any blow." This was a modern observation on an antique helmet, not historical commentary. That got me wondering, are sallets known for being heavily constructed? I'd be interested in any information but I'm especially interested in the second half of the 15th century in the Holy Roman Empire.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
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Mark T




PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2015 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mike,

From what I've seen, sallet thicknesses varied considerably ... relevant factors would have included the maker's preferences, skill available, steel, hardening, intended use, and design (for example, some with reinforced brows could be quite thick there, while the so-called 'Black sallets' (or perhaps more properly, Große Schallern) were often thinner ... and the fact that thickness usually varied throughout the piece.

Add in other elements such as how different profiles will be better at deflecting blows, sharply-ridged crest lines might have been able to damage sword edges, and that sallets might have had to face different primary weapons at different times and places, and you've got a lot of variables to play with.

As for modern factors, we have the level of polishing extant examples have received, as well as the accuracy of measuring devices over time.

If you do a quick search, you should find a thread Mike Edelson started here many years ago that asked a similar question; from memory, one of the main takeaways was that often helmets were thinner than we might expect.

However, as for the 'thick enough to withstand any blow' comment, well ... that sounds like modern purple prose to me. By whom? With what weapon? In what context?

As for modern reproductions, I have some that are overbuilt, but their poor design means that I wouldn't want to trust them on a battlefield, while others are lighter overall, but I'd trust more, due a combination of their profile being better for deflecting blows, the construction being more reliable overall, the liner band and chinstrap being better designed, the padding being well designed and thick ... and many other factors.

Hope this is of some vague help!

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional



Location: upstate NY
Joined: 10 Nov 2005

Posts: 525

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2015 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The effects of rust removal in the last two hundred years is a huge factor. I have handled quite a few 'ghosts', as I call them, pieces so thin (often holed) that they are no thicker than a playing card over most of their surface. Helms and helmets are rarely that thin, though... overall. If one knows what to look for, it is sometimes possible to get an idea of the extent of the loss. On 'Maximilian' style pieces, for instance, the incised lines that emphasize the flutes are very deep on pieces in relatively intact condition. If they are fading out in spots, you know that the piece has lost a lot of material. Some schallern were definitely thicker than others, though. A 62 Vienna ('Sigmund gothic') has a schaller that weighs over seven pounds.
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