English 17th Century Knight’s Funeral Helmet
Original Item: Obtained from an English collector and longtime IMA customer. This could eve dated from the last half of the 16th century, the era of Queen Elizabeth the First. This an extremely old 14th century style Knightly Close Helmet with hinged visors. It is well made but is covered with hundreds of years of pitting, however, it is very solid. The overall weight however, despite it being it is very substantial, indicates that this might not be of battle quality. Therefore, we believe this to be what was known as a "Funeral Helmet". Had this been a true 14th century close helmet we would be asking over $20,000!
Almost certainly especially made for a deceased Baronette (addressed as a "Sir"). A Baronette is the lowest level of the English Nobility. Interestingly Winston Churchill would only accept a Knighthood after WW2 when he could easily have asked for a Dukedom, the highest level short of Royalty. Funeral Helmets were displayed atop the Knight's stone sarcophagus traditionally housed inside old English Churches. In Medieval times an actual full-bodied likeness in marble of the local "Lord" was exhibited on top of the coffin but, being so costly to make, this tradition died out by the 16th century and was replaced by Funeral Helmets. These helmets were sometimes surmounted by a spike onto which the family crest was mounted, however, since the full coat of arms with crest was often exhibited on an accompanying shield not all funeral helmets were fitted with spikes. This particular funeral helmet has no spike.
It is exceptionally well made with nice roped edges, double visors and securing hooks. The only apparent loss is the small stud attachment for raising the top visor to get a better field of sight. Otherwise the close helmet is all complete and looks every bit of its probable 350 years plus of age.
We have considered the possibility that this might be a Victorian Copy which would still mean it has 120-150 years of age but in our opinion the quality of the workmanship, the detail to accuracy and the overall condition have convinced us, and the English Collector from whom we obtained it, that this truly is a late 16th or 17th century funeral helmet that was put away in some English Country Church for probably 300 years.
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