Antiques column: Thousands of horse brass designs to choose from

Horse brasses
Horse brasses

Everyone can picture a horse brass. Collecting horse brasses first became popular in the 1920s and there are now several thousand designs to choose from. They regularly are seen in the auction room.

In the days when knights used to joust, their warhorses were decorated with plumes, cloths and elaborate harnesses. In due course, working horses of all kinds had their leather harnesses embellished, this time with decorative brasses.

Original horse brasses, which were perhaps made as early as the 16th century, were hand hammered from sheets of brass, using a hammer, a punch and a file. From 1830 they were cast in sand moulds that were created from patterns skilfully carved in close-grained pear wood. And from 1870 to the present they have been produced by die stamping designs into a thin sheet of brass.

Full column in this week’s (28 August) people’s paper.