I was reading some old fantasy (“Puss Cat Mew,” from 1869) and found a reference to a “Life-preserver” that a character used to cosh a dwarf in the skull. After searching around, I found that these things were baleen (whale bone) wrapped in cloth with a head made of lead (also cloth wrapped). They were effective saps for about 1850, and apparently Charles Darwin and Sherlock Holmes both used them.
Anyways, while searching for that, I found a bunch of other weird stuff bought in Oxford by Percy Manning back around 1900. One of these was a leather-bound shield of the Crusader type, which I found fascinating. I hadn’t seen one like that before, even though I’ve gone through the Tower of London armory and some other places. In the Society for Creative Anachronism (S.C.A.), shields are usually just wood wrapped with rope, much like these wooden rounds from the Thorsberg moors from around the 200s A.D.. So this one was quite different to me, but it makes sense, if only because the hide covering on the back could serve to hold padding in place. Zulu shields have always been hides, and east African shields were hippopotamus hide. There was no history attached to the one Percy found, so we can’t really guess at its age. It might have been a mock-up made during the early nineteenth century when the Ivanhoe craze was going strong. Anyways, here’s the shield. What do you think? Is it really medieval?