John Woodman Higgins, a prominent Worcester industrialist, began collecting armor in the early 1900s. Today, his collection of roughly 3,000 pieces is beautifully displayed throughout the Higgins Armory Museum.
1. Higgins founded the Worcester Pressed Steel Company in 1905 and was always fascinated by metalworking and knighthood. As his business was prospering in the late 20s, Higgins traveled to Europe where he acquired his first armor pieces.
2. During the Viking Age, only the best smiths could forge swords and only wealthy men could afford them.
3. These Scandinavian viking swords from the year 800 still have traces of gold overlay on them.
4. For the Japanese, the sword was the “soul of the samurai.”
5. These Japanese arrowheads were used for fighting, hunting, and gifting.
6. This matchlock musket from 19th century Japan is decorated with a family crest and flying dragons.
7. This ceremonial sword from 19th century was made and used in Congo.
8. This 13th century European steel sword (right) is displayed next to a modern reproduction.
9. This Persian leg armor is covered in etchings of hares being hunted by cats to show that the warrior is as powerful over his enemies as a predator over its prey. The Higgins staff affectionately refer to them as the “kitty/bunny pants.”
10. This 16th century Italian boarding sword was used in naval warfare. Its saw-toothed blade was used for cutting through thick ropes and cables on ships.
11. This delicate smallsword from 1790 was owned by Josiah Wedgwood, a leading figure in the Industrial Revolution.
12. These funny pants were made wide enough to fit around a horse.
13. Yes, even dogs wore armor during the Middle Ages.
14. This Field Armor was worn by Henry Herbert, a leading figure in Queen Elizabeth’s court.
15. Jousting was periodically banned by both the church and state during the 12th century due to death and maiming.
16. This French armor from 1863 was worn by Carabinier (cavalrymen equipped with a firearm).
17. This helmet from 1585 was probably worn by a German bodyguard to a noble family.
18. This giant divider was most likely used for taking large measurements by armorers when making shields and targes.
19. This central European anvil from 1763 was a primary tool used by armor smiths.
20. This combat armor from the second half of the 19th century was Mr. Higgins’ personal suit that he would wear on special occasions.
21. This German crossbow from 1475 is made of wood, cord, bone, horn, and leather.
22. This split-bladed sword from India was most likely built in two phases: the hilt from the 1600s and the blade attached in the 1800s.
All photos by Joseph Lin / BuzzFeed