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A book on single-edged medieval arms? I'm....
Shutup and take my money now!
 40%  [ 31 ]
Very Interested
 45%  [ 35 ]
Somewhat interested
 12%  [ 10 ]
Not particularly interested
 1%  [ 1 ]
Completely un-interested, you hack.
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 77

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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2016 8:16 pm    Post subject: Medieval and Renaissance Single-edged Arms: Forthcoming book         Reply with quote

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the last six years, I've been studying the subject of single-edged arms of medieval and renaissance Europe; the falchion, the messer, and the more obscure single-edged sword styles. What started off as a "quick little project to look at" these weapons, has, over time taken on a far more structured, academic nature, and already led me to some achievements I never imagined likely in my career.

As my work has progressed, it has expanded in scope and complexity, from the initial study of the half a dozen surviving falchions which were well-known, to a far more comprehensive research project, as it has become evident that the single-sided, asymmetric edged weapons of Europe are a far more complex, subtle, and intricate subject than I think anyone had previously anticipated.

This work has already taken be to a number of museums in Europe, and through the study, has identified and expanded the number of known surviving falchions from perhaps a dozen, to close to 30, perhaps more, if the provenances of a couple can be proven genuine. With the rise of awareness of the Central European single-edged weapons; the Messer and associated types and the Tasak or Dusack, thanks to the academic work of Petr Žákovský in the Czech Republic and Lech Marek in Poland, there has been a growth in the source material recognising the use of single-edged arms throughout Europe. As yet, however, there is no comprehensive study of the subject published.

I'd like to be the person to change that.

It is my intention to try within the next few years [to publish a book, dedicated to the study of the single-edged sword,

Much as Ewart Oakeshott's "Records of the medieval Sword" is the study of the double-edged sword, I would like to hope this can be a complimentary counterpoint to that seminal book.

In March, 2015, I presented a typology of single-edged arms at the R.L. Scott "Real fighting stuff" Conference, in Glasgow's Kelvingrove museum, before an audience of academics and interested parties. That typology was in turn used, and published, in the Deutsches Klingenmuseum, Solingen's 2015 exhibition and catalogue of, "Das Schwert: Gestalt und Gedanke", (pictured below as an attachment) where it featured alongside Ewart Oakeshott's typology of the double edged sword. I am, and will forever be humbled by the confidence, and the invaluable assistance and encouragement in this project which Peter Johnsson has shown, by pushing for the inclusion of my work in the Solingen exhibition, and by the behind-the-scenes assistance he has given.

I would like to see the publication of the typology, and an in-depth study of these single-edged arms - not just in their physical characteristics, but also in the social and cultural values which these weapons were attributed by the medieval owners, and the known applications of their use.

I would furthermore like to see such a publication include a catalogue of surviving examples, in a very similar fashion to Oakeshott's "Records of the Medieval Sword"; detailing with high-quality photography and illustration of the surviving examples, both famous examples, and the obscure ones have been fortunate enough to find, and I hope some in private collections, with the kind assistance of their owners.

However, there's a "but"...

But, this is going to cost money. While I have a publisher with an interest in the book, to include high-quality, full-page images of the surviving examples, and a number of manuscript images, we will require funds for image licensing fees. To give an indication of the sort of costs, a single image of a falchion, from an internationally well-known museum, for publication in a print run of 5000 copies will cost about £140 on average. And that's for one image, of just one weapon.

Assuming I want just 50-60 weapons to be catalogued in the book,, each with two photographs at least (And ideally, I would like to see more shots, alongside detailed illustrations, rather than merely one or two pictures) assume for simplicity that 1/6th come from private collectors who are willing to give photography rights for nothing (and that's a big assumption in itself!), then we have a good £14,000 to 15,000 of licensing costs just to get the images for the book.

That's one hell of a bill for me to be looking at to get this thing to print - And so, I'd like to look for help.

I am therefore, considering how crowd-funding could be utilised to help see my work reach publication. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, something like that. But I need to know if I'm even producing a study people will be interested in. I honestly cant tell - I am, as the phrase goes, too close to the wood to see the trees. I need your feedback, as the potential readers, and the potential backers for such a book.

    Would like you, those who I hope have read this far, be interested in this work?
    Would you be willing to fund it prior to publication?
    Would you be interested, but only buy it when its actually printed?
    Would you absolutely love to see this published?
    Would you rather run a mile screaming, than read a book by a serial comma abuser whose poor editor will hate me?

    What would you pay for a book of perhaps 200 pages, containing high-quality images, and extensive data never published in the english language (if even published previously!) ?

For a matter of reference, the Solingen catalogue was about £50 including delivery, Dr Capwell's "Arms and Armour of the English Knight" is £50 - and both are certainly the sort of quality I aspire to reach. Oakeshott's "Records" is about £20, 35 years after publication, and frankly, the quality of photography in it is, by modern standards, rubbish. I wouldnt be satisfied witha book of the quality of "Records".
Yet those are far cheaper than £150+ works like Dr Alan West's "the knight and the blast furnace" and Waldman's "Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe:" at about £105. I certainly dont want to have a book with a three-figure price-tag, I feel that's too expensive for people to buy. And I really do hope that there's enough interest out there that I can produce a book that people will really want. But I honestly don't know what people are willing to pay, so your thoughts there are appreciated.

    If I do do a crowd-funding project, are there rewards you'd like to see?
Its fairly obvious that if people support the book for the price that the book is, they get the book when finished. But I'd also like to think about both smaller, and larger funding contributions - from the small "here's a dollar" contribution, with my sincere gratitude, to more significant items. From my own thoughts, I'd like to be able to offer things like high-quality art prints of the illustration work and detailed drawings of the various falchions and messers studied for the book. For the few very enthusiastic people, I am a craftsman of some skill, I'd like to manufacture replicas of a number of the originals in various museums. Maybe a numbered limited edition for backers could be a possibility. Do you have ideas of what you'd like to see? Please, I'd love to know.

    Are there questions you'd like to ask about such a book?

I honestly don't think I've covered everything here - I'm sure I'll have missed so many points. So please, ask your questions, and the trickier the better! I really need to have those difficult questions right now, when this work is still in the planning stages, so I can have less unforeseen problems if, or when I finally do take the next step, have planned out the full contents list I'd like to include in the book, and am ready to make the crowdsourcing bid. Your difficult questions will help me, by revealing problems I currently am unaware of.

I look forward to the thoughts of anyone who feels they have time to give their opinion - every comment will be greatly appreciated.

James G. Elmslie.

 Attachment: 39.5 KB
Single-edged blade typology extract 800.jpg
A extract of of the typology work published in Solingen, 2015; Illustration and graphic design by Peter Johnsson.

Last edited by JG Elmslie on Fri 22 Apr, 2016 2:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Robert Morgan

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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2016 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh yeah, VERY interested.

A possible suggestion though, have you considered online publishing, such as Kindle? That would help to get the price down to a level that more people could afford. It could also help to subsidize the printed version, were it to come later. I know I love actual books and prefer them over digital ones, but the latter do tend to be cheaper which is a huge selling point. The attraction here would be to make money on higher volume sales at a lower price rather than lower volume sales at higher price point.

Just an idea.

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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2016 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Sounds like an interesting project. I have some ideas as to how you might do this with crowdfunding.

You might start by having three levels of donor. The first kind of donors are those who choose to “Adopt a Sword Photo”, which means to fund the entire cost of one photo of a particular sword. On the crowdfunding site, you might list all the different photos of the swords, plus provide the cost for each photo, and people have the opportunity to pick which one they want to adopt. The second kind of donors are those who meet a minimum donation amount- say £50 or £25, for example- but who do not want to pay for a full photo outright. The third kind of donor are those who make a donation below the amount listed for the second kind of donor.

At the back of your book, you include a list of credits for those who contributed to the photo donations. For those people who adopted a sword, you include their name and indicate the specific photo they paid for. For those people who are in the second category of donor, their names are included as part of a general list of contributors that could be listed after the credits for those who adopted a sword photo. Of course, if someone does not want their name to be listed in the credits, they can simply be acknowledged as “Anonymous”. Those who are in the third category do not receive credit in the book, but you might acknowledge them in other ways, say with exclusive previews of certain parts of the book. The exclusive previews could also be offered to the other two donor types as well.

Additionally, since “Adopting a Sword Photo” represents a fairly substantial donation, you might offer to autograph your book for anyone who has adopted a sword and bought a copy of your book.

The advantage to allowing people to “Adopt a Sword Photo” is that it makes their financial contribution meaningful and tangible. Otherwise, £14,000 or £15,000 is a large, vague and amorphous sum of money where it doesn’t feel like I know what my money is going towards, precisely. Also, the inclusion of credits for those in the first two categories of donors is an easy and great way to acknowledge people’s contributions, and the donors can have the satisfaction of seeing their name listed in your book, much like the satisfaction of appearing in the credits of a movie.
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Herbert Schmidt

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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2016 11:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello James,

I know your work and was present at the exhibition in the Klingenmuseum. Good stuff!

From my experience, the license fees varie tremendously depending on the print run.
If you start with a smaller print run, the costs sink extremely, often down to zero. Many institutions let you use it for free for an academic publication.

THEN…pictures you take yourself are your copyright material and you can use them as you want. So if you measure originals and take pictures then you can use them. Just tell the museum beforehand. So far I have stumbled over only one museum in Europe which doesn't allow pictures to be taken at such an instance. I take it you have measured the pieces and taken pictures (I don't know of someone who doesn't when working with originals), you can use them.

So the actual amount you have to pay for the license fees of the pictures is significantly lower if done right.
That is how I did it with my Book of the Buckler. That is one reasons why it took me so long. I toured the museums to take the pictures myself.
From my experience, with a bit of planning and foresight, you don't need such a big amount of money. You might even have to spend less than a couple of thousand. As I said it depends on the print run and on your willingness to tour the museums. If you have a large print run and just order the pictures, then it is going to cost you money.

I'd love such a book and I would buy it immediately. I know of at least three other persons in our club who would do the same. The price would be secondary here.

I hope it will become a reality!

Best wishes

Historical European Martial Arts
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Tim Mathews

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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 7:42 am    Post subject: Medieval and Renaissance Single-edged Arms: Forthcoming book         Reply with quote

I would be very interested in purchasing the book and I am certainly open to a cash contribution to kick things off - I like the idea of different levels of donations.
Please keep me in the loop.
I was one of us on this side of the pond who waited - not quite patiently - for Dr. Capwell`s book to be published and was thrilled when it arrived.
Congratulations on what you are doing !

Tim Mathews
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, so far, rather encouraging. No-one's called me a hack.... yet Wink

Robert, unfortunately, working out rights for a digital production like Kindle is even more convoluted it seems, and to be honest, doesn't really allow the sort of quality of image resolution and presentation I'd like to aim for - so its something which I've taken a pretty low priority of. I did consider the option of an ebook version, but I'm not yet really convinced, first that it offers sufficient quality - but more importantly, I'm not convinced about the permanence of digital media yet. Years back I used to work as a digital artist in a studio, and it taught me a lot of rather sobering lessons bout the impermanence of digital media - even the best archive quality DVDs, for instance have a very limited lifespan, a few decades. The best file formats we have are only 20 years old or so, and with the issue of software legacies, we have a real problem that a lot of older digital media simply becomes unreadable. A very sobering example of that is the 1986 "Doomsday book" digitisation study in the united kingdom, as the anniversary of the 1086 Doomsday Book - placed onto the most advanced laser-disc technology, the hardware for it was obsolete and unavailable by the early 2000's, and the actual data was lost almost entirely after the archiving processes completely failed, somewhere between the 90's to 2010. Its actually why I'm very sceptical of the Wallace Collection digital catalogue. USB, as a format for storage is already becoming obsolete, with USB-C hardware starting to replace the old USB connector.
In contrast, .DTF files ( . Dead Tree Format ) can easily be read, 10, 100, or even 1000 years down the line. And that legacy is something which I feel is more appropriate for this kind of work.


Craig, the "adopt a sword" or "Adopt a photo" idea? That is brilliant - the sort of idea I hadn't even conceived of, yet alone contemplated using. Thank you so much for that suggestion - I really like the idea of that. Likewise, exclusive previews are something that I'd certainly feel appropriate.
I'm in absolute agreement with your thoughts there, and really appreciate those ideas. Every one of them stands out as a potential course of action.


Herbert, thank you for the compliment, but the quality of Solingen's exhibition was really down to Peter Johnsson, Sixt Wetzler and dr Barbara Grotkamp-Schepers - I could never take any credit for their wonderful work.

I agree entirely with your comments on cheaper possibilities. Its my hope that I will be able to use my own photography of a number of these examples, even if not all. However, that's more than one or two I've already studied where I will need to go back and get much better photography - much of my early studies were before I'd really started thinking about photography in terms of making it good enough for publication. That said, there are a lot more examples I need to get to for completing the study - my travel list is daunting - Amsterdam and Delft, Paris, Nantes, Dijon, Hamburg, Rothenburg, Munich, Solingen (again) and Lubeck, Milan, Prague (and half a dozen smaller czech museums I can barely pronounce!) Poznan, Estonia... and many others in Europe, and ideally travel to at least three places in the United States (NYC, the ex-Higgins collection in Worcester, Massachusetts. and possibly Wisconsin. I wonder if I could visit Albion while there, and be envious at their heat-treatment set-up? Happy ).

Between my own photography and data (essential for the dimensions, especially if any possible collaboration with Peter on the geometric proportion, is to be included), and a number of uses of Illustration - I am a firm beleiver that well-made line drawings can confer intricate detail on heavily corroded objects far better than photography where the detail can be easily lost - I am certain measures to ensure costs are brought down will be successful. Likewise, a limited print run of under 500 copies as an academic publication is a possibility and something which would result in significant savings (in theory it could cut that 15,000 by more than two thirds, maybe even 75%.

However, for the moment, I'm working on a worst-case scenario, where no museums permit the use of my own photography, and where a limited print run is not an option. That way, no matter what happens, it cant get any worse...
And that's me having just doomed the project to some horrible, unforeseen fate. I'll probably die a week before I send it off to the editor in a freak gardening accident, knowing my luck...


Tim, I'll be happy if I manage to get it finished quicker than Toby did, but I fear its not going to be a fast project - I'd estimate that with at least 50 items to catalogue in detail, even if I could travel to a new museum every single week it would take a year -in reality, I know it will take me years to be at a point of having got them all. My plan is to get a draft version with a complete "hit list" of items, to ensure there's a limited temptation to just keep adding to the list, but even with careful planning, I know its going to be a lot of air miles, and a lot of travel that will have to come out of my own pocket.

On the other hand, it took Oakeshott 20+ years to get "The sword in the age of chivalry" and "records" complete and published, so I'd better do it a lot faster than he did...
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James,

Absolutely I would be interested in the book and well done for taking it on and getting your typology as far as you have. Great effort and one that will take the/our subject on further.

As regards price, there are I think 3 streams.

1 professionals and so if you say £150 I will say yes. If you say £100 I will say yes - its a book I need, but this pricing would knock out the majority of the market I think.
2. the very interested - I would say £50-70
3. the interested casual buyer - I would say £30 - £35

I would be happy to pay 50% up front as you start to get up to the point of needing it, however I imagine most would not, though I imagine that 20% of lets say £75, ie. £15 would not make most people worry too much.

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Mark T

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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been a quiet supporter (with the occasional nudge on myA) of JG's work on this dating back some years now and, personally, can't wait to see this in print.

I agree with Craig about the crowdfunding options, Tod about pricing, and JG about the impermanence of digital media. While my library contains nearly 10 000 titles, I have absolutely zero interest in ebooks. (For those who want more examples of the type that JG gives, check out The clock of the long now, by Stuart Brand - some striking examples of historical documents from hundreds of years ago where we can still read the originals, versus others made throughout the 20th C that are lost forever.)

Congratulations on bringing the project this far, JG ... can't wait to see this in print!

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

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Houston P.

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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would be interested, but prefer to wait until it was published to purchase it. I would be willing to pay the equivalence of £40-60 in USD. I personally do not partake of fundraisers, but I do very much like the idea of a detailed study on these often overlooked swords. Thank you for researching them this thoroughly.
...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬)
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J. Nicolaysen

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PostPosted: Mon 25 Apr, 2016 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I want this book extremely bad! Would be a phenomenal resource of the underappreciated but incredibly awesome single-blade swords. I really like Craig's idea of a pricing scheme for kickstarter or patreon, although the top price amount would be too much for me. However, I think there is some real possibility there. I have funded a few things through those programs and while not huge amounts were spent, I have been really pleased with the results. I can think this would be a great way to do it. Possibilities of level-bling are only bounded by imagination. Maybe a falchion key-chain with a book at one level, I don't know. Laughing Out Loud

As far as an end-price, I think the 50-100 dollars price is at a minimum responsible to you and your hard work, but also able to keep the interested buyers in, not scared away. I think 150 dollars is quite a bit for the end price, but for a support level through kickstarter it's entirely feasible.

Really excited about the book! Hope to see it soon. Count me in.
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Joe Brown

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2016 5:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The crowd funding may work out fine. Has one been set up yet? This looks like a must have book especially for the US makers who have little to no access to originals for study. I would definitely contribute.
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Bram Verbeek

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2016 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's crowdfunding where you basically preorder, there's crowdfuncing where you get extra's and there's crowdfunding where you pay extra because you want to.

I'd be interested in something like the book, and a poster of the classifications, I thoroughly enjoyed your classifications in "The Sword, Form and Thought" and want to read more about it, for that, it needs to become a reality first.

I would have no issue pre-paying some 100 euro's for the book if it makes the chances of it happening better. We have the chance to help someone explain a definition of a subject that will truly be a benchmark, I'd like to contribute.
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2016 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Brown wrote:
The crowd funding may work out fine. Has one been set up yet? This looks like a must have book especially for the US makers who have little to no access to originals for study. I would definitely contribute.

I'd just like to thank all the people who have commented and those who've shown interest in the poll for this - everyone's comments have been looked at and are being considered.

I'd just like to note to Joe's specific query, that no, no funding has been attempted yet, and it'll be some time before I do - Its my intention to have at least one sampler for messer and falchion, and negotiating that with a couple of sources is one of the planning stages. It may simply not be a very quick process to reach. When I am ready to do so, I will ensure that there is a pretty comprehensive marketing push to ensure that it is widely known. It might just take a little time to do so - all sorts of work needs done, from sampler sections, to introductory videos and the likes. It wont be an overnight job.

On the other hand it took Oakeshott 20 years to go from publishing "the Sword in the Age of Chivalry" to publishing "Records" so I'm confident I can do it faster than he did! Big Grin
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Tim Birch

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PostPosted: Fri 17 Mar, 2017 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm late to the party on this one - I just found out about this book via Shad on YouTube. To give you an idea of my commitment to the project...

I'm happy to sponsor a picture, in order to get my name in the book - fame at any price!!

I'll also pay whatever is necessary to own a copy of the book (within reason). Anything below a couple of hundred quid is fine. How many other options do I have to get a definitive work on this matter?

I hope that makes my personal position clear. Good luck completing the project. Looking forward to it.

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Mark Moore

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PostPosted: Fri 17 Mar, 2017 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm a bit late chiming in also, but I will say that this is a VERY worthy project. Single-edgers have always seemed to play second fiddle to double-edged swords, and I think that needs to change. My current state of available coinage is limited (as far as project funding goes), but a copy of this book WOULD be in my library should it come to print. Wink Big Grin ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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