Research is pivotal to the modern armourer’s work. Without it, the often, subtle changes in shape, aesthetic and thought created in the original pieces are all too frequently missed. As soon as general decade long changes are negotiated, you start to learn of different regional variations in style and metals; then individual original armourer’s techniques can be seen … frankly the research can and should never be allowed to end.
Below are a couple of the starting points that I tend to use when researching armour for a client that you might find useful. By no means exhaustive it should be considered as a useful starting point.
The first and probably most over looked research resource available to us today is the local library. In an age when just about everything seems available to us online the library is frequently forgotten. It is always work a visit and enrolling at your local library.
Like an online library the google books initiative is a tremendous starting point for almost all manner of historical research with a great many well out of print books freely available at the end of simple google style search.
Museums increasingly have their collections available online in some style or other from requests to directly and freely available for us to look at. Each museum have taken a different approach to the online community that listing them here would be impossible, however, in the UK the Wallace Collection and Royal Armouries are great places to start.
Secnd hand bookshops frequently hold coffee table books on armour and art that may be useful for obscure references or simply being able to always keep the subject in your mind to enable the better identification of armour and its changes.
Lastly there are a couple of very useful websites including, Karen Larsdatter’s fantastic searchable picture resource found here, the peerless Effigy Database and finally the forum Armour Archive are all great places to begin online research.
In my opinion, research should be considered as vital to the armourer’s work as time at the workshop, without it an armourer cannot really hope to gain the depth of knowledge required to be able to produce proper, period specific pieces.
I hope this is useful in getting you started.