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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 2:45 am    Post subject: want to buy baleen to make 13th C gauntlets and 15thC shield         Reply with quote

Hi, ive done some research into 13th century knightly solid defenses and the idea of baleen whalebone plates on gauntlets is something i have seen referenced a few times

the questions is, has anyone had any luck making these? and how hard is it to purchase baleen (i live in australia)

not to mention that interestingly s 1461 inventory audit of sir john rastolf mentiones '24 shields of elm, 2 of whalebone and also 'for great crossbows of steel, two of whalebone four of yew.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Best of luck. This has been an idea of many for a while but unless you are a Japanese whaling fleet engaged in 'scientific' hunting then your options are limited. And as the whole industry is either tightly controlled or downright illegal...

I've always said the best place to go is an old whaling station and have a rummage. Your best bet for that is the South Georgia heritage trust who run the museum there. sghtdirectorsg@sght.org wil get them. But even if you get some, you'll need to import it and wil fall fould of the cites legislation. Its tough enough getting some humans into Australia, goodness only knows about bits of cetacean...

If I was being pragmantic then i'd say a decent polypropylene waster bears not a great deal of difference to a whalebone sword and one a decent grip plus the silver leaf is on who would know the difference?

As for the sheild, well there are plenty that have horn plates and its a close enough substance. Or you could search for ivoreene, the synthetic ivory. That would make a pretty blingy targe.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, you are not going to be able to get legal baleen pretty much anywhere except via some very limited channels. You might be able to travel to Japan and buy some there, but you wouldn't be able to legally bring it into your country if they're CITES signatories. I suggest exploring contemporary alternatives. Try looking up modern plans for Victorian fashion such as corsets and bustles; whalebone was used in those, and you can probably find suggestions for replacements that will perform in a similar fashion. Light gauge spring steel, perhaps.
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Raman A




Location: United States
Joined: 25 Aug 2011

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately because you live in Australia it complicates matters. I'm not sure what the Australian laws are. I know that Alaskan Natives are still allowed to harvest whales and sell their parts

http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/buying.htm

Quote:
Can I legally buy baleen from a street vendor? Are there any restrictions on what I can do with it?

Yes, baleen (normally this is from the endangered bowhead whale) may be legally sold by Alaska Natives as Traditional Native Handicraft under both the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The baleen must be cleaned and polished to qualify as handicraft. Once purchased, bowhead baleen may be transported out of State, but may not be subsequently sold or taken outside of the United States.


If you lived in the US you could get some baleen that way and transport it back to your home state, but it clearly says that you may not take it out of the US. Check your country's laws and see if there's anything you can do.

Personally, I'd give up on the baleen for ethical as well as practical reasons and try to find a substitute. Authenticity is nice but there's a limit. We're not going around authentically dueling in the streets and chopping each other up with our swords!

Baleen is a keratin material from a mammal, so the horn of another animal should work. Research to see if there's a specific type of horn that's close in property to baleen. Any horn that's flexible and sturdy enough for a bow should work for gauntlets and shield. Most reenactors replace the historical whalebone in corsets and the like with wood, plastic, or spring steel, but I assume you're after the look as much as the functionality.


Last edited by Raman A on Tue 25 Nov, 2014 5:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,281

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keratin based plastics (usually made from chicken feathers) are becoming available due to their biodegradability.
http://www.easternbioplastics.com/index.html

There are also references to whalebone gorgets at Bouvines in 1214, and sword at the Tournament at Windsor Park in 1278. The problem being that we still have no definitive evidence of the appearance of various armors using baleen. It might have been sandwiched between fabric like corset "boning" of the same material, cut into riveted plates and riveted to a base, or cut into scales, etc...

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mick Jarvis




Location: Australia
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

dig some up.

illegal and you will be stuffed in they caught you.

but I do know there was a while buried at Stockton beach (Newcastle NSW) quite a few years ago
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

https://www.academia.edu/7637068/_Using_and_Abusing_Medieval_Whales_Leeds_Medieval_Congress_2014_Roundable heres an article on the use of baleen and, apparently the abuse of whales as well in the medieval period

and apparently the whalebone crossbow was used in composite bows, and made pretty much identically to most composite crossbows.
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Michael B.
Industry Professional



Location: Chugiak, AK
Joined: 18 Oct 2007

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 10:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love this subject. Living in Alaska I know where to get piles and piles of legal baleen, and count a couple natives among friends that could craft away to their hearts content. I've seriously been playing around with the idea of recreating some of the armor and practice weapons that are talked about for experiments. There's a building near me that's has piles of whales bones and ivory, which I actually legally use in some of my knives, and they have stacks upon stacks of baleen. Maybe I'll make this my winter experimental archaeology project?

A spotter this last year waiting for a whale breach.

Waiting by Michael K. Bergstrom, on Flickr

First whale in:

"Food for the Winter" (163/366) by Michael K. Bergstrom, on Flickr

www.facebook.com/bearmountainforge2
Michael Bergstrom
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 12:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its an interesting moral dilemma too. Low-level hunting by indigenous natives with 'traditional' methods should be ok but my head also says that still has the potential for cruelty. Trying to remove my 21st cent existence from the equation is hard.

I have a bollock knife here with an elephant ivory handle. The material was in a pile of materal in a retiring cutlers workshop and was going to have to be disposed of but we decided that would be a waste. But despite being a thing of beauty pretty sure I'm on the wrong side of the law there.

But there again I was once spotted clearing a european badger off a road (it was a huge dead male and would have caused a car crash) by two cops and told that was illegal too. Didnt help I was in full winter survival gear, balaclava, korean war surplus stuff so must have looked like a mad survivalist. Not many of them in S England. Had been tending a kiln till 4 in the morning so wrapped up warm. I'd love a whalebone sword as another handling and practical use item but there are modern substitutes just as good I think.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

aha!

http://www.ivoryalternative.com/

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Mike Janis




Location: Atlanta GA
Joined: 26 Feb 2007

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might be able to legally buy some from an Icelandic source. Iceland still whales, sells some of the meat locally and some to Japan. FWIW, Minke whale sucks, it is rubbery and doesn’t have much flavor.
MikeJ
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