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Sam N.




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 7:29 pm    Post subject: Point of Balance of Historical Blades         Reply with quote

Can anyone direct me to a source listing the typical PoBs of antique swords? Better, can any one tell me what the average PoBs are for a typical Longsword, Falchion, Sidesword, Arming sword or Rapier?
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 7:41 pm    Post subject: Point of Balance         Reply with quote

Hi Sam

If you do some searches in the archives you will find some excellent discussions of this topic with the main points of view on the value of PoB as a stat and some specific details from some originals as well as replica swords.

As for an "average" or where one would find such data that is accurate I fear there is none. The type of specific style of sword and its intended purpose as well as many other factors would go into where it would be on any given piece. There are several theories about why it should be at such and such a point but most of these are not based on any type of wide sample and suffer from the fact that it is probably a matter of taste where one prefers it in a certain workable range.

I wish I could be more specific but I think one would lose some of the lesson the originals teach use by trying to say it is this or that measurement. It may even be a measurement that a period sword user would not be concerned about.

Best
Craig
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Sam N.




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 7:33 am    Post subject: Re: Point of Balance         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Hi Sam

If you do some searches in the archives you will find some excellent discussions of this topic with the main points of view on the value of PoB as a stat and some specific details from some originals as well as replica swords.

As for an "average" or where one would find such data that is accurate I fear there is none. The type of specific style of sword and its intended purpose as well as many other factors would go into where it would be on any given piece. There are several theories about why it should be at such and such a point but most of these are not based on any type of wide sample and suffer from the fact that it is probably a matter of taste where one prefers it in a certain workable range.

I wish I could be more specific but I think one would lose some of the lesson the originals teach use by trying to say it is this or that measurement. It may even be a measurement that a period sword user would not be concerned about.

Best
Craig


Wow, I'm surprised searching the Forum archive slipped my mind as an option! Thanks for the suggestion.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

POint of balance will vary widely (and sometime wildly) within a given Oakeshott blade type and between the blade types. That stat is not included in any museum catalogue I've seen. Oakeshott mentions some in passing, but there isn't a single source with that info. Alexi Goranov did note point of balance for some antiques he handled at the Higgins, but these aren't necessarily average enough to give you a representative number: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_higgins.html .

An average will be nearly impossible to find unless Peter and Craig have gotten together and combined what they've measured over the years off antique swords.

Happy

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would heartily recommend starting by reading the spotlight topics in the category "Dynamics, Properties, and Performance"... Many great discussions!

Personnaly, I think that point of balance alone says little, if anything, about the dynamic behaviour of a sword. Comparing just the point of balance on two swords leads to no definitive conclusions either about how the weapons handle.

You would also have to define what measure exactly you mean by "point of balance"... Distance from cross to PoB? Pommel to PoB? Some even considered ratios of lengths rather than absolute measurements. But then... Ratio of pommel to Pob over total length? Ratio of cross to Pob over blade length?

For as long as there will be no consensus over these questions, anyone collecting stats about antiques runs the risk of capturing only a small part of what is really significant... There is a theoretical part to build first. One of my dreams is to help with it Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As clarification, all the Points of Balance listed in articles and reviews on this site are measured from where the blade meets the guard to the PoB.
Happy

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Einar Drønnesund





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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 12:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As others have said, it will vary a lot from sword to sword, even within a given type of sword, but if you want typical stats for well made examples of, say a longsword or other types, check out the albion website, arms and armour, angus trim swords, etc. They are all well made examples of historical swords, and often state the POB on their swords.
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jul, 2007 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Einar Drønnesund wrote:
As others have said, it will vary a lot from sword to sword, even within a given type of sword, but if you want typical stats for well made examples of, say a longsword or other types, check out the albion website, arms and armour, angus trim swords, etc. They are all well made examples of historical swords, and often state the POB on their swords.


Depends on what you mean by "typical".

I personally don't put much stock in this particular measurement anymore, as it tends to lead to more misunderstandings about a sword's dynamic properties than just about anything else......

There's within "the range", and there's typical. Not necessarily the same thing. As a swordmaker, I also have to sell to a 21st century crowd, so making something "average" or "typical", might just cause a modern enthusiast to stick up his nose and say something like "balanced like sh**"........

A few years ago, a friend of mine came back from a trip to Britain and sent me a couple photos, and specs on a single hand sword I had some real interest in. 41 inch total length, 34 inch blade, 1lb 14 oz, .175 inch thick at base {4.5 mm}, linear distal taper to just behind the tip, cog 11 inches...........

11 inch center of gravity.......

when asked what I was going to do with this, I responded that I'd do an "inspiration", start thicker and give it more distal taper, and shoot for a cog of in the neighborhood of 6 inches. Vince Evans could sell an 11 inch cog, Kevin Cashen could, but I couldn't......*g*

I never completed a sword from that "inspiration".

With a few exceptions, what we're doing today is warping the view of what was available "in period". The stuff that won't sell is just not made. Looking at modern repros, and expecting to see "typical", or "average", is looking for fools gold......

Sorry..........

swords are fun
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ian Peirce lists PoBs wherever possible in his book 'Swords of the Viking Age'. Even within this general type the variation is pretty wide 2" to well over 9", but mainly on the higher end. I once averaged his figures and believe the result came close to 7". I found this interesting given the amount of on-line critisizm that one sees of modern replicas with PoBs this far out. Seems like everyone these days expects a sword to handle like a 15th century arming sword or longsword. -JDC
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I found this interesting given the amount of on-line critisizm that one sees of modern replicas with PoBs this far out. Seems like everyone these days expects a sword to handle like a 15th century arming sword or longsword. -JDC


This is quite the generalization and overstatement. I think it's incorrect as well. Not everyone expects that. If you look at quality replicas (we have stats on well over 100 replica swords throughout the pages of this site), there's a wide range in stats. The range could be wider, sure, but these extreme ends of the appropriate range are sometimes less attractive to buyers.

I think educated people want swords to handle appropriately for their type/era/purpose. I don't expect a Type X to handle like a Type XV, nor a Type XIIIa to handle like a Type XVIII. That wouldn't make sense.

Happy

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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:
I found this interesting given the amount of on-line critisizm that one sees of modern replicas with PoBs this far out. Seems like everyone these days expects a sword to handle like a 15th century arming sword or longsword. -JDC


This is quite the generalization and overstatement. I think it's incorrect as well. Not everyone expects that. If you look at quality replicas (we have stats on well over 100 replica swords throughout the pages of this site), there's a wide range in stats. The range could be wider, sure, but these extreme ends of the appropriate range are sometimes less attractive to buyers.

I think educated people want swords to handle appropriately for their type/era/purpose. I don't expect a Type X to handle like a Type XV, nor a Type XIIIa to handle like a Type XVIII. That wouldn't make sense.


Hi Chad

It might be a bit of an overstatement, but I think I see what he's saying. I know where the cogs congregate around most of what I make these days, and took a bit of a walk over at your favorite sword company just minutes ago too.......

Not one single hand cog over 7 inches, a good average would be about five inches {mine and Albion's}.

These are not bad numbers by any means. In every case, they're "within the range". But its my opinion that we {modern swordmakers} tend to bias what we make towards the "handier" type swords. This is what our customer wants, on top of historical accuracy in dynamic balance and handling.......

Its my opinion, that the "typical", or "average" real antique sword would have cogs further out than our modern manufacturers are currently putting out........ That's not a bad thing, but it does mean that we shouldn't be looked at as making "typical" swords............as would be found in period........

swords are fun
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

This is quite the generalization and overstatement. I think it's incorrect as well. Not everyone expects that. If you look at quality replicas (we have stats on well over 100 replica swords throughout the pages of this site), there's a wide range in stats. The range could be wider, sure, but these extreme ends of the appropriate range are sometimes less attractive to buyers.
.


OK, that was an overgenerlization. Please replace 'everyone' with 'too may people'. However I stand by the basic point, which I believe is the same thing that Mr. Trim was saying above about marketing swords to 21st century customers. Many consumers (not everyone, not the experts you are talking about) reject a sword because it does not have a PoB of 4", and as Mr. Trim states, in general (not always) high-end replicas often have PoBs closer to the hilt than the originals.

Just one example - I just had a quick look at the stats this site has on Albion viking swords. Their PoB's range 5"-6.5", which appears to be on the low (although still normal) range for comparable historical swords. This is easy to happen when, as you state yourself, the high end of the range is missing.

In my opinion, this modern bias (to generalize again) is not only because low PoB swords obviously tend to be more 'user friendly', but also because most modern historical fencing schools use late medieval techniques that are appropriate for late medieval swords. Swords designed to cut through early medieval armour, flesh, and bone from behind a shield don't feel right to us because we don't use them for this purpose (I hope).

I'm as guilty as anyone on this count, so I'm not pointing any fingers.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gus,
Some good info, as usual. I do want to point out that I have no favorite sword company. My favorite sword company is whoever can get me what I'm looking for with what I have available in my wallet. Happy

Back to the topic, as we all know, production makers make what sells. Like you and Craig & co. and Peter and co., the swords are all in the range of historic examples, though they're not necessarily "average" or "typical" examples. I do think the market of good stuff is closer to the averages than ever and is much better at capturing the feel of period swords than ever.

I'd be curious to try a sword with a 7 inch POB. Happy I'm not sure how well it would sell, though.

I do get J.D.'s point that the extremes are missing from the market. I just think we can't lump everyone into a category and say everyone is looking for less than average.

Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D.,
I never said "experts." I said "educated people." Happy There's a big difference. I don't consider myself to be an expert at anything, but I hope I've studied enough to be considered somewhat educated on some things. Happy

And many consumers might reject a far-out POB, but hopefully as more people study these things seriously, that will stop happening. "Too many" people do have misconceptions, though, I'd agree with that. I just don't think it's fair to lump us all into that category, as your first post did. Happy

Happy

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Chad, I believe we are on the same page now. Forgive my original choice of words - must be the cold that's keeping me home today.

On the point of using 7" PoB swords...I like to use swords with a PoB of around 4" to practice basic AEMMA drills at home, but I also have a few viking replicas with PoBs of 7, even 8 (not by intelligent design, these are low-end products). The interesting thing is that if one spends a few days with one of these swords, they start to feel normal and right. One automatically ajusts one's technique to avoid rapid wrist rotations and use more shoulder (which tends to work better for transitions between certain postas than for others). Of course, this is using a sword completely out of its historical context, but its still an interesting excercise. Not to mention, one feels turbo-charged when one goes back to the 'regular' sword.

Its these subjective observations, plus the historical data we discussed above, that make me raise an eyebrow when SOME people immediately dismiss some swords as 'wristbreakers' after 1-2 minutes of handling, without considering their historical context. I think we just don't know enough about how the original swords were used to be so judgemental.

- JD
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I'd be curious to try a sword with a 7 inch POB. Happy I'm not sure how well it would sell, though.


Well there is the Albion Gaddhjalt at 6.5" CoG and the Albion Sword of St Maurice at 9" CoG that are close or over 7".

Much more like 10" or 12 " if still in the range of a good sword or some historical type/design might be hard to find ?

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Chad Arnow wrote:
I'd be curious to try a sword with a 7 inch POB. Happy I'm not sure how well it would sell, though.

Well there is the Albion Gaddhjalt at 6.5" CoG and the Albion Sword of St Maurice at 9" CoG that are close or over 7".


I also have a type XI by Angus that balances 7.5" from cross. I have measured several bokens that have their CoG at about this distance as well. So that's perfectly usable. Maybe a bit hard on the wrist, but indeed a type XI is not meant to be handled like a foil...

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
The interesting thing is that if one spends a few days with one of these swords, they start to feel normal and right. One automatically ajusts one's technique to avoid rapid wrist rotations and use more shoulder (which tends to work better for transitions between certain postas than for others).


I've had similar experiences. I recall playing around with this one really awful sword for a while, and after a few days, I started thinking, "Eh, it's not so bad as I first thought." To which one of my students raised an eyebrow and said, "Bill, I think you've just gotten to the point where you like ALL swords." In the end, if you practice the core skills most of all, then the actual weapon in hand isn't as important (though it certainly can make a difference).

Quote:
Its these subjective observations, plus the historical data we discussed above, that make me raise an eyebrow when SOME people immediately dismiss some swords as 'wristbreakers' after 1-2 minutes of handling, without considering their historical context. I think we just don't know enough about how the original swords were used to be so judgemental.


Absolutely!

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Gus,
Some good info, as usual.

Back to the topic, as we all know, production makers make what sells. Like you and Craig & co. and Peter and co., the swords are all in the range of historic examples, though they're not necessarily "average" or "typical" examples. I do think the market of good stuff is closer to the averages than ever and is much better at capturing the feel of period swords than ever.



Hi Chad

I would say some stuff is getting more "accurate" than ever before, but I'm not so sure about "average". There's a couple of things at work here..... the body of knowledge is growing all the time, and the experience of the folks like Craig, PJ, and myself is growing.........

But........

we all read the forums somewhat, and we all read the reviews. Not just the three mentioned, but they're read in New York, Baltimore, India, China, etc........

All you have to do is read a respected "reviewer" read how much he loves the {insert brand here} type XII he's testing with a 3.5 inch cog, and how absolutely wonderful it handles. Best sword he ever handled......... Great revew, rave review...... and then folks start being these like pancakes, and everyone loves what they have...........

If typical is more of a 6.5 inch cog, and a more "positive" dynamic feel in movement, and maybe more "blade presence", are we going to make these kinds of swords, so that they sit on the shelves? Or are we going to make what sells?

{here's where it would be real easy to slip into discussing harmonics and dynamic balance.....*g*}

This kind of stuff happens in cycles. When the online community first "started", we had discussions of this nature, and decent swords were often knocked as "wrist breakers". Later, when folks were educated about dynamic balance, cog wasn't as big a deal...... but then some of the old timers "moved on", and we started all over with new folks doing the same song as three years previously........

And again......

And again.......

The educational process is a never ending process........... And at the same time, the makers evolve and change to the market............

swords are fun
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2007 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To me the point of balance is one of the last points of reference both in understanding and in making swords, not the first or the most important thing. As has been mentioned before, these values is something that varies quite a bit between types and within a type.
Taken by itself it does not mean much.

What matters is how a cluster of aspects *work together*.
-Total mass
-Proportions of length between blade and girp plus overall size.
-Placing of forward and aft pivot point in the blade corresponing to the same in the grip.
-Placing of grip and blade nodes.
-Placing of point of balance.
(Note that few of these aspects were used by Oakeshott in his definition of his types).

Picking any one of these aspects as the most important one will distort the overall image and give a slanted idea of what the sword is all about.

Choosing a single sword or a small number of swords and forming a discriminating idea of what "typical" should look like will give a somewhat distorted idea of what swords really were.

We *can* talk about what is typical for swords, or "typical swords", as long as we keep in mind that "typical" is just a narrow window through wich we try to get a grasp of something that is much more varied and rich. Our choice of "Typical" also descibes what aspects we find important in a sword.
Disregarding the value of type character and measurable data is not a good idea, however. They work together in certain ways. There is some kind of logic to it, that follows type and intention.
There is a lot of varation, but not a haphazard mixing of dimensions and proportions.

A "type" is a set of defined aspects that can vary within certain limits in certain ways. The strength of Oakeshotts typology is that it is not so number based: it is more intuitive. It provides a perspecitve for the overall, rahter than going into the specific details other than in rather general ways.
This is also its weakness, as it provokes questions about measurable dimensions and data. As original swords are not standardized like that, we will never find any one single measurement or sword that pin point the type. You find swords of vastly different size, weight and heft that still are good examples of their type. All of them still carry something in common. Still, Oakeshott saw some swords as epitomes of the type. He saw some swords as golden examples of what he wanted to define. These swords are sometimes of high quality and/or outstanding in some ways, but most of all, they represtn someting that Oakeshott saw as fundamental about the development of the sword.
Perhaps contemporary swordsmen saw these swords as outstanding weapons, perhaps they never saw anything about them that put them apart from the rest. It is of no matter. A typology is our tool to understand the past, nothing more and nothing less.

It is how the various aspects relate together that define the type. Without relating to original historical swords the typology will more or less loose its meaning.

There are also crucial aspects for swords, that Oakeshott never mentioned in his typology.
He provided clues about handling in some cases, but these are mostly individual swords, and more seldom types (for a good reason!). You cannot make a sword today, based simply on what Oakeshott says about a type, and be sure it is going to be anything like historical swords of this type. You need more data or some other kind of experience. It is more than knowing the placing of the balance point and the typical size and weight.
Originally swords were made without any need to relate to any of our modern typologies, of course.
Looking at the body of preserved swords we can still see patterns and shapes that are repeated over and over in deifferent constellations through history. It is a shifting and large image that is difficult to get a grasp of. Looking at a few types limited to a short time period of a century or two, will give us one image. Looking at the change and development of swords over millennia, will provide other information, but likely lead to a less detailed understanding.
I think the reason we can construct typologies in the first place is that there are certain ways that swords can be made in the most rational way at any given time.

-Social structure of society and size of economy
-Size and organization of production
-Available materials
-Development of the craft and its traditions
-Role of the sword in civilian and military life
-Role of the sword in armed conflict
-Nature of warfare
These are a few of the parameters that decide the shape of the sword at any given period and place.

I can understand the need and interest in trying to pin point some basic specific data for swords. As long as it is understood that is it just a very rough and relative image, it can be of some use in some situations.

It is like picking a typical Swede and a typical American and from the number of possibilities end up with me and Gus Trim.
We are both pretty typical examples of "Swede" and "American". The value of using us as Types depend on how you apply and interpret the principle.
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