Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 32 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 24 items Explore
  • 47 items
  • 92 items
  • 3,524 items Explore
  • 89 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 1 items
  • 41 items
  • 9,885 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,211 items Explore
  • 7,415 items Explore
  • 4,945 items Explore
  • 75 items Explore
  • 101 items Explore
  • 9,319 items Explore
  • 13,022 items Explore
  • 2,386 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 2,035 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,666 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 440 items Explore
  • 18,100 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,930 items Explore
  • 959 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 4,897 items Explore
  • 406 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 923 items Explore
  • 1 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 15,696 items Explore
  • 787 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 70 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 798 items
  • 20 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 303 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 2 items
  • 134 items
  • 2 items
  • 107 items Explore
  • 116 items
  • 898 items Explore
  • 834 items
  • 91 items
  • 27 items
  • 7 items
  • 23,199 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,379 items Explore
  • 1,496 items Explore
  • 352 items
  • 192 items Explore
  • 7,630 items Explore
  • 8,899 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 5,736 items Explore
  • 5,565 items Explore
  • 4,026 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 857 items Explore
  • 859 items Explore
  • 2,491 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 312 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,680 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 309 items Explore
  • 727 items Explore
  • 784 items Explore
  • 476 items Explore
  • 1,037 items Explore
  • 986 items
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 5,178 items Explore
  • 163 items
  • 1 items
  • 311 items
  • 7 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 23 items
  • 58 items
  • 302 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,830 items Explore
  • 3,237 items Explore
  • 69 items
  • 43 items
  • 17,846 items Explore
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 220 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 1 items
  • 145 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 23 items
  • 252 items
  • 311 items
  • 878 items Explore
  • 1,893 items
  • 529 items Explore
  • 1,665 items
  • 1,857 items
  • 6 items
  • 2 items
  • 2 items
  • 3,686 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 29,677 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,052 items Explore
  • 190 items Explore
  • 7,015 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 719 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 65 items
  • 157 items
  • 52 items
  • 19,184 items Explore
  • 824 items
  • 17 items
  • 2 items
  • 17,991 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 1,864 items Explore
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 371 items
  • 3,262 items Explore
  • 82 items
  • 1 items
  • 473 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 20 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 68 items
  • 289 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 4 items
  • 47 items
  • 272 items
  • 333 items
  • 765 items
  • 717 items
  • 1 items
  • 342 items Explore
  • 459 items Explore
  • 10,351 items Explore
  • 695 items Explore
  • 5,847 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,942 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,124 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,296 items Explore
  • 9,171 items Explore
  • 6,472 items Explore
  • 181 items
  • 19 items
  • 141 items
  • 7 items
  • 988 items Explore
  • 17 items
  • 3,562 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 4 items
  • 1,022 items Explore
  • 195 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,486 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 698 items Explore
  • 35 items
  • 114 items
  • 3,188 items Explore
  • 12,228 items Explore
  • 2,705 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7,827 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 1 items
  • 21,318 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,081 items Explore
  • 3,290 items Explore
  • 1,867 items Explore
  • 162 items
  • 28,055 items Explore
  • 634 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 21,129 items Explore
  • 193 items
  • 1 items
  • 17 items
  • 30 items
  • 47 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 215 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 14,768 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 15,263 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 13 items
  • 25 items
  • 2,812 items Explore
  • 853 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 189 items
  • 596 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,023 items Explore
  • 873 items Explore
  • 14 items
  • 1,783 items Explore
  • 135 items
  • 46 items
  • 634 items Explore
  • 2,856 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 22 items
  • 12 items
  • 7,891 items Explore
  • 18,439 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,194 items
  • 170 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 77 items
  • 9,780 items Explore
  • 3,484 items Explore
  • 2,617 items Explore
  • 4,676 items Explore
  • 23 items
  • 55 items
  • 5,834 items Explore
  • 4,024 items Explore
  • 461 items Explore
  • 2,255 items Explore
  • 1,763 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,274 items Explore
  • 41 items
  • 216 items Explore
  • 378 items Explore
  • 5,768 items Explore
  • 8,895 items Explore
  • 1,828 items Explore
  • 2,154 items Explore
  • 3,297 items Explore
  • 8,392 items Explore
  • 72 items
  • 2,485 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,696 items Explore
  • 614 items Explore
  • 61 items
  • 16 items
  • 137 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 466 items
  • 934 items
  • 3,562 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 8,248 items Explore
  • 45 items Explore
  • 25 items
  • 44 items
  • 3 items
  • 12,897 items Explore
  • 1,233 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 4,817 items Explore
  • 779 items Explore
  • 1,977 items
  • 5,094 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,335 items Explore
  • 1,340 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,546 items Explore
  • 15,889 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,681 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 26 items
  • 5,409 items Explore
  • 7,526 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 11 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 6,583 items Explore
  • 249 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 104 items Explore
  • 423 items
  • 148 items Explore
  • 7,281 items Explore
  • 45 items
  • 21,581 items Explore
  • 6,599 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 5 items
  • 543 items Explore
  • 325 items
  • 161 items Explore
  • 10,844 items Explore
  • 54 items
  • 16 items
  • 67 items
  • 4 items
  • 314 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 172 items
  • 3,306 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,218 items Explore
  • 1,850 items Explore
  • 567 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 1,068 items Explore
  • 96 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 253 items Explore
  • 56,806 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2,626 items Explore
  • 2,658 items Explore
  • 73 items
  • 3,136 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 13,596 items Explore
  • 5,200 items
  • 7 items
  • 658 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 468 items
  • 39 items
  • 72 items
  • 29 items
  • 415 items
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 1,059 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 715 items
  • 46 items
  • 8,365 items Explore
  • 9 items
  • 947 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 14,177 items Explore
  • 93 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 302 items
  • 2 items
  • 548 items Explore
  • 1,681 items Explore
  • 859 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2 items
  • 1 items
  • 154 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

Mechanical arm

Category

Arms and armour

Date

circa 1550 - circa 1650

Materials

Metal

Measurements

420 mm (Length)

Place of origin

Europe

Order this image

Collection

Cotehele, Cornwall (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Cotehele, Cornwall, South West, National Trust

NT 347324

Caption

Terrible injuries on the bloody battlefields of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries led surgeons to design elaborate prostheses for lost limbs. These were usually made by armourers and the moveable fingers in this mechanical vambrace can lock into place, enabling a soldier to grip his reins or sword. It’s not known how this rare survivor of a brutal period in European history came to Cotehele in Cornwall, but in 1947 the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe related a story of his father’s late-night encounter with this most unusual piece of armour. Awakened in the middle of the night by a sound of someone breaking a window, the Earl groped his way in the dark, searching for a pair of ancient pistols hanging on the wall of the Banqueting Hall. Suddenly, he felt his wrist tightly gripped by cold fingers. Grappling to free himself, he fled back to his bedroom in horror. The next morning, in braver mood, he discovered that the fingers belonged to the mechanical arm and that the burglar had been a cow, scraping her horns against the window bars. Although the Earl was adamant that Cotehele was never haunted, others beg to differ and believe that this atmospheric Tudor house has more than a whiff of the paranormal about it.

Summary

Mechanical arm for left hand, fingers lock into place by a stud to enable grip on reins or weapon. It weighs 1.274 Kilos (2lb 13oz). It was previously thought to be German, but recent research suggests it may be French. Felix Fischborn, placement student at Cotehele in 2008, researched this item: “This mechanical hand is a rare survivor. Someone who had lost his left hand could put his forearm into the vambrace protecting the lower arm and attach the prosthesis to the rest of his armour. Three buttons can lock the five cast fingers into place. One button on the side of the wrist controls the thumb, another on the underside of the wrist locks or loosens index and middle finger whilst the third, next to the second, is there for ring finger and little finger. Each finger can be put into another position, ratchets and studs keep them in place. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries Europe was torn by wars. Gunshots and arrow wounds, fractures and dislocations, burns and gashes were treated by the surgeons accompanying the military campaigns. Medical services were not centrally organised, but in England the Royal Sergeant Surgeon could urge surgeons to serve with the monarch’s forces for the duration of a campaign. Some surgeons who published books or treatises on their profession had gathered their information on the battlefields of their times. Among them are Ambroise Paré who published Dix livres de la chirurgie in 1564 and John Woodall and his The surgeons mate of 1617. Ambroise Paré was a surgeon under François I serving the generals in command of infantry of the French army. Besides describing new methods of treatment and revolutionary operation techniques, he depicted mechanical hands, too. The prints shown are taken from his books and from an English translation published in 1634. They show that some of these prostheses were rather simple whilst others were highly mechanized devices, enabling otherwise lost functions of the limb. In the 16th century prostheses were usually made by armourers. Some were made in collaboration with locksmiths or clockmakers. Though artificial limbs have been made since antiquity – Pliny the Elder (AD 23 or 24 to AD 79) mentions a Roman nobleman who fought in the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC) with an iron hand and an Egyptian mummy with a prosthetic foot was found, too – this artificial hand is a rare survivor. As with most of the objects at Cotehele, we do not know how it came here. First evidence of the hand at Cotehele is given in the lithographic print made after a watercolour painted in the 1830s by Nicholas Condy. This print is on display in the Breakfast Room, and it shows the hand hanging on the North wall of the Hall, similar to its current position.” A replica was made by Context Engineering, Powys, in 2009 (348927). Cotehele’s mechanical hand features in ‘Mechatronic Hands: Prosthetic and Robotic Design’ by Paul H. Chappell, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (2016). ISBN 978-1785611544.