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Brass rubbing

Brass rubbing

  • Place of origin:

    Warwickshire (Location of original brass. Rubbing would have been made on site. Original brass might have been made elsewhere prior to its installation., made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1480
    Second quarter 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pearson, Reginald H. (Mr) (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax rubbing on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr. Reginald H. Pearson, F.S.A.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Monumental brasses are commemorative plaques that served as effigies and were most commonly found in churches. The earliest examples come from the thirteenth century but they were popular up until the seventeenth century and then again in the Victorian Gothic Revival. Surviving brasses from the medieval period are limited due to the turbulent history of the Church but they do survive in considerable numbers in the East of England, Germany and Flanders. Made from an alloy of copper and zinc, a material known as latten, they were laid into church floors and walls. Monumental brasses are historically and stylistically significant because they record dress, architecture, armoury, heraldry (coats of arms and insignia) and palaeography (handwriting) in a dated object. In addition they tell the story of memorial and patronage.

The practice of recording brasses through a process of rubbing originates from the Victorian Gothic Revival. An early method of pouring printer’s ink into engraved lines and then placing damp tissue paper over the brass was replaced around the mid-nineteenth century with the more effective technique of using black shoemaker’s wax, known as heel ball. Brass rubbing continued to be a popular hobby into the twentieth century before the process was understood to cause damage to the brasses.

Physical description

20th century rubbing taken from a fragment of a church brass.

Place of Origin

Warwickshire (Location of original brass. Rubbing would have been made on site. Original brass might have been made elsewhere prior to its installation., made)


ca. 1480
Second quarter 20th century (made)


Pearson, Reginald H. (Mr) (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Wax rubbing on paper


Height: 139.7 mm, Width: 114.3 mm

Object history note

The rubbings E.323 to E.327-1950 record the fragments of re-used brasses from the late 15th to early 16th century which were broken up and re-assembled to form the base for a memorial brass for Nicholas Asheton dated 1582. Reginald H. Pearson's rubbings include the large Asheton memorial brass, rubbed in parts for the purpose of showing which older fragments are on the reverse of each section.

Descriptive line

Brass rubbing of a fragment of a quatrefoil from a foreign brass, depicting a scroll with inscription, ca. 1480, Whichford Church, Warwickshire.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Reverend D.C. Rutter, 'A find of palimpsests at Whichford, Warwickshire'; Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, Vol IX, Part III, July 1954.
V&A Print Room's Print Catalogue: BRASS RUBBINGS CATALOGUE 1435-1500 (1991), vol. 25
Stephenson, Mill. A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles. London, 1926 and Appendix, 1938.






Rubbings; Death; Commemoration; Metalwork


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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