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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 7:50 am    Post subject: How did pattern-welded European blades look when new?         Reply with quote

Do we have any surviving blades in sufficiently good condition to show how pattern-welded European blades might have looked like during their working lifetime? One one hand, I'm getting the impression that most existing examples have had the pattern-welding inadvertently enhanced by corrosion, and on the other hand we also have the example of Eastern Asian blades that are made of folded steel but the layers aren't really that obvious except on very close inspection. Would European pattern-welded swords been like that too? Or would their pattern-welded construction have been deliberately enhanced and emphasised like in modern blades and in Javanese keris (the former with acid etching, the latter by adding non-ferrous alloying materials to enhance the colour difference between the different layers)?
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Japanese pattern-welded blades don't show their pattern much because of how they're polished and etched. Some do have a distinct pattern; it really depends on what effect the blade-smith and togioshi (polisher) are going for.

As for Western pattern-welded blades: many of those, I believe, were etched with some kind of weak lye solution (obtainable by soaking wood ash). Others were polished like Japanese blades, but you could see the pattern-welding in certain lights. Essentially it could go pretty much any way a skilled blade-smith wanted it to go, and I don't doubt that a good modern reproduction like a Patrick Barta or Vince Evans piece would be a pretty decent approximation.
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the answer can be found in this 6th century letter, from Theoderic of the Ostragoths to Thrasamond of the Vandals,expressing thanks for the gift of swords:-

"These swords are richer for their iron than for the value of the gold [which embellishes them]: for there flashes out from them such a polished brilliance that they reflect with the utmost fidelity the faces of those who look at them.
Their sides approach the edges with such uniformity that you would think that they were not fashioned by files, but cast from firey furnaces; their centers, hollowed out with beautiful grooves, seem to undulate with worm-like markings; for shadows of such variety you would think the metal was interwoven rather than shining [superficially] with different colors.
The metal your whetstone so carefully shapes, this your splendid dust (granted to your country by the bounty of nature) so thoroughly polishes that it makes the gleam of the iron a very mirror of men. "

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't remember where I read this, but I seem to think that there is a katzbalger in an Austrian museum that is in fact a rehilted pattern welded blade from the 8/9thC and the blade is in a good enough condition to see what it once was.

That may all be gibberish, though I kinda think I have seen pictures of it.

Tod

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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 3:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
Can't remember where I read this, but I seem to think that there is a katzbalger in an Austrian museum that is in fact a rehilted pattern welded blade from the 8/9thC and the blade is in a good enough condition to see what it once was.

That may all be gibberish, though I kinda think I have seen pictures of it.

Tod


Oakeshott definitely mentions such in one of his books, so I think you're right.
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G Ezell
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Location: North Alabama
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've recently been using a very rich in phosphorus wrought iron in some of my blades, which I believe was also seen in the pattern-welded blades of Europe of the Migration and Viking Ages... contrast in the pattern-welding was achieved by combining high phosphorus and low phosphorus steel, in modern times we tend to use nickel and the lack thereof to achieve contrast. The high phosphorus iron welded with low phosphorus steel shows a pattern/contrast in color even before any etching is done, much more so than when nickel steel is used. I am planning sometime next year to make a few blades entirely from this mix, I suspect no etching will be necessary for the pattern to be visible. Mark Green has been experimenting in this direction...

That said, Peter Johnsson has shown a picture of a viking era blade where there are sections that show the original polish, and it is evident etching of some sort was used. I'll see if I can dig up that thread again where it is posted....

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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G Ezell
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Location: North Alabama
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2015 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=14057&highlight=
Found it...Happy Just scroll down to Mr. Johnsson's post.

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
Gabriel Lebec

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