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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:03 am    Post subject: Getting behind the curve on sax research... thus a question         Reply with quote

Regarding broken-back saxes- the trend lately is to make broken-back saxes thickest at the 'break' where the clipped point begins and distal-taper them in both directions. I assume that this is based on examples from the period and some research that I have missed (mea culpa- haven't been keeping up in this area.) Details are often very hard to pick out from Photos and being here in the US is a serious disadvantage when researching saxes; all of the examples that I have seen personally were either in Europe in the early 1980s (when I didn't even know what features mattered or what to look for) or have been badly 'perished' so details were difficult to glean.

As we had learned as of the last time I was paying attention the term 'Sax' takes in a lot of territory with a huge variety of sizes, shapes and hilt details so I was wondering if this feature universal across all 'broken-back' saxes, large, small and in-between, or to late-period broken-back saxes from england, or to the slender variants of the sax such as Charlemagne's 'hunting knife?' In other words how common was this and in what period or periods? Does it apply only to Broken-Back saxes or is it a feature seen on other forms as well?

If there are existing threads that answer these questions a link to them would be most helpful. Thanks!

Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Owen Bush
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Location: london
Joined: 31 Aug 2007

Posts: 221

PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 3:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have notices this in many broken back seax of a medium and small veriety . an example being these seax and also their inlaid brother on display in the museum of london , all 3 having very similar form
. It is something I look out for and A form I like so I notice it more than not .I doubt it is in any way universal.



the lang seax I have documented are thick but distal taper slightly from handle to tip. Many I have seen look to be of equal thickness along the length . It is very hard to make these judgements through glass and a hands on approach is needed the vernier reveals more than the eye!!

I am not sure about the northern european types ?

I shall start to make spine shots a priority often as not back room visits are fleeting and it is hard to prioritise info that may become useful at a later date or not..

forging soul into steel .

www.owenbush.co.uk the home of bushfire forge school of smithing .
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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks very much! Quite useful.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Dustin R. Reagan





Joined: 09 May 2006

Posts: 264

PostPosted: Sat 19 Feb, 2011 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To add to Owen's info, take a look at the knife-length broken back seax in the myArmoury seax article: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_seax.html. They all show at least some profile widening from tang to start of the clip.
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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Sun 20 Feb, 2011 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin R. Reagan wrote:
To add to Owen's info, take a look at the knife-length broken back seax in the myArmoury seax article: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_seax.html. They all show at least some profile widening from tang to start of the clip.


That is a nice article, but I am not referring to profile tapers, rather a taper in thickness of the spine with the thickest part being where the spine 'breaks' to slope down to the point. I very much appreciate the comments and the link though.

Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Dustin R. Reagan





Joined: 09 May 2006

Posts: 264

PostPosted: Sun 20 Feb, 2011 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Pearce wrote:
Dustin R. Reagan wrote:
To add to Owen's info, take a look at the knife-length broken back seax in the myArmoury seax article: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_seax.html. They all show at least some profile widening from tang to start of the clip.


That is a nice article, but I am not referring to profile tapers, rather a taper in thickness of the spine with the thickest part being where the spine 'breaks' to slope down to the point. I very much appreciate the comments and the link though.


Ah, yes, sorry for misunderstanding. I've never heard of this phenomena before, either. I'd be very interested in seeing a historical example of this. I see now, in Owen's picture, he has the spine width listed in the diagram. This is also consistent with what I've had described when I've asked museums for dimensions of seax. Small broken back seax often have consistent (or very very small amount of "normal" distal taper) spine width up to the start of the clip, and taper from there. Longer broken-back seax tend to have relatively thick spines, but at least a small amount of consistent distal taper in the normal direction (from tang to tip).

Here's an informative post about a longer broken-back seax by Peter Johnsson:
http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showt...p;p=167744

and some more if you scroll down to about the 9th post here:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=18272
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Michael Pearce
Industry Professional



Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Sun 20 Feb, 2011 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks agin- this is very helpful!
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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G Ezell
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Location: North Alabama
Joined: 22 Dec 2003

Posts: 232

PostPosted: Mon 21 Feb, 2011 5:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael, I first noticed the 'reverse distal taper' on this particular blade:
http://www.warehamforge.ca/norse-knives/york2808.jpg
This is the only one I've been able to confirm, wrong side of the pond to be doing any serious seax research....

I suspect Owen is correct, it was mostly seen on the smaller seaxes. It seems to increase the chopping ability of a relatively small blade, but might not be desirable on a larger blade.

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
Gabriel Lebec

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Michael Pearce
Industry Professional



Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Mon 21 Feb, 2011 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much- it is excellent to have a specific example available. I appreciate you taking the time to bring this to my attention. I suspect that you may be right about the thought being to enhance chopping power and if this were the case you would reach a point of diminishing returns somewhere along the line as size increased.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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