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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:15 pm    Post subject: An Oakeshott's Type XIV by Mateusz Sulowski.         Reply with quote

Yesterday, I took delivery of this beautiful beast of a sword.


I stumbled upon Mateusz Sulowski, a smith working in Poland, on facebook. This sword's construction was in progress and hadn't been spoken for. It's no secret that I'm drawn to swords of large, bold proportions and I was immediately excited by this one, so I put my name on it. The sword is inspired by an original housed in the Musee de l'Armee in Paris.



Overall length: 37.2 inches
Blade length: 30.5 inches
Blade width at base: 3.35 inches
POB: 5 inches from the guard
Weight: 3.3 pounds

The Type XIV was most prevalent during the later half of the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries, the height of the age of mail. While it's still dedicated to the cut, the Type XIV was obviously an attempt to create a more effective thrusting sword, as evidence by it's pronounced point. While surviving examples aren't that common, the type must have been popular if it's presence in period artwork and statuary is any indication. The type typically features a blade of moderately short length and broad width. Replicas have become quite popular amongst practitioners of sword and buckler fencing as shown in the I.33 manuscript. This sword, as well as the original that served as inspiration, are outliers in that aspect as they are considerably larger than the norm. I knew the sword would be large for the type from Mateusz' photos, but when I removed it from the box my reaction was, "My god, what a beast!" I find that to be a very accurate description. The sword is, quite simply, huge for a single-hander, massive even. This impression is also born out in it's handling qualities. I wouldn't call the sword nimble, with it's massive blade presence I don't think that would be possible. However, it is dynamic and quite powerful in it's handling characteristics. While it wouldn't be my first choice for sword and buckler work, it would fare quite well in the mail-armoured sword and shield combat of it's day. The thing is simply a cleaver of the first order. The sword's weight follows the point well into a thrust and I suspect it would be quite effective in that area as well. It's a beast of a sword that requires a beast of a man to use it to it's full potential.



The blade's mechanics are good, with excellent edge geometry, distal taper, etc. The finish on the blade is excellent, with a nice even satin finish and very clean lines. Nothing to criticize here.



The guard and pommel are nicely shaped and feature a good level of aesthetic detail. There are slight marks remaining of the forging and machining processes, the finish isn't perfect here. However, this doesn't detract from the sword's aesthetic appeal but adds to it in my opinion. These are simply signs of the handmade nature of the piece and put it in closer relation to period originals, thereby avoiding the sterile look and feel of many modern made swords.





The grip features tooling, in a vine and leaf pattern, on one side of the leather covering. This is a feature often seen in antiques, where the side worn outward was what mattered in terms of decoration. The medieval mind did not insist upon symmetry like it's modern successor and this detail adds further to the sword's authentic look. The leather grip covering is stitched up one side, rather than being glued in place as is the most common method seen in replicas. Normally I don't prefer this choice, but it is an historically accurate method of construction and here it works well.




The outer face of the scabbard is also highly tooled, in a leaf and acorn pattern. I've become fascinated by this kind of decoration. The medieval mind hated blank spaces and this kind of embellishment had been lacking in modern work for years. Fortunately this is changing and Mateusz does an excellent job of executing it in his work. The first thing that drew me to this sword was it's massive proportions, the second was the decoration on grip and scabbard. All together they make for a magnificent ensemble. The tooling on the scabbard is very well done and the bronze accents on scabbard and belt give it a sense of richness without seeming cheap. The scabbard core is wood and fully lined with wool. The core is actually a bit thicker than I would have preferred, but not egregiously so. A thinner core would have further added to the scabbard's aesthetic value, but this is the only real criticism I have of the ensemble and it's a very minor one.






The back of the belt attachment.


Communication from Mateusz was excellent and his progress was, quite frankly, shockingly fast. The sword itself was completed when I contacted him, only the grip and scabbard needed to be done. Still, he had these completed in an impressively short period of time. He kept me well updated with regular in-progress photos as well. When the sword was finished payment was made via wire transfer and the sword arrived at my doorstep within five days of confirmation of my payment. Mateusz' packaging was something in itself. The sword was wrapped in dense foam within a wooden box secured with screws and the whole thing was wrapped in plastic. The Post Office would have needed to attack it with extreme prejudice in order to damage the contents. Mateusz' manufacturing process seems to be very efficient and he doesn't seem to be alone in this amongst european makers. Honestly, american makers could take a lesson in this from their european counterparts. All to often, when dealing with a maker in the US, the process is fraught with missed deadlines, delays and broken promises. This isn't the first time I've dealt with a european maker and I've yet to experience anything other than efficiency and timeliness. News flash american artisans: this transaction from halfway around the world was easier and faster than what I've experienced with most of you. If you want to survive in the global marketplace, get your act together.

In conclusion, I find the quality of work to be excellent and the customer service to be outstanding. The quality in relation to price is more than fair. It's been a long time since a maker really impressed me on this level and Mateusz really delivered. He doesn't have a website but can be reached on facebook at Mateusz Solowski Swords.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Fri 25 Sep, 2015 12:37 am; edited 2 times in total
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Scott Kowalski




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That looks spectacular Patrick. Congratulations on this great find of a beast of a sword. The detail of the guard and tolling on the grip are great touches and really makes this sword stand out.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A big sword for a big man.

I'm particularly drawn to the pommel.

I've never handled a sword like that. I honestly can't imagine what the dynamics would be. It's a completely foreign concept to my small brain.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Go big or go home as the saying goes. Big Grin

I feel the same way about the pommel. Those recesses are screaming for something to be put in them and the grooves around the outside diameter add a key bit of detail.

I've been drawn to the Type XIV ever since handling the Sovereign prototype up at Albion, I've just never acquired one until now. This one though, it takes the concept to an entirely new level. I was honestly taken aback when I drew it from the scabbard. It's been a lot of years since that happened. I think we were in a room with Peter Johnsson the last time that occurred.

Holding this one makes me want to go look for a dragon, or a bridge to hold at the end of days. Big Grin

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
I've been drawn to the Type XIV ever since handling the Sovereign prototype up at Albion, I've just never acquired one until now. This one though, it takes the concept to an entirely new level. I was honestly taken aback when I drew it from the scabbard. It's been a lot of years since that happened. I think we were in a room with Peter Johnsson the last time that occurred.


I love those "Ah Ha" moments! I've talked to you more than a few times about the times where a sword has made me re-think everything. Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize there's a million more things to learn. I love it.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 7:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick, well I'm impressed in every way about this sword, and I also tend to like extremes in design.

A well designed sword can seem to be heavy when just looking at the stats, but still feel remarkably agile considering it's weight: My own Ravenwolf sword at 5 lb. doesn't feel like much more than a 3.5 lb. sword ...... but it is an extreme example, and it might tire one out faster than a lighter sword in an extended sword fight, but in the first minute and a half one wouldn't feel the difference.

Well, your sword is impressive in it's dimensions, proportion and I assume in handling, but all the subtle aesthetic of the guard, pommel, handle, scabbard are equally impressive.

Oh, I agree that it would be better for sword and shield work than sword and buckler as an Albion Sovereign would probably be more agile for that type of work.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I love those "Ah Ha" moments! I've talked to you more than a few times about the times where a sword has made me re-think everything. Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize there's a million more things to learn. I love it.


Absolutely. It's one of the things that keeps me fascinated by the subject. If I ever reached a point where I really knew everything about it, I'd probably become bored and move on.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Holy wow, that's a monster for the type! Very, very nice acquisition. I've been on the fence about one of Albion's XIVs for years now, but that beast is on a whole 'nother level. Almost justifies a XIVa subtype. Congratulations! Happy
Pax,
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"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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J. Helm




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the Albion Yeoman is to be compared to a Pitt Bull, that thing is a Hell Hound.

Too big for my small frame, but I think it found its proper owner. Happy
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Barris wrote:
Holy wow, that's a monster for the type! Very, very nice acquisition. I've been on the fence about one of Albion's XIVs for years now, but that beast is on a whole 'nother level. Almost justifies a XIVa subtype. Congratulations! Happy


It's interesting that you should bring up the issue of labelling it a subtype, I've been thinking the same thing. The blade is massive for a single-hander and the grip is a bit longish for a dedicated one-handed weapon. While it's not of true two-handed length, there is enough room to easily grip the lower grip and pommel with a second hand. I have large hands and someone with more average size hands would find it easier still. Perhaps the original was meant to be a bastard sword rather than a single hander? If there were more surviving examples with these proportions I could see Oakeshott labeling them as a subtype.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Helm wrote:
If the Albion Yeoman is to be compared to a Pitt Bull, that thing is a Hell Hound.

Too big for my small frame, but I think it found its proper owner. Happy


I think you're right. Wink

This is only the second time I've found a blade smith with an available sword and thought, , "He made that just for me, he just doesn't know it."

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Aaron Hoard




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow - that's just an all-around stunning piece. Lots of great little details all over that sword.
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love this piece very much, being a sucker for broad bladed sword in general, and with type XIV in particular.
I've photographed the original in the musee de l'armee many times - it's impossible to miss it, so imposing a sword it is.

Seen great stuff coming out of Mateusz Sulowski's workshop thee days, check his facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/sulowskiswords

Very clean lines and hilt furniture (both guard and pommel are very attractive), blade is beautiful and of epic proportions.

Worthy effort on the leather work too. Not a big fan of the belt and scabbard details (washers, ecusson on the flap) and I would prefer a toned down decoration for that time period, but that's just me and it does not change the fact that this set is stunning.

The sword itself is very reminiscent of P Johnsson latest (and sublime) vorpale sword, which is only natural since both are based on the same original piece.

Congrats to both owner and maker, this is a mighty sword indeed.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also like XIV but never found one with the right proportions for my taste. When I glanced at this thread the first time I misread it, I thought the bladesmith was putting it up for sale. While digging for further information, sadly, when I went back to the first picture I realized it was already gone. Still, its gratifying to see a sword and a man find their perfect match. Happy
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a wonderfully wide-bladed monster! Congrats!
"And they crossed swords."
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Sep, 2015 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I also like XIV but never found one with the right proportions for my taste. When I glanced at this thread the first time I misread it, I thought the bladesmith was putting it up for sale. While digging for further information, sadly, when I went back to the first picture I realized it was already gone. Still, its gratifying to see a sword and a man find their perfect match. Happy


He made another one with a fishtail pommel that might still be available. Happy

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julien M wrote:

The sword itself is very reminiscent of P Johnsson latest (and sublime) vorpale sword, which is only natural since both are based on the same original piece.


Thank you Julien. When I saw this sword I immediately thought of Peter's Vorpal Sword, which I love. That undoubtedly influenced my decision. Big Grin

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of Mateusz" photos, these show the leather work better than mine.



"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congs. Patrick, it sure really is a gem. Saw and responded also on FB.
Lately I developed an interest with type XIV, and I find it my favorite, among the single hand broad swords. I also got mine just a few days ago, custom made on a Del Tin blade. Same type, but quite different small details.

Curator of Beit Ussishkin, regional nature & history museum, Upper Galilee.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 1:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the kind comments, this is indeed an exciting acquisition for me. It's been a while since I added anything new to the collection and I've made three new additions this month, it's like Christmas in September. Big Grin I sold my Albion Svante since it never really spoke to me, as nice as it was. I put most of the money towards this purchase and have no regrets. This one doesn't speak to my either, it shouts. I don't think it will be going anywhere.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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