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Brass rubbing

Brass rubbing

  • Place of origin:

    Buckinghamshire (Rubbing would have been made on site at Dinton Church. Original rubbing probably made elsewhere., made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1475 (made)
    08/03/1949 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pearson, Reginald H. (Mr)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax rubbing of monumental brass on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Reginald H. Pearson

  • 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

Brass rubbing of a headless effigy, probably of a priest, shown with hands in prayer wearing a girdle and a rosary. The brass is a palimpsest: the reverse shows the effigy of Elizabeth, wife of Francis Lee of Morton, died 1558.

Place of Origin

Buckinghamshire (Rubbing would have been made on site at Dinton Church. Original rubbing probably made elsewhere., made)


ca. 1475 (made)
08/03/1949 (made)


Pearson, Reginald H. (Mr)

Materials and Techniques

Wax rubbing of monumental brass on paper


Height: 330.2 mm, Width: 127 mm

Object history note

Brass rubbing made in 1949 by Mr. Reginald H. Pearson and given by him to the V&A.

Descriptive line

Brass rubbing of headless effigy, probably of a priest, ca. 1475, Dinton Church, Buckinghamshire

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

V&A Print Room's Print Catalogue: BRASS RUBBINGS CATALOGUE 1435-1500, London, 1991.
Reverend D.C. Rutter, 'Palimpsest Brasses at Dinton. Buckinghamshire' in Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society Vol. VIII Part VI, March 1949
Stephenson, Mill. A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles. London: Headley Brothers, 1926, and supplement, 1956.


Wax; Paper



Subjects depicted

Rosary; Girdle


Death; Metalwork; Rubbings; Commemoration


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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