What do you get for the guy who has everything? How about some pangolin scale armour that has been lacquered then gilded? That’ll probably suffice.

This amazing (if totally impractical) feat of crafting was presented to King Edward VII of England during his tour of India by the Maharaja of Datia. Replete with gold, precious turquoise and gilt copper sections and ornately carved horny scales, this coat is one of the least usable defensive garments one could imagine (short of a black powder hat in a flamethrower fight) – it’s simply too beautiful.

Snipaste 2020 10 09 00 12 35 1 3trivia
Historical trivia: the most useless armor

Scale and lamellar armour have been employed by many cultures over the millennia – from the Scythians to the Japanese – the overlapping scales that mimic animals like reptiles and fish were an effective choice before metallurgical technology advanced enough and firearms gained greater prominence, making all armour save steel plate all but obsolete.

This coat of plates didn’t simply mimic animal scales, they were actual animal scales – one well-aimed crossbow bolt and old King Eddie would be toast. Given that this was 1876 and not 876, he wouldn’t so much as watch a battlefield from a great distance, let alone fight on one. Still, it’s very pretty, isn’t it?

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