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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 10 Sep, 2014 9:27 pm    Post subject: Antique High Medieval Kite Shield         Reply with quote

Fischer Auctions has listed on their "Harnische & Rüstungsteile" page one of the rarest of all things from the High Middle Ages: a surviving, intact kite shield.

I have to say that my mind is literally blown if the shield is the real thing. Every thing I have been lead to believe suggests that there are no surviving antique kite shields. My understanding was that the earliest surviving shield is the shield of Arnold von Brienz, though to be a kite shield that was reduced to heater shield size, but that's it. If this really is an antique medieval kite shield, it's nothing short of stunning.

Here's the description from the auction:

Kampfschild, europäisch, 11.-14. Jh.

Kite-shaped fighting-shield with slightly rounded top-line and indoor preservation. The largely decayed wood-structure appears chemically stabilized and preserved. The concave outside of the shield was covered with linen cloth attached with animal glue and fixed at the rim with nails. The outer surface of the shield was painted in at least two layers. The one in good state of preservation shows blue "Fleur de Lys" motifs inscribed in light brown lozenges with a formerly white background. A second layer consisted of a blue surface including accents in red. The back of the shield is covered with leather showing a few repairs. The iron fittings for fixing or gripping the shield were probably added/ replaced during the 19th century. W 4400 g.

Extremely rare and important shield. The "kite-/almond" shaped "Norman" shield-type appeared in the first half of the 11th century and remains the predominant shield-form throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. As probably was the case with the "Seedorf shield" exhibited in the "Forum Schweizer Geschichte" in Schwyz, the top-line of the shield may have been slightly straightened during its period of use. In North-Italian paintings from the 14th century kite-shaped shields still occur, so that a heraldically based tentative dating of the present shield to the 13th/14th century may not be too far off the mark.


Although I would love to discover that this was from the 12th century, I agree with the assessment that it's more likely to be from the 13th to 14th century, based upon the balance of probability of a shield surviving for so many centuries. Regardless, it's a stunning find.









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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 10 Sep, 2014 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My main worry about this artifact is that I know "kite shields" were being made as late as the 18th century in Italy, for use in Venetian "jousts" that involved rowing two boats at each other along the canals, if my memory serves me correctly. Obviously, there's a much higher chance of a shield surviving from this time than from the High Middle Ages. That being said, the fact that it has linen over its surface is cause for hope, since a layer of linen is well attested on medieval shields, but is less likely to be present on more modern ones, for the simple reason that it's unnecessary for sporting purposes.
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What strikes me as 'off' is the... buckles? rings? which presumably are for straps. They're very low on the shield. This might not be an issue if they were for hanging it on a wall, but if not, again, that's very low for a kite shield of that length. These are normally strapped nearer to the top of the shield, to allow the lower half to cover the knight's leg while on horseback or in combat. If they were that low, the shield would stick up rather comically over their shoulder.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
What strikes me as 'off' is the... buckles? rings? which presumably are for straps. They're very low on the shield. This might not be an issue if they were for hanging it on a wall, but if not, again, that's very low for a kite shield of that length. These are normally strapped nearer to the top of the shield, to allow the lower half to cover the knight's leg while on horseback or in combat. If they were that low, the shield would stick up rather comically over their shoulder.


According to the auction information they were added; likely for precisely that purpose -> hanging on a wall.
“The back of the shield is covered with leather showing a few repairs. The iron fittings for fixing or gripping the shield were probably added/ replaced during the 19th century“
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Leo Todeschini




PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters Wrote
Quote:
That being said, the fact that it has linen over its surface is cause for hope, since a layer of linen is well attested on medieval shields, but is less likely to be present on more modern ones, for the simple reason that it's unnecessary for sporting purposes.


I would disagree. The linen (or another covering) is structurally essential to the shield and even if it were not to be struck and was just decorative, it will still hold together much better with it and it is not hard to fit.

As others have said, if this is really is the real thing it has to be the only one and that makes it priceless and academically/historically very important.

Tod

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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah. I did a ton of research for a project a while ago and came to the conclusion that wooden shields aren't really wooden exactly, they're more like laminated composites.

I found a pic of another kite that's thought to be original and I've got a pic of this same shield in a collection. Personally I think it's plausible that it's original. The enarmes are unusual but it appears to have provisions for enarmes higher up and in positions that match what I've seen in period artwork.



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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike,

That's a really great find. Where is it located? I really like the fact that it has a rendition of the imperial eagle. My guess is that it is one of the rarer examples of a kite shield from the 14th century. It looks a little short for a classic 11th or 12th century kite shield, and the fact that it does not have a boss further corroborates this idea. I have seen examples of shorter kite shaped shields like this one from 14th century art, so assuming that it is antique, a 14th c dating seems probable.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:


I would disagree. The linen (or another covering) is structurally essential to the shield and even if it were not to be struck and was just decorative, it will still hold together much better with it and it is not hard to fit.

As others have said, if this is really is the real thing it has to be the only one and that makes it priceless and academically/historically very important.

Tod


Thinking about it, it's not implausible that people in the 18th century would have known about covering a shield face with fabric of some sort, so they may well have done it. What's less certain to me is that they would have used linen. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I had the impression that post-medieval shields often used other materials to cover the face.
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Ralph Grinly




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would think it'd be easy enough ( but not cheap) to accurately date these shields..get them carbon dated at a reputable center. Get the ?paint" analysed by an art expert - looking for traces of pigments not used in the supposed period item was made. Same as they do for 'Old Master" works of art.
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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 12:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's where it currently is,

http://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness-Percy...jects.html

The size wouldn't put me off from an earlier date and similarly strapped kites can be seen in the Bayeuax Tapestry.

http://www.bayeuxtapestry.org.uk/bayeux24.htm

It sure would be cool if it was that old!
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Eric S




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.fischerauktionen.ch/auktion/objekt...4&l=en


Quote:
Battle shield, European, 11th-14th Century.

Z: 2-3
L 125 cm W 40 cm
almond-shaped battle shield with curved topline, interior maintenance. The extremely heavily weathered and worm-eaten (needle?) Wood chemically strengthened and preserved. About the one-piece slightly curved wooden body with a linen cloth was stretched on the outside, held in place by glue and folded over the plate edge, where it is attached with nails. The face side of the shield has at least two color versions, with the exposed turned painted in beige-colored diamonds blue lilies / Fleur-de-Lys motifs shows before formerly white background.

The spaces between the diamonds give a sequence of white, jagged beams. A second version was apparently in a flat dark blue paint with red accents. The back of the shield is on a sort of varnish (?) Covered with leather, a few repairs and splices. The iron fittings for the shield bondage, or suspension of the shield were probably added in the 19th century.. G 4400 g. Kite-shaped shield with slightly rounded fighting-top-line and indoor preservation. The Largely decayed wood-structure Appears Chemically stabilized and preserved.

The concave outside of the shield which covered with linen cloth attached with animal glue and fixed at the rim with nails. The outer surface of the shield which painted in at least two layers. The one in good state of preservation shows blue "Fleur de Lys" motifs inscribed in light brown lozenges with a formerly white background. A second layer consisted of a blue surface Including accents in red. The back of the shield is covered with leather showing a few repairs. The iron fittings for fixing or gripping the shield werewolf probably Send added / Replaced falling on the 19th century. W 4400 g. CHF 20'000 / 25'000 EUR 16'667 / 20'833 USD 22'222 / 27'778 Sold for CHF 22'000 | EUR 18'333 | USD 24'444 Literature: Rahn, JR: The sign of Seedorf. In: Indicators for Swiss Alterthumskunde 4, H. 2, 1880-1883, p 407-408, Plate XXXI.. - Boeheim, W .: Expertise (1890), 172-177. - Terenzi, M .: Mostra di Armi Antiche (Poppi, 1967), No. 76..

Provenance: . German private collection Extremely rare and historically significant weapon-protection weapon. The type of the "almond-shaped", or "Norman" shield comes in the first half of the 11th century., And remains in the 11th and 12th centuries. Sign the predominant form. As exhibited in the Museum Forum of Swiss History Schwyz "Shield of Seedorf" could have experienced a slight straightening during the use phase, the originally more rounded topline. In the northern Italian painting of the late Middle Ages are still in the 14th century. Almond-shaped shields in front, so that one based on the heraldic decoration of the shield cautious dating of the present shield to the 13th / 14th Century should not be too daring.. A comparison plot is located in the Museo Bardini, Florence (Inv. Nr. 477, s. Terenzi 1967). Extremely rare and Important shield.

The "kite / almond" shaped "Norman" shield-type Appeared in the first half of the 11th century and remains the predominant shield-shaped Throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. As probably Send what the case with the "Seedorf shield" Exhibited in the "Forum of Swiss History" in Schwyz, the top-line of the shield june have been slightly straightened falling on its period of use. In North-Italian paintings from the 14th century kite-shaped shields Occur silent, so did a heraldically based tentative dating of the present shield to the 13th / 14th century june not be too far off the mark.







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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The German "nadel" or needle wood indicates some sort of conifer -- think pine needles. AMS carbon dating runs about $500 USD, but is now useless due to this unfortunate quote:
Quote:
The Largely decayed wood-structure Appears Chemically stabilized and preserved.

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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not necessarily. It all depends upon how deeply into the wood a researcher was willing and able to go to find a fragment of untreated wood to test. Its doubtful that whatever was used on the shield to stabilize it permeated throughout every fiber of the shield. To dig deep enough to find an untreated or pristine fragment might well involve some destructive "probing," and that might likely be what would rule out any attempts.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you were willing to sacrifice a small chip of wood from a spot where the wood is already exposed and damaged, you could probably get a good sample. In my view, it's worth doing to know for sure. Hopefully, a less invasive technique can be developed so that in future, harming the artifact will be unnecessary.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even then, it would only give you a date for the wood, and not for the shield. It might be possible to cut up some old wood from a 16th c, timber framed barn and manufacture a shield in the 19th c., for example.
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Robert MacPherson




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My understanding is that experts who had seen the collection when it was intact believed that the majority of Herr Klingbeil's objects were not what they appeared to be. In general, his "rarest" treasures were the ones most likely to be stinkers. The authenticity of this object should be considered with the greatest caution.

Fischer's inability or reluctance to trace the this shield's provenance any better than " German private collection " does not redound to their credit.




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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Even then, it would only give you a date for the wood, and not for the shield.


Agreed. But, testing a spectrum of the shield - wood, varnish, paints and pigments, etc. - would serve to significantly increase confidence in the dating. Were the entire object to be comprehensively tested, then I'd feel much better about accepting the proposed date of manufacture. It might also be probative to attempt to identify the arms and devices on the shield, and if they can be identified, to match them up with the proposed date of manufacture to see if they correlate.

With all of this, a higher degree of certainty and confidence could be achieved. I would love to see something like this done.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's disappointing to hear, but not surprising. It sounds like this shield should be considered a fake until proven real.
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Robert MacPherson




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2014 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig,

That's not such a bad approach for all arms and armor, but for objects from the Klingbeil collection, it is the only way to go.

OK. I realize that "prove" is really too strong a word, and that one can seldom actually prove that a thing is authentic. What I am really recommending here is a very strong dose of skepticism.

Mac

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Daniel FitzEdward




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Dec, 2014 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must say I'm -highly- dubious based on a number of issues- but the main one that plays on my head is the heraldry. It doesn't really match anything we have of the proposed earlier dateline. There are some diapered patterns that have a similar appearance- but this looks far more like an attempt to emulate a style.
The main thing is the manner in which the Fleur-de-Lys are painted. They aren't restricted to either the gold or the white segments- but gently migrate as the shield progresses- suggesting some form of block printing, rather than the intricate and careful painting style we see on the Von Brienze shield. It's not compelling on its own- but with everything else- it leads me to assume this is a later period 'replica'.

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