With the exception of a few pieces inherited from her brother, Ferdinand, Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922) probably built up her collection entirely after taking over Waddesdon in 1898 at the age of 51.
She made her purchases under the guidance of Sir Guy Laking, Keeper of the Royal Armouries, who was in touch with numerous antique dealers from whom Alice could make her purchases privately. Alice's collection of arms and armour consisted of over 200 pieces of all types from the late 15th to the early 19th centuries.
Her preference, however, was for arms from the 16th and 17th centuries. From this period she collected swords, daggers, firearms and powder-flasks. Throughout the collection the emphasis was on highly decorated arms.
Although she collected few examples of armour, those that Alice acquired were important for their embossed work. They included a helmet and a pair of elbow-pieces made for Emperor Charles V, and a shield produced in the French royal workshop in the mid-16th century.