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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2014 7:40 pm    Post subject: Next A&A: XVI with W pommel         Reply with quote

Greetings fellow Medieval sword fans.

I'm usually superstitious about sharing a custom sword project until I see some progress photos, but this time I feel like showing off my next commission a bit earlier than usual. Anyone who has followed my ramblings in the past few years might recall that my go-to place for such projects is A&A. When it comes to custom projects, you can't beat A&A for combining great quality & service with bang for the buck.

I try to stick with the classic crusader era in my current collection, but I've been looking for something to book-end this period: late 13th century - early 14th century, between the final fall of Acre to Muslim forces and the ignominious end of the Templars. At this time some swords were tending to get more 'pointy' than the X, XII, and XIII types that make up most of my collection, i.e., XVs and XVIs, culminating some years later in the XVIIs.

In the past year I have spent quite a bit of time researching XVs and XVIs. For example, that was the reason for this thread: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=27918 I had thought to start with an XV, which would make for a nice contrast against my broad-bladed, fullered cutters, but its hard to find an historic example that a) clearly fits in the time period I'm interested in, and b) has the larger dimensions that I prefer. That led me back to XVIs.

In principle, XVIs should be as cool as any other type, but for some reason I find that many of the specific historic examples are singularly unattractive pieces. One exception is a group that share long, elegant blades, curved crosses, and pommels that range from type H to seed-shaped (with or without facets). They look like precursers to the XVII form, except with shorter grips and lacking the more robust blade. However, the group I am referring to is known in the literature mostly through works of art rather than historic examples, other than a rough sketch that Oakeshott made from an example that was then in a private collection. I believe he referred to these as being an Italian type based on the location of the art. I particularly liked one shown in an early 13th century 'Romance of Lancelot' manuscript, but it was sheathed so it was hard to be sure what type of blade it was supposed to have. And besides, detailed measurements are impossible from medieval art.

Then I remembered this sword from Musée de l'Hôtel Sandelin: http://moteur.musenor.com/application/moteur_...vre=394706

(See also photos below).

The little French I knew from school and working two years in Quebec has all but vanished, so here is the google translation:

"Sword
cold steel
14th Century (first half)
alloy steel
105 cm length, width 5.2 cm (blade) width 19 cm (guard)
Joined: Brand furbisher: Two triangles; Registration: double circle with a cross and surmounted by a cross mash (from both sides of the blade)
Archaeology, Weaponry
Sword thrusting, in good condition. Iron pommel two truncated pyramids welded base. Silk triangular flat gutter and brand furbisher one side. guard quillons short square with rounded ends and thickened very curved towards the blade. Blade high gutter on inclusion. Bibliography: Catalogue Daubresse, 1901, No. 041"

I first noticed this sword when having one of its museum sisters (a lovely big XII) replicated by Jeff Helmes. This one caught my eye because of the unusual W pommel (which I have always wanted) and elegantly curved cross which resembles that of some of the earlier 'transitional' swords like the Korsoygaden sword. I wasn't interested in the blade at that time, but things change. Its hard to be certain from the photos, but it looks to be an XVI blade of about 35" with 2/3 length fuller.

One interesting thing about this sword is that its pommel and cross are very close matches to two other swords:
The well known XIV in Leeds, found in Northern Italy: http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?features/pic_spotxiv03.jpg
The XIV/XII at the Deutsches Klingenmuseum in Solingen, the basis of Albion's 'Solingen': http://www.myArmoury.com/review_alb_sol.html
These swords are dated to a similar period: late 13th - early 14th century, except the current one has a longer and slightly less broad (2" rather than 2.5") blade that appears to be more thrust-oriented. Its certainly tempting to suppose that all three of these swords might have all been made by the same hands. This might be worthy of some more research.

At any rate, I think this is a pretty cool sword and fits the bill for what I've been looking for. The project is underway with Craig & boys at A&A so hopefully I will be able to show some development photos later this year.

Any other thoughts and comments, as always, will be appreciated. I sometimes enjoy the learning experience with these projects more than ultimately owning the sword. That's why I'm a sword geek.

Regards, J.D.



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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2014 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you planning to have the punch work/inlay on the blade replicated as well?
The sword is well proportioned and looks handy and solid. Excellent choice for a reproduction, in my opinion. Can't wait to see progress pics!

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jun, 2014 2:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice sword to replicate! How long do you think the grip is, the museum doesn't give the blade length, but with 35" blade like you said, the grip is going to be about 4,5"?
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Mark T




PostPosted: Wed 18 Jun, 2014 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JD: I can't wait to see this come to life!

And in response to your comment about being superstitious, I personally really enjoy seeing projects like this evolve, and reading the thinking and research that goes into them ... it's far more engaging, and there's far more to learn from, than if someone just posts a 'here's a picture of my latest sword' thread.

I'm reminded of Sean's threads about his customisation projects - while they're full of the technical information about building and customising, I think I've learnt more about research, planning, and design - the kinds of things that would usually be a bit 'invisible'.

So, I for one am glad you shared this info early on.

And Craig and the crew and A&A are certainly the place to go!

Thanks again,
Mark T

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jun, 2014 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys for the encouraging feedback.

Kai: I mentioned the engraving (which presumably had inlay originally) to Craig, but we did not explicitly discuss it. Even though its relatively small I agree it would add a lot to the sword. Its hard to see in the picture but they describe it as a cross surrounded by two circles. I don't recall seeing something like this elsewhere? Also it's a bit unclear from the translation whether it appears on both sides or one side of the blade; different paragraphs seem to give both versions.

Luka: my first impression was also that the grip is 4.5". But the perspective in the full sword picture might exaggerate that end of the sword. When I compared the grip to the blade width (2") in the other pictures I came out with 4.2". Either way its a bit longer than my hand width and this type of pommel will not provide support for the hand, so I don't want to get too caught up in this. A&A has to make it all come together in a practical sense from their experience of what works.

Mark: thanks for 'getting it'. We put so much thought into these purchases (who wouldn't for something $1000+ with no practical value?) and yet we rarely share all that thought process publicly. When I re-read my post I thought maybe it had too much navel-gazing, so I'm glad you appreciated it.

- J.D.
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Joel Chesser




Location: Oklahoma
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jun, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh my God. That is pretty much my dream sword right there. Eek!
..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jun, 2014 9:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks like one side of the blade has a cross potent or a double-armed cross (like an H with lines coming out of the ends), and the other side might have a cross surrounded by a circle. The 'cross potent' side may have some tiny letters near it, it's hard to tell.

With or without the blade markings, It's nice to see an elegant sword repo'd, and the type W pommel is visually pleasing and not very common, so that's doubly cool.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jun, 2014 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm, seems like we're on to something here. Well, I will definitely talk to Craig about that inlay and see what can be done. -JD
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jun, 2014 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to say, good choice. I'm very excited to see this completed. I've always wanted to have a copy of the sword in Leeds made. Watching this will be the next best thing.
Winter is coming
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 8:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Next A&A: XVI with W pommel         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I'm usually superstitious about sharing a custom sword project until I see some progress photos, but this time I feel like showing off my next commission a bit earlier than usual.


Maybe its a good idea to be superstitious! Well, it's not so bad as all that..

I have an update on this project, but not quite of the usual sort. The blade is well along, a big whopper of a 35" blade with a non-linear profile taper. Apparently the flat bottom fuller was something of a challenge. The hitch is that this blade length was based off the museum's measurements and hilt dimensions taken from the photo, and it seems one of those measurements is likely wrong.

Craig contacted me recently, informing me that he was unable to reproduce the overall proportions of the sword in the photos above using the blade they have made. The angle of the photo is a bit odd - its clearly distorted and the sword is also tilted a bit based on the shadows. Nevertheless, I was soon convinced from Craig's photographic experiments and my similar attempts that the museum's estimate of the overall sword length is likely exaggerated. This sword is more likely of regular arming sword dimensions (maybe a 31" blade?) than what we were originally thinking.

So what to do? A&A has already put too much work into the project to start over, and I still want a big XVI, not an arming sword. So we decided to continue with the notion that the new sword would be inspired by the original, but not a replica. Rather it would be an 'older bigger brother' to paraphrase Craig. To do this, the hilt components (grip length, cross width) would have to be scaled up to maintain the overall visual and literal balance of the sword. (See my mock-up in the picture below, which was made from the A&A blade, the original pommel, stretched tang, and a widened version of their roughed-out cross).

We've had good luck with published dimensions in the past so this was a surprise. And I was pretty specific about what I wanted, so can't blame A&A. Indeed, I appreciate that Craig has taken so much time to figure this one out.

If anyone has more specific information on the original sword, we'd appreciate hearing more about it. Any other thoughts are welcome.

-JDC



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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Recently a smith in my area missed proportions of a sword he was making completely because he was following museum measurements. He unfortunately didn't stop and think and instead of a normal length sword he made a shortsword. So kudos to Craig for recognizing the mistake in his data. Since the blade is already done it is logical to preserve the proportions by making fittings bigger and after all, you wanted a big sword, not a 31" bladed sword, so it would a shame to discard that nice big blade...
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that Craig and the guys will make a great sword.

In terms of historical accuracy, there are some cases of curved cross, long bladed XVIs with pommels similar to this, although not so wide in the blade (I mentioned these in my opening post). In this case I'll just have to imagine that someone walked into the shop that made the sword pictured above 700 years ago and said, 'make me one of those - only bigger!'.

We'll see how it turns out in the coming months, I hope.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Seems like this is moving along nicely now. Here are some progress shots. The tang has been extended but will be peened in the end.


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Bryan Heff




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 4:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is looking great thus far. I love that pommel shape.
The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Any suggestions for the grip?

I like the look of wire, but don't like the feel. And I recently aquired two with the criss-cross ovewrap (like Albion Cevalier) so don't want another one of those right now. I tend to prefer leather with enough uderwrap/risers to give firm contact.

For older styles I like an )IXIXI( pattern underwap (where the inverted parentheses are pommel and cross), but for this era sword I like ) I I I I ( pattern, for example the Albion Tritonia or my current avatar to the left of this post. But I already have several of these in black. Maybe red or the mottled black-brown or black-red that A&A has used on some recent swords?

It's also crossed my mind to do something more unusual on this sword, like purple, but I'm a bit worried how it will fit with the other guys in my collection.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Any suggestions for the grip?.


When my A&A XXa was being made, it took me awhile to settle on a grip style. You might consider using the one I finally chose. Scott Woodruff provided a few pictures of grip styles in that thread. Below is a very interesting one, not sure about when and where its from.



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A&A Alexandrian

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:
Any suggestions for the grip?.


When my A&A XXa was being made, it took me awhile to settle on a grip style. You might consider using the one I finally chose.


I thought of blue and your XXa sword Roger, which might be dated about 75 yrs after the current sword, right? So its in the ballpark. One can oberve the full development of the thrusting war sword over that period of time.

While I keep thinking about grips, here are some more photos from today. Seems to be moving quickly!



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Joel Chesser




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2015 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love the grip choice you made Roger. In point of fact I sited that piece as the example of what I wanted on a sword I have being delivered from A&A.
..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2015 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah--that piece is really coming together! The proportions are very pleasing, and the scale-up honestly doesn't look out of place--it's just a bastard XVI. Very nice!

I noticed the profile taper isn't as strong as the original, even (to my eyes) accounting for sharpening and slight degradation. Was that a personal choice, or is there evidence that was used from either the sword or other sources to make that decision? I like the look of it, whatever the inspiration.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2015 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
Ah--that piece is really coming together! The proportions are very pleasing, and the scale-up honestly doesn't look out of place--it's just a bastard XVI. Very nice!

I noticed the profile taper isn't as strong as the original, even (to my eyes) accounting for sharpening and slight degradation. Was that a personal choice, or is there evidence that was used from either the sword or other sources to make that decision? I like the look of it, whatever the inspiration.


Dear Kai,

The blade is A&A's interpretation. Its hard to say about the profile taper because the picture we have of the original blade is taken on an angle that would likely exaggerate the apparent taper. Still, my sense is that you are right - the original looks slimmer toward the tip.

I'm not sure if that wooden grip was made for this sword or is just a piece that was sitting around - it seems a bit long. To me, the pommel position in the earlier bare-tang photo looks right.

Probably I will be talking to A&A about these things next week.

-JD
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