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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue 02 Sep, 2008 9:35 pm    Post subject: Construction of early medieval swords         Reply with quote

Hi All:

I am a relatively new member who joined because my interst is in collecting genuine medieval swords. Earlier this year I acquired a sword from a German auction house dated aroud 1250, German. I was not able to view the sword but had enoug information about it to believe it genuine. Not having a chance to inspect it, the only thing I was alarmed about when I received it was a "fault" in it's grip portion where the otherwise well preserved steel faulted inward (at the same location on both sides). It's as if the smith needed to lengthen the grip portion of the sword and added additional grip length - but the "weld" is now exposed with age.

Well, a recent post about a German dealer (Fricker Historishen Waffen) who'm I have to thank Oliver Wiegand from Germany for the link

http://www.fricker-historische-waffen.de/html/home__engl_.html

showed a magnificent Viking sword sold last year with an extremely similar fault mark on its tang. My guestion to all you smithing (and otherwise) experts is: what do you make of this feature? I am attaching a detail of the Fricker shop photo because it shows the "fault" most clearly - a half-moon weld that resulted in more material being bound to the blade.

I'll supply photos of the same feature on my sword ASAP!
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed 03 Sep, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are the pics of both swords. I put an arrow in each pointing to the "weld". It's a lot easier to see on the Viking one. Could both of these swords have suffered a broken tang and been repaired?


 Attachment: 36.29 KB
Sword1250.jpg


 Attachment: 121.03 KB
ZornhauViking.jpg

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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Sep, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is not uncommon to see welded tangs.
Why this was done can be for several reasons. It might even have been made during original manufacture, where a softer extension is welded on to the blade, forming the end of the tang. Or it may have been made later in the life of the sword, either as a result of refurbishment in a culterŽs shop or as a repair after having failed in use (an old weld coming apart, perhaps).

Both your examples look strikingly similar and obvious in the same way.
The little sceptic deamon that always sits on my shoulder whispering doubt in my ear tells me that this is one clever way to make a contemporary sword look old and genuine. Adding a few obvious flaws will disarm most doubts, but if the sword is too perfect and pristine, even genuine examples are doubted by experts.
I am not saying these sword are modern made, only that such a feature by itself does not say anything that it looks like a welded tang, that can have been made sometime during the working life of an ancient sword, or added as a final flair to a modern made reconstruction.
There is no reason to be disturbed about the "flaw" in itself. It is a genuine feature on some swords. Originally it would have been quite sturdy. Today, rust may have eaten away inside the weld weakening it. Examine it carefully to see wether you think it is solid: this can have an impact on how you choose to display your sword.

In the weapon offerings from the roman iron age in the danish bogs, many swords are found with tangs even riveted on, and also some with welded on tangs. Here the normal way to do it is to place the weld down over the blade, so that it overlaps the pattern welding like a small apron or tounge.
YouŽll find various methods of construction of tangs in all time periods. Blades were as a norm put together from a number of different billets in many different ways.
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Fabrice Cognot
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Location: Dijon
Joined: 29 Sep 2004

Posts: 354

PostPosted: Wed 03 Sep, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have seen swords with welded tangs too - though they're obviously not the norm. I must have pics of them on my HD, I can dig them out if you'd like.

Jan, do you have a pic of the other side of the sword, and, even more intersting, of the tang but sideways ?

PhD in medieval archeology.
HEMAC member
De Taille et d'Estoc director
Maker of high quality historical-inspired pieces.
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed 03 Sep, 2008 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Guys:

Your replies were helpful - I was not aware that there are numerous welded tangs so the sword I have isn't that "flawed". I tried to get a picture of it from the side as suggested but it's hard to see the detail with all the rust. The best I can describe it is that the upper part fits over the lower like an old fashioned (springless) clothes pin. I cannot tell if the upper section is made of a different steel. It is definitely the weakest point of the sword and I now cringe that prior to discovering it I had actually been stupid enough to hold the sword in my hand by the tang, trying its balance. There's only about a millimeter of material between the two flaps and who knows how much of it is still good steel.

Regarding the sword being a fake, that's something I'll obviously have hanging over my head as long as I own it. If it is a forgery, though, it would be a very old one because the blade part was obviously cleaned and conserved with some kind of lacquer. I am not a bladesmith but am a pretty knowledgeable wood worker and the appearance and stiffness of the lacquer make me believe it's quite old. Since swords like this were nearly worthless some 80-100 years ago, I feel better thinking it wasn't in anybody's interest then to go to such lengths faking what to most people is just a bunch of rusted metal.

Thanks again!
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Don Stanko




Location: ohio
Joined: 27 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Sep, 2008 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I remember the sword, lot #4703. I believe the sword to be 100% authentic, most likely a grave find given that there is cloth remaining on one side of the guard. I think that the sword could have originally been like that. I also think that someone could have broken it when or after it was found. Antique swords often receive more abuse from modern hands than from time and elements. I've been told that if an antique sword has obvious damage, it probably came from modern misuse than from combat - unless the damaged area or repair shows similar patina and age. In any case, I would not worry and enjoy your newest purchase.

Also, if you have any photos of other swords in your collection that you would like to share, I know many here would love to see them.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 532

PostPosted: Thu 04 Sep, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, that viking piece is stunning.

My I ask whether you have any more pictures of the viking hilt? With your permission, it is a design I might like to imitate one day.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Fri 05 Sep, 2008 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately I only own the 13th century sword, not the Viking one. The posted photo is the best of it that I could find. There are some others on the German dealer's page (see the link in my first post) when you click on 2007 Catalog. It is no longer shown in the 2008 catalog so he must have sold it.
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