Reproduction of a closed German helmet of the late XVth - Part I

The model chosen has all the appeal of German fabrication at the end of the 15th century. It is quite distinct from its Italian equivalents. The system of joints on the sides is no longer horizontal, but vertical. The back of the skull (crown of the helmet) is separate and wide, and the visor comes with multiple openings with snap-locks for fixing. The absence of an axial ridge is another important characteristic that distinguishes it from the Lombard style.
Executing this helmet type using heat permits an 'authentic' approach to medieval work, although it is better to modestly assume that we are working with metal of a different nature. Likewise it would be very adventurous to claim that the method presented here is "historical", even though examination of museum pieces allows us to think that this work may be considered as experimental archaeology...

Image 1 - Iron sheet at the beginning

Image 2 - Hammering out cold

The work begins with the crown at the centre of the helmet. The form seems to be based on a disk as for so many helmets of the period, the diameter varying with the type of the helmet (1). Everything begins with cold working of the sheet, easing the moulding.

Image 3 - First heating

Image 4 - Cold flattening

Image 5 - Hot forming

Hot forming can now begin. The "secret" of this long and fastidious work is a question of patience and regularity, applying heat initially at the centre and rotating regularly around the axis, heating small areas (10cm² at a time (3).
The metal is hammered out on a round anvil. Heat is now applied in concentric circles working outwards to the edge (5).

Image 6 - Cold forming

Image 7 - First heating of the balancing process

Image 8 - Flattening

Image 9 - Approaching the form

Heating after heating, the crown of the helmet is raised and takes form. In order to assure uniformity , a series of chalk markings
guides the moulding (7).

Image 10 - Another heating

Image 11 - Final flattening

As was the case with an authentic example, the symmetry is not perfect, however it should be acceptable and please the eye: A non-expert eye should not be able to detect this. (11).

Image 12 - Hammering out

Image 13 - Heating the back

Image 14 - Final corrections

Afterwards, the rear of the crown is proceeded with. It is going to be riveted to the back of the helmet. This working can be done cold (12) in a hollow form without risk of altering the thickness, then hot in order to obtain the curve at the neck (13). In order to adjust the the whole object, it is placed into the fire together with the crown (14), permitting fine working during the binding of the two pieces with small hammer taps on the round anvil.


Georges Joliot

By Georges Joliot,
Recruit Company Member

You can contact Georges via his site at

Part II of this article is also published.

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