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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reproduction vs. recreation         Reply with quote

In this thread I'd like to explore some thoughts on the difference between reproductions and recreations.

For the purpose of the thread I'd like to define reproductions as swords that are exact replica's of a single preserved sword. An example of this is Albion's Museum Line. On the other hand, recreations are modern designed swords that intend to represent a type of sword without replicating a single sword, for example Albion's Next Generation swords.

Also, for the purpose of this discussion, I'd like to focus on the design of the sword, not on the techniques involved in making it. Again, the two Albion lines are a good example.

Personally I find myself drawn between these two philosophies.

The "recreation" has a lot of advantages. It allows for more design freedom, preventing the same few famous swords being reproduced over and over again. If done right, I also think it requires an even better understanding of why a certain sword type works, then by "simply" copying a single piece.

On the other hand, the "recreation" often leads to a-historic features. This is especially apparent on the lower end of the market, but also on the higher end one can find some things that are demonstrably incorrect. Theoretically, this could be solved by doing more research, but for some of the more obscure sword types, this kind of research is simply is not available, and one can argue whether it is actually possible to do such research.

For example, in a monumental efford, A. Geibig managed to classify early medieval swords on the basis of statistical data. But for this he needed hundreds of blades that were still in good enough condition to measure fuller lengths, profile taper etc. If, in contrast, one looks at swords from the migration age, which are usually classified by hilt, a single type may consist of maybe a dozen specimens, including a few badly fragmented parts. And even within these types there may be considerable variation...

To this problem, the "reproduction" gives a feasible answer. In my opinion, the risk to design something a-historical is too great in the more obscure subjects. Reproducing a single sword allows one to do a really serious study into one artifact and then extrapolate the findings into making the sword "like it was when it was new".

But for me the main question is: does such a "reproduction" lack a certain soul of it's own? If, for instance, one looks at the Sutton Hoo sword made by Patrick Barta, then the answer to that must be a resounding NO!

Yet, on the other hand, even that sword is still a reproduction and as such can only strive to approximate the original...

But isn't that also true for "recreations"???

Or is the only solution to forget about re-making old swords altogether and instead focus on collecting antiques or contemporary swords?
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesing topic probably many of us have thought about...

Well, I sure hope we don't forget about re-making old swords, because I have never found a better way (holding a reproduction in my hand) to feel connected with the past. Even holding a real artificat is not quite the same (not that I've been able to do this), since most of them are altered by age and none of them, I hope, would be used for test cutting etc.

I think the re-creation approach is just as valid as the reproduction approach, so long as the designer has incorporated necessary features to make it historically plausible within the type. Even if it has not been found, its very likely that one like it or very similar existed amongst the majority of swords that are gone forever. This way could also educate us by extrapolating the gaps between known swords. I think this is what Peter Johnsson tries to do for Albion's next generation line.

Having said that, my personal preference is for the reproduction, just because of that exact connection with the past I mentioned in the first paragraph, and because of the history one can draw on from museum records and other documentation on the original piece. This adds further dimensions to the modern replica that one owns.

JD
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Bryan W.





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 3:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Reproduction vs. recreation         Reply with quote

I think in your post you ask and then subsequently answer your own questions for the most part with the exception of the final one:

Paul Hansen wrote:
is the only solution to forget about re-making old swords altogether and instead focus on collecting antiques or contemporary swords?



I don't see why these two are mutually exclusive if the goal is to understand and learn about history. There is an aspect of observation and an aspect of reproduction and I think in truly understanding an art such as the sword, its creation and use one would need both. Yes one might make a mistake in the reproduction aspect but that is part of the process of learning and rediscovery.

Part of the confounding nature of the study of the antique swords is the antique sword might NOT have been "perfect" when it was produced. Who knows? Maybe the "famous piece" we are currently studying was considered a showy but inferior piece of garbage by the more reputable, skilled but less famous or widely distributed/mass produced contemporaries. It is quite possible that the modern reproductions are what people strived for but due to lack of modern equipment, more precise and consistent heat treating capabilities, and lesser quality steel they might not have attained what something like Albion or A&A or any other company or modern custom smith can do consistently and as quickly.

Unfortunately we may never know for sure but that's just part of studying the archeological record.
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

Quote:
Even holding a real artificat is not quite the same (not that I've been able to do this), since most of them are altered by age and none of them, I hope, would be used for test cutting etc.


Interesting opinion... mine is almost the opposite. When I hold an original artifact (and I have held and examined hundreds) I feel an instant connection to the past, an original artifact... for me... is a sort of time machine. A thousand years ago someone held this very same item. Some originals are in very, very, good condition, they look as though its been little more than a couple years since it was brand new... these are particularly interesting. In my personal collection my originals are held in much higher prestige than my reproductions/recreations. I would rather own a poor lump of an original than a modern piece. For example, if my house was burning down and I could save only either (random examples) my $100 original Roman fibulae or my $3000 reproduction sword... I'd grab the fibulae.
Quote:
and none of them, I hope, would be used for test cutting etc.

Many are. It is not problematic in my opinion, if it is not destructive in any way to the piece. For example shooting an antique firearm (carefully), etc. However, unfortunately, many destructive "tests" are done to originals... some for valid reasons, others I have no idea.
I understand why in many cases these things are done... but I don't always agree with it. For example, a viking era knife with no provenance was recently taken and: file tested, polished, acid-etched, rockwell tested, sharpened, etc. to figure out a variety of different things about viking era knives. I understand why it was done, but still shudder at the destruction of an original.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I saw on eBay once a man taking original medieval and viking era knives that cost about $60-$70... running them through a knife sharpener, slapping on a modern looking wood or plastic handle and re-selling them for $150 with the tagline "carry an original medieval warrior knife with you on the job, at home, or on the hunt"
Disgusting.


Quote:
It is quite possible that the modern reproductions are what people strived for but due to lack of modern equipment, more precise and consistent heat treating capabilities, and lesser quality steel they might not have attained what something like Albion or A&A or any other company or modern custom smith can do consistently and as quickly.

In certain ways this is possible... but in many ways it isn't. We have a modern perception of what "looks good" that is not entirely on line with period craftsman. Many times "imperfections" are quite apparent on medieval weapons that the maker clearly had the means to "correct". For example, swords with crossguards an inch longer on one side than the other. The craftsman could have measured this out and gotten it perfectly even... however he didn't. This was not seen as an imperfection to the period eye. Many of the concepts of symmetry, etc. are entirely modern phenomena.

An exacting reproduction of an extant piece has value, but so does generic recreation of a style. This comes down largely to personal preference and goals. My collection contains both, and I see value in both.

Cheers,
Hadrian Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul,
You raise a lot of points here. Happy On the question of:

Quote:
Or is the only solution to forget about re-making old swords altogether and instead focus on collecting antiques or contemporary swords?


the answer will vary by person. I have zero interest in buying contemporary swords. They don't do much for me. I don't have a great amount of interest in antiques for several reasons: I can't afford them, I don't know if I want the responsibility of being caretaker to a centuries-old item, and I wouldn't be able to cut with them without great trepidation.

So I'm left with modern replicas. Generally, my preference is for items that draw heavily from period swords. I have 5 Albions (therefore recreations by your definition), an A&A sword (based on one specific period sword but with some compromises for affordability) and an Armour Class sword (also based on one specific period sword but with some compromises for affordability). My daggers are all based on particular period pieces, not amalgams of various forms, so they'd be in the reproduction category. A medieval knife I have draws its parts from a few surviving fragments as finding complete 14th century knives isn't easy. Call it what you will. Happy

There's a market for both recreations and reproductions. I'd love more reproductions in my sword inventory, but my budget limits me to very well-done recreations. I buy my items only from people who study, handle, and/or document period weapons so I know I'll get items that are at least highly plausible recreations if not fairly exacting reproductions. I tend to skip the makers who miss the mark in terms of accuracy.

You also have to factor in the maker. Some makers strive to copy historical designs as faithfully as they can. Others draw inspiration from period pieces but filter them through their own artistic sensibilities. There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach.

The idea of what people call accurate varies as well. See this thread for more info: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=6526 .

Also, the idea of why people collect replicas instead of antiques has been discussed here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8936 .

As you'll see from those, there are many different opinions on why we each collect what we do. Happy

Happy

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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hadrian Coffin wrote:
...We have a modern perception of what "looks good" that is not entirely on line with period craftsman. Many times "imperfections" are quite apparent on medieval weapons that the maker clearly had the means to "correct". For example, swords with crossguards an inch longer on one side than the other. The craftsman could have measured this out and gotten it perfectly even... however he didn't. This was not seen as an imperfection to the period eye. Many of the concepts of symmetry, etc. are entirely modern phenomena...




I know... I have always wondered about these towers on the Chartres Cathedral... Really bothers me but obviously they liked the asymmetry.

ks



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328.ChartCath.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Edenís flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Gabriele A. Pini




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To enter in the mentality of the past is one of the most difficult exercise for a history's student.

My ex art professor, a priest 92 years old with an encyclopedic knowledge of the arts but odd ideas, would always maintain that the cathedral of Koln was askew (the presbitery is offset from the main axis) because the architect made a mistake during the construction... Simmetry for him is so important that he can't conceive that someone wouldn't respect it, like the architect could actually have miscalculated the presbitery of a cathedral of five or so meters and not realize it until the end of the works.

Or many of my fellows student of theology, whose main occupation during the lessons of history of the theology is point to the professor the errors of past heretics, commenting how the people who followed them were awfully stupid... They don't even think to comprehend the totality of the problem (why the heretic said so, what was the reception of the idea, what was the reaction of the Church or Chruches involved), only to apply the modern solution to the question, forgetting that (generally) the same solution was developed during the same heresy.

Personally, and to re-enter in the topic, I prefer re-creation, because it offer the possibility to expand our image of the times past.
That said, reproducing a museum object is the first and obligatory pass to knowledge: for the smith, first of all, but more for us, because it offers the only possibility to check firsthand the accuracy of a re-creation. One cannot think to be a swords expert only by books, and I shuddered thinking what would happen if all of us where granted the possibility to handle the reals artifacts (one for all: consumption Big Grin ).
A good re-creationist need to be, per forza, a good reproductor, but a good re-creation for me is more valuable (materials, time and all considerations aside) because it need more diligence to make.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 10:15 am    Post subject: Re: Reproduction vs. recreation         Reply with quote

Bryan W. wrote:
I think in your post you ask and then subsequently answer your own questions for the most part with the exception of the final one


Maybe, but it's only my opinion. Wink The last sentence was meant as a, perhaps slightly fatalistic, solution to the problem that a reproduction or recreation will never completely be similar to what an original sword used to be when it was new. However, both originals and contemporary swords have drawbacks of their own, as mentioned by the others in this thread.

Chad Arnow wrote:
I'd love more reproductions in my sword inventory, but my budget limits me to very well-done recreations. I buy my items only from people who study, handle, and/or document period weapons so I know I'll get items that are at least highly plausible recreations if not fairly exacting reproductions. I tend to skip the makers who miss the mark in terms of accuracy.
For the purpose of the discussion, I'd like to assume a maker that comes close to perfection, because I think it's easy to create a bad sword, both reproduction as well as recreation.

But why do you feel that recreations are more expensive than reproductions? Because of what you see in the market, or because of intrinsic costs?

Gabriele A. Pini wrote:
To enter in the mentality of the past is one of the most difficult exercise for a history's student.


Hadrian Coffin wrote:
In certain ways this is possible... but in many ways it isn't. We have a modern perception of what "looks good" that is not entirely on line with period craftsman. Many times "imperfections" are quite apparent on medieval weapons that the maker clearly had the means to "correct". For example, swords with cross-guards an inch longer on one side than the other. The craftsman could have measured this out and gotten it perfectly even... however he didn't. This was not seen as an imperfection to the period eye. Many of the concepts of symmetry, etc. are entirely modern phenomena.

Exactly! That's one of my problems with many recreations: they are too much intended to appeal to modern day buyers. Up to a point I can understand that a maker needs to have customers in order to survive, but it may create a boring offering. On the other hand, there are also recreations of much more eccentric types. Albion's Cherusker is a great example of this, as is the Ritter on a different level.

Gabriele A. Pini wrote:
Personally, and to re-enter in the topic, I prefer re-creation, because it offer the possibility to expand our image of the times past.
That said, reproducing a museum object is the first and obligatory pass to knowledge: for the smith, first of all, but more for us, because it offers the only possibility to check firsthand the accuracy of a re-creation. One cannot think to be a swords expert only by books, and I shuddered thinking what would happen if all of us where granted the possibility to handle the reals artifacts (one for all: consumption Big Grin ).
A good re-creationist need to be, per forza, a good reproductor, but a good re-creation for me is more valuable (materials, time and all considerations aside) because it need more diligence to make.


Hmm, yes and no... I think that recreation is a different art than reproduction, but not necessarily easier or more difficult. A good reproduction should take care of the slightest details, because in the end you do not know what is important unless you have a really good understanding of why an original sword was designed the way it was. Someone unfamiliar with Messers could choose to omit the nagel... Also, there may have been a good reason why the cross-guards in Hadrian's example are not of equal length, so someone reproducing that particular sword should, in my opinion, also reproduce that feature.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 10:31 am    Post subject: Re: Reproduction vs. recreation         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:

But why do you feel that recreations are more expensive than reproductions? Because of what you see in the market, or because of intrinsic costs?


I don't "feel" they are more expensive, the market shows it as fact. Happy Look at the smiths doing the most exacting replicas. Are their prices low? No. Why not?

Research takes time and time = money. Look at Albion's Next Gen vs. the Museum Line. There is no discernable difference in fit and finish from what I've observed personally. There is no difference in materials (they don't use better steel for the Museum line or worse wood grips for the NG line, for example). Part of the difference in price is the cost of R&D. Going to museums and documenting items takes time and money.

Another factor is that the more exacting you are with replicating period designs, the tighter your design parameters and quality control need to be. This isn't to say that the NG line is sloppily designed or finished. Not at all. But I would guess more time goes into the design of an average Museum Line sword than a Next Gen sword. The Museum Line probably needs more work to make sure the design is exact. When you're not copying an exact piece, you have to hit the feel and period proportions, but components don't need to match historical pieces in all three dimensions down to fractions of a millimeter.

Another factor could be economic. Some people will pay more because something is an exact replica.

The reason the market is more varied than ever is that there is demand for the variety. Not everyone wants the same things nor are willing to pay the same price for certain features.

Happy

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hadrian Coffin wrote:
Hello,

Quote:
Even holding a real artificat is not quite the same (not that I've been able to do this), since most of them are altered by age and none of them, I hope, would be used for test cutting etc.


Interesting opinion... mine is almost the opposite. When I hold an original artifact (and I have held and examined hundreds) I feel an instant connection to the past, an original artifact... for me... is a sort of time machine. A thousand years ago someone held this very same item. Some originals are in very, very, good condition, they look as though its been little more than a couple years since it was brand new... these are particularly interesting. In my personal collection my originals are held in much higher prestige than my reproductions/recreations. I would rather own a poor lump of an original than a modern piece. For example, if my house was burning down and I could save only either (random examples) my $100 original Roman fibulae or my $3000 reproduction sword... I'd grab the fibulae.


I won't argue with you there - there's nothing like an original artifact, and I would love to have the experience you describe. I didn't mean to say the reproductions are superior, just that they are different - maybe more like many originals were in their hay-day, if the reproduction was done correctly. Perhaps 'complimentary' would be the best word. And for better or worse, most of us do not have hands-on access to museum pieces and cannot afford to buy original medieval swords in any sort of decent shape.
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Markus A




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not really see the point here.For me its only hairsplinting in naming an copy as recreation or reproduction.In any case its an question of how its done.
If one say its the looks which counts then an decent 3 kilo replica is an reproduction.
If you want to recreate it exact the way,then you have to use Exactly the same way of producing the raw iron in an furnace with iron you melt down and exactly the same tools and forging technics.Without any mechanic kind of grinding ect.
You would have to use excact the old glue made from fish bladders not modern epoxy glues ect for the hilt components ect...
Only then you would have the right in an higher sense to call it an recreation.
Allother stuff and may it look as nice is then in an higher sense only an reproduction.
Because an recreation would mean that you follow in any aspect the ancient working technics or and use exactly the same tools- materials as the old ones before.
But i see no point to argue here,For me an Albion Spadone is not more noble than an Albion Baron only because its made more closer looking to an existing orginal.
I want not be misunderstood this ALBION SWORDS ARE GREAT-not yelling-but are made modern and so if you would use the term are only reproductions because they copy the look an feel.
An classiv REcreation copies everything.
but i doubt that one does find such item in western worls.The only thing i know are Japanese swords which are made the same way today then they where done 800 years ago.
So i do not care for me the end result does count.
As long its nice all is fine.
And if i have the money to spent i would always only go for an orginal.
The real thing cant be made better,even if one want not to use it for chopping waterbottles or the ham for dinner.
No pun intended.
So i see no way why one should be so critic in such fine details.
cheers
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Sep, 2010 3:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Reproduction vs. recreation         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

When you're not copying an exact piece, you have to hit the feel and period proportions, but components don't need to match historical pieces in all three dimensions down to fractions of a millimeter.



I agree. A replica of the museum need not be accurate to fractions of a millimeter. It is inevitable that there are changes to geometry, also because it is very difficult to replicate the defects of a ancient sword. The maker will always compromises or interpretations, this seems reasonable and countervailable.
Measures have so accurate in its three main dimensions, is not something too important.
This can help in only one case.
If some features of the sword, are related to some details of its geometry.
An example abstract.
A sword may be suitable to be cut to thrust , but suppose that the original study of its geometry has a vocation to the most cutting. If I change the bit out of the original geometry, can I have a sword unbeatable. But it has the characteristics of the original. The original sword, thrust is not unbeatable as they are led to believe from replication.
I changed the true essence of the sword.
In this case, highly accurate measurements to help.

Ciao
Maurizio
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Fri 10 Sep, 2010 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To me, swords are either replicas (which can be either well done or poorly crafted) OR actual swords from antiquity. I understand trying to differentiate between a replica and a reproduction - but as far as I am concerned, it's either real or it is not. Even the finest made sword will not 100% duplicate it's namesake - whether in method of manufactre, materials, physical dimensions, handling, and other attributes. To me, if it's made by a modern smith, it is a modern replica of a sword.

To be honest, I do somewhat agree with the hairsplitting comment above. I can understand the point if someone were trying to specify between the quality of pieces in one's own or someone elses collection - but by manner of definition, if it's not an authentic antique, then it is a replica - albiet good or bad quality. To me, the term recreation just signifies a higher level of quality in which the item is made to a tighter tolerance with a specific original in mind; but it still remains to be a replica as far as I am concerned. Happy

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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Sep, 2010 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes and no. Modern smith's are making swords in the old ways- recreating a sword that existed ages ago. Jeroen Zuiderwijk is one http://1501bc.com/nf_casting_eng.html and Jake Powning, Patrick Barta, Jeff Pringle, and Richard Furrer
recently posted a video about making a blade from ore-and how about the late Paul Chanpagne? I think if a weapon is made in the manner of our ancestors as closely as we know how, and is acceptably (scientifically acceptable) close to the original geometry and balance, it qualifies as a recreation. A reproduction would be an extremely close copy designed for mass production using steels manufactured by modern methods and means. Albion and Arms and Armor are currently the top producers here. Is one more desirable than the other? That I think is answered through the eyes of the owner. Personally, I think the arguement is one of semantics. My own inerests seem to be centering on the recreation side of the issue since the antiques of interest to me, within my most optimistic budget, are beyond my reach.

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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Fri 10 Sep, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,
On the topic of price for reproductions vs. recreations, I have to say there doesn't seem to be much of a trend. Many of the "expensive" makers create items that are inspired by a variety of originals, many of Patrick Barta's swords are done in this way... as are many of the Peter Johnson customs. I think price is more reflective of the skill of the individual craftsman and time put into the piece. A sword inspired by multiple originals will often take about as much study as a reproduction of a specific sword.†
As I said earlier I don't have a major preference. I would say as I have looked at my swords my most common trend is for swords that are recreations based on specific originals. I like to take (for example) a group of 9th century swords and say, I want the blade from sword A, hilt from sword B, inlay from sword C. I wouldn't trust this to a lot of people... because it won't always work. When I do this I am working within a very specific style, type, and year. I'm NOT saying I want a hilt off a type 3 (Geibig) on a type 4, etc. Instead rather blending a few different, but similar, swords. I also use a smith I know won't throw in a-historic details.
Cheers,
Hadrian Happy

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