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Steel with etched decorative bands and roundels
Overall: 30 x 28.3 cm (11 13/16 x 11 1/8 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1816.c
Decoration was critical to fine armor, and etching was the most commonly used technique. Here, the bands along the borders are etched. On the breastplate, pauldrons (shoulder guards), and tassets (hip and upper leg guards), etched medallions enclose profile busts reminiscent of ancient Roman portraits. The lance rest on the breastplate indicates that this half-suit was once part of a complete field armor for man and horse. The etching technique used for armor was developed in the late 1400s. The metal surface was first coated with an acid-resistant substance, such as wax or varnish. An etching needle was then used to scratch a design into the surface. The exposed areas were then treated with an acid that would "bite" or etch the lines into the metal. When the coating was removed, the etched design was blackened for contrast.
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