Statistically Speaking…

The one thing that I did not know about going into the humanities, was how much numbers really do matter. Especially in a curatorial position, one does not just sit and ponder aesthetics all day. There are budgets, dimensions, attendance reports, spreadsheets etc. With that in mind, here is a post that has everything to do with numbers! (And a little bit of humble bragging…)

14 — Statistics in this post! (Meta…)
15 — Objects on display that are not in the Kienbusch Collection.
31 — Letters in “Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch.”
36 — Objects that we updated the dimensions of.
37 — Objects that we updated the photography for.
43 — Published references to Kienbusch found this summer.
51 — Helmets in Gallery 246.
85 — Miles Kristine walked this summer.
136 — Views that this blog has had so far!!!
248 — The number of the gallery with the most objects in it (157 objects).
500 — Objects that were reviewed for accuracy.
999 — Cards in Bill Reid’s crossbow archive that were digitized and transcribed.
1,315 — Objects in the Kienbusch Collection.
5,670 — Miles Mackenzie commuted this summer.

Thanks for a great summer!

Thanks for a great summer!

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Where in the World Was Our Curator?

Dirk recently has gone on some exciting trips for Arms and Armor!

The reconstructed armor, showing the arming chains.

The reconstructed armor, showing the arming chains.

First, in March Dirk visited the the Bavarian Army Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany to work on an exciting project, nicknamed the Puzzle Armor! At the museum Dirk worked with other curators on the armor, including Alfred Geibig (Kunstsammlungen Veste der Coburg), Toby Capwell (Wallace Collection, London), Dr. Raphael Beuing (Bavarian National Museum, Munich), and the host, Dr. Tobias Schönauer (curator of the Bavarian Army Museum). The puzzle armor is special due to the rarity of existing mid fourteenth-century body armor. Although it was common armor in its time, few examples remain today. Discovered in the remains of a German castle by an amateur archaeologists much is unknown about the armor. Together the experts gathered and examined the special armor! For more information on the piece and the group’s findings check out Toby Capwell’s Behind the Scenes post on the Puzzle Armour.

Dirk in action!

Dirk in action!

This July, Dirk journeyed to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. He met with

Sorry, but the tournament looked nothing like this...

Sorry, but the tournament looked nothing like this…

colleagues, studied effigies, and took lots of photos! The most exciting part of Dirk’s trip (in our opinions) is the tournament that he visited. (And we’re not talking about unrealistic family dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games…) Dirk attended The Great Tournament of Schaffhausen, which took place in a town near the German border in northern Switzerland from July 10 – 20. The tournament was hosted by the Museum zu Allerheilegen (Museum of All Saints). Some of the injuries included a hand impalement by a sword and a face being stabbed by a lance. Toby Capwell (this should be a familiar name to you by now) has a great video from the tournament, explaining his love for jousting! Check it out!

Chivalry is not dead!

Chivalry is not dead!

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A Much Needed Update

Wondering what we’ve been up to these past three weeks? Take a look!

*Cough Cough* We’ve got the “Plaque” Plague, Pop!

During her research of the Kienbusch Collection, Kristine found a plaque believed to be from around 1320. There was no image on file, but Kienbusch noted that there was a similar plaque in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Serendipitously, Dirk had received an inquiry as to the legitimacy of the plaque. So naturally, we all took a field trip with Jack Hinton, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, up to storage to see what was up with this plaque. Here are some thoughts that were shared about the object:

– Is this English? Were coats of arms codified by this point?
– No trace of enamel, and it doesn’t look like it was cast.
– This is pre-Edward III, and probably from between 1346 and 1356.

While we can’t show you the record shot we took, we can direct you to the similar plaque at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! (Bonus: Here’s a drawing of another similar plaque from the Odiot Collection!)

The Mystery of the Miniature Horse Armor

Miniature Horse Armor

Miniature Horse Armor

Although much mystery and intrigue surround this potentially-fake miniature horse armor, we, along with Dirk, still believe it to be an authentic. The trouble is that we are still unsure as to what purpose it served! One reason for the past doubts is the odd nature of the object overall. Miniature horse armor is very rare, and one dating from the 16th century seems to be unique. We have recently been researching about miniature armor in many forms, varying from toys in early modern Europe to nineteenth-century models created in Paris of armor. While we won’t give away all the recent information on the mini horse armor, look out for an upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art “WTF” (Why That’s Fascinating!) video by Dirk on the object!

Capturing Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch

Kienbusch in his armory, c. 1954

Kienbusch in his armory, c. 1954

We extensively researched Kienbusch; his family, his publications, references to his collection or to any of his donations or scholarships were all included. While we haven’t completed a full in-depth biography of Kienbusch, we want to share some interesting facts that aren’t usually included when discussing his arms and armor collection.

Kienbusch had another passion in life: fishing also known as angling! Throughout his life he acquired a significant collection of books on angling which he donated to his alma mater, Princeton. Kienbusch’s most notable impact on angling resulted from his discovery of the only known copy The arte of angling, the oldest known book on angling from England. As a result of the discovery and his desire to spread his passion for fishing Kienbusch, along with others, published the book in 1956 through the Princeton University Press with an introduction by Kienbusch.

Throughout Kienbusch’s life he had a strong connection to his alma mater, Princeton. After his graduation in 1906, he continued to remain involved with the alumni and provide for the school. Some of the many endowments he provided were the C. Otto von Kienbusch Undergraduate Female Athletes Award, C. O. von Kienbusch Fellowship in Art and Archaeology, and scholarships for Football and Track. Among the many associations one of the most interesting was his choice to endow a scholarship for women athletes. Kienbusch’s endowment was the first of its kind to provide financial support to women’s athletics. To this day the scholarship is still presented to two senior students each year who exemplify scholastic and athletic proficiency.

William Reid Goes Digital

We had a wonderful time digitizing and deciphering William Reid’s Crossbow Archive. We scanned over 1,000 cards, and typed up all that we could recognize of his writing. How hard could it be to read an index card full of writing, you ask? Please, by all means, give it a shot! In all seriousness, this archive was Bill’s lifelong work with crossbow, and an incredible asset that Dirk brought to the museum.

It's difficult, isn't it?

If you have any ideas as to what the card says, please feel free to contact either Kristine or Mackenzie. We won’t mind giving you the credit!

All My Children

No, we didn’t watch soap operas while Dirk was gone! We did another scanning project! We scanned all of the photos that Dirk has collected for a super top-secret project that will hopefully be coming to the Arms & Armor Galleries soon! Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store!

"I wonder if mothers will make their children pose for ridiculous photos in the future..."

I wonder if mothers will make their children pose for ridiculous photos in the future…

Thanks for checking in on our update! Now on to inventory!

Guess who!

Guess who!

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Happy Four Day Weekend!

Just in case you need some light beach reading during this fourth of July weekend, we’ve provided an excellent article about…

Kienbusch with one of his favorites, a German field armor of c. 1520 (1977-167-6)

Kienbusch with one of his favorites, a German field armor of c. 1520 (1977-167-6)

The Kienbusch Collection! (Shocking, right?) Introduction by C. Otto v. Kienbusch If you can’t get enough of the Kienbusch Collection, here are two more articles that we recommend:

The Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection of Armor and Arms

Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch and the Collecting of Arms and Armor in America

These articles are on JSTOR, and may not be accessible to everyone.

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Our Favorite Objects: Kristine

St. George side

Horseman’s Targe (shield) painted with the Figure of Saint George and with the Coat of Arms of the Town of Zwickau
Artist/maker unknown
German, c. 1450
Made in Germany
Possibly made in Zwickau, Saxony, Germany
Wood; gessoed linen; silver; leather; paint
Approximately: 27 × 16 1/2 inches, 7.9 lb. (68.6 × 41.9 cm, 3.6 kg)
Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977
Object Number: 1977-167-736
Gallery 246, Arms and Armor, second floor

One of the objects in the Kienbusch collection which immediately stood out was the Horseman’s Targe. While there are many other shields throughout the Arms and Armor galleries, this one caught my eye. The Horseman’s Targe is a shield which is decorated with a depiction of Saint George slaying the Dragon.

St. George was an early Christian martyr, who is today the patron saint of England and most notable for the legend of the Dragon. Set in Libya, a dragon was said to have terrorized the people until they offered sheep daily. When the Libyans ran out of sheep they were forced to give human sacrifices. As Saint George happened past the town, he saw the most recent victim, the local princess, as she waited for the dragon. With the sign of the cross on his shield he fought and captured the dragon. Due to his heroism, the entire town converted to Christianity (H. Thurston).

St. George zoom

The scene is of the exact moment of triumph when St. George pierces the dragon with his lance. Although the encounter is the climax of the story, the saint’s face is so young, content, and peaceful. Through the depiction of St. George on the targe, a young knight would have an ideal image for a knight to emulate.

The figure of the saint in armor is surrounded by a decorative border and text. Surmounted by a coat of arms of the city of Zwichau, the heroic and pious actions of the saint are therefore associated with the city (Kienbusch Catalogue, 135). Three swans are placed against a gules (a heraldic color of red) background within the coat of arms. Within the silver and gilded decorative border is an inscription, hilf got du ebiges wort dem leib hie der selen dort hilf ritter (Help, God, thou eternal word, the body down here, [and] the soul up there, help, knight [Saint George])(Kienbusch Cat., 136).  The text requests God to protect the knight, both the depicted St. George and the user of the shield.

St. George

The Zwichau targe captured my attention and I hope this post showed how interesting the small objects in the collection can be. If you are interested in seeing this object, stop by Gallery 236 in the Arms and Armor Galleries!


Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch. The Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection of Armor and Arms. Princeton University Press, 1963, no. 274, pl. LXXXVII.

Thurston, Herbert. “St. George.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 1 Jul. 2014<;.

Want to learn more? Check out:

The PMA’s page on the Horseman’s Targe:|1

Scholarly writing on shields from Zwichau:
Vladimir Denkstein. “Die Zwickauer Pavesen böhmischen Ursprungs”, Sonderdruck aus “Sächsische Heimatblätter”, Heft 9/1958, pp. 22-23.



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Our Favorite Objects: Mackenzie

Hawk's Hood For use in the hunt c. 1700 Velvet, silver thread, leather Made in Persia (now Iran) 1977-167-1057

Hawk’s Hood
For use in the hunt
c. 1700
Velvet, silver thread, leather
Made in Persia (now Iran)

Alternate View











When I first saw the wall label for the Hawk’s Hood, I thought to myself, “Wait, they actually put hats on their birds? This must be the predecessor for dressing up your chihuahua, right?” The latter inquiry proved to be very false. Through search engines, I found that the hood for a raptor (a bird of prey) is the most crucial piece of equipment in training. The purpose of the hood is to calm the bird by covering its eyesight. Birds are so visually-based that what they cannot see does not frighten them. Therefore, if they cannot see anything they are not frightened at all.

An example of a modern Arab style hood

An example of a modern Arab style hood

The pom-pom decoration at the top may seem to suit a completely aesthetic purpose. However, it also serves as a useful point of contact for the falconer to adjust the hood. There are distinctions between adornments on each hood and the cut of the material, which the falconer would have chosen based on aesthetics and training preferences. Falconers today have named all different types of hoods by the region that they come from, such as Arab or Dutch hoods. This hawk’s hood follows in the Arab style braces, meaning that the back of the hood is pulled together in an accordion-like manner.

The hawk’s hood is made primarily of velvet, a material traditionally associated with nobility. Most modern examples of Arab hoods are made of leather. This difference in material is not surprising. Velvet was created in Kashmir, near modern-day Afghanistan, and was introduced to the Middle East during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (ruled 786 to 809). The Mamluk dynasty brought the largest velvet production from Cairo to Iraq in the 18th century.

This may have been your only exposure to falconry before this article!

This may have been your only exposure to falconry before this article!

This object is the epitome of where the future of museums should be directed. With a half an hour or so of research, an object as tiny as a hat for a bird can open up a world of trade and training halfway around the globe. Hopefully this object will spark many more conversations and projects to make collections as large as the Kienbusch Collection more accessible to the public.


Upton, Roger. Falconry: Principles & Practice. London: & C Black, 1991. Print.

Folsach, Kjeld Von., and Anne-Marie Keblow. Bernsted. Woven Treasures:
Textiles from the World of Islam
. Copenhagen: David Collection, 1993. Print.

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An Introduction to the Kienbusch Collection

The following is the Preface to Studies in European Arms and Armor: The C. Otto Von Kienbusch Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1992), written by Anne d’Harnoncourt (Former Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, deceased 2008):

“Since 1977, when it was bequeathed to the Museum, the Carl Otto Kretzchmar von Kienbusch Collection of Arms and Armor has been a source of delight to countless visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This splendid installation, crowning the Museum’s monumental staircase, is the first that many people see, and few resist its fascination. Assiduously gathered over a period of seventy years by Mr. von Kienbusch (1884-1976), the collection comprises over fourteen hundred objects, many of remarkable quality, including European armor, edged weapons, and firearms.

The formation of his vast collection inevitably owed much to the particular opportunities afforded in this century, but the caliber of the acquisitions depended equally on Mr. von Kienbusch’s impressive connoisseurship and his relentless study of this complex field. What was to be a lifelong passion was first signaled by the purchase of a small group of swords in 1906, the year Kienbusch graduated with honors from Princeton University, where he had demonstrated a lively interest in history and art. After returning to his home in New York City, he entered his family’s tobacco business. His true career as an arms and armor collector began in earnest in 1910, when he met Dr. Bashford Dean (1867-1928). The first curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Arms and Armor and a major private collector and gentleman dealer, Dean was the acknowledged head of the American fraternity of arms and armor aficionados. In the years after 1900, during sojourns in Japan, Dean amassed the most encyclopedic collection of Japanese arms and armor. Following Dean’s example, Kienbusch became a serious collector of tsuba, Japanese sword-guards. After presenting this collection to Princeton University in 1914, Kienbusch, too, concentrated on European material. During the First World War, Kienbusch was commissioned as a lieutenant and served as Dean’s chief assistant in the army’s specially created Helmets and Body Armor Division. The two men engaged in the research and development of prototypes of ballistic armor based on their knowledge of historic examples.

After the war, Dean acted as Kienbusch’s mentor and regularly purchased modest items on his behalf at overseas auctions; other objects were acquired from auctions held in New York and from a few well-established dealers. In 1923 Kienbusch made his first extended trip to Europe. Traveling for six months, he and his wife Mildred (1887-1968) visited public and private collections and dealers in principal cities from London to Madrid, making purchases along the way. Kienbusch’s next large group of acquisitions came as a result of Dean’s unexpected death in 1928. While the majority of Dean’s collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum, Kienbusch obtained many important pieces from the hundreds of items remaining in the estate of the connoisseur he so admired.

Kienbusch matured as a collector in the 1930s and 1940s. the aftermath of the Depression and World War II brought arms and armor onto the art market in large numbers, including the holdings of Clarence K. Mackay and William Randolph Hearst, who possessed the two finest private collections then in existence. Along with the Royal Armouries of H.M. Tower of London and the Metropolitan Museum, a principal beneficiary of the dispersal of these treasure troves was Carl Otto von Kienbusch.

Kienbusch Armory Southeast Corner

The south east corner in the Kienbusch Armory.

By the mid-1950s, Kienbusch was established as the foremost American collector of European arms and armor, and over nine hundred objects filled the armory, which occupied the second floor of his New York townhouse at 12 East 74th Street. Determined to
document his holdings, he commissioned a catalogue from a distinguished international team of scholars: Hans Schedelmann, John F. Hayward, Richard H. Randall, and Anita Reinhard. Published in 1963, as a deluxe, cased quarto, now itself a collector’s item, The Kretzschmar con Kienbusch Collection of Armor and Arms was distributed free to major institutions and libraries around the world.

The catalogue was also an expression of Kienbusch’s concern for the eventual disposition of his collection. He had witnessed, and often benefited from, the dispersal of dozens of private arms and armor collections, but he did not wish a similar fate for his own armory. Courted by several museums that hoped to receive the collection as a bequest, the prize was won by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, led in its bid by R. Sturgis Ingersoll, then president of the Museum and, like Kienbusch, a graduate of Princeton. An enlightened Philadelphia city government played a crucial role by agreeing to fund the renovations needed to convert several galleries into a grand armory that Kienbusch simply could not refuse. For the inaugural installation of arms and armor in 1972, Kienbusch lent a selection of more than one hundred of his finest treasures.

Kienbusch Coat of Arms

Kienbusch Coat of Arms

By the time of his death in 1976, at the age of ninety-two, Kienbusch had assembled a distinguished and comprehensive collection modeled after the ancestral armories of Europe and the great European and American private collections of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Kienbusch Collection continues to inspire a wealth of scholarship in the field of arms and armor. To pursue Keinbisch’s own practice of encouraging active research, the Museum sought and received funds from the National Endowment for the Arts for the preparation of study storage in 1980 and a grant to host a series of visits by scholars between 1982 and 1986 to study aspects of the collection. Their findings are here presented in five essays. The research for the sixth essay, written by a former member of the Museum staff, was largely supported by a Fellowship for Museum Professionals, also funded by the Nationals Endowment for the Arts, whose support for Kienbusch projects has been invaluable for over a decade.

Dr. Helmut Nickel, author of the first essay in this volume, is Curator Emeritus of the Arms and Armor Department at the Metropolitan Museum. Known for his studies of the iconographic historical aspects of arms and armor from the migration era through the Renaissance. Dr. Nickel’s expertise extends to heraldry and the history of the duchy of Saxony. Kienbusch’s own ancestors had emigrated from Saxony to the United States in the 1840s. This family connection and the high quality of armory of the dukes and later kings of Saxony enlivened Kienbusch’s interest in collecting pieces related to the Saxon court. Dr. Nickel, himself a native of saxony, discusses the personal parade armor of the dukes of Saxony, which are among the finest objects in the Kienbusch Collection.

The second essay is by Dr. Lionello Boccia, Director of Museo Stibbert in Florence, which possesses an extensive collection formed by a single collector of arms and armor. Dr. Boccia has written extensively about Italian arms and armor from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. Upon this occasion, he surveys a group of Italian armor from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in the Kienbusch collection.

A.V.B. Norman, former Master of the Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London, is an authority on European swords. His essay focuses on Kienbusch’s choice group of court swords and small swords, the last manifestation of the sword worn with civilian dress. Using examples in the collection, Mr. Norman traces the history of the small-sword from about 1650-1800 and its evolution from a sturdy fighting weapon to an elaborate costume accessory.

Claude Blair, former Keeper of Metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, has written on many aspects of European armor and metalwork from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century. His essay examines a single helmet, the intriguing history which sheds much light on collectors and collecting in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Stuart W. Pyhrr, Curator of Arms and Armor, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is noted for his studies of the art-historical aspects of arms and armor. Together with Everett Fahy, The John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum and an authority on early Italian painting, he discusses a splendid Italian Renaissance painted shield in the Kienbusch Collection and a related group of pageant shields.

It is a particular pleasure to publish a companion essay by a young scholar in the field, Donald J. LaRocca, who served as administrator and then as Assistant Curator of the Kienbusch Collection from 1982 to 1988 and coordinated the visiting scholars program during his tenure. Now Assistant Curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. LaRocca explores the decoration of armes de luxe as it appears in a series of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century French pattern books in the Kienbusch Library.

Handsomely designed by Greer Allen, this volume was thoughtfully edited by Jane Watkin, Senior Editor in the Department of Publications at this Museum. A generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cigna-Mellon fund for scholarly publications supported its production. These six essays offer individual approaches to the study of arms and armor by leading scholars in the field today. Together, they advance our knowledge of the Kienbusch Collection and underscore the variety of its holdings. No one would have been more interested in these studies than Kienbusch himself. Following his example and celebrating almost two decades of public display of his treasures, the Philadelphia Museum of Art published this volume in the hope that it will, in turn, stimulate a new generation of connoisseurs, scholars, and enthusiasts in this fascinating field.”

Anne d’Harnoncourt
The George D. Widener Director

Kienbusch Gallery

The north entrance to the Kienbusch Collection.

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