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Leo R.





Joined: 16 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:17 am    Post subject: Sword from my collection         Reply with quote

Greetings everyone! I recently acquired this Katzbalger sword. It was heavily corroded so I had it restored by a professional archaeologist. The wooden handle has been replaced. Several experts have looked at the sword and some say it's an early 16th century original, others say it's a Victorian copy. What do you think?
Here are some pictures of the sword:



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Last edited by Leo R. on Sun 30 Nov, 2008 2:24 am; edited 2 times in total
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To me it looks victorian or most probably even more recent manufacture. To venture a guess, I would say it is about 3-5 years old at most.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Sword age         Reply with quote

Hi Leo

IMHO, I fear Peter maybe on to something here. The pommel in particular is almost certainly very modern. The guard could have a bit of a victorian flair but it has a massive quality that one usually only sees in modern reproductions. Even the Victorians when they went heavy did it with a bit more flair. The blade looks a touch better than the rest, though two thing about it catch my eye. The fullers seem to have a strange flow down the blade and the tip is a bit of a cliche for Katz blades.

The last thing is the corrosion seems to be very surface orientated. The black areas seem to be sitting on top of the material. I would expect to seem some deeper pitting and aggression around the edges.

Best
Craig
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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

DISCLAIMER: I don't know anything about katzbalgers.

That said, I think I've seen a very similar sword before.



EDIT:

Looks a bit like this sword from a known Czech maker. Aged and with a new grip of course. Blade with three fullers, three groove pommel. The pommel is a little different but these are made by hand and that could just be a result of different production runs. Cross guard is nearly identical and not just for the type but on a sword-to-sword comparison.




'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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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
To me it looks victorian or most probably even more recent manufacture. To venture a guess, I would say it is about 3-5 years old at most.


Thanks for your post. I really don't think it is that recent. It was heavily corroded and cleaned by a professional archaeologist who was sure the corrosion was certainly old. And the experts who have seen it in hand were sure it was an old sword.


Last edited by Leo R. on Sun 30 Nov, 2008 2:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ian Hutchison wrote:
DISCLAIMER: I don't know anything about katzbalgers.

That said, I think I've seen a very similar sword before.



EDIT:

Looks a bit like this sword from a known Czech maker. Aged and with a new grip of course. Blade with three fullers, three groove pommel. The pommel is a little different but these are made by hand and that could just be a result of different production runs. Cross guard is nearly identical and not just for the type but on a sword-to-sword comparison.





Yes, it looks similar to that one, but mine is definitely handforged and this looks more like machine work (on the blade/fullers). Probably the Czech maker based his copy on an original.


Last edited by Leo R. on Sun 30 Nov, 2008 2:26 am; edited 2 times in total
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Sword age         Reply with quote

I've contacted the Czech maker through e-mail and he told me he did not make my sword. He said my sword is certainly all forged by hand and old, and he uses machinery to make them. His swords are based on early 16th century examples.

Last edited by Leo R. on Sun 30 Nov, 2008 2:28 am; edited 2 times in total
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rust is not so difficult to produce.
I did a project for fun once, to make a practical joke on a friend who worked at the Historical Museum in Stockholm. I showed him a broken sword "that I just bought in an antique shop during the Medieval Festival in Visby, and could he please say what he thought about it".

Of course I had made the sword just the other week.
He did me the compliment to be envious for at least a minute or so. And then we got a good laugh together when I told him the true story.

Old iron, acid and humid storage will turn new work into rusty remains in very short order. Much of what we see on the internet sold as genuine antiques looks like it could have been made only a few weeks ago.
To tell the genuine from the fakes, I think you have to look at shapes rather than rust.
I am no chemist, however and I could not tell if rust was ancient or newly made based on analysis. From just looking it is hard to tell.
The pommel on that Katzbalger looks like it was made first on a lathe and then ground flat on its faces. Then cut or chiselled. I would not be surprised if the lines were cut with some sort of grinding tool. Perhaps some forging was involved in the shaping (like flattening a turned trumpet shape, there by increasing the flare and flattening the faces), but a tell tale thing is otherwise the obvious forging marks on the guard. They do look a bit coarse, especially as the shape of the guard is easier to shape neatly with the hammer, than that flaring pommel which has a very smooth "waist" or outline in contrast to its rather crudely cut groves. To me eye at least it does not add up.

Another note worthy thing is if the fullers do look forged. These groves were as a rule ground rather than forged. Rather shallow and often not so distinct. In contemporary replicas fullers are often left a bit rough as antiques do hint at this look after centuries of patina. When they were new they would have been neater, even though a bit wobbly at times.

Below is an image of my "fake".



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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are 2 pics of what the sword looked like before the restoration. Especially the corrosion in the fullers on the blade was very thick.


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Last edited by Leo R. on Fri 28 Nov, 2008 7:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 4:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo R. wrote:
It was heavily corroded and cleaned by a professional archaeologist who was sure the corrosion was certainly old.


I have to criticize my unnamend colleague.
If an archaeologist really thinks that he is handling an original peace he wouldn't clean the surface, since that would estroy the surface of the blade and any microscopic marks that it might have carried. Especially if he is of the opinion that the rust is "old".
It has been pointed out before that rust is easy to produce and because of that it is no clue to the age of any iron object.

It is still impossible to date iron in another way than its form, using methods described as typology.
The "Leipzig Institut" here in Germany is working on a method to date iron, but there haven't been any satisfying results yet.

This particular blade remindes me of one i've seen in the DHM in Berlin. That was also a reproduction, but from the 60's, so quite interesting in itself.
But i am no specialist in those kind of blades, so i wouldn't dare to really date it.
Besides that I share Peters opinion that it looks a bit rough.


By the way:
Great fake Peter!
Please burn it, so future colleagues don't get confused. Laughing Out Loud

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 6:28 pm    Post subject: Hi Leo         Reply with quote

Thank you for the pictures before it was cleaned. I am afraid this only makes it look a bit more like a modern piece as the corrosion is very red and looks like it is dusty. (the rust comes off in a smooth dust when rubbed)

I think Ian has found your source. If you send a pic of your sword to them my bet is they will tell you when they made it. The details seem to be even more modern when you see the tang that is under the grip.

Another telling factor, is the pommel solid? If so it favors the modern date. Often these style of sword had hollow pommels in period.

Best
Craig
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 12:29 am    Post subject: Re: Hi Leo         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Thank you for the pictures before it was cleaned. I am afraid this only makes it look a bit more like a modern piece as the corrosion is very red and looks like it is dusty. (the rust comes off in a smooth dust when rubbed)

I think Ian has found your source. If you send a pic of your sword to them my bet is they will tell you when they made it. The details seem to be even more modern when you see the tang that is under the grip.

Another telling factor, is the pommel solid? If so it favors the modern date. Often these style of sword had hollow pommels in period.

Best
Craig


The pommel is hollow, not solid. The tang goes into the hollow pommel and there is room enough left for a part of the wooden grip that went also into the pommel (that's what an antique sword dealer told me it was for).
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It would be interesting to see this hollow.
Could you please photograph that angle, so the base and hollow of the pommel is clear?

Another note on the fullers:
Notice how the first 10-12 cm of the fullers run parallel, and then there is a kink, or slight misalignment?
This matches pretty exactly the sword from Kowex Ars shown above: same type of traces from the tool.
I would not be surprised if these two blades were forged with the exactly same tools. Probably in a press or power hammer.
This kink, or un-eveness tells you exactly what the forging tool looks like: a double set up with three parallel rods welded on to facing plates. They would be joined by a U-shaped bar acting as a spring and the working length of the tool is shown by the rythmic interruptions of the fullers.
Another tell tale detail is that the fullers do not decrease in width from base to point, but run parallel and to the same depth from beginning to end, starting and ending abruptly. Typical result if a press has been used in the shaping. Not something you typically see on originals. Today such obvious remaining traces of forging is sometimes appreciated by customers since it makes the sword look hand forged and makes the modern sword look somewhat like an original pitted by rust. Black forging scale looks a bit like old black patina and so will evoke a feeling of something genuine.
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 1:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a link to a pic that shows the entire sword:

http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/3...3c989d.jpg

So you can see how the fullers look on the entire blade.

Too bad there is now a new handle on the sword, so I can't take a pic of the hollow pommel...I made pics of the sword before the handle, hopefully there is one with the pommel inside. I will look it up for you.
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo,

You know who Peter Johnsson and Craig Johnson are, right? I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue every avenue in trying to be sure of the dating, but you've just been answered by two men whose knowledge of swords is probably unsurpassed today. Not to discourage; rather to encourage. You're getting some heavy duty feedback.
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 2:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's the best pic of the hollow pommel I could find. Hope this helps!



Above and under the tang where it goes into the pommel there is space. It's like a 'tunnel' that goes into the base of the pommel.
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 2:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David McElrea wrote:
Leo,

You know who Peter Johnsson and Craig Johnson are, right? I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue every avenue in trying to be sure of the dating, but you've just been answered by two men whose knowledge of swords is probably unsurpassed today. Not to discourage; rather to encourage. You're getting some heavy duty feedback.



Yes, I know of Peter Johnsson, of his work for Albion. I've not heard of Craig Johnsson, but I'll look him up with google. It's really great they take the time to comment on the sword, although I'm still really sure it's not modern.


Last edited by Leo R. on Mon 01 Dec, 2008 1:20 am; edited 2 times in total
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Let my just say that regardless of its actual age it looks really nice.

I like the furrows on pommel and hilt.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject: Pommel Construction         Reply with quote

Hi Leo

Thank you for the pommel picture. If my interpretation of the picture is correct it appears that the whole in the base of the pommel is just wide enough for the tang to fit tightly across its width. The space seems to be on each side of its thickness. Do you remember if it is a round whole?

The sides of the pommel look to have a good amount of thickness and I suspect the whole was drilled or possibly milled into the base. The original pommels I have seen for this type of piece (the tall wide oval flair of katsbalgers and some messers that are not scale pommels) have a tendency to be much thinner walled around the lower edge. Some of the shorter ones are literally just sheet metal caps. If the end of the grip is going to be inset in a pommel it is usually a much larger area than the whole I am seeing on your pommel.

Best
Craig
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Leo R.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 6:51 am    Post subject: Re: Pommel Construction         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Hi Leo

Thank you for the pommel picture. If my interpretation of the picture is correct it appears that the whole in the base of the pommel is just wide enough for the tang to fit tightly across its width. The space seems to be on each side of its thickness. Do you remember if it is a round whole?

The sides of the pommel look to have a good amount of thickness and I suspect the whole was drilled or possibly milled into the base. The original pommels I have seen for this type of piece (the tall wide oval flair of katsbalgers and some messers that are not scale pommels) have a tendency to be much thinner walled around the lower edge. Some of the shorter ones are literally just sheet metal caps. If the end of the grip is going to be inset in a pommel it is usually a much larger area than the whole I am seeing on your pommel.

Best
Craig


Hi Craig, thanks again for your reply. Really appreciated. Yes, the hole in the base of the pommel is just wide enough to fit the tang tightly. I value your opinion, but the experts who have seen the sword in hand were certain it was an old sword.
And I've just posted a new topic about a Viking sword I own. Maybe you can take a look at that as well. I'm really impressed by your knowledge.


Last edited by Leo R. on Sun 30 Nov, 2008 2:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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