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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject: Albions Vigil arrives...         Reply with quote

.....and wow!


I came home this morning from work, went to bed and didn't dream there'd be a big white box waiting for me when I woke up but there it was this afternoon. When I opened the box I was immediately struck by the sword's beautiful proportions. The vigil has a bold and striking look, almost massive in appearance so taking the sword in the hand proved to be quite a surprise.



The Vigil has the best handling characteristics of any sword of this general type I've ever handled. It practically floats in the hand and moves effortlessly through various movements. Handling the Vigil comes primarily from the forearm and shoulder and movements from the wrist don't use the swords potential to best advantage. The sword handles so well one almost wants to handle it like a smallsword or fencing foil, however, while it may feel like Oakeshotts "fishing rod" this is no foil, but rather a sword meant for brutal cutting service.



The Vigils blade is very thin when compared to many swords of similar type. This isn't a detriment though, the blades double fullers give it just the right amount of rigidity so control is maintained and the sword is still capable of thrusting against softer targets. To say the Vigil is sharp would be an understatement! However, this acute sharpness doesn't compromise integrity, the edge geometry is strong and I'm sure the sword would sail through your cutting medium of choice.



When I was a child the sword fascinated me primarily due to the stories and tales associated with ancient heros and knights in armor. As I grew those things still had an effect and always will, but I became increasingly intrigued by the mechanical properties of the sword: its engineering, structure, design and the combination of the elements that make a sword what it is. A well known and highly respected custom smith once told me, "I don't like medieval swords, there just isn't much going on there." I disagreed then and still do now. In terms of shape, design and proportion there's quite a bit "going on" in a medieval sword, and the Vigil might be seen as the modern epitome of this.



There's a huge amount of detail present in the Vigil, from the sweep of its profile taper as it flares towards the blades shoulder, the aggressive nature of its cutting surface, the aesthetic beauty and mechanical neccessity of its twin fullers, as well as the proportions of its hilt components. I will undoubtedly spend hours with this sword in-hand studying its aspects, there's just so much to look at.




Aesthetically there's absolutely nothing to criticize. Fit and finish is as good as can be and machining is excellent. I was a bit uncertain about the grip when I saw the initial photos, but now that I have the sword in-hand I've totally changed my mind. The grip is very comfortable and secure, and its natural look contrasts quite well with the swords machined surfaces.

Here's a couple of photos for scale and comparison:
Eric McHugh with the original

Himself with the Vigil.


The are a few features that have been changed from the original at the behest of the British Museum. However, these seem to be mostly aesthetic and I'm pretty certain they don't alter the overall feel and properties of the old v. new. After thirty years of study it isn't often that something really impresses me, sometimes I wonder if I've become jaded or perhaps may be losing interest. Then something like the Vigil comes along and it's as if I'm a thirteen year old boy all over again, holding his first antique sword. I'm not impressed by the vigil, I'm absolutely blown away by it.

I've met many talented smiths over the years but not all of them have been the total package. The very best ones, the ones I consider true masters of the craft, have the ability to view the sword three-dimensionally, ie. not only comprehending the various individual aspects of a swords design but also being able to understand how they all must work together in balance with each other. Peter Johnsson has this rare ability, if he didn't the Vigil wouldn't be half the sword it is. Comment is often made about Peters skill and his contribution to Albion is indeed key and undeniable. On the other hand I often think Albions other employees get short shrift in the appreciation department. As I've said, there's a lot going on with the Vigils design and this means there are quite a few opportunities to mess it up during the manufacturing process. Everyone involved in the Vigils process is to be commended, from those responsible for the blades finishing to those in charge of assembly and grip making. Everyone at Albion was totally on their game when this sword went together. I've yet to see an Albion sword that wasn't an excellent example of its type, but sometimes the stars align, God smiles and something comes out simply perfect and the Vigil is such a sword.

If the sword of the high medieval period is your thing DO NOT let the Vigil pass you by.

Wow.


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Mon 23 Mar, 2009 9:30 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Scott Kowalski




Location: Oak Lawn, IL USA
Joined: 24 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aargh! You are killing me Patrick by making it so hard to resist getting myself one.

Though let me congratulate you on a truly awesome looking sword. And thank you as well for the write up on it. I know I am looking forward to an even more in-depth one in the near future.

Scott
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Brian K.
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice presentation. Thank you for this and taking the time.

I'm now wondering when mine will show up.

Brian Kunz
www.dbkcustomswords.com
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Justin King
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Location: flagstaff,arizona
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 7:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks even nicer than the pics on Albion's site. I chose the same color grip even so I can just look at yours now and pretend it's mine Big Grin About how thick is the blade around the COP? My Laird is about 3/32" at the end of the fuller or maybe even a hair less. I can't imagine this blade being much thinner than that.
I'm really excited about this sword and can't wait to get mine in my grubby little hands.....
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 9:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations on your new acquisition, Patrick. And an interesting review of Albion's
Vigil
, as well. Ever since Albion announced its special pricing for this sword I've
looked at it again and again, along with the obvious pressing interests and concerns of
our current times. This is an impressive sword, and difficult to pass up ...

Quote:
A well known and highly respected custom smith once told me, "I don't like medieval swords,
there just isn't much going on there." I disagreed then and still do know. In terms of shape, design and
proportion there's quite a bit "going on" in a medieval sword, and the Vigil might be seen as the modern
of this.


Intriguing thought, here. I sometimes wish I were more the historian to actually get a better
grip on what ancient smiths wanted to accomplish with certain designs and shapes. Even
in the lil' world of my own interests, one gets that feeling there is alot more " going on " than
a mere straight ( or curved ) blade, twin fullers, simple cross-hilt, and simple pommel. I like
that thought quite a bit; and it has to contribute to the appreciation ...

... then there's the shirt, of course. B-)
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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Reading list: 42 books

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Posts: 5,710

PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Kowalski wrote:
Aargh! You are killing me Patrick by making it so hard to resist getting myself one.

Though let me congratulate you on a truly awesome looking sword. And thank you as well for the write up on it. I know I am looking forward to an even more in-depth one in the near future.

Scott


Thanks Scott.

Keep resisting, you'll be a stronger person for it. I'm happy to help you with this opportunity for personal growth. Big Grin

Since we moved I haven't done any cutting and really had little interest in doing so. Now i have the urge to set up another cutting stand in the back yard!
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian K. wrote:
Very nice presentation. Thank you for this and taking the time.

I'm now wondering when mine will show up.


Thanks Brian, since you ordered yours soon after I did I can't imagine it would be very long.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 9:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz wrote:
Congratulations on your new acquisition, Patrick. And an interesting review of Albion's
Vigil
, as well. Ever since Albion announced its special pricing for this sword I've
looked at it again and again, along with the obvious pressing interests and concerns of
our current times. This is an impressive sword, and difficult to pass up ...


I didn't have any plans to buy anything new in the near future, then Nathan shot me a PM with a link to Albions Vigil page with a, "This has Patrick written all over it." He was right and I couldn't resist. Fortunately I had a few lesser Hanwei pieces hanging on the wall that could be sold and my Lieutenant asked me to work on a weekend off for overtime so I managed to fill the bill. Otherwise I would have been forced to restrain myself.

Quote:
Intriguing thought, here. I sometimes wish I were more the historian to actually get a better
grip on what ancient smiths wanted to accomplish with certain designs and shapes. Even
in the lil' world of my own interests, one gets that feeling there is alot more " going on " than
a mere straight ( or curved ) blade, twin fullers, simple cross-hilt, and simple pommel. I like
that thought quite a bit; and it has to contribute to the appreciation ...


One of the interesting things about the Vigil is the history of the original. Oakeshott dated it to the 12th century but I've always doubted that, I think an early to mid-13th century date is more likely. Nothing springs from a vacum and the original Witham sword exhibits features that would become common in later periods but are rarely seen in its supposed timeframe. can we see something new occuring with its design? The maker was obviously a master of his craft so can we suppose he hit upon a new step in the swords evolution with this particular sword? Interesting things to think about.

Quote:
... then there's the shirt, of course. B-)


Shhhh, I've told you about that. Wink
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Micha Hofmann




Location: Bonn, Germany
Joined: 25 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow. That is so beautiful... Happy Happy Happy
Took the big step and ordered mine today from Albion Europe.
After seeing your pics, Patrick, I'm looking even more forward to my Vigil.
Thank you very much for the first impressions and for the great pics.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 10:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Albions Vigil arrives...............         Reply with quote

Awesome photos Patrick. I especially like the one with you holding the sword in hand. While the other photos provide far better detail of the hilt and blade regions, that particular photo gives the best overall "feel" of the sword. While the Vigil isn't currently on my want list, I must say that it looks like an awesome piece of craftsmanship; perhaps one could describe it as "the Regent of single-handed swords".
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Chris Artman




Location: USA
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The Vigil is also offered with a diamond strap overwrap similar to the Chevalier grip for an additional $200.


Has anyone ordered this grip choice?

While this sword seems outstanding, I just picked up the Chevalier which has also been praised highly (along with the Oakeshott). I still have a week to decide on the Vigil, but I suppose the recent purchase of the Chevalier dampens my enthusiasm to some degree... that and the fact I'm starting to overflow with swords (and still have quite a few in the works or on pre-order).
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Patrick that was a joy to read and it makes me want to play with my Albions that I haven't played with in a while. Big Grin

Sometimes we put them in a corner or on display and don't pick them up often enough Wink This happens because there is always the tendency to like one's most recent purchase best if it was a good purchase.

Those double fullers make me want to play with my Sovereign and my Doge also. Wink Big Grin

Great review and pics and letting us share your impressions with us. Cool

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Julien M




Location: Austin TX
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Never been a big fan of types X but this one is really impressive. The British Museum being barely 10 minutes away from my office, I'll check out the original tonight.

Congrats Patrick!

J
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Scott Kowalski




Location: Oak Lawn, IL USA
Joined: 24 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Scott Kowalski wrote:
Aargh! You are killing me Patrick by making it so hard to resist getting myself one.

Though let me congratulate you on a truly awesome looking sword. And thank you as well for the write up on it. I know I am looking forward to an even more in-depth one in the near future.

Scott


Thanks Scott.

Keep resisting, you'll be a stronger person for it. I'm happy to help you with this opportunity for personal growth. Big Grin

Since we moved I haven't done any cutting and really had little interest in doing so. Now i have the urge to set up another cutting stand in the back yard!


Not a problem Patrick!

I will continue to try and resist for the next week. And I thank you for trying to help me be a stronger person. Though the pictures and mini-review did not help me. As for personal growth, I might just end up personal growthing myself into trouble since I sent Albion an email this morning to inquire about there payment plan options. What with the busy season for me just around the corner with the chance to be able to make extra money and all.

Scott
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
Joined: 08 Feb 2006

Posts: 395

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After expressing concern about the spiral grip I can honestly say now seeing it in a darker colour has, as I suggested make the overall effect more subtle and very aesthetically pleasing.

To be honest I think this may well be my holy grail of single handed swords.

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Patrick De Block




Location: Belgium
Joined: 10 Aug 2008

Posts: 84

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick,

Maybe you will hate the following quote: 'The use of absolute descriptors is a practice that I try to avoid. Experience has shown me that it can be a perilous undertaking in the field of arms study. However, in this case I am forced to break that rule. This sword features performance and handling qualities that provide a perfect blend of powerful attacks and responsive defense.' This quote is a rather matter of fact statement, compared to the lyrical sentences on the Vigil.

This is not meant as attack, a lot of people, I guess, me among them, bought the Knight after reading your review and I don't regret it. Not at all.

My question: apart from the historical interest, the aesthetic appeal, the genius of Peter Johnsson in recreating swords, what is the value of this sword? I mean, suppose you're working in a medieval swordshop and I come along to buy an excellent sword, I want 'the best available tool' to do the job, I'm not blind to the other qualities, but my foremost thought is pratical, which sword would you recommend, the Knight or the Vigil. To put my question differently, has the Vigil superior handling characteristics compared to the Knight?

Please, do not misunderstand me, I have the highest regards for your opinions, I always read them, curious and eager to know what you think.
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick De Block, you wrote out what I was thinking, I can't see myself ever selling my Knight but if the Vigil is even better this is very encouraging.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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David Sutton




Location: Bolton, UK
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An excellent addition to your collection Patrick, I think Nathan was right it really suits you. Cool

Seeing the sword in hand really shows what a fearsome weapon the original must have been; I can see this one being an archetypal 'shield slitter'. The subtle flaring of the blade at the hilt and the curve of its point give it a dynamic look.

I'd love to see this sword in motion, I bet it eats Tatami for breakfast! Big Grin

'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

Hypatia of Alexandria, c400AD
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 4:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:
It looks even nicer than the pics on Albion's site. I chose the same color grip even so I can just look at yours now and pretend it's mine Big Grin About how thick is the blade around the COP? My Laird is about 3/32" at the end of the fuller or maybe even a hair less. I can't imagine this blade being much thinner than that.
I'm really excited about this sword and can't wait to get mine in my grubby little hands.....


.122 inch thick at the COP
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Dan Dickinson
Industry Professional



Location: Michigan
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick, how thick is it at the cross?
Thanks,
Dan
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