Albion Armorers Next Generation Reeve Sword
A hands-on review by Michael Edelson
From the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Renaissance, many areas in Europe were on a slow and gradual climb from a largely agrarian economy to one based on trade, banking, and an increasingly-prosperous middle class. The Viking Age, which is considered to have begun in 793 with the raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne, spread the popularity of Viking-style swords throughout much of this developing region. These swords paralleled Europe's economic advancement by evolving from heirloom quality weapons with masterfully crafted multi-piece furnishings and pattern-welded iron/steel blades to mass produced arms with simplified fittings and a more uniform steel construction. The Reeve by Albion Armorers is an example of a late period Viking sword that would have been in use in the 10th or 11th century in England and many parts of Northern Europe.
The Reeve is produced by Albion Armorers, makers of exquisite replica swords based on the research and designs of renowned sword smith Peter Johnsson. The Reeve is one of Albion's Next Generation line, not based on any one specific weapon but incorporating features from several existing contemporary swords with the intent of producing a thoroughly researched "typical" sword of the period. The Reeve has an Oakeshott Type A pommel, commonly referred to as the "Brazil nut" variety, which saw use in the late 10th century and remained popular until the middle of the 12th. Its guard is a combination of what are described in the Oakeshott typology as Style 1 and Style 3. Although it tapers at the ends like a Style 1 guard, the taper is too slight to be a true Gaddhjalt (spike hilt).
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.
The brazil nut pommel is very comfortable and aids the cut by supporting the hand without pressing too hard against it. Thanks to the pommel shape, the short grip can be used comfortably even by those with large and thick hands.
Although the blade is approximately 3/16" thick near the hilt, it is quite stiff and does not waggle when vigorously moved side to side. This stiffness is owed to its width, cross-section, and high quality heat-treatment. Like most swords, the blade sags slightly under its own weight but this is very difficult to detect under casual scrutiny.
I was able to test the sword on light cutting media and it performed very well despite the fact that cutting with single-hand swords is not my forté. It is one of the sharpest Albions I own and makes short work of foam cutting targets.
Fit and Finish
If I had to criticize the finish, I would say that the sword is a little too perfect for the period it represents. The edge bevels are smooth and even, the fuller is straight and the fittings are completely symmetrical. This is not typical of swords of the period but is a necessity in today's highly competitive market.
The grip completes the package with a high quality leather wrap with two risers on either end. Albion's leather wrap remains one of the finest in the industry, combining a beautiful appearance with period flavor. Overall, the sword has an antique feel to it despite the modern precision and clean finish.
The Reeve by Albion Armorers is an excellent sword, combining beauty and grace in a relatively inexpensive package. It is as appealing to the hand as it is to the eye, and I believe it is a sword that every serious collector should consider owning.
About the Author
Michael Edelson is a writer from New York. Like many enthusiasts, his passion for arms and armour predates his ability to remember its origins. He currently leads a historical European swordsmanship study group focusing on German medieval longsword arts as codified by Johannes Liechtenauer. Michael is also a collector of reproduction arms and armour with a heavy bias for all manner of weapons wielded with two hands.
Photographer: Patrick Kelly