Historical Maille - Middle Ages
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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:48 am
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Konstantin the Red wrote:


To get some idea about an online picture of mail, a closeup of a link should show you whether you can trust its authenticity or not: the link is not over-flattened, its contours tend to be rounded -- or worn looking -- and, well, not looking Industrial Age, but softer.


Usually true but not always, some mail armor was made in the 1800s and while it is riveted the look is more like what a modern reproduction would look like due to the materials and methods used to construct it, here is one such example.


Russian misiurka, detail view, 1830s, Nicholas I era parade helmet, from the Caucasian mountains life guards half squadron convoy escort, traditional Circassian form, with metal skull surmounted by small gilt silver finial and mounted with parcel gilt silver panels profusely chased and nielloed, with inscription in Arabic "Allah Akbar" in frontal cartouche. 84 zolotniks hallmarks on silver panels, maker's initials and Tula town marks on edge of lower band. Riveted mail camail.

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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:21 am
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Spartan1388 wrote:


My main suspicions were pieces in blank backgrounds,

Auction houses and museums often use a blankback round for their photographs, nothing suspicious about it.

European (Denmark) riveted mail haubek, from Vimose, the oldest completely preserved mail from Northern Europe, over 20,000 small iron links that interlock much like a knitted sweater, approximately 10 kg, the shape is reminiscent of Roman mail from the 3th century AD, which was mainly used by the Germanic mercenaries (auxiliarerne), an integral part of the Roman army. In Scandinavia it was probably only leaders who wore the expensive and prestigious mail armor. National Museum of Denmark.




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pieces that are being handles with bare hands (for God's sake!)



When there is a several hundred year old patina no damage will happen by simply handling mail.



Quote:
and pieces that look very "clean", like having a steel grey satin finish, which I found strange for such old museum pieces because maille was supposed to be dull dark grey or even black/blue.


Various methods can be used for removing rust, this can leave the underlying metal looking anywere from shiny to dull, it is not an indication of anything suspicious.

This Indian armor was cleaned by using electrolysis to remove rust.

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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:53 pm
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Thanks Worldantiques!

Very interesting information!


I did not studied the links, because the forum threads have many pages of replies on many pages ans I have no time to read. As a matter of fact, I have many books waiting for me to read, but I have no time.
Asking for the opinion of the experts on this forum is much more convenient that teaching yourself to become an expert.
Not that i have verification that these link contain some of the best information on the Internet, I will put studying them n highest priority.


I did not know that museum pieces are cleaned. I had actually asked a curator while on field trip with school, as to why some pieces were rusty and no one took some sandpaper to clean them. He said that they remove only the dirt and the rust has to stay on, otherwise the piece loses historical value.
WWII artifacts are also left rusty and restoration works destroy their historical value and authenticity, so I had no doubt that maille armour would be left rusty.


As far as I know, patina is the name of oxidation of metals like copper, that under normal situations, instead of "eating" the metal, forms a protective layer. Steels and iron just rust.

This piece for example:

European (Eastern) riveted mail coif, Eesti Ajaloomuuseumi Estonia.

It is dusty and I guess rusty (unless rings are copper alloy).
Maybe the skull plate is a copper alloy and not steel as I though, and this is why it is handled by the plate.


As for the blank backgrounds, if you have found them from auction houses and museums, then you know were these pictures are from. For me, they can be from everywhere. This is why I asked for verification.
A museums background and display case are easy to copy, yes, but most of the time a display case, an information sign and a background, will make uneducated people like me think: "OK, this is original".

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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:07 pm
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Spartan1388 wrote:
Thanks Worldantiques!
Asking for the opinion of the experts on this forum is much more convenient that teaching yourself to become an expert.

I do not think there are any "experts" on the subject of antique mail armor on this or any forum, there are people with varying degrees of knowledge, some are quite advanced. Some might consider a certain person to be an "expert" but if you ask them most probably they will deny being an "expert'.


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I did not know that museum pieces are cleaned. I had actually asked a curator while on field trip with school, as to why some pieces were rusty and no one took some sandpaper to clean them. He said that they remove only the dirt and the rust has to stay on, otherwise the piece loses historical value.
WWII artifacts are also left rusty and restoration works destroy their historical value and authenticity, so I had no doubt that maille armour would be left rusty.

Museum pieces are cleaned all of the time, have you ever seen items recovered from a ship wreck, they are often encrusted and or rusted to the point that you can not even see what the item is until it is cleaned, any item with red rust must be treated in some manner to stop the rust from eating into the object, red rust is live and unless it is stopped the item eventually will be eaten away. Treating the rust does not always leave the item looking like it was cleaned, it depends on the method used. Museum personal are not always very knowledgeable on the items they are in charge of, their advise can not simply be trusted just because they are a museum employee.



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As far as I know, patina is the name of oxidation of metals like copper, that under normal situations, instead of "eating" the metal, forms a protective layer. Steels and iron just rust. It is dusty and I guess rusty (unless rings are copper alloy).
Maybe the skull plate is a copper alloy and not steel as I though, and this is why it is handled by the plate. This piece for example:


Iron and steel items eventually obtain a patina which is simply a stable type of corrosion, it may be mistaken for rust but it is not, rust is a red color and it is quite destructive, the coif you mention is not rusted, it has a patina, the cap is almost certainly iron. Patina may happen naturally or it may be chemically induced through several different methods.

Here is an article which shows this process being done as a way of preservation, if a museum allows an object to rust away then they do not know what they are doing.
http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/conservation/reports/iron_bells.pdf




European (Eastern) riveted mail coif, Eesti Ajaloomuuseumi Estonia.



Quote:
As for the blank backgrounds, if you have found them from auction houses and museums, then you know were these pictures are from. For me, they can be from everywhere. This is why I asked for verification.
A museums background and display case are easy to copy, yes, but most of the time a display case, an information sign and a background, will make uneducated people like me think: "OK, this is original".


Many museums have image galleries with pictures of items taken with a blank backround, if you read the information on the pinterest site you will see that the museum is usually listed, auction house images just have a description, you can not always believe the descriptions offered by either institution. Here is an example of the Met Museums image gallery, which contains many mail armor images, some in high resolution.

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?ft=mail&ao=on&noqs=true

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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:25 pm
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Some might consider a certain person to be an "expert" but if you ask them most probably they will deny being an "expert'.


It's a question of psychology: thoughtful people studying something in depth find an acute awareness of how much they do not know, as Socrates might have put it.

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Iron and steel items eventually obtain a patina which is simply a stable type of corrosion, it may be mistaken for rust but it is not, rust is a red color and it is quite destructive, the coif you mention is not rusted, it has a patina, the cap is almost certainly iron.


Spartan, "patina" is a general, not always technical term anyway, and it may be used of any sort of item or even figuratively, say, of a person or an abstract concept. Patinas vary. On iron and steel, much of it is one or another black iron oxide, apparently primarily Fe3O4, maybe some FeO. Various textures of patina are produced by the ambient patinating conditions. Antique steel helms placed in churches as memorials of some knight or other nobleman develop a characteristic lightly pitted patina from being kept dry, occasionally oiled over with some sort of oil, but often somewhat rusted from just plain air and its water vapor over time. A quite distinctive patina on steel, mixing black iron oxide, the residuum of the oil (olive oil or clove oil, perhaps; seldom a petroleum product) and light pitting that may have been cleaned a time or two over the centuries.

Church patina is very different from the patina on an excavated find, where you have earthen chemistries at work. Study of patination helps distinguish a truly old piece from a modern fake which simulates it -- but only almost exactly.

Museum pieces and old pieces in private collections have been variously treated over the centuries to "fix them up." All sorts of things might have happened, and at least half these things would sacrifice any patina of age, particularly trying to make sure rust makes no further deterioration of the piece, which can sometimes be a real challenge to a preservationist. A piece of plate armor may once have been blued, and the blueing has been lost to too-thorough scouring and polishing, back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when nobody knew any better. Not all the white-harness we see in museums necessarily started out that way.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:47 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:


Spartan, "patina" is a general, not always technical term anyway, and it may be used of any sort of item or even figuratively, say, of a person or an abstract concept. Patinas vary. On iron and steel, much of it is one or another black iron oxide, apparently primarily Fe3O4, maybe some FeO. Various textures of patina are produced by the ambient patinating conditions. Antique steel helms placed in churches as memorials of some knight or other nobleman develop a characteristic lightly pitted patina from being kept dry, occasionally oiled over with some sort of oil, but often somewhat rusted from just plain air and its water vapor over time. A quite distinctive patina on steel, mixing black iron oxide, the residuum of the oil (olive oil or clove oil, perhaps; seldom a petroleum product) and light pitting that may have been cleaned a time or two over the centuries.

Church patina is very different from the patina on an excavated find, where you have earthen chemistries at work. Study of patination helps distinguish a truly old piece from a modern fake which simulates it -- but only almost exactly.

Museum pieces and old pieces in private collections have been variously treated over the centuries to "fix them up." All sorts of things might have happened, and at least half these things would sacrifice any patina of age, particularly trying to make sure rust makes no further deterioration of the piece, which can sometimes be a real challenge to a preservationist. A piece of plate armor may once have been blued, and the blueing has been lost to too-thorough scouring and polishing, back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when nobody knew any better. Not all the white-harness we see in museums necessarily started out that way.


Here is an example of natural steel patination, the nakago (tang) of a Japanese sword.


Russet (chemically rusted) surface used extensively on Japanese armor.

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Posted on Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:09 pm
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This is very interesting.
It seems that most people in my country will call the steel patina as rust, which is normal for lay persons because they do not know the difference, while patina is considered to be what I mentioned and occurs in "royal metals" like silver, copper, etc.
School pretty much said the same thing.

I do know about the rust "seed" not from school, I guess it was either Mythbusters or Wikipedia or a combination of both.


Again, I have to "erase" all the school knowledge on the subject and replace it with new knowledge.

School here sucks. The knowledge given in school is absolute and not to be questioned, and this process causes the mind to "close", making what Socrates said, difficult or even "painful".

Just to give you an idea, in class 8 I think, the Geography mentioned Alexander the Great, and told that he made his empire 3000 years before Jesus. Not 300, but 3000, which is like 1500 years before the semi-mythical Trojan war.

The same think was on a test, and I have to select the "right" answer, that Alexander made his Empire at 3000 BCE. Why? BECAUSE THE DAMN BOOK SAID SO!!!
(What I did was to erase the last "0" from 3000 in the question.)

So if you want to survive through school, because you have to give exams at the end of each year to advance the class, because school is mandatory and because all schools have to teach the "Common Core", private or not, you learn to accept what the school says and search no further for the sake of your mental health. Not to mention that you will have most of your classmates laughing at you for questioning the books.

I did not, so I wrote s*** in the last exams and passed in no University/College. But you know what? If their classes were the same s****, which seems to be the case, I am actually proud!

It seems that even classes I liked, like Chemistry were full of s****.


So I am going to recycle these books, because burning them would be further waste of perfectly good paper, and start from the beginning.

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Posted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:43 pm
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lorenzo wrote:
There are forge welded links, though they're uncommon. My 14th. century byrnie is half welded links. Reportedly the drape on the Coppergate helm has welded rings as well.

The easiest way to identify welded links on historical pieces is to find rings where the weld has de-laminated over time. All the ones I've seen were made from short flattened coils.


How about posting some images of your 14th. century byrnie showing the links in detail as there is some disagreement as to whether European mail was ever welded at all, as can be seen in this thread from another forum.
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=171388

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Posted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:02 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:
Some European style pieces were not merely copied, in the sixteenth century Japan tried its hand at making them from the ground up: the "pigeon-breasted corselet" with a touch of decoration to the Japanese taste -- it's a peascod breastplate.

Riveted E4-1 mail pieces got a name too -- namban-gusari, or "southern barbarian chain." They liked the stuff as an exotic entertaining import, and that it meshed Uber well with Japanese combat techniques.


The butted Japanese version of E4-1 mail was called "namban-gusari", riveted Japanese E4-1 mail was called karakuri-namban according to the English translation of Sakakibara Kozan's 1800s book, "The Manufacture of Armour and Helmets in Sixteenth Century Japan". In the last few years several examples of karakuri-namban kusari have been made public.

Here is a link to images of various types of Japanese mail (kusari) including all of the know examples of riveted Japanese mail.
http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/japanese-mail-armor-kusari/

Karakuri-namban kusari (riveted Japanese mail), from the Stibbert Museum, Florence Italy.


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Posted on Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:22 am
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Worldantiques wrote:

How about posting some images of your 14th. century byrnie showing the links in detail as there is some disagreement as to whether European mail was ever welded at all, as can be seen in this thread from another forum.
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=171388


I have some low quality pictures that were taken before I started conservation work which I'm willing to share privately if you contact me via e-mail. I'm not ready to publish the results of my research on this piece yet and it could be quite some time until it's finished to my satisfaction.

As for the whole "punched vs. welded" debate, it's the same people discussing it as 10 years ago. They're using the same arguments and the same sources as the last time that we re-hashed it. I doubt that any of them will be any more convinced by what I've found since than they were by the forge welding experiments that we did back then.

My view is that since forge welding was the standard technique for other chain links throughout medieval europe it's ridiculous to assert that forge welding rings was unknown for use in mail. It would be just as ridiculous to assert that punched rings were never used over the vast amount of years and cultures in question. I wouldn't even be surprised to learn that some rings were cast. There's no evidence that I know of for a homogenous system of mail manufacture until at least the mid 1300's when the guild system was prevalent and riveted rings only became the norm.


www.mailletec.com

Y'know, that might just be crazy enough to work!

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Posted on Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:00 am
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lorenzo wrote:
Worldantiques wrote:

How about posting some images of your 14th. century byrnie showing the links in detail as there is some disagreement as to whether European mail was ever welded at all, as can be seen in this thread from another forum.
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=171388


I have some low quality pictures that were taken before I started conservation work which I'm willing to share privately if you contact me via e-mail. I'm not ready to publish the results of my research on this piece yet and it could be quite some time until it's finished to my satisfaction.



Taking some good pictures and sharing them so that people can learn from them only takes a minute, it has nothing to do with publishing research. You made a statement that you have a European mail armor made with welded links, it should not be that difficult to prove, its something I do all the time.

Here is an example. People have wondered why Indian armor makers went to the extreme trouble of making theta link mail, well I took these pictures to show why. The top image is from the arm of an alternating solid and riveted mail Indian hauberk, the bottom image is from the arm of an alternating theta link and riveted link Indian hauberk, you can see the difference in penetration from an arrow head, the addition of theta link mail makes it almost impossible for the arrow to do any damage as opposed to the mail using plain solid links. It is obvious why someone who could afford to do so would have owned theta link mail if they were worried about arrows.





Here is another example, in this close up image of alternation solid and riveted link Indian mail you can see delamination happening in some of the solid links on the far left side, this shows that the links have been forged and not punched.




Quote:
As for the whole "punched vs. welded" debate, it's the same people discussing it as 10 years ago. They're using the same arguments and the same sources as the last time that we re-hashed it. I doubt that any of them will be any more convinced by what I've found since than they were by the forge welding experiments that we did back then.

As long as you do not produce any evidence I guess we will never know.

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Posted on Sun Jun 15, 2014 5:48 am
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Oh come on, you're just being melodramatic now, I'm perfectly willing to show you what evidence I have.

The pictures have already been shared with a number of interested parties who've asked, including the Royal Armouries. It's not like I'm trying to keep it a big secret but I've put a lot of time and money into this project so far and I'm determined not to do a half ass job of it.


www.mailletec.com

Y'know, that might just be crazy enough to work!

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Posted on Sun Jun 15, 2014 5:03 pm
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What lorenzo says is perfectly understandable.

I want to see what he found out, but until the research is ready to be published, I can wait.


In the meantime, we can discuss about medieval armour and how to copy it.

Riveting is not something that anyone can do, not because we do not have the tools, but because we do not have shops in the Market District of a Medieval or Renaissance city, so we cannot make noise and annoy our neighbors and our families.

I am going to modify a pair of pliers to use as ring flatteners, but it seems that flattening rings without a hammer, would be greatly labor intensive.

From what I learned in these forums, spot welding is the best method to make armour that will be functional, without getting many blisters and public nuisance tickets.

If historically accurate wire and AR is used, then most people won't know the difference unless they are get too close, and even then most people won't know enough to to tell the difference form the historic pieces, only those who searched a bit can.
Reenactors should have their armour covered in cloth anyway. That was done to conceal the armour and confuse the enemy and as well as to announce your identity to other knights and soldiers. Same with your Coat of Arms painted on your shield.

When you make safety gear today, historical accuracy of ring closures is not the point, but historical accuracy of AR is.
(Why butchers use gloves or thin and tiny rings? A blow by a meat cleaver to their hand is going to destroy their hand even is the maille holds.)

Here are some maille patches of different IDs and wire thickness that I made. Not not be afraid, everything is converted to Imperial units.:

Copper is just for show. It was the first serious patch that I ever made, and also an attempt of jewelry. It was going to be an earring. Coif LoL

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Posted on Mon Jun 16, 2014 1:07 am
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Spartan1388 wrote:
(Why butchers use gloves or thin and tiny rings? A blow by a meat cleaver to their hand is going to destroy their hand even is the maille holds.)


My understanding is that the small, tightly packed rings provide quite good protection against incidental slicing and stabbing. And anything that would provide substantial protection against a full-force swing with a meat cleaver would probably be too bulky and/or stiff for the wearer to properly manipulate the meat.

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Posted on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:53 pm
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Tedronai wrote:
Spartan1388 wrote:
(Why butchers use gloves or thin and tiny rings? A blow by a meat cleaver to their hand is going to destroy their hand even is the maille holds.)


My understanding is that the small, tightly packed rings provide quite good protection against incidental slicing and stabbing. And anything that would provide substantial protection against a full-force swing with a meat cleaver would probably be too bulky and/or stiff for the wearer to properly manipulate the meat.


Yes, the gloves they use are very flexible, but this comes with a price. The rings are so small that the whole glove seems to be made of fisherman's net lady stockings.
Slices will be stopped, but stabs will punch through if there is enough force behind the blade and some times it takes force to cut meat. Even a small cut can be nasty and give you an infection from the raw meat.

As for the meat cleaver, many will raise it to he level of their chest or even their ear before they deliver striking the blow, while their hand holds the piece very close to the were the blow will end.

They could have made a glove that offers great protection for the posterior side of the hand (like 5/16 14G) which is more likely to be stabbed or hit by a cleaver, while the anterior side of the hand is protected with small flexible rings against slices.

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