Not currently on display at the V&A

Brass Rubbing

1474, 1582, Second quarter 20th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wax rubbing on paper
Brief Description
Rubbing of a fragment of a brass, palimpsest, inscribed scrolls and floral design, 1474, Whichford Church, Warwickshire.
Physical Description
Rubbing of a portion of a brass depicting draperies with inscribed scrolls surrounded by floral motifs.
Dimensions
  • Height: 241.3mm (Note: Dimensions taken from the Print Room's Print Catalogue and converted from inches.)
  • Width: 174.625mm (Note: Dimensions taken from the Print Room's Print Catalogue and converted from inches.)
Credit line
Given by Mr. Reginald H. Pearson, F.S.A.
Object history
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.



The fragments shown here come from a large Flemish brass on 1474 of which other fragments exist at Walkern Church in Hertfordshire, Marsworth Church in Buckinghamshire, and St Margaret's Church in Lee, Kent. The date of 1474 comes from the Walkern fragment.
Subjects depicted
Associations
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • Reverend D.C. Rutter, 'A find of palimpsests at Whichford, Warwickshire'; Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, Vol IX, Part III, July 1954.
  • Stephenson, Mill. A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles. London, 1926 and Appendix, 1938.
  • vol. 25V&A Print Room's Print Catalogue: BRASS RUBBINGS CATALOGUE 1435-1500, 1991
Collection
Accession Number
E.324:1-1950

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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