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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 4:17 pm    Post subject: An antique schiavona         Reply with quote

The schiavona has always been one of my favorite sword styles. Its a very distinctive type, and in my opinion the most beautiful styles of basket hilts out there.

I have recently taken a big step with my collection, and I have purchased a wonderful antique schiavona. This piece is in very good condition, showing some surface corrosion, and with a very slight wiggle on the guard. Other than that, the rest of the hilt components are rock solid, and the patina isn't bad at all.

Overall length: 40 inches
Blade length: 34 inches
Blade width: 1 7/16 inches at guard
Point of Balance: 3 1/4 inches from guard
Grip length: 4 inches
Guard width: 4.5 inches
Opening for hand width: 3.5 inches
Oakeshott Type 2b schiavona guard
[Edit] Weight: 2 lbs 9.3 oz


I unfortunately can't seem to find my scale that I normally use for weighing swords, so I had to use a fairly innaccurate bathroom scale, which says the sword is roughly 2 1/2 lbs. It feels lighter: The sword has a wonderful balance for both cutting and thrusting, and it is made even livelier by the thumb ring inside the guard, which really aids in the way I am able to make cutting actions. The tip control is excellent, and I've been doing light solo drills in the Bolognese tradition with it because it feels so "right" for the actions. The blade is quite thin and still sharp. In fact, it has the type of blade that many well-meaning modern enthusiasts would unfortunately call "whippy", which is not only historical (as is evidenced here), but quite common on thin cutting blades such as this.

The grip is wrapped with rayskin with a spiral groove. There is evidence that there may have once been a wire that laid in that groove, but is now gone.

Dating the sword is tricky. The blade has the engravings "S-O-L-I D-E-O" on one side and "G-L-O-R-I-A" on the other. This roughly means "For the Glory of God Alone", and this is one of the five sola of the Protestant Reformation (five Latin phrases that encapsulate the movement's beliefs). The Protestant Reformation is generally accepted to have ended at about 1648, so that most likely places the age of the blade in the first half of that century.

I do not know for certain if the guard is also from the 17th c, as it is not uncommon for these blades to be fitted to guards later in life. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that the sword is composite of multiple schiavona parts. I've been spending quite a lot of time trying to figure out what time period the guard is from, and I'm still not 100% certain. There are a number of guards that are more or less exactly like this dated anywhere from the middle of the 17th century into the middle of the 18th century, and Oakeshott himself laments the troubles of dating these hilts in European Weapons and Armour from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. I'm suspecting it is a 17th century hilt based on its similarity to many other 17th century hilts, but can't be completely sure because there are some 18th century ones that aren't that different as well. If anyone else has any information regarding this, I would highly appreciate it!

Needless to say, I'm quite enamoured with this sword. I had to sell a couple of my more highly prized modern reproductions to afford it, but I don't regret that for a second. To have such a wonderful piece of history in my possession is both exciting and an honor, and I intend to let students handle and examine it so that others can better appreciate this wonderful weapon.

(I have more photos, which I still have to resize. I'll add them later on tonight.)

*edited to fix typo in stats*



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Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."


Last edited by Bill Grandy on Fri 07 May, 2010 11:22 am; edited 4 times in total
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

whoa Bill....that's a mighty fine piece you've acquired. Biggest of congrats, I bet you are chuffed with it!

Since Nathan is the schiavona guru around these parts, I'd think he may have something. I've got alot of stuff on the 17th c. but most is mortuary, ECW material, though I do have some schiavona info. in a pile...somewhere plus some photos form some of the antique dealers from over the years....I'll go digging.


cheers,


Bill

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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awe common, you get this and your not comming to Todd's next weekend to share?
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill,

That's awesome! They're my favourite baskets too... It looks so well kept for something AT LEAST 200 years old!

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Justin King
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations, that is a beautiful piece. Stunning, actually. Even the fact that I just pulled my long-awaited Vigil out of it's box 2 hours ago does not prevent you from having my fullest envy. Wink
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Much envy! The schiavona is my favorite of the more modern swords. Is this your first antique?

M.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As promised, here are some more pictures.


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Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two last photos.


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Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan Senefelder wrote:
Awe common, you get this and your not comming to Todd's next weekend to share?


I wish. Summertime is the craziest time for me of the year. But I'll likely bring this to WMAW, if you'll be there.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Much envy! The schiavona is my favorite of the more modern swords. Is this your first antique?

M.


Its not my first antique, though its by far the most I've spent on an antique. I own a smallsword from about 1720 and a mid-18th century smallsword blade mounted to modern hilt by Erik Stevenson (these are both in my collection gallery hosted on this site). I've owned several WWI and WWII knives that my father gave me, and I bought a 1920 Dutch Klewang when I was a teenager (got that one for only $50!), but I sold the Klewang several years back.

This, however, was a much bigger purchase than any of those, but I don't regret it at all. Happy

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I too hope to join in the antique sword collection market some day, though it would probably be neigh impossible on a teacher's salary.

How does the rayskin feel in-hand? I've never messed with the stuff before, at all. Do you plan to do any restoration work, or leave it as-is (particularly re-applying the wire wrap and fixing the slight wobble you spoke of)?

M.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I too hope to join in the antique sword collection market some day, though it would probably be neigh impossible on a teacher's salary.


Well, I teach fencing for a living, so I hear you. Happy I make less than a typical teacher does. Its really just a matter of being smart with your money and saving with the goal of getting what you really want.

Quote:
How does the rayskin feel in-hand? I've never messed with the stuff before, at all.


Its quite comfortable. It gives a very firm grip, but isn't as rough on the hands as wire wrap (though I will admit that my hands are fairly calloused, and I use wire wrap grips without gloves all the time, so your mileage may vary).

Quote:
Do you plan to do any restoration work, or leave it as-is (particularly re-applying the wire wrap and fixing the slight wobble you spoke of)?


I think I'm going to leave it as-is. The wobble is barely noticeable (I have several modern repros that are much worse which I don't bother fixing), and the wire wrap would require altering the grip, which is something I don't want to do. I'm incredibly happy with the sword the way it is now, and I fear that if I messed with anything I'd cause more harm than good. Happy

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 12:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really like that schiavona. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that it has many small individual touches in the hilt design. I also like the lighter blade that makes it much more maneuverable than the heavier, ponderous broadsword blades (like the one on the Del Tin replica)
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Ed Toton




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Truly a gorgeous purchase! I can't wait to get a look at this close-up.

One of these days I may look into getting a nice antique.. something older than 19th/20th Century, that is. Happy

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, Bill! That is indeed a big step! What a beautiful piece....
-Sean

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 10:51 am    Post subject: Re: An antique schiavona         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
The schiavona has always been one of my favorite sword styles. Its a very distinctive type, and in my opinion the most beautiful styles of basket hilts out there.
*


Incredible weapon Bill congratulations. Do you think you will ever test-cut with it?

I don't suppose you want to share how much it cost you, ball park?

It may be a big step but it seems a logical one to me. If owned more than a couple high-end replicas I'd be tempted to trade up to a nice antique like that as well.

J

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: Re: An antique schiavona         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Do you think you will ever test-cut with it?


No, I don't think I ever will. Even though its pretty sturdy, I have no idea what the heat treatment is like. Its also a pretty thin blade.

Quote:
I don't suppose you want to share how much it cost you, ball park?


I'll say that I paid way less then what I think its worth. Happy I've seen similar ones go for $3500-$5000

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was just pointed out to me that I forgot to include the point of balance. Whoops! I just edited the original post to include that.
Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill,

Congratulations on the Schiavona, a real beautiful piece! Have always been attracted to this type of sword, probably for no reason other than the graceful hilt.

Thanks for posting the photos.

Regards,
Dan
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John Lundemo
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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jul, 2009 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very happy for you, man that is a great score! I wonder if I could get like Eljay to make me a basket like that and I could make a fancy blade for it. Bet he could, when I get the scratch. But, oh my gosh what a beauty.
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