Etching, derived from an ancient Germanic word for ‘eat’, uses corrosive acids to bite designs into hard surfaces like metal. The background can either be eaten away so the design stands out in relief, or the design itself can be bitten into the surface. The technique creates a shallow relief making it possible to create highly decorated objects without compromising the structural integrity of the metal making it suitable for items like weapons, locks and tool. Between 1500 and 1750 production centred on southern Germany and northern Italy where etched armour was a speciality.
Padlock and Key, c 1580 Southern Germany, Steel
Helmet (Morion), c 1580 Northern Italy, Steel
Gauntlet, c 1580 Northern Italy, Steel
Thigh Defence (Cuisse), c 1515-1525 Augsburg, Southern Germany – Steel
Barrel-Maker’s Knife, 1702 Germany – Steel, brass
Casket, c 1570-1600 Germany, Steelcartwork.
Cranequin, c 1565-1574 Southern Germany, Steel-wood-rope