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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 9:21 pm    Post subject: Help with a custom sword plan.         Reply with quote

Hello fellow forumites,

I am sure that many of you have looked at several swords and fell in 'like' with them for different reasons. Well, I was doing that, wanting one sword for its pommel, another for its cross guard, and another for its grip. My wish list of swords was pretty darn huge. Then I realized one day that rather than just buying a few swords with pieces that I liked, I should just get one custom made that includes everything I like. ... that's more economical, right?

So here's my plan for a sword. I REALLY WANT THIS TO BE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE, but I don't need it to be a replica of any one piece. However, if you find a piece that goes perfectly with the musts of this design please provide a picture and references. Please! =)

So far here is a list of what I want:
A scent stopper pommel, like that on the Albion Mercenary etc.
A type XVIIIc blade. I want it to hand and a half proportions, so a XVIIIa will do.
Hollow ground

The thing I can't decide on is the cross guard. I don't know what would go best with this and be accurate. I don't want a style 12. That is my main reason for posting here. What cross guard would you put on a sword of this design?


Oh, also, my knowledge is limited, but I did find an image of this sword on the featured articles section. It is similar to my design, but I'm not sold on the cross guard.
http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?features/pic_spotxviii07.jpg#

Thanks in advance for your help.

Eric Gregersen
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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh. I'm having John Ludemo do the sword.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're interested in historical accuracy as you say, why don't you find a few historical samples that come close to what you're looking for to validate the authenticity of such a piece? From there, you can do subtle modifications and mixing-and-matching from similar (era, region, type, etc.) swords and come up with something plausible.

You've come up with one example and I'd think it would be helpful to see others of a similar type and from the same time period, etc. Maybe others could share some samples for you here?

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Michael Murphy




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric here are a couple of samples from Oakeshott's RMS; XVII.8 and XVII.9 respectively. The blades are type XVII but I thought the hilts might give you some ideas.


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Type XVII 2.jpg


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Type XVII 1.jpg


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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
If you're interested in historical accuracy as you say, why don't you find a few historical samples that come close to what you're looking for to validate the authenticity of such a piece? From there, you can do subtle modifications and mixing-and-matching from similar (era, region, type, etc.) swords and come up with something plausible.

You've come up with one example and I'd think it would be helpful to see others of a similar type and from the same time period, etc. Maybe others could share some samples for you here?


Nathan,

Thanks for the suggestion. Actually, that's what I have been doing. Most of what I have are from other XVIII's currently in production, but the antiques that I know of are limited to the featured articles section. Most of the crosses I have in the drawing are my cruddy sketches of ones that I've seen and liked. I find that styles 9 and 10 have caught my eye a lot recently, but I'm still not convinced that they are what I truly want.

I guess that the problem is that I just go back and forth between different hilts all the time. I feel like I need one that 'matches' the pommel. Also, I am not quite sure if this is an XVIIIa or an XVIIIc. They seem to be pretty easy to confuse. I have seen the drawings for the Albion XVIIIc's, but that is about all I have to reference.

Michael Murphy wrote:
Eric here are a couple of samples from Oakeshott's RMS; XVII.8 and XVII.9 respectively. The blades are type XVII but I thought the hilts might give you some ideas.


Thanks Michael. I don't really have any of Oakeshott's books yet (soon though, soon...) so this is really helpful.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Gregersen wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion. Actually, that's what I have been doing. Most of what I have are from other XVIII's currently in production


I humbly submit that given your interest in historical accuracy, you throw away basing your sword on items currently in production and instead look at what inspired them. Basing your piece on something that another maker has already interpreted will get you farther from your goal of a historically-inspired sword, not closer. There are simply too many things in production that are not really representative of historical examples. Without looking at a lot of extant originals, one will not know how to interpret the production pieces to determine what fits and what does not.

Quote:
but the antiques that I know of are limited to the featured articles section.


Unfortunately I have to say that while our site is perhaps one of the most prolific sources on the 'net for sword-related info, the fact is that there's very little content here for your purposes. The features section, in particular, has very little to serve this project.

Quote:
Most of the crosses I have in the drawing are my cruddy sketches of ones that I've seen and liked. I find that styles 9 and 10 have caught my eye a lot recently, but I'm still not convinced that they are what I truly want.

I guess that the problem is that I just go back and forth between different hilts all the time. I feel like I need one that 'matches' the pommel. Also, I am not quite sure if this is an XVIIIa or an XVIIIc. They seem to be pretty easy to confuse. I have seen the drawings for the Albion XVIIIc's, but that is about all I have to reference.

Thanks Michael. I don't really have any of Oakeshott's books yet (soon though, soon...) so this is really helpful.


The mixing and matching process will produce a sword that will be attractive to you, but it won't serve the other need that you specified for your project: historical accuracy. One has to take into account the type of sword, the era for that sword, the region from which the sword came, and so many other factors when choosing the various elements and how they may have been found together in history.

Far too many makers (and customers) look at cross-guards, pommels, grip styles, blade styles and their properties (length, cross-section, etc.), and other factors as separate elements. They think that simply because a specific detail may be dated within 25 years (as an example) of another specific detail, that they may have been found on an extant original. This isn't really sound logic and has shown itself to be faulty almost all of the time.

Having said all that, I suggest one of these methodologies:
  1. Get a much, much larger sample size of inspiration (dozens if not 100s of swords) and do the research necessary to interpret what you're seeing with specific attention spent on how everything relates (this is beyond most of our abilities)
  2. Find a maker who has done #1 and trust him (the list of such makers is very small)
  3. Find an authentic historical original that you love and have a maker create that sword (this is fairly simple but might not produce the perfect sword for you)
  4. Remove "historical accuracy" from your needs and just be happy with a finished item that is "relatively historically-inspired" Happy


I suggest #4. I think it would make you pleased and get you a sword that you'll enjoy. I've gone that route several times, myself.

For what it's worth, your design will produce an attractive sword, in my opinion!

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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

Having said all that, I suggest one of these methodologies:
  1. Get a much, much larger sample size of inspiration (dozens if not 100s of swords) and do the research necessary to interpret what you're seeing with specific attention spent on how everything relates (this is beyond most of our abilities)
  2. Find a maker who has done #1 and trust him (the list of such makers is very small)
  3. Find an authentic historical original that you love and have a maker create that sword (this is fairly simple but might not produce the perfect sword for you)
  4. Remove "historical accuracy" from your needs and just be happy with a finished item that is "relatively historically-inspired" Happy


I suggest #4. I think it would make you pleased and get you a sword that you'll enjoy. I've gone that route several times, myself.

For what it's worth, your design will produce an attractive sword, in my opinion!


Sir you are very right. I kept reading your points (good points every one) and feeling more and more crestfallen. Then you said that I could just go with something "relatively historically-inspired." Enh, that will do the job for me. I mean, I'll look at all the XVIII's with a scent stopper pommel that I can get my hands on in an attempt to match one up to the other, but if it really comes down to it, I'm sure that "relatively historically-inspired" will do.

Thanks much. Truly.

Also, I would still like input from anyone who feels the need. This community has a lot of knowledgable people and I am most definitely a novice.

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 5:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that Craig and the other very knowledgable folks of Ams & Armor may be an excellent option for you to consider to handle your project.

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/
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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
I believe that Craig and the other very knowledgable folks of Ams & Armor may be an excellent option for you to consider to handle your project.

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/


I actually emailed them at the same time that I emailed John. John responded right away but I never heard back from the arms and armor people... it's been two weeks now or more... Perhaps I should have re-sent it, but I have other projects in mind for them in the future.

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Julien M




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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 3:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Eric,

It looks like a type XVIII indeed! But your initial sketch needs more details as from here it could end up being "historically correct" or end up being a LOTR ranger sword too Happy

I would suggest getting closer to the hilt now. You've laid down overall proportions which is a start. But once you have chosen an oakeshot type (to grossly simplify they share similar blade form, that's the idea behind this typology, even if some would be broader or slender, hollow ground or not) you need to get closer to guard and pommel. The hilt will definitely give your sword its "personnality" so to speak. So the more details you can gather the better. I have looked at hundreds of originals in museum, and even sword hilts I think I know well still suprise me whenever I consider reproducing these.

So make close ups of your pommel and guard. How is the guard shaped in all its dimension and angles? A facet pommel: are the facets hollowed or flat? etc etc....unless you want to give free reins to the maker and let him fill the gaps.

One thing I do to quickly see if something will work or not is using photoshop. I take a blade here, a cross guard from there, another grip, a pommel, and play around with the layers, resizing, re arraging until those puzzle make sense.

http://pixlr.com/ is online and free, and perfect for that purpose.

Also now that you have Oakeshott's books at hand, it will be much simpler to make up your mind Happy

Best,

J
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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I totally agree with Julien,

You need to be careful with your hilt choices or you could end up with a fantasy-esque piece- especially with the scent-stopper pommel choice. Go back to originals. Make it clear that historical accuracy is important to you. Well, that is if it is of a primary concern.
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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 10:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julien M wrote:
Hi Eric,

It looks like a type XVIII indeed! But your initial sketch needs more details as from here it could end up being "historically correct" or end up being a LOTR ranger sword too Happy

I would suggest getting closer to the hilt now. You've laid down overall proportions which is a start. But once you have chosen an oakeshot type (to grossly simplify they share similar blade form, that's the idea behind this typology, even if some would be broader or slender, hollow ground or not) you need to get closer to guard and pommel. The hilt will definitely give your sword its "personnality" so to speak. So the more details you can gather the better.


Great minds think alike ;-) or at least like minds do... I have actually been gathering pictures (mostly of reproductions which Nathan rightly cautioned me against) of every little aspect of geometry and piecing them together. As Nathan pointed out, being truly "historically accurate" might be unlikely, but I would like it if my custom sword is 'highly' historically inspired rather than 'slightly' inspired.

Julien M wrote:
I have looked at hundreds of originals in museum, and even sword hilts I think I know well still suprise me whenever I consider reproducing these.


I am jealous. I have never seen an original piece in person before... someday...

Julien M wrote:
So make close ups of your pommel and guard. How is the guard shaped in all its dimension and angles? A facet pommel: are the facets hollowed or flat? etc etc....unless you want to give free reins to the maker and let him fill the gaps.

One thing I do to quickly see if something will work or not is using photoshop. I take a blade here, a cross guard from there, another grip, a pommel, and play around with the layers, resizing, re arraging until those puzzle make sense.


Good idea. My wife is a professional photographer, and so I have photoshop and illustrator. I did my first design in the latter program. We will see if my meager photoshop skills are equal to the task.

Julien M wrote:
Also now that you have Oakeshott's books at hand, it will be much simpler to make up your mind Happy

Best,

J


Yes. Thank you. I have been pouring over Oakeshott's works all day and taking pictures of anything I can find. There's not a wealth of what I am looking for, even in his books, but I have learned a lot and I am really enjoying this.

One of my most favorite finds is a drawing in the Sword in the Age of Chivalry, more specifically figure 114.


I feel like it is from the right era to be an XVIII, with a guard and a pommel that are pretty close to what I drew. The blade is sheathed which provides an element of obscurity that will let me incorporate this into my design.

There are several other images that I have found, but I'm only going to share this one for now.

Thanks to all so far that have helped with this.

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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Eric,

I'll try to add a few things hopefully without repeating too much what was already said.

First, besides the dangers of mixing and matching parts vis a vis historical accuracy and appearance, there is also the danger of getting something that does not have the right handling and harmonic balance. I don't want to make any assumptions about your background knowledge - but I think it takes years of handling many swords and viewing hundreds of historical examples to get a good amateur inuition for this. A patient professional, as suggested above, will help you with what works and what doesn't.

I've commissioned some mix & match projects from existing components that worked out OK (for the money) - but for the extra money and wait time of a full custom job one does want to be very careful - you want to get it right. Defintely following historical examples to the letter is the safe way, although there are some 'families' of swords from the same era with very similar features where I think you can safely mix things up a bit (I just went for this route myself) - but again that requires a lot of study of the period and hopefully professional feedback.

You mentioned A&A - Craig Johnson is super helpful with stuff like this. They are usually very responsive, but I happen to know they are very busy right now with a 'huge order' and don't have much time. Try contacting Craig directly through this site or by e-mail (if you don't have it, PM me). But from what I know, he likely does not have time to help you research right now and may not be able to get into any details until late summer (that's still short by custom standards).

Good luck, JD

PS - doing your own background research is half the fun of a custom job, so I would not rush this!
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Dear Eric,

I'll try to add a few things hopefully without repeating too much what was already said.

First, besides the dangers of mixing and matching parts vis a vis historical accuracy and appearance, there is also the danger of getting something that does not have the right handling and harmonic balance. I don't want to make any assumptions about your background knowledge - but I think it takes years of handling many swords and viewing hundreds of historical examples to get a good amateur inuition for this. A patient professional, as suggested above, will help you with what works and what doesn't.


Thanks J.D.

Please, don't worry about making assumptions about my level of knowledge! I basically don't know much more than the information that I have read on the featured articles on this forum. I am a beginner with only enough knowledge to impress someone who knows near nothing. I am asking because I want the help, so if you have a suggestion, please feel free to get it out there. There are a couple of elements that I really want in the sword (scent stopper pommel, hollow ground XVIII blade, and a grip that can be used comfortably with one or two hands) but the rest of the components are up for debate.

My goal, truly, is to have a beautiful piece as the hallmark of my collection. I want something that is historically accurate (or historically inspired as Nathan put it) and that will not be subject to reproach once it is built. I don't want to post pictures of it here and then have someone say, "yeah, but those two components being used together are totally impossible - complete fantasy." If that happens once the sword is here then I'm going to be pretty bummed out.

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I think you can safely mix things up a bit (I just went for this route myself) - but again that requires a lot of study of the period and hopefully professional feedback.


I'm hoping for this forum to be my source for feedback =)

J.D. Crawford wrote:
You mentioned A&A - Craig Johnson is super helpful with stuff like this. They are usually very responsive, but I happen to know they are very busy right now with a 'huge order' and don't have much time. Try contacting Craig directly through this site or by e-mail (if you don't have it, PM me). But from what I know, he likely does not have time to help you research right now and may not be able to get into any details until late summer (that's still short by custom standards).


I have already placed my down payment with John. We have discussed some aspects back and forth over about a dozen or so emails. It seems to me that John's expertise is not in historical reproductions, but man oh man is that guy talented. I figure that with the right research done on my part and his considerable skills I will get what I want out of this project.

That being said, I do have some projects in mind for Craig in the future. I think that half the fun of collecting is getting different pieces from different 'masters' of their craft. Craig is definitely on my list, and I have sketches for the 2-3 projects I will (eventually) have in mind for him. I followed your type O pommel project with Craig (a beautiful sword by the way, I love it) and have been preparing my own ideas for his shop since then. I don't have his email, but I will PM you when my funds recover enough for another such sword. Thanks for the offer.

Good luck, JD

J.D. Crawford wrote:
PS - doing your own background research is half the fun of a custom job, so I would not rush this!


I agree 100%. The research part has consumed me these last few weeks.

J.D. do you have any specific suggestions for the components of this project?

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could bring it closer to 1500 with a horizontally re-curved cross like that of the A&A Dürer sword or Albion Munich. Various sections are appropriate for those.
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Gregersen wrote:
J.D. do you have any specific suggestions for the components of this project?


Sorry, no, I've had a few replicas from this era and took a few lessons with techniques from this era, but its not my strong point of knowledge. Sean, who just wrote to you, is one of the regulars here who knows your era and also knows a lot about how sword components work together (just look at all his project posts) - I would definitely listen to him. -JD
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
You could bring it closer to 1500 with a horizontally re-curved cross like that of the A&A Dürer sword or Albion Munich. Various sections are appropriate for those.


Sean,

Thanks for your input. As J.D. pointed out, you have done a lot of projects with swords from this era and I was actually hoping that you would give your input.

Regarding the guard shape you suggested - I had actually considered this, but I'm not so much of a fan of the s-curved guards. I think that if I were to do this my sword would be a slightly shorter version of the Albion Earl. I have noticed that this guard type is pretty darn common, but I was hoping to find something else. Any suggestions?

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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2011 12:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Type XVIII blade is quite versatile, chronologically. The T3 pommel restricts you to the earlier part of the century (according to Oakeshott, anyway, and he's not always right about such things). That also limits your cross types. You could pivot slightly and get something more typical of the third quarter of the 15th c. A plain or faceted T5 pommel with a long, straight, trumpeted cross and long, bottle-shaped grip is very common in German/Austrian artwork of the late 15th c. See the Talhoffer image below. That cross is very common in the artwork I see.

Adding to what others have already said about mixing and matching--it's possible to get the blade, pommel cross and grip perfectly matched but still make a hash of things if the proportions are wrong. We see that done all the time on even mid-range pieces. I spend a great deal of time figuring out historical proportions and translating those into modern projects, not only for the sake of balance but also just to get the right look. Take special note of the relationship between the length of grip and cross and pommel size and blade length and width. For example, in the image below the cross is exactly the length of the hilt from cross to the top of the pommel. That seems to be common, but of course there are exceptions. The cross on your original drawing might be too long, based on this very rough rule of thumb. If you shorten it to match the length of the hilt I bet it would look better to you.Once you start getting those things in historical proportion to each other they all start falling into place.

Also pay attention to the ratio of hilt length to blade length.If you're starting with a bare blade you find historical examples of that length and shape and note the ratio of hilt to blade. You mark the same proportion on your blade and measure the distance from that mark to the end of the tang and that will give you some idea about cross length. Etc.

I don't think you'd want a short cross on this sword if you want it to hew close to the historical line. I think the point of the re-curved cross is to have the advantages of a long cross in a more compact package. One has to pay close attention with those to get them curved the right way. View historical examples (or Albion's) and you'll see that they all curve the same way. Assuming they were this way for a reason, they're not really ambidextrous hilts in the perfect sense because you have a functionally different hilt when holding it in the off hand.

Finally, you probably should have a chappe. This is where even the top-of-the-line makers often cut corners but if you look at historical artwork you see that this technology was the norm. If you immerse yourself in the artwork as well as the surviving swords, the absence of a chappe on reproductions becomes glaring. Not all swords had them (I just finished a project without one) but I really think the one you're describing could use a chappe of either of the two common types.



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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2011 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Sean for your very helpful reply.

I really like the image that you provided. If you have any others that you would like to post or refer me to I would appreciate it a lot. Also, please feel free to email or PM me for any reason about this.

Honestly I thought that getting something historically accurate would be a lot easier than this but it looks like I am mistaking. I know that you are very knowledgable in this area (indeed, it was your XVIII project from a few months back that really encouraged me to actually do this) and so whatever help you provide will be valuable to me.

Sean Flynt wrote:
The Type XVIII blade is quite versatile, chronologically. The T3 pommel restricts you to the earlier part of the century (according to Oakeshott, anyway, and he's not always right about such things). That also limits your cross types. You could pivot slightly and get something more typical of the third quarter of the 15th c. A plain or faceted T5 pommel with a long, straight, trumpeted cross and long, bottle-shaped grip is very common in German/Austrian artwork of the late 15th c. See the Talhoffer image below. That cross is very common in the artwork I see.


I think that a faceted T5 would be just fine. I mostly just like the pear/fig/scent stopper shape as it seems less common (compared to round pommels which are everywhere) in production swords today. I also think that a straight trumpeted cross would work nicely. One element I have always liked in cross guards is where they dip down ever so slightly in the center. I have seen such dips on the Albion Regent for example (which is also trumpeted, right?) but do you have any pictures or references for me where I could see more examples?

Sean Flynt wrote:
Take special note of the relationship between the length of grip and cross and pommel size and blade length and width. For example, in the image below the cross is exactly the length of the hilt from cross to the top of the pommel. That seems to be common, but of course there are exceptions. The cross on your original drawing might be too long, based on this very rough rule of thumb. If you shorten it to match the length of the hilt I bet it would look better to you.Once you start getting those things in historical proportion to each other they all start falling into place.


Yeah... it is a little long. Thanks for that suggestion though. I will make sure and make a note to John about that proportion of cross and hilt length to John the next time we talk.

Sean Flynt wrote:
Finally, you probably should have a chappe. This is where even the top-of-the-line makers often cut corners but if you look at historical artwork you see that this technology was the norm. If you immerse yourself in the artwork as well as the surviving swords, the absence of a chappe on reproductions becomes glaring. Not all swords had them (I just finished a project without one) but I really think the one you're describing could use a chappe of either of the two common types.


A chappe? I thought that a chappe was that metal piece on the end of a scabbard but I don't think that is what you are referring to here. Can you clarify for me? Do you mean the little leather pieces as shown on you image?

Thanks Sean. I really appreciate your knowledge and expertise.

Eric Gregersen
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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Gregersen wrote:
A chappe? I thought that a chappe was that metal piece on the end of a scabbard but I don't think that is what you are referring to here. Can you clarify for me? Do you mean the little leather pieces as shown on you image?


chappe
A flap of leather attached to a sword's crossguard, which serves to protect the mouth of the scabbard and prevent water from entering. Also called a Rain Guard.


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