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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Best Scottish basket hilted broadswords? Reply to topic
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Jonathan M. Ringlein





Joined: 11 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 12 Dec, 2009 8:34 pm    Post subject: Best Scottish basket hilted broadswords?         Reply with quote

Hello:

Looking for afficionado's of Scottish basket hilts with this post. Who in your opinion makes the best basket hilts? I'm particularly interested if anyone is familiar with Rob Miller of CastleKeep's work, or if anyone has some more comments on the Armour Class basket hilts (there are a few reviews posted on their products currently on this site).

Also, does anyone know of a maker who constructs basket hilts with the cold peening method? Everyone I've ever found constructs them with some variation of a screw, though i understand that was a very common way of making them during the Jacobite period.

Thanks for any help in advance,

Jon
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Josh Maxwell




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I've heard Armour Class is an excellent choice, but I've also heard good things about Darkwood Armory as well. So you may also want to look into them.
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Jim S.




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own an Atrim blade with a Darkwood Armory early English basket-hilt and am very pleased with the hilt. It is assembled using a pommel nut but, from what I remember in my discussions with Scott Wilson, Darkwood also can peen the pommel. If you have an interest in Darkwood's work, I would encourage you to contact Mr. Wilson via email. He is very helpful and polite in answering questions.
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What's your price range? If you looking somewhere in the 200$ range, the best iin that range is supposed to be the Hanwei Basket Hilted Broadsword (I just ordered it, not here yet).

If your looking in a higher price range, Armour Class is supposed to be the best.

But this is just what I know from what other people have told me while I was looking to buy one, not from personal experience.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you really want the best, and are willing to pay for it, you should go custom and get one from somebody like E. B. " Eljay" Erickson
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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
If you really want the best, and are willing to pay for it, you should go custom and get one from somebody like E. B. " Eljay" Erickson


I'll second that, but Vince Evans makes great baskethilts, and so does Donnie Shearer (The Mad Piper), but currently his website says he's not taking orders due to health reasons. I own five of Donnie's baskethilts: an early beak nose ribbon hilt; an early English style backsword; a third quarter 17th century Highland broadsword; an early 18th century Stirling reverse "S" broadsword; and one of the famous Walter Allan broadswords (his SW1).

If you're looking for a bargain, there's a Hanwei baskethilt for $200 on the Marketplace page. I had one of these a while back, and the sword itself is not too bad - really just needs a bit of pommel decoration, and a lighter, thinner sheath, but its construction and proportions are as close as I've seen in a mass produced sword of the type. IMNSHO, the Cold Steel sword has atypical (allright, unhistorical) design - the forward guards are unlike any original I've ever encountered, and it's a bit too heavy. Plus, the blade is too thick and stiff compared to original blades, which generally run much thinner, way more flexible, and at least half the weight.

Christopher Gregg

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Jonathan M. Ringlein





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've looked into the custom route as well. Does anyone know if Vince Evans is still taking orders? I can't seem to find a working contact email for him.

Thanks for all the posts,

Jon
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's the bad news: Donnie Shearer is now mostly retired due to severe health problems; Vince Evans does not take orders as he makes what the spirit moves him to make and his "Scottish period" is, alas over; EJay is backed up for 3-5 years with orders. Rob makes a nice sword and the Haanwei is just - in my humble opinion - okay. Your best over all bet for a very nice sword, reasonable price, and reasonable (this century Big Grin ) delivery is Armour Class. Nice swords, good service and they handle well. Domestically, Scott at Darkwood does good work, I have a German backsword on order from him now. If you go the Darkwood route - be sure to specify the finish and the exact blade you want. Scott seeems to cater to the martial arms groups and his swords are made with that target audience in mind; however, he does make nice collector pieces and my collection will attest. Good luck!
"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal view is that Armourclass' swords are, without question the best out there for reenactment and practical martial arts training. the blades are extremely resilient even if you're prone to edge-on-edge contact , the workmanship is the perfect balance of the compromises between functionality, price, and quality, and they
Heretical as it may sound to many on these forums, for active use, I'd take an armourclass blade over an Albion sword costing 4 times as much every single time.

For collecting and for cutting use? I'm not so convinced they're the best for that - but they are good.

that said, there are a few downsides - their sharps have tended to seem to me to be very similar in geometry to their rebated blades (But in thier defence, I'm not particularly interested in sharps, on grounds of not killing my sparring partners, so I've not really spent much time looking at them... Happy ) and their delivery times can be a little glacial - victims of their own success there - but which is also a testament to their quality.
Furthermore, their off-the-shelf finish in details reflects their price point - if you are wanting a perfect, beautiful baskethilted sword representing the absolute pinnacle of the type, then their off-the -shelf models are'nt the ideal choice.

those comments aside, I cant fault them.

edit for a duplication of text and a typo. I should proof-read


Last edited by JG Elmslie on Mon 14 Dec, 2009 8:38 am; edited 2 times in total
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vince Evans has just set shop back up in his new locale (he's back in Hawaii now) and is getting caught up with outstanding projects. I do not know if he will ever get back to taking custom orders, although he'll still make projects for shows and such. Whether he'll make another Scottish basket hilt.... only he knows.
Eljay Erickson is your next best bet, although he's not taking as many orders as he used to (he does have a regular job and does the sword-fitting as a secondary/hobby job). I think he's up to a two-or three-year wait.
Donnie Shearer is MIA, last I heard he was in some kind of ill health....
Darkwood Armoury does turn out some nice hilt work....
Armour Class's Basket hilts are real nice, IMHO the best semi-production Scottish Basket-hilts available today. Not up to Eljay or Vince standards certainly, but a functional, relatively inexpensive, and available option. For the price you can't do much better.

But anyway... Patrick Barta makes an awesome Schiavona, I wonder if he would make a Claidheamh Mor.... might be worth checking into (although he has a two or three year long list).... it would certainly be a good one!

As to cold peening? Both Vince Evans and Eljay use a screw-on construction, which does reflect the period evidence (Vince used to cold peen his baskets, which isn't totally ahistorical, but not as common as the threaded tang construction).
Armour Class seems to use both methods. One of my AC swords is screw-on, the other is peened. I don't know how to determine which model is made which way, maybe you just have to ask them....

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would ask Vladimir Cervenka if he's willing to make a baskethilt. He to made a beautiful Schiavona and I'm sure scottish baskethilt by him would be great to.
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Jonathan M. Ringlein





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting posts, looks like the general consensus is armour class for quality. I'm sorry to hear about Vince Evans not taking any more Scots projects; the work he's done before is gorgeous. Has anyone ever gotten a basket hilt from Rob Miller of Castle Keep on Skye? he's at:

http://www.castlekeep.co.uk/basket.php#images

Interestingly, he does hand forged instead of stock removal. Anybody ever handle a sword by him?

Thanks again for all the help guys, it's been educational.

Jon
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David Teague




Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did a quick search via Google and pulled up the following:

http://www.myArmoury.com/review_ck_xii.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzgCMhinRsw

There ya go.

Cheers,

DT

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 10:30 pm    Post subject: Rob Miller         Reply with quote

I have one of Rob's basket hilts. In this case not one of his standard models but a more limited version of a Jacobite period piece he occasionally makes. My impression is that it seems a bit heavy and not "lively" if you understand my meaning, but really a very nice piece that I am proud to have in my collection. The hilt is nice and the blade is exquisite. If you go this route, be sure to have him make the scabbard as well.

All in all, for superior artistry, Vince seems to lead the pack but more and more, his pieces are art work for high end collectors. The last baskethilt I saw of his was three years ago at the Blade Show and it was beautiful, no doubt about that. My guess if that the price tag may have been approaching 5 figures. Vince is in the enviable situation of being ablse to decide what he wants to make simply because he is studying that particular area and, of course, we collectors are there at his feet slobbering to get our hands on something of his!

ELJay is also an artist, but more in a "usable" sense. His hilts are simply wonderful, authentic, and extremely well-done. It's so great being able to point him towards a picture and voila, he makes it! and makes it beautifully! It's up to you to mate a blade to the sword, something often more easily said than done! Not for the sheer mechanics of sword slipping, but of finding just the right blade to match with the basket. I know of a couple of guys who have never gotten around to finding a blade to match his work.

I don't know if Donnie will ever make another sword. I sure hope so but he is recovering from surgery, so it's anyone's guess. Donnie's hilts are very nice but if there is anyone drawback, I'd say it was his dependence on DelTin blades.

Scott at Darkwood is capable of some wonderful work, but you have to be sure to specify you want a collectable piece with a better finish than his standard work. As I said before, he caters to a specific crowd but his collectable work can be very, very nice. I had him make two Scottish Reiver-era daggers which turned out to be superb in every respect.

Again as far as semi-custom goes, I have four Armour Class baskethilts and love each and every one. To me, there is just something in them that - when you hold one - begs you to "reach out and touch someone."

"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if Arms and Armor would be willing to do a custom Scottish baskethilt? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. I bet they would make a good one, if they turned their minds to it.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
I wonder if Arms and Armor would be willing to do a custom Scottish baskethilt? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. I bet they would make a good one, if they turned their minds to it.


They've done it before. Why not again?

Here's one example

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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2009 2:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

another vote for Armour Class. The mortuary hilt they made me years ago is still the favorite sword of my collection.

Nothing else I have handles like it.

Roanoke Sword Guilde

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Christopher Ron Covington





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PostPosted: Tue 15 Dec, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really like my new Armour Class Early Basket Hilt. It is a very nice sword for the price. However, My ElJay basket is a much better piece for me. It was sized to fit my hand and had all the bells and whistles I asked for. If you can wait I'd say wait for ElJay and while he works the hilt find your blade.
Christopher R. Covington
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Lee O'Hagan




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The armour class higher end baskets are very nice nice swords,but at the price point those move too,
you have plenty of other options as good if not better,
the middle of the road range is fantastic value for money from them,very well thought of worldwide,

i have 5 of rob millers swords,each showing huge improvements over not too many years,
the last two were sabre blades,that were rather good,one a military styled sabre blade,nigh on a twin for an antique artillery blade i have,the other just a three foot razor chopping machine,
one weighs barely a pound,the other i think just over,
his latest basket works are rather impressive,for a long while i thought armour class had the edge over rob with their detailed hilts,but where as theres are mainly acid etched from memory,robs is all hand worked,robs blades are also slightly stiffer and from a conversation with a couple of reenactors a little tougher overall,
http://www.castlekeep.co.uk/phpBB3/viewforum....4d3e1de3af

Paul Macdonald hasnt been mentioned yet,he does fine cutlery work and some very nice baskets,if you can source a nice blade,he'd be a good choice,
also not mentioned yet as not many of his basket-sabre works have been seen is mark vickers of st george armoury,
got to see a couple of hangers he did for the tower of london,looked a substantial pair,but on dry handling they were like lightsabres,and these were full contact rebated edges,he said sharps would be even better handling,
he has two folders of pics i've seen i know havent appeared on the net as yet,with alot of types people would like,but with being flat out no time to put them on his site,
also with him being predominantly an armour maker,i dont think choice of construction would be an issue,

the arms and armour piece posted looks really good,with some of the best rapiers out there,they'd easy pull off a nice basket project,me thinks,
so many really good makers out there its hard to mention them all,
budget and location might make a notable difference, taxes and shipping from abroad plus exchange rate,
but it works both ways on those,some makers are worth the extra effort and hassle long term,
i know i'd love a basket from some of the aforementioned makers,

anyone offer up opinions as to the lower and higher end weights of baskets overall,?
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Dec, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some alternatives here in the ~250$ range that I have not seen elsewhere.

http://www.militaryheritage.com/swords2.htm

I like the multi-fuller blade on the blackened ribbon hilt broadsword. The guy who runs the store told me that it is made by the same people who make coldsteel products. I'm not sure about the hilt, but based on the pictures, I like the blade better than the comparable Coldsteel, Hanwei or Windlass models). Havn't seen it in real life though.

JD
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