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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 1:42 pm    Post subject: What's the Blade Type on this Sword?         Reply with quote

This sword can be seen in the Armeria Reale Museum in Torino. It dates to around 1350. I'd say the blade is around 35 inches long. I can't quite determine the blade type. The cross section is hexagonal or maybe lenticular. Perhaps it is a XIIIa. Or maybe it's a XVIa. I find it odd that XVI's are described as having a flattened diamond cross sectilon between the end of the fuller and the blade tip, while on XVIa's, the same area is hexagonal.

What Oakeshott Blade type do you think this sword has?



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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 7:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Roger.

That's an interesting sword that certainly does not fit neatly into any of Oakeshott's categories.

Looking at the overall profile it appears to be more dedicated to the cut than expected for an XVIa. It appears to have features of both XIIIa and XIX, so I would call it a transitional form between these two types. (Although the fuller is a bit wide for either type.) I think Oakeshott himself suggested a functional similarity between these two earlier and later types, so this sword could make for a 'missing link' of sorts. The dating seems right for this conjecture as well. Interesting.

- JD
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Cornelis Tromp




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 1:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it can be classified as a XIIa, fe roms XIIa.3 also with a short fuller, because the guard has a finger ring, a later dating around 1400-1420 is plausible.

best,
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd say XIIa rather than XIIIa, based on the profile taper and relative pointiness.

That said, there are swords that just don't fit neatly into Oakeshott's system and this is clearly one of them. Typologies are by necessity based on typical specimens, and there are always some inconvenient outliers like this that get left out.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cornelis Tromp wrote:
I think it can be classified as a XIIa, fe roms XIIa.3 also with a short fuller, because the guard has a finger ring, a later dating around 1400-1420 is plausible.

best,

The caption says 1300-1350, which seems even more plausible to me considering the sort of transitional nature of the overall design.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Cornelis Tromp




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:

The caption says 1300-1350, which seems even more plausible to me considering the sort of transitional nature of the overall design.



Hi Mikko,

without finger ring I would also date the sword first half of 14th century.
The earliest dated sword type xIIa with finger ring that is known to me, is in the Topkapi museum;
inv. no 2330 (DG Alexander No. 44) dated 1392. therefor I think 1300-1350 is a bit too early.


best,
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 2:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the other hand, AFAIK simple finger rings or hooks like this appeared sometime around the middle of the 14th Century and the blade doesn't really look like a typical XIIa, either, although the photo quality makes it kind of hard to say.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Cornelis Tromp




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
On the other hand, AFAIK simple finger rings or hooks like this appeared sometime around the middle of the 14th Century .


Do you have support support for this? Example, literature, art ?
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I found some more information and better quality pictures of this sword.



They say it's from around 1350, probably based on the museum's own estimate. Personally I think the only obvious element that would cause any reasonable doubt about that date would be the primitive finger guard, as otherwise the sword is, at least superficially, extremely similar to many XIIa and XIIIa from that period (as well as many early XVII, especially considering the hexagonal cross-section and short fuller). The finger ring looks to be a separate piece welded onto the guard, at that, and without a closer look I think it could even be a later addition to an earlier made sword, possibly...

It's kind of an odd bird in several regards. To me it seems plausible to think of it as an early experimental, transitional form.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd call it a XIX with no ricasso. From Oakeshott:

Quote:
Broad flat blade, edges running nearly parallel to a sudden sharp point, with narrow well-moulded fuller in the upper third. The section is a flat hexagon—i.e. the blade is flat, with edges clearly chamfered, as in Type XVIa. There is a well-made ricasso, almost 2.5-3" long.


It has the broad flat blade with nearly parallel edges. A defined shortish fuller, a hexagonal section. It lacks only the ricasso. Also, other of these early swords with finger rings were XIX, so I think it fits.

XVII? Not pointy enough, even though it's hex in section. XVI? Also not pointy enough for my tastes.

Happy

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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Nov, 2013 2:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, it's not quite like any one specific Oakeshott type. Which is fine! Typologies are just frameworks that provide context for discussion. Not everything needs to fit perfectly in its own discrete slot.

Measuring from the full view photos - the roughest of estimates, at best - it seems the distal taper comes to 25-30% before the edges start to curve into the point. That's somewhat less than I would've guessed just eyeballing it (I'm terrible at that)...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Cornelis Tromp




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 1:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I'd call it a XIX with no ricasso. From Oakeshott:

Quote:
Broad flat blade, edges running nearly parallel to a sudden sharp point, with narrow well-moulded fuller in the upper third. The section is a flat hexagon—i.e. the blade is flat, with edges clearly chamfered, as in Type XVIa. There is a well-made ricasso, almost 2.5-3" long.


It has the broad flat blade with nearly parallel edges. A defined shortish fuller, a hexagonal section. It lacks only the ricasso. Also, other of these early swords with finger rings were XIX, so I think it fits.

XVII? Not pointy enough, even though it's hex in section. XVI? Also not pointy enough for my tastes.


Hi Chad,

it lacks not only the ricasso but also lacks a clean flat hexagonal section and a narrow fuller.basically all the criteria for a XIX ?



best,
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 2:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It actually does seem to have a clear hexagonal cross-section. It's stated in the text description I linked to, and while the picture quality and lighting are really not the best you can still see the distinct flats and bevels in all the photos if you know to look for it.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cornelis Tromp wrote:
Hi Chad,

it lacks not only the ricasso but also lacks a clean flat hexagonal section and a narrow fuller.basically all the criteria for a XIX ?



best,


It has a hex section, as Roger points out. The fuller's not narrow, but is short and well defined. To me it doesn't fit any Oakeshott type, but it's closest in style (especially including the hilt) to a XIX in my opinion. It's not close enough to the XVIs and XVIIs people are talking about. I don't find it to be that close to the XIIs and XIIIs people have mentioned.

Another thing to consider: people on online forums can get obsessed with the blade typology, forgetting that it's one component in a system designed to look at a sword as a whole. What does the hilt tell us?

A sword with a finger ring (plus the short fuller, and the hexagonal section) like this is most often going to be closer to XIXs than others for me. You don't find many (if any) XII, XIII, XVI, and XVII swords with that combination of features.

Of course, the real question is: who cares? Happy Medieval smiths weren't following a 20th century typology. This blade on this sword doesn't fit neatly into this modern construct. But the fact that I can say "it looks like a XIX without a ricasso and with a wider fuller" shows us the system is being used as Oakeshott intended since people versed in the system can understand what I mean. Ditto when someone says it's a XII with a hex section, etc. We may not agree but we're able to describe the sword in ways people can understand.

Happy

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Cornelis Tromp




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Chad,

of course Iam happy with any classification as long as it explains how the sword looks like, so also type XIX with alterations will work fine.

For me personally it has more in common with an arsenal sword in the Royal Armouries. two hander, flat blade with hexagonal geometry, short fuller, moderate tapering towards the tip, straight cross, eso.
more than half of alexandria swords with finger ring is of a different type than XIX, so for me this is not a useful criteria.

the RA sword is published in roms;

XIIa. 3
Type: XIIa
Find-place: Alexandria, the Arsenal
Collection: The Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London. IX.915
Blade-length: 35&1/2" (90cms)
Pommel-type: A variant of Type K
Date: c.1350-1400
Condition: Almost perfect, except that the grip is lacking. There is an Arabic inscription incised in the fuller just below the hilt, which has been translated as 'Inalienable property of the treasury of the marsh province of Alexandria, may it be protected'. There is a smith's mark on the tang.

This was sold in 1960 in the D'Acre Edwards sale at Christies, where I tried for it myself, and ran Sir James Mann up a a good deal, but of course he beat me.
Publication: Dufty, Plate 4d
Oakeshott SAC, Plate 29, where is is erroneously classified as of Type XVIa, instead of XIIa.

best,



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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cornelis,
The RA sword has a strong hex section you would think would disqualify it from being a XII. Yet that's what Ewart called it. Happy It just shows how much variation is present in medieval swords and how they defy neat classification as a whole.

I don't see these two swords as being as similar as you do. Variety of opinion is what makes life interesting. Happy For me, the different fuller width and length (in proportion to the blade overall) as well as the different tip shape make these different enough for me that I wouldn't automatically put them in the same type. The RA sword is also not a prototypical Type XII due to its section.

For everyone,
I go back the original post though, and think, why does it matter what type it is? Happy A bunch of different Types have been proposed in this thread. Have they given us any more insight into the sword's origin or use? Or has it just provided us an outlet for a largely academic debate? Happy It's been fun, to be sure, but the point of the typology isn't just to assign a set of numbers to a piece, but to learn more and place the sword in some kind of context.

What do its features, proposed dating, provenance, etc. tell us about this sword? I think it's a beautiful example of a sword with a finger ring. What else can we discover about it?

Happy

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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, an odd thing about this item is that we may be talking about two different finger- ring swords. If you look at the link Mikko gave for the Armeria Reale Museum - they describe it as being of remarkable length and believe it to be a ceremonial sword. They show two photos - one, the color picture shown above, and another very long finger-ringed item, that cannot be the same sword.


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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It doesn't look any bigger to me than any other large XIIa or XIIIa from the period. I agree with Chad that discussion about typology didn't get us far. It would be more interesting to speculate how this interesting and unusual design affects the functioning of this sword. Since it is hexagonal I would guess that it is relatively stiff for a sword with such profile. That, combined with servicable tip and finger ring for a greater control might make this sword better for thrusting than one might think, and I have no doubt it cuts and hits very well too.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The reason I brought this sword up is that I am considering having A&A make a custom version of it, and wanted to find out as much about it as possible.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 5:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think it matters what one calls it in the end - its never going to fit into one perfect category in Oakeshott's system.

However, that doesn't mean Roger's question is useless. Just look at the thought and discussion it produced. Categories provide a common language for understanding and discussing different features and dimensions, and their associations. Does it have a ricasso or not? How long and wide is the fuller? Is the cross section diamond shaped, lenticular, or hexagonal? What is the profile like (and compared to what?). How do these features cluster together relative to the norms (types) from various periods? And does the blade also fall within normal 'family' associations with pommel type, cross type, grip length, and in this case finger ring? All this is instructive regarding both function and history, and would be hard to discuss at all without comparing to some established reference system.

Sorry if this was tedious. If you decide to replicate it Roger, it would make a nice addition to your collection!
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