English 17th Century ‘Zischägge’ or ‘Dutch Pot’ Helmet of English Civil War Type
Steel helmet with flat rounded brim, single sliding nasal bar secured in its riveted bracket with a slotted screw, two-piece skull with radial ridges and fluting, crown piece formed as a nine-pointed star and hanging ring. Single-piece faux-laminated tail.
The Ottoman Turkish ‘Çiçak’ of the late 16th century was a conical helmet with a wide horizontal brim, sliding nasal bar and chainmail neck guard. This design travelled westward into Europe where it developed into the ‘Zischägge’, a helmet with a round skull and a laminated steel tail to guard the neck. This design was used widely in the Thirty Years War. This was modified again by the English into the ‘three barred pott’ or ‘lobster-tailed pot’ helmet - very close in form to the zischägge, with some key differences including a two-piece skull, raised comb, three-bar hinged face protector and solid rather than laminated tail. These helmets were far less elegant than helmets of earlier eras, but offered excellent protection without the complex construction of full-face helmets, and were supposedly pistol-proof.
This example’s features make it likely to be a ‘Dutch Pot’ – meaning a lobster-tailed pot helmet made in Europe, probably in the Netherlands, then imported to England during the Civil War period of 1642-51. While as a whole it more closely resembles the typical zischägge, it has a mixture of features: the single-piece tail and two-piece construction of the crown are more English in style, while the single sliding nasal bar and radially ridged crown with hanging ring are more European. There do not appear to have been any cheek pieces to this helmet.
Both zischägge and pots were worn by pikemen and harquebusiers on both sides of the English Civil War. Domestic production of arms and armour fell short of demand during this period and both Royalist and Parliamentarian forces made up the shortfall with imports. There was little standardization as a result, arms and armour became extremely expensive and soldiers made do with whatever they could get: examples even exist of late medieval helmets that were modified to resemble pots and pressed into service once again. Popular depictions have wrongly tended to assign the pot solely to the Parliamentarian ‘Roundhead’ faction.
The outer surface is clean with a dark, rough matte finish: helmets of this period were typically not polished, instead being blackened, browned or painted to make them more weatherproof. This example’s weatherproofing is in particularly original condition, with only light wear on raised surfaces such as rivet heads and the ridges of the crown, as one would expect with use. The inner surface has the same dark finish and one small rust spot near the crown.
The screw to secure the sliding bar has been bent, locking it in position and preventing the bar from being fixed in place. Please note that for the purposes of photography the sliding bar was temporarily held in place with wire, which is easily done for display purposes. Some attempt has been made by a previous owner to move the screw by force – this has stripped the weatherproof coating and scraped the sides of the screw head. The outer brim is a welded piece attached to a short inner brim formed from folding the bottom edge of the crown pieces, and there are short cracks at each end of this weld.