Main => The Armoury => Topic started by: Nick on 2018-01-02, 09:23:06

Title: 15th cen' Gothic Gauntlets - Plated or Scaled fingers?
Post by: Nick on 2018-01-02, 09:23:06
Hi everybody!

In the coming months, I'm planning on ordering a pair of 15th/16th century Gothic-style gauntlets, custom made to my specifications. I'm waiting on a response from an armourer in the Ukraine (there are none in my area that are even remotely affordable, sadly) but while I do that, I've been looking around at various gauntlet designs, both historical antiques and modern-day reproductions. And in that time, I've noticed that almost all of them seem to have very similar construction, barring one aspect - the fingers.

A lot of modern-made Gothic gauntlets seem to have "scaled" fingers, where several smaller plates are layered over eachother like lamallar, like this nice looking reproduction pair made by Wulflund:

 But a few of them - more noticeable with actual historical antiques - have "plated" fingers, where each finger section is protected by a single plate, connected by knuckle sections, like this frankly beautiful antique pair that I'm honestly in love with:

There doesn't seem to be any real difference in cost regarding modern day items, but the plated fingers still seem to be a lot more common. My question is this: From a protection/comfort standpoint... Is there any real difference? Visually, I prefer the plated fingers, and that's what I'm going to be ordering for my own pair in the coming months. But I've always wondered if there's any actual advantage or disadvantage to either style, or if it's just a purely aesthetic subject. Or, alternatively, if one style is just easier to make than the other. I'd assume that the scaled fingers would be easier for an armourer to create as they're a lot more modular when it comes to measurements. But the fact that pricing doesn't seem affected by it makes me question that.

Hope somebody's got some info to slate my curiosity! I'll be doing a review of the gauntlets I do order. Ideally I'll have them some time around March, provided the smith I'm talking to responds in a timely manner.
Title: Re: 15th cen' Gothic Gauntlets - Plated or Scaled fingers?
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2018-01-02, 20:01:34
Sir Ian should be able to help a lot on this. Hold on and I will poke him.
Title: Re: 15th cen' Gothic Gauntlets - Plated or Scaled fingers?
Post by: Ian on 2018-01-07, 17:04:28
Hi Nick,

As you've noted, finger plates are more common on surviving gothic gauntlets than scaled fingers, although scaled fingers are present on probably the most famous of all gothic armors, the KHM A62 armor (the one Max I gifted to Sigismund of Tirol). 

Here's a closeup of A62's left hand:

I don't know that one is necessarily more protective, but they are both very comfortable to wear from a practical standpoint.  Gothic mitten gauntlets are also an option and they are definitely more protective than any type of fingered gauntlet. I've worn earlier style gauntlets with both plated and scaled fingers and they've both felt very good (I would even give a slight edge to the feel of the scaled fingers I wore).  Admittedly they were both made by a very competent craftsman.  Like you said, getting a 'good enough' fit with scaled fingers is pretty easy since precise measurements are not really necessary other than the general overall length of the finger.  Plated fingers need to be pretty darn close to the measurements of your individual finger/knuckle placement or they can cause problems.  Most people will be pretty similar in finger proportion but if you have particularly non-standard fingers then you'd really need to make sure the sizes of the individual plates are fit to you. 

If the aesthetic is most important to you, choose what you like the look of the most.  If protective value is more important than anything else, consider mittens and learn to love the way they look ;)  There are also bifurcated gauntlets, where the two outer and two inner fingers are fused but each pair can move independently, and if you're feeling really daring there are gothic gauntlets with mailed fingers only.

A lot of modern craftsmen do not make scales like historical scales though.  They should be very closely overlapped, and they often use compound curvature (they curve not only across the finger but down the length of the finger as well).  Real ones are also pretty thick in the center.  Real individual finger plates are also pretty thick in the center and drawn out thin by the edges.  This is a function of the way they were made and the nature of the starting material.  Modern armorers use uniformly thick starting material so it's a little more difficult to achieve the dramatic differentials in thickness that historical armor plates demonstrate.

That was a really long way for me to say "I don't know which is more protective but they're both nice!"  :)

Just a note, the second picture you show also looks like a modern reproduction, albeit a much nicer pair, but modern nonetheless.
Title: Re: 15th cen' Gothic Gauntlets - Plated or Scaled fingers?
Post by: Nick on 2018-01-08, 07:35:25

Hey Ian! Thanks for the response, I appreciate it! I'd never seen a close-up of the gauntlets on that armour, it's cool to see an image of it. I've also seen your video on gothic gauntlets and I do agree that properly made mitten-style ones can be very nice looking. In terms of functionality, though, I'll be sticking with the fingered ones for my first pair. I know they're less protective, but I value the finger dexterity too much and personally prefer the aesthetics of them.

I'll be getting my pair of gauntlets custom made, and I've actually gone through and measured each individual finger joint (length, width and circumference) to send to an armourer. With any luck, the finished result will fit me very well.

I also wasn't aware that the second image was of a reproduction! Whoever made it knows what they're doing, in that case. They're gorgeous! I thought they were genuinely an incredibly well-maintained historical piece.