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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 1:03 am    Post subject: Custom A&A German Bastard Sword         Reply with quote

I want to share with you guys something pretty unique. Craig Johnson and the guys from Arms & Armor created a custom version of their German Bastard Sword (GBS) with the goal of making the sword an even closer representation of the original antique that inspires it:


The Antique Sword
The original sword is circa 1500 and located in a private collection somewhere.




The Custom A&A Version
Let's get right to it and look at the piece we're discussing. This version includes several unique elements when compared to A&A's standard offering.






Click photos for full-sized versions


The Unique Differences
What's different about this sword compared to the standard offering?

The blade is not a diamond cross-section but rather a lenticular (lozenge-shaped) cross-section with three fullers that extend nearly half its length. It's much less tapered than the standard blade and has a bit more spatulated tip.

The grip shape has been modified and has been upgraded to have its core wrapped in cord and then spiral-bound with another cord. This is a similar treatment to the antique sword.

The hilt furniture has more detail to make it closer to the antique, including crisper lines throughout and additional features such as cross-hatching on the pommel and decorative lines on the inside of the cross-guard where the ecussion would be. Overall, it's obvious that much more attention has been spent on the details on this version.

The whole sword has been treated to appear as though it's an antique that's seen age and use but still has a bit of restoration to it. Craig suggests that this process is about halfway there and will get better with age. It's an attractive effect and I'll be pleased to see how it progresses as I handle and use the sword over time. It's the only modern sword I own that's been treated to appear antiqued and I must say I quite like having it in the lot.

The weight on this sword is 4.2 pounds. It is about 48.75" long overall with a 37.625" long blade that is fully 2" wide at its bade. It's a big boy, but a bit lighter than the standard offering.


My Impressions
Holy crap. I love this sword. Its handling is quite a bit different than what I remember the standard A&A version to be. I've owned their catalog GBS twice and have had to sell it both times due to the realities of life. I've regretted having to do that but knew I could always replace it sometime in the future. Having a custom version of the sword gets rid of that problem entirely!

Both of the previous copies I've had were very similar in handling with a pivot point very near the tip of the blade. This gave the sword the unique characteristic of having extremely fine point control and excellent slashing ability. In many ways, these swords handled somewhat like a short polearm more than a longsword.

This version is quite different. Its long grip makes handling very easy, but it does not have the same point control as the other versions I've handled. This one is much more in line with a cutting sword and I can't wait to take it out back and cut up some things and have fun with it. The dynamics are much more reminiscent of a regular longsword, albeit a big one, than the standard catalog version.

While I love the standard's unique properties as it pertains to point control and whatnot, I'm thrilled by this particular sword's characteristics. Craig seemed to incorporate a lot of what he has learned over the years about historical German longsword technique and apply this knowledge to this piece as he made it. He did a hell of a job.

I'm thrilled with this piece.

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Chris Artman




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 1:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congrats!

Love the detail. Amazing...

(I'm looking forward to seeing what Craig can do on my custom project as well)
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Chris Goerner




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,

Congratulations! I have never been drawn to A&A's standard offering of this sword, but this customized version is really beautiful and unique. I am surprised how much the antiquing appeals to me. I don't typically go in for that sort of thing seeing it as a detraction from the appearance. In this case however, I really do think it enhances the overall impression the sword makes.

While I appreciate what the production of standardized models of swords does for sword collecting as a hobby, I have always been more interested in customized pieces. I really enjoy seeing the customized pieces produced by companies such as A&A, Albion and Armour Class.

Kudos to the Craig and the team at A&A! This is a real masterpiece!

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really impressed by this version of the German Bastard Sword by A & A.

The antiquing is very well done but stays shy of the corroded true antique but it still looks like a very well preserved and taken care of sword of the 16 th century owned by someone in the 21 th century.

When antiquing my own swords, the less expensive ones, I tend for the " has seen some use " but well cared for in period and what it would have looked like to someone in period. ( Personal preferences are for pristine new or light campaign worn ).

The colours and detailing of hilt and handle are fantastic.

As to handling I think these swords are at the upper limit of the longsword and only marginally usable with one hand so I would personally define " bastard swords " as those meant to be usable with one hand but long enough in blade and handle to be fast with two hands: To me these are more " compact " true twohanders and warswords that one would probably not choose for every day carry. ( To me the A & A Black Prince is a good example of a " bastard " sword or longsword of more modest size and very fast, agile and both useable as a weapon of war and light enough for civilian carry ).

With the lenticular blades and spatulate tip these have a lot more in common with the earlier cutting warswords of type XII and XIII than the more agile and much more thrust specialized type XV, XVII and XVIII that I think where designed at least in part as an attempt to make swords for fighting in armour against others in armour.

In the early 16th century although armour reached it's peak in sophistication and protective coverage it also was beginning to be phased out so these would have been a lot of opportunities to return to heavy cutting swords.


Just speculation but maybe on the one hand even the most specialized very pointy swords meant for fighting in armour where not the first choice of weapon, and not that effective, so why not give up on trying to make armour piercing sword ( Between chinks not through the plate itself ) and on the second hand just go back to really effective cutting swords.

Against armour these would not be effective at all in the thrust but heavy enough to give some decent bludgeoning strikes. but their main use would be against lighter and only partially armoured infantry of the time.

Sort of got a bit off topic here Wink And discussing the " Lonssword / Bastard Sword / Twohander " more from the point of view of using characteristics than what we choose to call them i.e. my take on the nomenclature just being my personal opinion.

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a beauty - I love multi-fullered cutting swords. It's also heart-warming to see that an experienced collector can still get that 'first sword' thrill. This shows why A&A deserves there place at the top. Lord, I'm counting the days till my order is ready, hope it turns out this good.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow that looks awesome, thanks Nathan for sharing this and well done to Craig and everyone at A & A
Éirinn go Brách
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another amazing acquisition of amazing custom work! I'm guessing that the A&A folks enjoyed this one immensely.
-Sean

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Jason Elrod




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Love the antique finish. Its about time someone commissioned a more exact replica of this sword. It's been talked about for years. Why am I not suprised that Nathan is the one that broke down and did it?

Just a wonderful sword.
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Steve Maly




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a beauty! I'm certainly a big fan of the lightly antiqued blades, and this one looks great! If you need anyone to sword-sit, keep me in mind! Wink
"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail." ~A. Maslow
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 5:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations on an exquisite piece. It's not secret that I am a huge A&A fan. Like others, I shied away from this particular model because it did not pop with my interest. With the customization and patination, now it's beautiful. I am envious. Big Grin
J.E. Sarge
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's neat!
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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Nathan,

Wow, that is a stunning sword. It's amazing what changes can be made to turn a sword from average, into a jaw dropper. I've always favored antiqued & aged, and this one grabs my fancy immediately.

Nice choice, again, Nathan.

Brian

Brian Kunz
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey everybody-

Thanks for commenting. It's always fun to get something new and then share it with like-minded folks and read their impressions. It's a sort of comradery, I guess.

Just like a few of you, I'm also not generally a fan of artificially aged swords. That isn't to say that I want a pristine sword. In fact, I prefer the swords to be a bit less-than-perfect with organic characteristics (some would say "flaws") and looking like they've had some use. I just happen to prefer a sword in my collection to represent a sword as it would have been during its period of use.

Having said that, the antique effect on this piece is really a great choice and has opened my mind up to the whole concept. It adds a lot to this piece and makes it all the more unique and interesting. At some point I may clean and work it further and get that "restored feel" that is so often seen in museums. That would give it yet another completely different look. The possibilities are fun to explore.

I must say that Craig and I talked many years ago about a customized German Bastard Sword that had some of the features of the original sword but that's where my input ended. All the choices from there were all his and I applaud him for the end product.

I also want to explicitly point out once again that this is a modified version of their standard offering. I know that was made clear in the original post but the reason I mention it again is to say that any of their standard catalog offerings can be customized in a myriad of ways to produce a unique item. This is one particularly unique and valuable quality that Arms & Armor brings to the table. They're a production shop. They're a custom shop. And they're capable of being a hybrid of the two.

This last category, the hybrid model, can allow a consumer to have a one-of-a-kind offering at a much more affordable price than a fully custom model. Food for thought.

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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great piece Nathan. I really like what they've done with it. The only thing that looks a bit odd to me is the hex nut(?) on the top. I assume this was done so you can break it down? Or am I wrong and that's what the original had? Either way it's still a gorgeous piece! Again, I'm envious of your collection...
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 10:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Lison wrote:
Great piece Nathan. I really like what they've done with it. The only thing that looks a bit odd to me is the hex nut(?) on the top. I assume this was done so you can break it down? Or am I wrong and that's what the original had? Either way it's still a gorgeous piece! Again, I'm envious of your collection...


I don't think it's a hex nut but just a " polygonal " peen block ( if that is the right word for it ).

The form is too rounded for it too work as a hex nut as far as I can tell from the pic.

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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 11:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Add me in with those who weren't initially overly interested in this sword, but love this version. Absolutely awesome.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Tim Lison wrote:
Great piece Nathan. I really like what they've done with it. The only thing that looks a bit odd to me is the hex nut(?) on the top. I assume this was done so you can break it down? Or am I wrong and that's what the original had? Either way it's still a gorgeous piece! Again, I'm envious of your collection...


I don't think it's a hex nut but just a " polygonal " peen block ( if that is the right word for it ).

The form is too rounded for it too work as a hex nut as far as I can tell from the pic.


Yeah, Jean pretty much has it right. It is peened and can't be disassembled. Having said that, it's my least favorite part of the piece and I might round it off if I ever get around to it.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Aug, 2010 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic Nathan, I've always wanted to do this very thing! The thing that has stymied me is the lack of any notion of what the blade of the sword actually looks like. The only picture I've ever seen of the original is the very first one that you put in your opening post. I even purchased a book once specifically because it was supposed to contain a picture... and it turned out to be that same picture again. Grumble. Unfortunately I have been completely unable to trace where the sword ended up. As I recall it was sold by Christy's in the 1960s (it's been a while since I've looked into this) but to who or where the sword now resides is a complete mystery.

I think Craig made some good choices, this one certainly is a step up from the regular production piece. Again, congratulations!

Oh... and if anyone has a notion as to where the original resides...

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Aug, 2010 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Oh... and if anyone has a notion as to where the original resides...


I've also wondered where the original is located now. Here is an example with an extremely similar guard and the blade profile that is close to A&A's standard offering: http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13823.html

Fun stuff.

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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Aug, 2010 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahh. I just looked at this again on my home computer (with a much better screen than my work laptop!) and it is clearly not a hex. Amazing the difference a few thousand DPI can make! Thanks for the info Nathan and again, gorgeous piece!
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