This targe was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1996. According to their listing, this targe is classified as a Scottish shield circa 1700-1750. It was constructed using leather, wood, brass, horn, and textile and is 19 3/4 inches in diameter.
The brass boss in the center is the first thing that caught my attention. It stands very proud in the center of the shield, and it has hearts cut out with the points facing inward towards the center. The boss also has an etched border around the cutout sections and more etching on the downward portions.
Four separate brass arrows surround the boss pointing outward in diagonal directions. While four more arrows pointed horizontally and vertically are extended out to the edge of the targe, dividing this shield into quadrants. Each quadrant has a brass diamond in the center with two brass disks flanking it. All of the brass arrows and diamonds have heart shaped sections that have been cut into the designs. Some of the cut out portions have patches of red wool in them while others do not. It is likely that all of these cutouts were red at one time. Tradition would hold that these were swatches cut from a redcoat uniform. The corners of all the brass arrows have been secured with larger brass nails, while all the remaining brass has smaller brass nails.
There are circular patterns carved into the leather, two in the center and two around the outer edge. Between the two sets of rings there are eight arrows carved, points out, that surround both the outer brass arrows and brass diamonds. All of these have the smaller brass nails hammered into the pattern. There are also some other spiked shapes carved but not nailed. They extend out from each of the carved arrows uniformly around the shield.
The leather looks cracked around most of the nails, hence all of the little spidery patterns around them. The upper right quadrant has crack in the leather that extends halfway to the center from the 2 o’clock position. Also in the upper right, just to the right of the top arrow there is severe damage to the rim of the shield. Is this battle damage? The wood core is plainly visible here. The other notable damage is just to the left of the top arrow. A round circle is missing from the leather that also exposes the wood beneath. Could this have been from a musket or pistol ball?
Additional photos of this targe from different angles and from the back are needed to make a more thorough analysis of the construction.
A very beautiful piece all said.
More about DT3996 can found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website.