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Isaac H.




Location: Northern California
Joined: 06 Jun 2010
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Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 12:19 am    Post subject: Leather guard placement on early fencing foils...         Reply with quote

It is such peculiar question, I do hope this was the right part of the forum to bring it up. I have the sad broken blade and hilt of a 19th century fencing foil, of that strange time when the art of the sword was in transforming from practicality to a mere sport. It is much like the attachment pictured.

I want to mount a new blade and furnish it with the historical hilt pieces. Yet there is a technicality that I would like to resolve before beginning on the project. Most historical examples of this type that are in good shape have a piece of leather (or sometimes of felt or another organic material) as a companion to the very open "figure 8" guard.,which really is barely a guard at all.

However, some examples have the leather on the outside of the guard, such as this one :http://img1.etsystatic.com/004/0/6144597/il_5...7_9ksi.jpg

Others have it on the inside, like this : http://p2.la-img.com/1605/38045/16193700_3_l.jpg

Why is there a variation? It would seem that the leather on the outside of the guard would deflect the sword point much better and prevent it from getting caught, yet many of the examples I see have the leather on the inside, which does look aesthetically more logical.

Also, the way the leather is held in place is not clear to me . If it is sandwiched in as part of the peened assembly, then I would think the compression of the leather would cause everything to eventually be loose. Yet if the leather isn't held on with the rest of the sword, how is it attached?

Hopefully some members here may have some knowledge about this , or own an example . If not, I understand that it is indeed an obscure question. Thanks !



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Wounds of flesh a surgeons skill may heal...

But wounded honor is only cured with steel.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good ,to build him up.
Romans 15:1-2
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 1:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The big advantage of having the leather pad between the guard and hand is that if you take opposition incorrectly or make a bad parry you'll find out really quick because your opponent's blade will be caught between the guard and the pad. It's a good teaching tool but it can also be annoying which is why sometimes the leather pad was between the blade and the guard and why sometimes a solid shell was used instead. I fence classical foil competitively with the leather between the hand and guard, it only very rarely causes me any inconvenience and if it does it only takes a couple seconds to fix.

The pad itself is simply sandwiched in place but the guards on some antiques are very firmly fixed even when the pads are missing so I'd guess that these were probably a tight pressed fit.
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