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C.L. Miller




PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 7:04 pm    Post subject: New Bárta commission and a hearty recommendation.         Reply with quote

Hello all, I've a short story to tell concerning my new sword, and I beg your indulgence. I promise that beautiful pictures will follow.

Nearly five years ago, when I was 25, I determined that I would return to University and finish the degree that I had abandoned as a teenager. I quit my job and enrolled at the University of Vermont as an English major, driven by my passion for medieval literature. It was not long before the History department lured me away, and I became a History major with a concentration in Medieval Europe. I confess that I found my nearly eight years of work experience as a man of few documented skills in the so-called "real world" to be a wretched, soul-killing experience, and yet it was not entirely without its rewards. Over that period of time, I was able to put a small amount of money aside. One day, in a flight of fancy, I determined that a fitting purpose for that money would be a graduation present to myself - I would commission a sword from Patrick Bárta.
This was the dream-sword which I asked Patrick to recreate:




This the famous Yverdon sword, now housed in the Schweizerischen Landesmuseen, Zürich. The museum dates the sword to 1150-1250, although this is still debated, and the sword may in fact be of an earlier date. The inlays are reportedly of brass, which Patrick expressed some concern over, because it is a difficult metal to work with on a project of this kind. He asked whether it would be acceptable for him to use gold instead, to which I replied that I had no objections. Patrick further suggested that he would be interested in attempting a decorated hilt for this sword, and I was intrigued. We discussed a number of possibilities, but finally settled upon a pommel inspired by a French find, pictured below (I apologize for the image quality):





And a guard inspired by the Bohemian SIGVINAIS sword:



Both of these swords have been assigned a significantly earlier date (tenth or eleventh century, although just possibly extending into the early twelfth), but I decided that I was willing to make some allowances, especially because Patrick was enthusiastic about it. So enthusiastic, in fact, that when I balked at his estimated cost he was willing to significantly reduce the price if it meant making the sword that he wanted to make. I couldn't say no.

School went well for me, but alas, the sword's production was delayed. Patrick kept me informed, but nevertheless, the years dragged on. As it turns out, the sword which was originally intended to celebrate the completion of my Bachelor's at UVM will be arriving just as I complete my Master's here at Oxford. Not everything works out as we plan, which brings me almost to the present day...

A few months back I received an e-mail from Patrick saying that he was ready to start work on the sword. From that point on he remained in regular contact, keeping my updated and asking questions about my preferences where needed. Near the beginning of May he informed me that the blade had been forged, the hilt was nearly complete and that he would be in touch shortly with photos of the finished project, then something happened. I didn't hear much from Patrick during May, and as I knew that I was almost within reach of the sword I had so desperately yearned for these long years, I found the wait interminable. On May 31, I heard from Patrick. It seemed that the gold inlays in the blade had presented him with a far greater problem than he had anticipated. Those nearest the hilt, similar to many he had created in the past, proved no problem, but those further down the blade proved difficult. All seemed to go well at first, but his first tests of the blade's flexibility, some of the inlays were partially forced out of their setting, more flexing exacerbated the problem. Clearly, this was unacceptable, and so he removed all of the inlays and tried again, with the same result. A third attempt also met with failure. By this point he had put more than two weeks worth of work into the sword beyond the time he had originally budgeted.
In his e-mail to me, he apologized profusely for having failed to deliver the sword that he promised. In the end, unable to secure the gold and thinking the designs in the blade unsuitable as etchings, he filled the grooves with niello. He gave me a detailed account of what had happened and why he believed that things did not go as planned. He also, and this is the really important part, offered me two options: If the sword was simply not what I wanted, he would return my deposit (which had only been required to purchase the gold for the sword's construction) or, if I wanted the sword in its current state he would sell it to me at the price he usually charges for an undecorated sword. He was, in effect, offering to sell me a sword that had required more than two weeks labor beyond that factored into the original price (a price which he had already reduced because he was enthusiastic about the design) for a third of the price we had agreed upon.
Patrick Bárta is a gentleman.
I e-mailed him back this evening informing him that, while his offer was most generous, I thought it only fair that he should receive the agreed upon price. It was not a decision that I made lightly, but he has earned that money.

And now, the sword:









Overall length: 955mm
Blade length: 810mm
Max. width: 48mm
POB: 145mm
Weight: 1020g

However much it may differ from the original, I think it a beautiful weapon. In the interest of full disclosure, I find it not without issues, even setting aside the niello. The dimpling of the pommel and guard would not have been my first choice, but this seems very much to be a signature characteristic of Patrick's designs and I am more than willing to allow an artist that license. Slightly more troubling, but still not of enormous concern is the blackened hilt furniture, which I find beautiful but which, again, would not have been my first choice. This is something that I should like to have been consulted on and which, in future commissions I shall make a point of discussing. I mention this issues only because I think that they may be important for other potential buyers and that they are worth considering - I want to emphasize that I find the end result exceedingly beautiful. I could not be more impressed with Patrick either as an artist or as a business man. That someone, in this dire market (and let us not forget that all but a very, very few artists of any sort, let alone those as specialized as Patrick, struggle to get by in the best of times and must always survive more upon the love their work than upon anything else), should be willing to absolve a customer of all financial responsibility or to accept one third pay for far more work than expected is beyond class. If you can afford it, I would absolutely encourage you to buy something from this man.

I will, of course, post more photos and additional comments once I have the sword in hand.


Last edited by C.L. Miller on Sun 31 May, 2009 9:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Bryan W.





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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic story and great looking sword. That offer is the mark of a true businessman who believes in his own reputation and stands by his work as well as his promises. I guarantee people will remember something like that and send work Mr Barta's way after hearing such a tale.
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C.L. Miller




PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As an additional thought, I would be extremely interested to hear from people why they think that this project may have presented such difficulty. Patrick came to the conclusion that the Yverdon sword may not have been hardened, or that it may have had its middle section made from soft iron - as either case would limit the sword's functionality, he thinks it like that the sword may have been intended for ceremonial purposes. I do not know of any other sword which has such large inlays of this type (as opposed to the earlier form of iron inlays) extending so far down the blade - the closest I can think of would be the River Witham sword which was the inspiration for Albion's Vigil. The inlays on this sword are not nearly as extensive, and are only on one side (I believe - the Yverdon sword has extensive inlays running most of the blade's length on both side), but I would still be very curious to hear from anyone who has examined either sword concerning their construction.
Could the metal used for the inlays have played a significant role here? Is the technique for inlaying brass significantly different from that for inlaying gold, and would the change have made any difference in this case? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.
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C.L. Miller




PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryan W. wrote:
Fantastic story and great looking sword. That offer is the mark of a true businessman who believes in his own reputation and stands by his work as well as his promises. I guarantee people will remember something like that and send work Mr Barta's way after hearing such a tale.


Thanks Bryan. I think that's really what I hope people get out of this. One of the things that really struck me about Patrick's e-mail was how deeply sorry he really seemed to feel - I really believe that not being able to carry this project through was a severe blow to him both as an artist and as a businessman. Given the quality of the result, I don't think that he has anything at all to be sorry for, but I think that it's a testament to his artistry that he feels it so deeply, and a testament to his worth as a gentleman and as a businessman that he was willing, without hesitation, to take a substantial financial loss as a result. It is unfortunate, but one doesn't encounter artists or businessmen of such a caliber very often, and that makes it all the more important to celebrate those rare few.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 9:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C.L. Miller wrote:
Bryan W. wrote:
Fantastic story and great looking sword. That offer is the mark of a true businessman who believes in his own reputation and stands by his work as well as his promises. I guarantee people will remember something like that and send work Mr Barta's way after hearing such a tale.


Thanks Bryan. I think that's really what I hope people get out of this. One of the things that really struck me about Patrick's e-mail was how deeply sorry he really seemed to feel - I really believe that not being able to carry this project through was a severe blow to him both as an artist and as a businessman. Given the quality of the result, I don't think that he has anything at all to be sorry for, but I think that it's a testament to his artistry that he feels it so deeply, and a testament to his worth as a gentleman and as a businessman that he was willing, without hesitation, to take a substantial financial loss as a result. It is unfortunate, but one doesn't encounter artists or businessmen of such a caliber very often, and that makes it all the more important to celebrate those rare few.


Yes there are a lot of honourable makers out there who do go the extra mile to satisfy their customers even if it hurts.

Very nice sword by the way and I like the results even if a few things didn't turn out like you wanted or expected, but unless one can be there and almost hold the hand of a maker there are always some surprises when one gets a custom order back.

Most times these are good surprises and unless one wants to micromanage a project the maker will do some things in unexpected ways but with great makers who are very much artists it is often preferable to give them a general idea of what you want, what you want to pay and let them decide about most of the details of the piece. It is a good idea to communicate clearly if some things are specifically to be included or avoided in a design but the more specific one gets the more the maker just becomes a sub-contractor rather than an artist making work in his own unique style.

Depending on project I am either very VERY specific about what I want or I just give general parameters and let the maker be creative.

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





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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Beautiful sword!

I was going to type a passage but Jean mirrored by thoughts so perfectly that I don't have anything else to add except - congratulations!

... oh and only around 12 months left till I get to the top of Mr Barta's queue!!!!!!

Cheers

Jason
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 10:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes that is a really attractive piece!

I was especially thrilled to see your new sword as it is the same general type as a type XI with a tea cozy pommel I am commissioning from Patrick.

Thanks for the information regarding the blackening- I would probably not opt for this on my commission.

Again- thanks for sharing!

Jeremy
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Douglas G.





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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a very beautiful piece. Well done for keeping it, and well done to Mr. Barta for making another remarkable
sword. Thanks for sharing and let us know how it handles.


Cheers!

Doug G.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now THAT is something to wear at a graduation ceremony.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2009 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That sword has got to be the most gorgeous piece I have seen in a long, long time! Simply breathtaking. Patrick Barta truly is the best there is. Hearing about his excellent customer service makes me respect him even more. Enjoy your sword, it is great!
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just realised this sword is a replica of Xa.14 from "Records of the Medieval Sword" by Oakeshott.

I posted a link to the museum page with a few photos here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight=


From the museum page:

LM-10116
Schwert. Klinge beidseitig reich verziert, religiös-symbolische Darstellung. Paranussförmiger Knauf, gerade Parierstange. Eisen, geschmiedet; Dekor: tauschiert (Messing). Um 1150 - 1250. Herkunft: Yverdon. Masse: Länge 94.4 cm. (LM-10116)
Lit.: 'H. Schneider, Waffen im Schweizerischen Landesmuseum. Griffwaffen I, Zürich 1980.', Nummer 16

Google's translation
LM-10116
Sword. Blade decorated on both sides rich, religious and symbolic representation. Brazil nut-shaped knob, just crossguard. Iron, forged; Decor: inlaid (brass). Around 1150 - 1250 Origin: Yverdon. Dimensions: Length 94.4 cm. (LM-10116)


Oakeshott from Records
"Condition: Good. There is a lot fairly deep corrosion all over, but the important silver-inlaid series of pictograms is perfectly preserved on one side, though much damaged on the other."


C.L. does your sword have inlays on both sides of the blade as illustrated by Oakeshott in Records?

Do you have any further photos to share of the sword?
Over on Patrick Barta's website he only shows 1 pic of the hilt.

Thanks

Danny
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Danny, thanks for bumping this topic. It reminds me of one of my favorite reproduction swords to be created in recent years. Beautiful piece.


C.L. Miller wrote:
I will, of course, post more photos and additional comments once I have the sword in hand.


Please do! I'd love to see more of this sword.

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C.L. Miller




PostPosted: Thu 03 Feb, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all! Thanks once more for the comments! I apologize for having let this thread die without updating as promised. I've included just a couple additional photos this time round (please forgive thelighting), but I'll see if I can't arrange some decent lighting this coming weekend and take a few more.
To answer your question Danny, there are indeed inlays on both sides of the sword. As you've said, the original has inlays on both faces of the blade, yet only on one face are they sufficiently intact to be certain of the original design. Consequently, rather than engaging in guesswork or invention, for this sword we determined that the best option was simply to repeat many of the same design elements, although differently ordered.
In terms of handling, the sword does not disappoint. Of the production swords I've handled I'd say this one most closely resembles Albion's Senlac, yet tracks somewhat better in the thrust and has a bit more "snap" overall. Having had the sword in my possession for quite some time now, I still find myself as pleased and impressed as the day I received it.





Last edited by C.L. Miller on Thu 03 Feb, 2011 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Feb, 2011 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the pics sir!

Your sword is great and it's especially nice to have some sense of the handling. The inlayed design is so interesting and different from most examples. I wonder what it meant to the original smith and to it's historic owner.

A facinating example!
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 03 Feb, 2011 6:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Truly awesome sword. I dream of the day when I can commision a Patrick Barta sword. I am curious what went wrong with the inlays, as I am considering trying a similar inlay. I wonder why Patrick had doubts about using brass, perhaps too hard/tough/brittle compared to gold? Was tin ever used for similar inlays?
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Fri 04 Feb, 2011 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amazing sword.

Everytime I see a piece by P Barta I'm absolutely blown away by the level of finish of his work...

J
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2011 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really well done by both of you.

And the sword is, of course, nothing short of amazing.

If I remember correctly, doesn't this picture of the reverse of the pommel:

represent an eagle? Or am I now confused with the SIGVINAIS sword?

Anyway, I'm wondering how Patrick made this other side.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For interest, I'm cross-posting a picture Zach Luna took at the exhibition in Musee Cluny:


Thread:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight=
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2011 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is an amazingly beautiful sword.
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Ben Sweet




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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2011 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now that is one heck of a beauty... wow....!
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