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I am pleased to offer a stunningly good, late 19th-century, Electrotype copy, of a 16th-century neo-classical helmet - a North Italian Burgonet in the 'heroic Armour' style, circa 1560.


During the 16th century, kings and emperors of European countries such as Germany, Italy and France became interested in rediscovering the ages of Greek/Roman Classical antiquity. They wished to reflect this interest in their Parade Armour decoration and a number of parade helmets were manufactured by great armourers such as the Negroli of Milan, to cater to this wish. Helmets that reflected a generic 'Romanesque' style, but also crossed over into the currently fashionable "Burgonet" style of the 16th century. 


Master armour Desiderious Helmschmid of Augsburg, Germany ,made a similar burgonet helmet known as the Nemean Lion parade helmet in 1541 for Holy Roman Emperor - Charles V and Lorenz Kolman produced similar armour for the Holy Roman Emperor and archdukes of Austria and Tyrol.  


Later, during the late 19th century, several top artisans were given access to these museum collections to copy the original helmets using the new electrotype chemical process of metal fabrication


Here, we have such a helmet, the original of which (possibly now lost to history?) originally would have resided in one of the great museums of the late 19th century, (a number of these helmets are in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, USA). I believe this helmet is of gilded, copper fabrication(?)


This helmet is highly decorated with classical designs. The fantastic classical winged-head badge surmounting the peak of this helmet to my mind is almost certainly the head of the Greek God -Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, complete with his entwined snakes and Caduceus. On the left side of the helmet basin, we see perhaps a scene depicting the taking of the Sabine women by the ancient warrior founders of Rome, or perhaps a raid by a barbarian army of ancient warriors(?) The right side of the helmet shows a rustic love scene of the gods, with Hermes in attendance yet again in the background and Cupid striking the woman with his love arrow. The comb of the helmet depicts perhaps the ugly helmeted head of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates in profile, griffin-topped helmets, a faced crescent moon, sheaves of arrows, shields, musical lyres and a panoply of arms.


The neck-guard of this helmet beautifully curls upwards and is decorated with a curtain of Roman armour pheturges-straps, the pointed peak of the helm is decorated with a series of scrolls. 


Altogether, a superb piece of highly decorated 'heroic parade armour' that would grace any serious collector's display. These pieces only very rarely come to market. Get it whilst you can!


Price:  £1,850 plus posting costs.


Please note: this helmet is darker in appearance when not under artificial light.


Note on the Electrotype process:


Electrotyping (galvanoplasty) is a chemical method for forming metal parts that exactly reproduce a model. The method was invented by Moritz von Jacobi in Russia in 1838 and was immediately adopted for applications in printing and several other fields. As described in an 1890 treatise, electrotyping produces "an exact facsimile of any object having an irregular surface, whether it be an engraved steel- or copper-plate, a wood-cut, or a form of set-up type, to be used for printing; or a medal, medallion, statue, bust, or even a natural object, for art purposes. 


Electrotyping has been used for the production of metal sculptures, where it is an alternative to the casting of molten metal. These sculptures are sometimes called "galvanoplastic bronzes", although the actual metal is usually copper. It was possible to apply essentially any patina to these sculptures; gilding was also readily accomplished in the same facilities as electrotyping by using electroplating. Electrotyping has been used to reproduce valuable objects such asancient coins, and in some cases electrotype copies have proven more durable than fragile originals.

Electrotype copy of a North Italian Burgonet helmet c.1560

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