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Stephanie Maks




Location: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 04 Jul 2008
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Posts: 67

PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Falchions - Classification / Typology?         Reply with quote

I have been searching the net for a week or two now for information on Falchions -- history, styles, etc. From what I have found, it seems that they were used for quite a long period of time; they certainly came in a number of different styles / shapes, and these differences in form would suggest perhaps differences in function or an evolution. It seems though, that there is no regular classification system or typology for this family of swords?

I can say something like 'I like the Thorpe Falchion but the Conyer's does not appeal to me' but I wonder if there's something more quantitative or defined out there - along the lines of Oakeshott, perhaps.

My curiosity is driven by my recent purchase of an ATrim Archangel Falchion - I love the blade design, but I am not as big a fan of the hilt. I'm considering making my own hilt for it, and trying to determine an appropriate or at-least-plausible design. Would a Type 3 or Type 7 (Oakeshott) guard be appropriate? Type D or Type G pommel? Or maybe it doesn't matter - if there isn't enough information out there on falchions, maybe it would boil down to whatever 'feels right'.

I'm not sure where to turn next - the web-at-large seems to contain a lot of contradictory information about falchions. The best information has been here of course. These three have been some of the best here I think:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8806
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=970
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13370

If anyone could suggest some more good references or provide further info, it would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me, if I were to be putting together a modern sword, I'd choose extent originals and look at each as a whole to serve as inspiration. Looking at individual elements and mixing and matching will not create a final piece that is representing something from history. I think a lot of sword makers fail to get this and this is why so many replicas over the last few decades seem "off" -- the pieces might be semi-historical, but the whole is not.

So, in the situation you're in, I'd find originals with blade types that closely resemble what you have. From there, I'd look at the hilt components. Do the originals each have similar hilts? Are they different but sharing commonalities? Can you find one that has a hilt that is attractive to you mounted on a blade that is similar to what you have? Etc. Etc.

I like the ATrim falchions. I find them to be very attractive and am especially excited about them given that there are so few of these types of things represented as modern-made swords. When they were first put online I scrambled to find ways to purchase one for myself. I'm not sure what served as inspiration for the Archangel model other than the Painting of St. Michael, but I don't believe it necessarily closely represents extant originals. Given this, maybe you can find more success at dismissing the idea of making something historical and instead make something pleasing to your own sensibilities. I suspect you're leaning in that direction already. It's a methodology that's worked for me in the past.

If the piece is indeed giving a nod to the St. Michael painting, it might be cool to make a hilt that looks like the one in the painting. Windlass and Del Tin have created their own versions of the piece. For what it's worth, I believe the painting itself is a bit anachronistic in that it would seem to be more from the artist's imagination than something specific. Having said that, it's dated from 1466-1480 and so this makes it historical in its own right.

I think the sword blade in question has more of a late 15th / 16th century look than anything else. I'd look at 15th - 16th century Italian hilt styles (or even later) in this case.

Artwork, circa 1450-70:



Italian (Venetian?), early 17th century:




-----------------------------------------

For the sake of clarity, I'm including illustrations of the Oakeshott pommels and cross-guards that you referenced:


Oakeshott Style 3 Guard


Oakeshott Style 7 Guard


Oakeshott Type D Pommel


Oakeshott Type G Pommel

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Stephanie Maks




Location: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 04 Jul 2008
Reading list: 9 books

Posts: 67

PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan, thank you for that very thorough and informative post.

The reason I had mentioned those particular guards and pommels is partially because I prefer a simple 'minimalist' styling and partially because I think they're within the limits of my abilities. I had been hoping to figure out if any of those options would be appropriate or plausible. You've given me a completely different angle to approach it from.

According to Christian Fletcher, Angus's inspiration was an illuminated manuscript depicting the Archangel Michael. This does sound like it is the painting that you linked to.

I'm going to reconsider my options and review what I have researched so far.

Thanks again! Happy
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephanie Maks wrote:
According to Christian Fletcher, Angus's inspiration was an illuminated manuscript depicting the Archangel Michael. This does sound like it is the painting that you linked to.


I've spent considerable amounts of time collecting imagery associated with St. Michael for a personal project of mine. From memory, I'm not aware of any other depiction that has him holding a falchion. I'd be extremely eager to see it to say the least! I'll look again at my sources.

To all: do you know of additional depictions of St. Michael with a falchion other than the painting already shown?

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Fabrice Cognot
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Location: Dijon
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There :

Initial 'B', from a gradual dated 1470-1500.



Also the famous polyptych of st Augustine by Piero della Francesca (1454-69) :




I think I know other examples, but I don't have time to search for them now sorry.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 3:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes!! Thank you! I've been on a mission to collect as many of these images as possible. It just so happens that they're on-topic with this topic too. Very nice.
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Stephanie Maks




Location: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 04 Jul 2008
Reading list: 9 books

Posts: 67

PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for those images Fabrice!

I spent a few hours last night reviewing images of falchions in period artwork, and have found a good bit of variety in pommel and guard -- not to mention blade of course too. Both the 'disk / wheel' pommel and the 'cocked hat' pommel seem to have been used quite a bit. The guards seem to have even more variety, with straight, waisted, 'bow tie' and other styles being represented.

I'm not looking to do an exact recreation of something (either from a museum or artwork) and from the wide variety I have seen already, I believe that as long as it is executed well, it should look good. It may end up that the blade style is newer than the hilt-style but I still think it would be plausible.

One thing about the ATrim method of assembly which helps a lot, is that I can make my own grip, guard, and pommel and try it out, without damaging anything -- and if my project doesn't work out I can swap the originals back on again.

Thanks again for the information!
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