A Resource for Historic Arms and Armour Collectors
Angus Trim and Christian Fletcher AT1593
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy
Throughout the history of the sword's evolution, the idea of creating a weapon that could balance the use of multiple attributes, such as cutting and thrusting, has always been a factor in many designs. The Oakeshott Type XVIII family is a classic medieval design that works for powerful cutting but has a blade shape that allows for the retention of tip control as well as stiffness for the thrust. Such blades could be carried for military use, being handy back-up weapons for dealing with multiple styles of armour, though they could have also been quite suitable for civilian carry in a self-defense setting.
As the 15th century started leading into the Renaissance, the popularity of civilians carrying arms became more common, and a variety of sword styles flourished. While later periods favored specialized dueling weapons, such as the rapier, many men of the Medieval upper class maintained the use of the classic longsword as their means of civilian defense. Such swords were versatile and formidable weapons, and the rich would often decorate their weapons to show their wealth and distinction.
A beautiful example of this type of longsword resides in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich. It is well-preserved, and is thought to date to 1450-1480. The guard and pommel are of gilt bronze, and the long grip is covered with tooled leather. The pommel features a depiction of the Virgin Mary and Child and an inscription "O Maria Bit Wir Uns."
Angus "Gus" Trim is a maker of high performance swords that are in most cases based off of European designs (though he has branched out to Japanese blades as well). Gus has long focused on creating swords based on their functionality first, followed by their aesthetic look. Rounding this out is Christian Fletcher, a cutler who has become well-known in the sword world for both retailing Angus Trim swords and modifying them with new grip wraps, scabbards, and even custom hilt components. The Angus Trim/Christian Fletcher combination works well to produce quality swords that focus on both function and aesthetics.
This sword is created with the blade of the AT1593 with a full custom upgrade by Christian Fletcher, including replacement hilt components and a leather-covered wooden scabbard. This sword is very loosely based off of the two-handed sword in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. It was not intended to be a direct copy, but rather to capture the aesthetic feel of the original.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Angus "Gus" Trim and Christian Fletcher.
The AT1593 is a fairly large longsword, but it is lightweight and easily maneuvered. Part of this is owes to its thin cross-section and steady distal taper, keeping the weight down. Another aspect is the long grip, which allows for a great amount of leverage.
The sword is very sharp, with an edge that would have fared quite well in an unarmoured judicial duel. In such a duel, even a fairly light cut to the hands may be enough to incapacitate the opponent, and such actions are described by period masters. In fact, within the Liechtenauer tradition there are the "three wounders" that could be used against an unarmoured opponent: the cut, the thrust, and the slice. This sword is capable of all three with ease against heavily-clothed flesh.
I tested the sword's edge against water-soaked newspaper, which is often referred to as "poor man's tatami mats". This gives a reasonably dense target, and the AT1593 easily sailed through each one with no evidence of the edge rolling or losing sharpness.
The blade is quite flexible, and when flexed out of line several inches came back straight and true. When attempting the half sword techniques that are often seen in medieval fencing treatises, where the swordsman would grasp the blade with the off hand to use in close quarters combat as a short spear or lever for grappling, I found the sword was adequate though not ideal. The blade is very sharp, so a glove would be necessary to prevent injury, and it is just barely wobbly, making thrusting into dense foam a little bit awkward; I could feel the blade occasionally slip in my hand. A stiffer sword would be more ideal for this particular type of fighting.
Fit and Finish
The blade looks slightly odd on this hilt, as the polish is slightly uneven, with some visual evidence of grinding still left on it. On the ordinary fittings of a typical Angus Trim sword, this would not look so out of place, but on the very regal fittings Christian Fletcher added, it would have really looked nice to finish the blade a little bit more. This, however, would have increased the price of the sword, as polishing is time-consuming.
The scabbard is fantastic. Christian did a fantastic job of sculpting the wood with a center ridge and subtle shaping that follows the lines of the sword blade itself. The chape is hand-forged with a decorative finial at the end.
Angus "Gus" Trim has a reputation of making quality user swords, and this piece is no exception to that. It is a fast and wonderfully-handling piece. Combined with Christian Fletcher's talents it becomes even more than that. This is a sword that has married form and function into a wonderfully regal, elegant, and deadly weapon.
About the Author
Bill Grandy is an instructor of Historical European Swordsmanship and sport fencing at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. He has held a strong passion (obsession?) for swords and swordsmanship for as long as he can remember. He admits that this passion comes from a youth spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, but he'll only admit that if there are no girls around.
Photographer: Nathan Robinson