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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:28 am    Post subject: Celtic Anthropomorphic Dagger/Sword by Petr Florianek         Reply with quote

Back in April of 2013 Peter Florianek of Gullinbursti posted this thread announcing that he wanted to explore more historical periods in his work. Petr was asking to see if there would be interest in a La Tène sword - either anthropomorphic or a longer, organic hilted sword. I jumped on that and responded pretty much as soon as I saw his post.

Initially I was focussed in on possibly doing the longer sword, the classic “Celtic” longsword but Petr showed me the Cirancester pommel intended for a La Tène III anthropoid sword or dagger and I was convinced that this was the way to go because if any craftsman of today could do it justice, it would be Petr Florianek with his amazing carving skills.



The steel to be used for the blade was a billet of hearth steel from Pavel Bolf. I barraged Petr with questions about proto pattern welding the blade as Patrick Bárta had done on his Celtic longswords. Petr patiently explained that he could do so, but that would involve mixing the steel he had with something like wrought iron.

Petr gently proposed that the sword instead be made with hearth steel all the way through. It would have a folded character, but not an actual pattern. Petr believes this his how most swords of the late La Tène would have looked. An original Iron Age blade would have been work hardened because of the lower carbon steel. The sword Petr would make would be quenched instead.

Then came the hard part… waiting. Petr made the wait much easier by staying in constant contact with me. He sent pictures of hilts and we discussed scabbards. The merits of iron and bronze for the hilt were debated.

Then came the photos and the updates on the heat treatment and grinding.



But disaster struck - during the final grind, Petr discovered some serious flaws in the blade. He was very upfront and open with me about what had happened. Fortunately, I had been following the Iron Smelters of the World group on Facebook and had an idea of how difficult it can be to work with hearth steel which apparently can be quite a treacherous material to work with.

So, there was no blade… or was there?

"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Petr gave me a choice - start over with modern, laminated steel to mimic the look or use the 30cm long blade he saved from the sword (the problem was in the tip). So Petr could do something the size of the Witham Dagger.



I went for the even shorter sword/dagger made from hearth steel. That was a fairly easy decision - according to Randomir Pleiner in the Celtic Sword, this was still in the range for these anthropoid swords.

Petr and I discussed how this would impact the price and came to a mutually satisfactory agreement on what to do about that.

Back on track again, the updates started to flood in. First the blade, double hollow ground.



Then the “folded character” of the metal.



The carving in jewelers wax the model of each of the three pieces of the pommel.





Then the castings of the tin bronze itself for the pommel.





The sword itself was pretty much done, waiting on being peened!

"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The only thing left was the scabbard. Petr and I had discussed doing a scabbard in iron or bronze as many of the originals were. However, Petr was concerned with the metal scabbard scratching the metal blade along its length. As an alternative he proposed that a carved wooden scabbard be made and I agreed.

The scabbard is oak board, about 80 years old. The chape is antler.





Peter used iron oxide in linseed oil and beech tack to dye the scabbard.



Then he peened the sword and it was done!


"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I received the sword in the mail this weekend. My hands were shaking as I opened the package. There it was!



The dagger/sword is 15.5” overall and the blade itself is exactly 12” long. It is 1.75” wide at the hilt. The POB is pretty much right where the “feet” of the hilt terminate, which is expected because of the weight of the bronze. I don’t have anything accurate to measure the weight with but it feels quite comfortable in the hand. In fact, I don’t actually like putting it down!

One final note - I very much enjoyed working with Petr Florianek and highly recommend him as a blade smith to consider if you are in the market for custom work! His smithy's name is Gullinbursti.

"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did want to bring up the question of what were these anthropoid daggers/swords used for in the La Tène period?

In the Celtic Sword, Radomir Pleiner devotes only two scant paragraphs to these swords. He notes the following:

    The blades usually have lozenge shaped cross-sections and well developed points
    The blades ranged in length from 29 to 55cm
    Scabbards (at least at the time he wrote - 1993) that were known were in iron or bronze.
    As of 1993 some 40 examples were known throughout Europe and into Ireland
    They date to all phases of the La Tène period.


Pleiner speculates that this type of sword might have been “…suitable as a personal weapon, possibly distinguishing warriors or commanders of certain rank, it could hardly have been used for fighting on the field of battle.”

Ian Stead, in British Iron Age Swords and Scabbards (2006), has more to say but it is limited to the swords found in the United Kingdom and consists largely of descriptions of two specific anthropoid swords (Grimston, Shouldham) mentions of the Southwark dagger, the lost Witham dagger and the Sea Mills dagger and a discussion of grips and pommels found separately from the swords/daggers. He does not offer any speculation as to their usage.

I have seen these blades referred to as “ritual blades” but it is unclear what evidence there is for this. An archeologist I know dismisses this with the statement, “That’s what we always say when we have no idea.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts and speculations on what these splendid daggers/swords were for.

"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I certainly do not have enough knowledge of the period to speculate on possible usage...

I will say however that it looks spectacular! I love the character of the steel. Very nice.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love this piece! I've always liked the anthropomorhpic hilts and this one is especially cool. The scabbrd is just plain cool. How do you attach it to the belt? Is there some hidden fitting on the back or do you just slip it in there?
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
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Reading list: 10 books

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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 4:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Tim,

This photo reveals the hidden belt loop which, like the chape, is antler:


"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Andy Ternay




Location: Dallas
Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW - I am reusing Petr's photographs with his permission. Apparently my camera has gone walkabout.
"Precious swords...since there for a thousand winters they had rested in the earth's embrace." ~ Beowulf 3048 - 50
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 5:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are one lucky guy Andy. Petr did an amazing job on this. For some reason I especially like the antler chape, was the based on an archaeological example, or has Petr just copied the form of bronze chapes? I also think that the shorter blade suits this piece very well.
Éirinn go Brách
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Petr Florianek
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Joined: 01 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 10:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello!
as the majority of anthro swords are found without scabbards (at least in my country) i went with completely dacayable scabbard. i copied the shapes from metal ones though.
The idea behind it is also strenghtened by later, ronam age antler chapes.
In my mind these sword are tucke under the belt rather then dangling around, also because the backwards balance point.
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for showing the belt loop. It makes sense to wear it with the belt loop on the outside of the belt though, doesn't it? It would help to hold it in place...
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Jerry Monaghan




Location: melbourne australia
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice one Petr.
I just love this kind of sword your work just keeps getting better with every new project that you make well done.

Regards

Jerry Monaghan
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jan, 2014 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am consumed with envy.......
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