Guillaume of Dublin
I have been carrying out some research into practical ways of making riveted mail today. I think I have been reasonably successful, and I'd like to share what I've found out so far.
My initial idea was to find out if any professional armourers made the stuff. Enquiries within the Tower of London armouries drew a blank, but it turns out there is someone who makes reproduction riveted mail for museums. I don't think I should publish his name and address here, since he has not given me permission to do so.
This guy has managed to get a nut and bolt manufacturer to mass produce overlapped, pierced rings ready for riveting. The rings are 3/8 inch internal diameter, made of mild steel wire 1/16 inch thick. They make very nice authentic mail, but they are a bit flimsy.
There is another slight problem - the rings cost about £24 per thousand (1991 price), and the minimum run is 25,000! So that means that in order to get enough to make a shirt you'd have to shell out £600 in one go! This is a lot of money.
These rings make a very good reproduction mail shirt, but they are, as I've said, a bit flimsy and very expensive. Looking for something cheaper and tougher, I finally came up with a widget called an external circlip. (I believe circlips are also known as 'retaining rings'.) If you've never seen one they look like this.
Circlips can be bought commercially at about £20 the thousand (1991 price), they are made out of spring steel, and are as tough as hell. The process of forming them into mail involves the following steps.
I don't know if the circlips I have used are the best ones for the job, though they are the best I have been able to find so far. It's quite possible that there may be better ones out there somewhere.
I have finished a coif and hauberk made of this mail. It is both light and tough, and looks good. It is a bit scratchy because the circlips have some sharpish edges, and the rivets can also catch you, so it does require padding underneath it.
Original article published in Far Horizons, Volume 4 Number 2, Summer 1991.
©1991 by Andrew Robertson.
Permission is granted to reproduce, copy and/or distribute this article provided this is not done for profit, and on condition that the text and illustrations are not changed and this copyright notice remains attached.
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