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Joshua Anthony




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 11:40 am    Post subject: Etchings and Engravings on Swords         Reply with quote

I'm considering having the pommel of my new sword engraved or etched with my personal sigil, and I was hoping that others who have had work done on their swords would be willing to share pics or stories of their experiences. It doesn't have to be pommels exclusively, it could be a quote etched into the blade or in other areas as well.

Were you satisfied with the work, or was the job done badly or botched altogether? Finally, would you recommend etching over engraving, what are the strengths and drawbacks of each?

Thanks in advance!

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would recommend engraving, as etching was not generally done in the middle ages. Even better would be inlaying, especially for early medieval swords. For a high medieval sword, enameling is another option.

Personally, I ordered a sword from Vladimir Cervenka, with engraving on the pommel, and I have to say it greatly enhances the appearance of the sword as well as makes it more personal. It's a type X from around 1100, so inlaying would have been a better (more historical) option than engraving. Nevertheless, the engraving was my idea, and I really like how it turned out.
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First choice would be inlaying. Second would be engraving. I, personally, can't stand etching as it's not historical
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Robert Muse




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 4:14 pm    Post subject: Sword         Reply with quote

You might contact Sonny over at Valiant Armoury. He does really nice etching that from a short distance looks much like inlay. He offers several different styles. There are lots of photos of his work on the forum and I have had several done. I admit that silver inlay looks very good, but is more expensive. You have to consider the value of the sword you are having worked on. More expensive than an Albion and I would try inlay.

Robert
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 5:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua,

One thing to keep in mind is that very few swords, if any, would actually have the arms of their owner placed somewhere on the sword. In Records of the Medieval Sword, the only swords with arms, whether those of the owner or otherwise, are XI.4, possibly XII.15, XII.17, XIIa.5, XIIIb.1, XV.13, XVIIIa.1, Unclassified 13, and the sword of Edward III. That means that in a book containing approximately 230 swords (leaving out pre-medieval swords, complex hilted swords, and the rare swords without pommels that are incomplete weapons) only 9 swords have any form of arms on them. This works out to being approximately 4% of all swords- not exactly a high figure. Further, in his comments on engraving and other such work, Oakeshott notes, "There is (and was) nothing easier, and nothing more often done, than to add the embellishment of arms, badges or inscriptions to existing hilts, just as is often done very skillfully by the 20th century faker" (p. 56). This is a pretty clear indication that arms and crests are far more commonly associated with modern fakes or false embellishments on authentic medieval swords, rather than on period weapons.

We might also notice that all of the swords found on this list date from the 13th century or later. The earliest sword to have a set of arms is XI.4, which has the personal arms of Otto IV on the pommel- but given that it is the coronation sword of the Holy Roman Emperors, and not a tool of war, we must certainly see this embellishment as being atypical of this part of the 13th century. Otto was crowned emperor in 1209, so the design must have been completed either shortly before, or some time after that date. Thus, a sword with arms which is supposed to be a 12th century or earlier weapon is historically inaccurate, and this makes sense, given that the first arms really only began in the mid-point of the12th century, and certainly were not common enough to appear on sword pommels until the 13th C.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to have a coat-of-arms on a modern sword. If I was going to have it done, I would place it on the pommel, because it will really look out of place on the blade. That having been said, recognize that in placing a coat-of-arms on your sword, you are diminishing the historical accuracy of the weapon somewhat. Yes, obviously arms appeared on period swords, but since they are rare, and since modern people are so fond of the idea of having arms on a sword, placing a set of arms on a sword marks it as being "more modern" and somewhat less historical in my view. As we have seen, putting a personal coat-of-arms on a sword is a largely ahistorical and modern preoccupation.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Tue 22 Nov, 2011 7:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, if we disregard swords that Oakeshott dates as being from the 12th century or earlier, which is fair enough, we are left with an approximate total of 170 swords. I have included XI.4 as being from the 13th century for this count; although the sword was most probably made prior to the 13th C, the arms on the pommel, which is what we are interested in, date from the 13th century. This count must be far more approximate than the previous one, for the simple reason that several of the swords are undated, and thus intelligent guesses must be made as to their date. Also, in a few cases, I excluded swords which Oakeshott dates to the 12th century, since it is known that he had a tendency to date swords to an earlier, rather than later, date when he was writing Records. These swords would consist of about another -10 swords to the list.

Working from a reasonably generous figure of 160 swords, we find that around 5.5% of swords from the 13th century onwards have arms on their pommels. So even excluding pre-13th century swords, around 94.5% of all swords found in Records have no arms on the pommel. Even if you adopted more rigorous criteria for excluding swords than I did, you are unlikely to come up with a total figure of higher than 7% to 8% of all swords in Records bearing arms on the pommels. This means that the overwhelmingly vast majority of swords, some 92% or so, do not.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Tue 22 Nov, 2011 7:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Adam Bohnstengel




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr. Peters, that's some great data you've thrown out there. What about crosses on the pommels though? Is that more or less common?

Just trying to keep you busy.

Violence is the supreme authority from which all other authority is derived.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:
Mr. Peters, that's some great data you've thrown out there. What about crosses on the pommels though? Is that more or less common?

Just trying to keep you busy.


Replying from memory, at work:

As far as I can recall, crosses seem to be a bit more common on pommels, although not all that common. Certainly, we should expect a figure less than 15% for all of the swords in Records, and most probably, less than 10%. However, if we factor in crosses on blades, which were not at all uncommon on swords with inlay, especially swords from the 11th and 12th centuries, the figure will be higher. I would guess that all told, crosses of any sort on a sword, whether on the pommel, on the guard, or on the blade, would account for 20% of swords at the very most. This figure is almost certainly too high; I would say that between 12 to 15 percent is probably a more reasonable estimate. But, until I get home tonight, these figures will just be guesses.
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Joshua Anthony




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent information Craig, thanks for the great posts! I really appreciate such thoughtful responses.
"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2011 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, I would be very leery of buying a sword from the crusading era with a cross on the pommel unless you are looking for a sword from the mid-13th century onwards. The same goes for requesting a cross on the pommel of a custom sword. As with coats-of-arms, crosses are far more common on swords from the latter half of the 13th century onwards. Putting a cross on the pommel of a sword for the First through Fourth Crusades screams ahistorical and modern to me. For a sword for the Fifth and Sixth Crusade, it's more difficult to say, although I do not think crosses are particularly common on pommels from that era, circa 1213 CE to 1229.

It makes far more sense to have a cross engraved or preferably inlayed into a blade. As my previous post indicates, this was quite common on crusading era swords, which means that it can fit the modern collector's desire for a "Crusade Sword" while still being historically accurate and appropriate. Be aware too that the "conventionally-shaped" Latin cross,, is not common on medieval swords, whether on the pommel or on the blade. Greek Crosses, Cross Patees, Cross Potents, Cross Molines, and Crosslets are the more common types of cross seen. See here for images of the different crosses: http://www.freecrosses.com/types_1.gif. If the Geibig Article here on myArmoury: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_geibig.html is somewhat representative, it seems that Cross Potents are the most common type of crosses found on blade inlays.
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Joshua Anthony




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again Craig, you certainly are a wealth of information and it's very much appreciated.

In regards to crosses on swords, the Albion Arn Templar sword comes to mind, though of course it was from a movie. If memory serves, the inspiration for that sword came from a historical example, but I might be getting it mixed up with another. Still though, I think the Arn Templar shows engraving can be done tastefully, if not completely historically accurate.

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Anthony wrote:
Thanks again Craig, you certainly are a wealth of information and it's very much appreciated.

In regards to crosses on swords, the Albion Arn Templar sword comes to mind, though of course it was from a movie. If memory serves, the inspiration for that sword came from a historical example, but I might be getting it mixed up with another. Still though, I think the Arn Templar shows engraving can be done tastefully, if not completely historically accurate.


Thanks for kind words regarding the Arn sword!

It is a movie sword, made after a description in a historical novel. I did what I could to give it the shape and character of a sword from the period, but I could not stray from what was set down by the author and only do so much to influence the ideas of the film makers. In overall style it is a sword from the period depicted, but in details, it is the sword of Arn, who is a fictional character.

If you want to add a personal coat of arms to a sword and still keep it within what is possible in a historical period, you would have to choose your sword after a time period when this kind of embellishment is used. It was used on some high status weapons, but not commonly until late medieval period/early renaissance.
Cross forms can be inlayed in pommels in the 13th C, or inlayed in blades in the 12th C or earlier. Inlays are more common in blades than hilts.
Craig outlines this well.

If you go for an engraving or inlay, keep it restrained and be careful not to include stylistic themes that belong to later periods. This looks very odd, but is unfortunately a common thing to see on contemporary swords made to look like crusader weapons.
Do not use complicated letters of calligraphic type. Letters inlayed on swords are often of a specific kind. Almost a kind of "type face" family of their own. It is time well spent, looking at inscriptions in sword blades to see what they looked like. The same goes for those very, very rare inscriptions found on hilts (I can only think of ceremonial swords that have these): these letters are almost a cross between classic roman capitalis quadrata and a modern san serif. -Very reduced and simple in form. No Gothic penmanship.
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Albion Baron has a cross potent engraving or stamp on the pommel. so this must have been a feature on atleast a few swords from the era.

A commonly depicted type XIIIa in Oakeshott's works has a copper inlayed cross on the pommel which would seem to be from the same general date as the Baron of 1250-1300.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
The Albion Baron has a cross potent engraving or stamp on the pommel. so this must have been a feature on atleast a few swords from the era.

A commonly depicted type XIIIa in Oakeshott's works has a copper inlayed cross on the pommel which would seem to be from the same general date as the Baron of 1250-1300.


Yes, stamped crosses are found on the mid hub of pommels. It was more common with inlayed crosses, I think, but an inlay is not really a viable method for the price level of the next generation swords. Therefore a stamped or deeply cut design was opted for.
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Joshua Anthony




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Thanks for kind words regarding the Arn sword!

It is a movie sword, made after a description in a historical novel. I did what I could to give it the shape and character of a sword from the period, but I could not stray from what was set down by the author and only do so much to influence the ideas of the film makers. In overall style it is a sword from the period depicted, but in details, it is the sword of Arn, who is a fictional character.

If you want to add a personal coat of arms to a sword and still keep it within what is possible in a historical period, you would have to choose your sword after a time period when this kind of embellishment is used. It was used on some high status weapons, but not commonly until late medieval period/early renaissance.
Cross forms can be inlayed in pommels in the 13th C, or inlayed in blades in the 12th C or earlier. Inlays are more common in blades than hilts.
Craig outlines this well.

If you go for an engraving or inlay, keep it restrained and be careful not to include stylistic themes that belong to later periods. This looks very odd, but is unfortunately a common thing to see on contemporary swords made to look like crusader weapons.

Do not use complicated letters of calligraphic type. Letters inlayed on swords are often of a specific kind. Almost a kind of "type face" family of their own. It is time well spent, looking at inscriptions in sword blades to see what they looked like. The same goes for those very, very rare inscriptions found on hilts (I can only think of ceremonial swords that have these): these letters are almost a cross between classic roman capitalis quadrata and a modern san serif. -Very reduced and simple in form. No Gothic penmanship.


Thank you Peter for your insight into the historic uses of engraving and inlays, and your thoughts regarding styling. My aesthetic has always been minimalist (one of the reasons I like the looks of the Arn Templar sword), so anything I had done would necessarily follow the "less is more" approach.

Do you have any recommendations for craftsmen knowledgable about engraving directly on to sword blades and pommels?

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am sorry, but I cannot name any specific craftsman.
I would first try professional engravers, who works with guns.

As the blade is hardened it will take a good graver to cut it. I am not sure it is even possible to make an inlay in hardened steel
The hilt is not hardened (as a rule) and can take cutting and inlaying much better.

If you research a text, a letter form and an image and supply this to an engraver, I am sure you will get good feedback on what is possible and finally a fine result.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regardless of what, or where you choose to have something engraved..may I suggest you shop around for someone who does REAL engraving..with hammer and graving chisel, rather than the more usual rotary burr engraving ( aka Dremel-type tool) Hammer and chisel would have been the way it was done in the past and looks MUCH better and crisper than today's stuff. I'd check with local jewellers to see if they know anyone they can recommend. If you chose to have the engraving done on the blade, be sure to let engraver know the blade is hardened
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Joshua Anthony




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ralph Grinly wrote:
If you chose to have the engraving done on the blade, be sure to let engraver know the blade is hardened


Thanks Ralph. I'm almost certain the engraving would be on the pommel. And I agree about the more "traditional" approach. The stone in my signet ring avatar was hand-carved in Carnelian by a family owned business in Germany that has been carving the more traditional way for over three hundred years. I paid a premium for the Old World craftsmanship, and don't regret it for a minute.

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 24 Nov, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam, and anyone else who may be interested: Please see my new thread about crosses here http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=24645
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Nov, 2011 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think what we have to consider is whether the sword you want to recreate is representative of a certain type, whether you want to recreate a specific historical sword or whether you want to create your own personal sword,

I agree that decorated pommels were never the norm, certainly not in the early medieval period. But they did exist. So in my opinion, it is justified to decorate your personal sword with a device, as long as the device used is representative for the period. If you want to replicate a specific historical sword, then of course it is historical.
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