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22 black and white photos of a helmet being worked from a simple plate of steel into a visored and polished and engraved and gilt form

Series of steps in the construction of a close helm in the Greenwich style of about 1580 by Daniel Tachaux. Photo by Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1915, as reprinted in Robert Douglas Smith ed., Make All Sure: The Conservation and Restoration of Arms and Armour (Basiliscoe Press: Leeds, 2006) p. 108 publisher’s website

I encourage you to click on the photo above and see it at full size. This is not a source for how real 16th century armour was made (and an expert tells me that its not a very good replica), but how Daniel Tachaux made a replica during the First World War.

Students of the armour of the 15th century tell each other about the wicked deeds of Bashford Dean, curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and armour collector who kept an armourer on staff. Details and sources can get a bit sketchy. Fortunately, the Met quietly shares photos of the kind of work which D. Tachaux was ordered to perform on surviving armour from archaeological sites and neglected collections:

Two black-and-white photos of the cuff of a steel gauntlet. The first is heavily corroded and has jagged pieces missing from the pointed cuff and from around the thumb opening; the second is polished and has the missing pieces seamlessly filled in.

Example of ‘restoration’ of a gauntlet from Chalcis (Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 29.158.257) in the private collection of Bashford Dean by Leonard Heinrich. First photo, source unknown; second photo by Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1935. From Robert Douglas Smith ed., Make All Sure: The Conservation and Restoration of Arms and Armour (Basiliscoe Press: Leeds, 2006) p. 110

As you can see, Dean’s idea of restoration was more like turning a heap of scrap back into a 1957 Chevy than the kind of careful limiting-of-damage which curators perform today! Fortunately, I have never heard that he restored any ancient armour.