The Highland Targe
I often receive emails asking how to get a commissioned targe. Here’s what you need to know:
I strive to make each targe look like a gently used relic of the Celtic gods, while retaining the functionality of it’s original use. Targes or Targets, were Highland shields, primarily used from the 16th through the mid 18th century. So my talent is really focused on these niche pieces of artistic history that I happen to be passionate about.
The price of each targe is based on what you want tooled into the leather. Etching the brass boss, and adding the removable brass shield spike raises the price.
Each targe has a 3/4 inch plywood core. Usually 19 inches in diameter. Vegetable tanned leather is wrapped around the front and secured on the back with brass or steel nails. The designs are first traced onto the leather, then cut into it with a swivel knife. The designs are then hand tooled into the leather. I am meticulous with the tooling on each piece. I then color them with a combination of dies and stains to highlight the tool work. This is what brings the targe to life.
Each targe has a brass boss in the center of the shield. The boss is hand hammered from sheet brass into one of several dishing stumps that I’ve made. The boss can be etched with Celtic designs and motif’s. Etching is optional as it increases the cost. Many original targets had etched designs in the brass. I hand draw designs for the etching. A shield spike is also optional. The shield spike is made from 3/8 inch brass rod and is also removable. One end is tapered, the other end is threaded so that it can be screwed into the core through the center of the boss. I use 3/8 inch threaded brass inserts in the wood core for the spike to screw into. If you choose to add the spike, a sheath will be attached to the back for storage.
On the back, traditionally targets were covered with fur. Usually red deer. I can’t import red deer fur though, so I use hair-on cow hide. I have used deer on several commissions, and it can be used for an additional fee. On original pieces, there were two arm straps for the arm to slide all the way through so that the shield hand could also hold a dirk. I add two brass D-rings to the back to and bottom, and add reproduction 18th century buckles to the arm straps so that when you aren’t wearing it, you can hang it on your wall. By unbuckling it, the leather flattens allowing the shield to be flush with the wall. Otherwise there would be a hump of leather on the back.
So when you contact me about commissioning a targe, I will need to know what you want on it. I can make reproductions of original extant targes, I can make a new custom design, or I can make a targe similar to one already in my Portfolio. I do like to alter some elements on the ones that I remake from the portfolio so that each is unique from others that I’ve made.
I will quote you a price on the commission once I have the details of what you want. I require a minimum deposit of 1/2 of the price of the targe to ensure that we are both committed to the piece. Each targe takes 4-5 weeks from start to finish once the design is agreed upon and the deposit is made. The buyer pays all shipping charges as well. UPS ground shipping inside the continental United States and Canada is $90.00. If you live outside of the North American continent I will need to know your shipping address to quote your shipping charge.