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Author Topic: Roman Handles - Helmet and Other  (Read 480 times)

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Offline Kilian O

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Roman Handles - Helmet and Other
« on: November 14, 2021, 06:09:15 am »
Good afternoon,

I've got this what I believe to be a roman helmet handle. A while back I posted something similar and was told it was a regular handle of something. Sadly Appels & Laycock missattribute things so i'm having my doubts right now even tho the examples in their book match really well.


Offline SC

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Re: Roman Helmet Handle
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2021, 08:48:56 am »
Yes, sadly this is largely another misattribution.  The dolphin handle design was used for lots of things, including helmets.

There are a few known example of helmets with a dolphin handle.  See the illustrations below.

However, there are many more examples of this type of handle attached to drawer or chest parts. 

The difference is in the way they worked.  Drawer and chest handles only had to lift a slight amount away from the surface, so they could be thick and wide.  But helmet handles had to lift a full 90 degrees away from the helmet surface and rotate back and forth.  So all known helmet handles are very thin, otherwise the wide parts prevent the required functioning.

Take a look at the difference between yours and the two below.  The dolphin handles for helmets are really just thin handles with a dolphin design - total different from the common flat and wide dolphin handle.

I have three dolphin handles all of which are also wider than the helmets ones.  Likewise none of the ones shown in A&L are from helmets.  It appears that a very very small number of dolphin handles were used on helmets.

The vast majority of known helmet handles are the thin type seen below with nice spine or knob ends.  Though almost identical ones were used on drawers and chests as well so even they are no guarantee of being a helmet handle.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

Offline Kilian O

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Re: Roman Helmet Handle
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2021, 09:00:20 am »
Thanks Shawn this helped me out alot! You're right and I can see the difference the way you describe it. The military ones are more refined and more simple.

Offline SC

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Re: Roman Helmet Handle
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2021, 09:26:14 am »
I am going to pin this thread to the top and change the name to "Roman Handles (Helmet and other)" and then we can post more examples from collections and museums.

Yours is a very nice example.  While I said drawers and chests, I think that large solid ones like yours were likely for chests or coffers.  Wether it carried legionary supplies, a family's fortune or a lady's clothes we will never know...

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Roman Handles - Helmet and Other
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2021, 10:40:03 am »
Excellent thread!
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Offline Kilian O

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Re: Roman Handles - Helmet and Other
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2022, 02:15:45 pm »
See this every now and then. Is this also a variation on a handle? It strikes me that it could be used as a helmet handle but can be for x ammount of things too. Now I took another look it's a weisenau type I'd assume?

Offline SC

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Re: Roman Handles - Helmet and Other
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2022, 10:04:41 am »
Again hard to say.

The style was used for both.  In the photos above you can see some attached to helmets. But you can also see several (in the image "helm, weisenau handles II" which shows items sadly mislabeled as helmet handles) that still have small spikes attached.  These spikes are never found on examples on helmets, they are to attached the handle to the wood of the drawer or chest.  So this shows that the exact same shape was used on helmets and furniture.

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Offline Mayadigger

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Re: Roman Handles - Helmet and Other
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2022, 02:07:08 pm »
Ave!

Excellent thread indeed!

From my paltry experience, furniture pulls are mostly flat on the reverse.

Example #1 - Copper alloy; 72mm/30.2gm
Example #2 - Copper alloy; 100mm/53.6gm Please note the very obvious phallic end to the dolphin's tail.  :evil:

One the other hand, like Killian's example, others are 3D, meant to be seen from both sides. Again, most likely they were attached to the top of a cabinet or other small box?

Example #3 - Cast lead over iron; 90mm/38.9gm - Why do the dolphins have scales? Had the smith who forged this artifact actually never seen a dolphin (which do not have scales) or simply with the scaled fish with which he was familiar from the River Drava close to where this artifact was found? Dolphins have been good luck symbols forever and perhaps he added the circle-and-dot pattern was meant to ward off the "Evil Eye" as an added bonus to the piece? Sadly, we will never know.
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