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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 3:53 pm    Post subject: Rare medieval sword with rock crystal wheel-pommel         Reply with quote

A Very Rare Medieval Broadsword with Rock Crystal Wheel-Pommel

Late 14th - First half of the 15th century.

65.3cm; 25 3/4 in blade



Sold at Sotheby's Olympia 4 December 2003 for 15,600. GBP

DETAILED DESCRIPTION
The blade cut with a broad very shallow central fuller framed by a pair of narrow fullers converging towards the tip on each face and cut with a running wolf mark retaining traces of latten inlay on one side, iron cross-piece of tapering rectangular section down-turned at the tips and incorporating a pair of slender centrally ridged écussons, retaining its original large rock crystal pommel of robust wheel shape carved with a distinctive ridge running from the base of the centre to the joint with the grip on both sides (natural flaws, one face cracked below the tang button resulting in a very small chip), and fitted with an early two-stage leather-covered wooden grip incorporating a latten fillet at the base and another beneath the prominent tang button (the blade and cross-piece with patches of light pitting)




Ad - Sotheby's Antique Arms & Armour, The Spring 2004 London Park Lane Arms Fair

CATALOGUE NOTE
Medieval swords with hardstone pommels are extremely rare. A sword of similar date with a jasper wheel-pommel was sold Sotheby’s Sussex, 15th July 1996, lot 42, £22,425. A rock-crystal wheel-pommel of similar form and now detached is preserved in the Royal Armouries, Leeds. See A. R.Dufty 1974, p.18, plate 23. Another, also detached, formerly in the collection of Sir Guy Francis Laking and illustrated in his Record of European Armour and Arms (vol.I p.139, fig 171), was sold Christie, Manson & Woods, 19th April 1920, lot 163.

http://search.sothebys.com/jsps/live/lot/LotD...ber=W03806


Mac
Edited to include pics

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Last edited by Thomas McDonald on Fri 14 Jan, 2005 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never seen this sword before. Got any more info on it? That's awesome!

Check out This Topic for another example of a sword with a crystal pommel.

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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I've never seen this sword before. Got any more info on it? That's awesome!

Check out This Topic for another example of a sword with a crystal pommel.


Hi Nathan

That was all the information the ad on the inside back cover of this issue had !
It's possible that Sotheby's website archives may still have the sale info ? I'll search around !

Mac

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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found it .... Mac (* I edited in the following information to my original post, above ! )

http://search.sothebys.com/jsps/live/lot/LotD...ber=W03806

measurements note
65.3cm; 25 3/4in blade

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

the blade cut with a broad very shallow central fuller framed by a pair of narrow fullers converging towards the tip on each face and cut with a running wolf mark retaining traces of latten inlay on one side, iron cross-piece of tapering rectangular section down-turned at the tips and incorporating a pair of slender centrally ridged écussons, retaining its original large rock crystal pommel of robust wheel shape carved with a distinctive ridge running from the base of the centre to the joint with the grip on both sides (natural flaws, one face cracked below the tang button resulting in a very small chip), and fitted with an early two-stage leather-covered wooden grip incorporating a latten fillet at the base and another beneath the prominent tang button (the blade and cross-piece with patches of light pitting)

CATALOGUE NOTE
Medieval swords with hardstone pommels are extremely rare. A sword of similar date with a jasper wheel-pommel was sold Sotheby’s Sussex, 15th July 1996, lot 42, £22,425. A rock-crystal wheel-pommel of similar form and now detached is preserved in the Royal Armouries, Leeds. See A. R.Dufty 1974, p.18, plate 23. Another, also detached, formerly in the collection of Sir Guy Francis Laking and illustrated in his Record of European Armour and Arms (vol.I p.139, fig 171), was sold Christie, Manson & Woods, 19th April 1920, lot 163.

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
Mac's PictureTrail


Last edited by Thomas McDonald on Fri 14 Jan, 2005 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is plate 23 that they mentioned from Dufty's book "European Swords & Daggers in the Tower of London"
(since I recently acquired it :-) Mac



 Attachment: 45.76 KB
pommels crystal.jpg


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Björn Hellqvist
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rock crystal pommels are rare but not unheard of. Here is Pavel Moc's reproduction of the sword of Saint Václav:



There seems to be a sword or two preserved in Germany, as late 19th - early 20th century repro maker Ernst Schmidt featured a couple in his 1910 (?) catalogue.

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Jonathon Janusz





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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 6:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

anyone have an idea of the masses of the pommels discussed here? i guess where i'm going is that sure, many of these swords are decorative and perhaps ceremonial/bearing swords, but do they have the handling characteristics to hang with their more common, metal-pommeled brethren?

and did i read those dimensions right? if so, this sword isn't too much longer than a healthy dagger; very courtly/cosmopolitan

absolutely lovely sword, Mac! and thanks for the link to the old thread, Nathan Happy
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Björn Hellqvist wrote:
There seems to be a sword or two preserved in Germany, as late 19th - early 20th century repro maker Ernst Schmidt featured a couple in his 1910 (?) catalogue.


I can post more photos of some Ernst Schmidt pieces, but there already is one on our site that shows a Gothic sword with a crystal pommel. Click here to view it. The sword in question is second from the right with the Gothic cut-outs on the guard between the executioner's sword and rapier.

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathon Janusz wrote:
anyone have an idea of the masses of the pommels discussed here? i guess where i'm going is that sure, many of these swords are decorative and perhaps ceremonial/bearing swords, but do they have the handling characteristics to hang with their more common, metal-pommeled brethren?

and did i read those dimensions right? if so, this sword isn't too much longer than a healthy dagger; very courtly/cosmopolitan

absolutely lovely sword, Mac! and thanks for the link to the old thread, Nathan Happy


The three pommels that Mac posted have no listed masses or dimensions, at lest in the book from which he took the pictures, "european swords and daggers in the tower of London".

I know that is not helpful Laughing Out Loud But I thought I'd post it anyway.

Alexi
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Brian M




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jan, 2005 11:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. I wonder, what is the possibility that this is a later forgery/rework of an original sword? I say that because, if one subtracts the odd (deep!) double fullers flanking the central shallow fuller, and replace the rock crystal pommel with the usual iron wheel pommel, it looks like a very typical XII or XIV.
I wonder if Mr. Johnsson can address whether or not he has seen such a sword, and what is the possiblity of an original sword being "embellished" at a later date?

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Brian M
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Jan, 2005 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathon Janusz wrote:
anyone have an idea of the masses of the pommels discussed here? i guess where i'm going is that sure, many of these swords are decorative and perhaps ceremonial/bearing swords, but do they have the handling characteristics to hang with their more common, metal-pommeled brethren?

and did i read those dimensions right? if so, this sword isn't too much longer than a healthy dagger; very courtly/cosmopolitan

absolutely lovely sword, Mac! and thanks for the link to the old thread, Nathan Happy


Hi Jonathon,

Since my first answer contained no useful information I wanted to amend that. my rather limited resources have next to nothing on the measurements and mass on such crystal pommels. So I approached the problem differently. I asked if there are rocks and crystals with density close to iron. If that were the case then the same size (volume is a more appropriate word here) pommel made from crystal would weigh the same as the same volume iron pommel.

There is much info available here

The density (weight per volume) of iron varies from 7.0 to 7.7 (wrought iron) g/cm3 depending on method of manufacture and inclusions. Pure iron has density of about 7.86 g/cm3. Steel varies from 7.5g/cm3 to 8gm/cm3 (stainless). Tool steel is similar to wrought iron in density (7.7g/cm3).

Most crystals (listed under ceramics) seem to have density between 2 and 4 g/cm3. So if silicon based crystals are to be used for pommels, then the volume has to be about 2 to 4 times that of an iron made pommel in order to get the same weight.

There are some peculiar ones however. Zirconium carbide has density of about 6.6 g/cm3. That is fairly close to the density of iron. Was Zirconium carbide available to the medieval/renaissance jeweler? I'd love to know.


THe densities on the website I linked to are identical to those listed by other sources, so I believe them Laughing Out Loud
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As mentioned above in the catalogue notes ....

I found a pic of that medieval sword with the jasper wheel pommel .
* From a Sotheby's advertisment in the 14th Park Lane Arms Fair catalogue.

The text reads :
A rare medieval sword with a jasper wheel-pommel, late 13th/first half of the 14th Century,
probably Spanish, sold in July 1996 for 22,425 GBP



 Attachment: 29 KB
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Jonathon Janusz





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mac,

Thanks for the pic of the Jasper pommeled sword. If I didn't already have one, and by looking at the cross, I think an Albion Riding Sword would make a solid base for a recreation and an interesting sword. . . now about that fuller. . .

Alexi,

Thanks for helping with the geology info. I've got a few good places around here to buy the raw materials, am on good terms with an adventurous jeweler, and have a few "half finished" swords lying around. I think I'll pursue this further.

Another question to those in the know: assuming the mass and shape stay the same on a pommel (volume adjusted to maintain mass), does the rest of a sword's "equation" hold true (harmonics, etc.) or does the change in volume of the pommel throw things out of whack? Perhaps a similar thought - how does a sword designed with a bronze pommel in mind change when a steel version of the same pommel is used (same shapes, same volumes, different masses)? Does anyone have a comparison of mass in steel/iron and bronze, to keep things in perspective in relation to the topic?

Thanks again, and keep the links/pics/info coming! These pieces have really intrigued me Big Grin
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Aaron Justice




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, I guess knights really did appreciate the "bling-bling".

Big Grin

But really, I love them. I had always wanted to know what a scabbard for a dagger or small bladed sword would look like if it were made of a polished stone like marble.

How can there be a perfect sword when PEOPLE come in all shapes and sizes too?
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Brian M




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Jan, 2005 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems to me that these swords would be for ceremonial use only. I'd expect that any flexing or shock to the hilt would shatter a crystal pommel.

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PostPosted: Wed 26 Jan, 2005 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with that, but I do however see the potential use on a seax.

I wouldnt mind getting in touch with Patrick Barta or the like for a piece with a pommel from Jasper or large garnet in crystal form...simply stunning work our fore fathers done, I love seeing artifacts like shown in this thread. I should also mention I have seen historical use of hard crystalline stones being used as full hilts and pommels in Chinese and Korean swords. Which appear to have seen actual use, there is also one sword that Paul Chen has reproduced in a special line from korea with a full stone hilt.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Jan, 2005 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert W. Betten wrote:
I should also mention I have seen historical use of hard crystalline stones being used as full hilts and pommels in Chinese and Korean swords.


There are many examples of full hilts of European swords being created out of crystal as well.

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PostPosted: Wed 26 Jan, 2005 7:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And the Indians used rock crystal and jade to make full hilts, mainly of Khanjar dagger form.

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PostPosted: Thu 27 Jan, 2005 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Justice wrote:
Wow, I guess knights really did appreciate the "bling-bling".

Big Grin



This depends a bit on the time period. As usual, fasion changes over time. During the 13 hundreds, the syle was almost minimalistic, with little or no jewlery, triming or other flashy stuff. Tunics where simple, and in solid colours. This is opposed to the 12th century, where embroderies, jewlery and other kinds of "bling-bling" where quite popular (Maybe due to eastern influence.)
Take for instance pattern welding and inscriptions on blades. Not at all uncommon up to the 12th century, but almost disapears in the 13th. Inscriptions reapear in the 14th, but not pattern welding Sad

( Sad because I'm a 13th century reenactor, and thus dont get to have a flashy sword...)

Yours
Elling
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Justin Fores




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Jan, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: Does...         Reply with quote

Does rock crystal have enough weight to act as a practical pommel? ( It was the "Tears of the Gods" but I don't believe I have ever handled any. )

Thank you

Justin

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