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Author Topic: victorian era armour  (Read 5448 times)
septango
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« on: January 29, 2015, 01:36:21 am »

hello, Ive been searching for examples of armour that would have been used in the 1800s to early 1900s, my search has yeilded very few examples and is quite cluttered with steampunk designs and replicas of knight armour made at the time, and I was wondering if any of you had any examples of used armour of the period
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 02:45:16 am »

The short answer is people didn't use armour. Though look up Ned Kelly, australian outlaw.
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 02:51:29 am »

If by 'early 1900's' you include WW1 then there is the armor used during the trench war and such items as the chain mail goggles issued to tank crews to protect their eyes from splinters.

Other than that the general opinion was that it was to be a period of 'open / fluid' warfare where cavalry would make wide sweeps and outflank the enemy (not quite what happened) so armor was not required.
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jonb
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2015, 03:31:27 am »

The first that springs to mind is Ned Kelly's Armour


But in military terms a lot of what seems like decoration is in fact protective wear.
It being to a large part useless to try to protect an individual from gunfire because an soldier wearing iron or steal armour would be too slow, or as in the case of Ned Kelly the police simply shot his legs away which were not protected. However in the Victorian  
period a lot of fighting was still hand to hand. In the American civil war uniforms and tactics were designed generally around the use of the gun. The cavalry was commonly used as a skirmishing force. However in Europe it was still felt the old style of getting into hand to hand combat was the aim of the attacking force, This is reflected in the uniforms. Some units of heavy Cavalry wore breast plates even up to the first world war, and still do as dress uniform. Things like the bearskin hats of the British guards are designed to stop a sword blow from cavalry. The braiding in uniforms was also designed to stop a swipe from a sword and often the braids had metal wire within them. We tend nowadays to presume that armour of the past had to be of metal, but leather and even cotton armour has been used from very ancient times and was very effective. Look at a Hussar it may look as if he has no armour on at all, but the jacket is made of very thick strong cloth and was often capable of stopping a distant shot on its own. This is why being so thick a hussar did not wear it because he would become to hot, but rather wore it over the left arm like a shield which is effectively what it was.





My answer is very general, there probably are particular instances of the use of armour, but I am only talking about general units in an army.        
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selectedgrub
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 05:47:49 am »

Wood ?
Samurai armour enjoyed a short lived revival of use in 1877 -
(During the Satsuma Rebellion).
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Captain
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 05:57:39 am »



http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/group/wondrous-inventions-of-the-victorian-era/forum/topics/bullet-proof-vests



http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum/topics/steampunk-armor?id=2442691%3ATopic%3A293365&page=2#comments



http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5646.125.html







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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 06:03:51 am »







There were all sorts of wood, antler, coin, leather, etc... armours worn worn in the 19th century. 
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 09:43:52 am »

There's been a fair bit of discussion of examples of C19th armour, but the short answer as to why you've not found many examples is because there aren't that many. Armour as a concept pretty much disappeared from European battlefields during the early C18th with the military revolution when you start getting professional standing armies developing. The reason why is partly because of cost (very few states could afford to equip every man in their army with armour) but also for the same reason knights disappeared, GUNS (once warfare becomes based around two loads of blokes armed with muskets shooting at one another armour becomes an unnecessary, and heavy extra encumbrance which increases your chance of dying).

Really you're not going to find much in the way of military armour between 1700 and the 1960's with the development of kevlar and modern body armour.
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 12:30:36 pm »

Plate armor was pretty much on the way out by the end of the 17th century. It had always been expensive and increasing proliferation of firearms made it less and less worthwhile.

It's perfectly possible to make armor which  will give decent protection against a musket but it was a combination of field artillery and higher velocity and longer ranged rifles which made armour less and less useful.

There was also a move away from armies dominated by elite cavalry to semi-professional forces composed mostly of large formations of infantry supported by light cavalry and artillery . These armies could be raised and trained quickly and relatively cheaply and be replaced and reacquired as long as the state had money. These armies  were generally equipped as cheaply as possible and armor would have been zero priority, and during this period the style of warfare tended to favour quantity over quality.

You do see some armour retained in more elite units. Cavalry became lighter and lighter after the 17th century,but as mentioned items like steel helmets and breastplates were maintained by some units although given the rather flamboyant nature of military uniforms of the time it's sometimes hard to know what is practical and what is fashion.


By the time you get to the mid 19th century high velocity rifles and field artillery with explosive shells had increased the ranges and mobility of  warfare body armor technology couldn't keep up. There is also the fact that during the second half of the 20th century Europe itself was relatively peaceful with most of the European armies  concentrating on colonial campaigns which tended to be asymetric and low intensity.

It's not until the first world war, when reducing casualties became a strategic imperative that armies looked again at body armor.  At this point technology had caught up again on the armor side and there were high strength alloy steels available which allowed significantly effective helmets to be produced.

This is also partly a product of the particular conditions of the trenches where the head was especially vulnerable both to shell splinters from above and exposure when firing from covers. You also start to see more specialised armour being used by tank crews, snipers, assault troops and machine gunners which often looked not unlike medieval patterns. Again this is a product of having improved materials and a relatively static but high intensity warfare where the encumbrance of armor was an acceptable price for added protection in certain roles.
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jonb
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 03:33:22 pm »

I generally agree with Narsil, but would say the uniforms of the nineteenth century were not just about being cheep, a lot of thought went into their design and they were very practical. I would say the light uniforms which offered little protection of the American civil war armies were actually more far sighted than their European equivalents which were designed for hand to hand combat, but the uniform of a common European Soldier had a lot to do with the role they were expected to perform, and had lots of features which were meant to protect him.
Even a simple thing like an epaulette-



which looks just like decoration to us now was designed to stop or deflect a sword swing from above, very useful if you are in the infantry facing a cavalry man. The pith helmet itself is designed to deflect a blow from above with a sword. The German spiked helmet or the French crested helmet of the first world war are designed for the same purpose, not to stop bullets. The helmet the British and American troops wore in the first world war were also not designed to stop bullets, but to protect the person underneath from falling shrapnel and was based on a mediaeval model used by sappers attacking fortifications.

Helmets even in a modern army are not worn to stop direct fire from guns, but protect from shrapnel and other bits and pieces flying about on the battle field.   
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 04:18:35 pm »

Napoleon's Cuirassiers wore decorative armour. They were known as the Gendarme.

Polish Hussars wore wings and armour to instill religious fear and to stop their horses from being scared by gunfire.

These were in the 1800's but before 1837, so not victorian.

Also, Comanches wore a type of rolled wood/reed armour, as did some Cheyenne natives.
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 04:41:32 pm »

Apart from a wide variety of ceremonial and functional armor, there was also a good deal of reproduction armour made to decorate homes and for SCA-like reenactors.   These Victorian copies are fairly well known to modern reenactors but have often fooled academics and ended up in museum displays.  These Victorian reproductions are common and have lead to many of the untrue myths about medieval and renaissance armour.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Victorian-Copy-Of-17th-Century-Lobster-Tail-Helmet-Breast-Plate-Armor-Gauntlet-/301001900453
http://www.tortugatrading.com/engine/results.asp?Category=Armor&Filter=Arms,+Armour
http://www.faganarms.com/antique-copy-of-an-italian-shield-of-about-1580.aspx



Imagine reenacting a Victorian reenactor. 
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jonb
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2015, 04:49:30 pm »

Napoleon's Cuirassiers wore decorative armour. They were known as the Gendarme.

Polish Hussars wore wings and armour to instill religious fear and to stop their horses from being scared by gunfire.

These were in the 1800's but before 1837, so not victorian.

Also, Comanches wore a type of rolled wood/reed armour, as did some Cheyenne natives.


It was far from being decorative. sword on sword a breastplate comes in very handy.

The charge of the Cuirassiers at Rezonville, 1870 Franco Prussian war (Very Victorian).



And with the Comanches wood armour look at the braiding on a hussars chest similar look for a similar function.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 04:52:52 pm by jonb » Logged
pakled
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 05:21:28 pm »

There actually was a fad during Victorian times for doing 'jousts,' for which said armor was made. It didn't catch on, but for a while, stalwart men braved lances and uncertain death for the captivation and entertainment of the belles of the day...Wink
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jonb
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2015, 05:30:07 pm »

That was just one part of the gothic revival a love of all things mediaeval, and underpins so much Victorian design, art architecture etectera a style that stood in opposition to the classical style of the early eighteen hundreds and looked to Ancient Rome.
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2015, 09:05:26 pm »

Dragoons also had armour on them.

Jousting is the Official sport of Maryland I believe.
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Will Howard
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2015, 11:34:40 pm »

Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, owned at least one umbrella lined with mail ("chainmail" or "chainmaille" to some).  designed to thwart assassination attempts, it was heavy, & usually only carried in carriages or coaches, where Her Majesty didn't have to carry the weight all the time.
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creagmor
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2015, 06:15:45 am »

Offhand I don't know the time period, but at one point the Samurai used ray skins in constructing their armour. 
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jonb
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2015, 10:34:24 am »

 So to directly answer Septango's OP, although there might not seem to be that much on the surface I think this thread points to definite directions for you to go in to invent a steampunk armour. The European military model which although there are instances of protective armour being used these are often disguised not to look like armour like the metal inserts in the epaulettes, or heavy wire in the braiding that stops a sword blow, or the bullet proof vest worn under the clothes which could be bought privately or even queen Victoria's umbrella. The Victorians also loved mediaeval design, and so would themselves look to that if they were going to produce some armour for themselves so if you want to incorporate medieval features into it that would seem right also, because if you look at the armour of Ned Kelly it looks as though it is inspired by a knight's armour. Or you might want to go a little more futuristic so you could model your armour around the diving suit  like that which Captain showed for a more robotic look, but if you do that don't forget the nipple nuts.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 10:36:02 am by jonb » Logged
jonb
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2015, 10:55:07 am »

Oh and as an afterthought, I know that both the stove pipe and bowler hat (Derby) were developed to fend of cudgel blows.
And how did the Samurai use ray skins? In Europe shark skin was used as sandpaper before the invention of glass paper, use that wrong and you could end up with a very uncomfortable pair of underpants.
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2015, 10:59:41 am »

Oh and as an afterthought, I know that both the stove pipe and bowler hat (Derby) were developed to fend of cudgel blows.
And how did the Samurai use ray skins? In Europe shark skin was used as sandpaper before the invention of glass paper, use that wrong and you could end up with a very uncomfortable pair of underpants.

Well actually the top hat (I can't speak for the bowler) was developed as a type of riding helmet (the idea was that if the rider was thrown and landed on their head the hat would collapse and spare their neck the full force of the impact).
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jonb
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2015, 11:09:06 am »

Yes I read sources saying that as well, but the things were designed to fend off knocks be from a fall or a blow from another person this being about armour I only mentioned the fighting aspect, but the two are not mutually exclusive.
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Argus Fairbrass
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« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2015, 08:04:31 pm »

French Cavalry 1914.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

German anti sniper armour WW1.

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Same design adapted (in lighter weight plastic) for Steampunk purposes.

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« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2015, 08:35:45 pm »

Not forgetting the use of the goreget in German uniforms until 1945,
In the 20th century armor made a comeback, these days it's Kevlar or an AFV.
so perhaps the lack of C19th armor was a historical 'blip'?
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Atterton
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« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2015, 08:45:08 pm »

As Verne talked about, there is always a race between firearms and armoury.
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