A chain find

Sometimes when I have a bit of spare time and nothing special to do I make searches in the Bildindex and just go through pictures of all sorts. And the sometimes on strange searches you hit the jack pot and find a really interesting picture!
A while back I found this picture of a chain:

Kette der Armbrustschützen.

And it looks remarkably much like the chains in for instance a lot of Cranach paintings, like theese two by Lucas Cranach the Elder:

The chain is from the Rathaus (City hall) in Schmalkalden, a small city in the region called Thüringen. The closest bigger cities would be Erfurt and Kassel.
I have had many discussions with people on what theese chains were made of. Were they metal? Gilded leather?
A close up of the chain also found in the bildindex led me to believe it could be a metal chain.

Close up of the chain.

However, the information provided in the bildindex did not say anything about the materials and I have tried to contact the Rathaus in Schmalkalden with no result this far. But I will not give up since I find this chain very interesting!
And I hope this will help some fellow artisans interested in German 16:th century clothing and jewelry.

6 thoughts on “A chain find

  1. Exactly!
    Looking closer at the Cranach paintings the chains around the womens necks also have the grooves – exactly like the rathaus chain so it IS the kind of chain that the women in the paintings are wearing.
    The reason we have been thinking about the leather is because the strange shape of the chain links.
    But as you say – it isn’t sewn together anywhere in the pictures of the real chain from the bildindex. I woul love to see this chain for real!

  2. I just found your blog and I am very excited. I live in the Kingdom of Ealdormere in Canada! It is so exciting to see this image, as I am working on research to create a Cranach dress. Please let me know when (and if) you hear anything back about the materials!


    1. I haven’t heard back on the materials and I expect they won’t answer either – sometimes it is really hard to get information unless you can write and ask in German and I read German just fine but when I have to write on my own I simply can’t find the words. 😉
      But other German friends have said they have seen similar chains in museums and they are all made out of thin metal.

  3. You know, it reminds me of the paper ribbon chains we used to do as kids. Ribbon would curve like that, but I have no idea how they are intertwined. I would love to figure this out. The necklaces are so outrageous I would love to have one.

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