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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
Joined: 02 Dec 2015

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2016 9:21 am    Post subject: Confused about wheel pommels         Reply with quote

I am particularly interested in western European single handed swords that developed between the late 10th to mid 14th centuries and have spent quite some time researching them. In doing this research I have found a major discrepancy between the prevalence of wheel pommels when depicted in art works and found in surviving specimens. Artworks from the 11th century onward depict them very commonly and would lead one to think that by the 12th century it was the most common form. But from what I've found so far while looking into the archeological specimens this is not the case at all.

The earliest wheel pommels I'm aware date to the beggining of the period in question (late 10th century) however I've found that they don't feature commonly on surviving specimens until the late 13th century. Until this point the various "nut" forms such as the tea cozy, Brazil nut and cocked hat are the most common along with many bizzare and unique forms that don't conform to any particular style.

Has anyone noticed this or can provide some kind of explanation why I might find this contradiction?
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2016 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, this may be reductive, and a bit silly, but those manuscripts were really tiny; I think it'd be pretty hard to draw a cocked hat, and would look messy and not make a lot of sense on the page.
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Victor R.




Location: Spring, Texas
Joined: 28 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2016 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Hohl wrote:
Well, this may be reductive, and a bit silly, but those manuscripts were really tiny; I think it'd be pretty hard to draw a cocked hat, and would look messy and not make a lot of sense on the page.


I was actually thinking much the same - ease of execution by the illustrator - but have no actual clear idea beyond that. Happy
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2016 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam,

I have made the same observation. I think, in part, it might be because central Europe, particularly the Empire, had a well-developed sword manufacturing industry. For whatever reasons, Brazil nut pommels and other variants remained in vogue significantly longer than in other parts of Europe. We have manuscript evidence, if not artifact evidence, for Brazil nut family pommels even as late as circa 1350 AD. So the German influence could be a factor.

Additionally, depending upon what books you own and web resources you browse, you might have a distorted perception of the number of surviving disc and wheel pommel swords. For example, have you seen all of the antique swords in this thread?
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=33337&highlight=

I suspect these explanations cannot entirely account for the phenomenon you have described, but might provide at least a partial explanation.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2016 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two big factors, preservation bias and collector bias. The frequency you find stuff in the ground or in collections doesn't necessarily reflect their relative popularity in their working life.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
Joined: 02 Dec 2015

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Mon 26 Sep, 2016 4:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
Two big factors, preservation bias and collector bias. The frequency you find stuff in the ground or in collections doesn't necessarily reflect their relative popularity in their working life.
I think it does. Swords types that were in use in the period between the late 10th and late 13th century show nut pommels more than wheel pommels at a rate than cannot be coincidental with regards to which ones have happened to have survived/been found to this day.
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Sep, 2016 4:16 am    Post subject: longevity of style maybe a factor         Reply with quote

I would suggest an additional aspect to this issue. Today we see these pieces as precious artifacts to be treasured and emulated. (here probably even more than the general public Happy ) in the time of the swords use they where much more tools and weapons to be used and modified as needed. Wheel pommels in style longer than the brazil nuts for example could be reused and refitted to new blades. The result would be fewer dateable examples to the earlier period in the population of items that are not ground finds.

Best
Craig
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
Joined: 02 Dec 2015

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Mon 26 Sep, 2016 4:21 am    Post subject: Re: longevity of style maybe a factor         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
I would suggest an additional aspect to this issue. Today we see these pieces as precious artifacts to be treasured and emulated. (here probably even more than the general public Happy ) in the time of the swords use they where much more tools and weapons to be used and modified as needed. Wheel pommels in style longer than the brazil nuts for example could be reused and refitted to new blades. The result would be fewer dateable examples to the earlier period in the population of items that are not ground finds.

Best
Craig
It would have to have a peen block to remove a pommel without destroying it yes?
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 168

PostPosted: Mon 26 Sep, 2016 10:08 am    Post subject: Re: longevity of style maybe a factor         Reply with quote

Sam Arwas wrote:
It would have to have a peen block to remove a pommel without destroying it yes?


Depends on how well it's been fitted to the tang. If it's a completely snug fit which can't slide up the tang at all, then you'll probably do it a bit of damage while you grind off the peen - but that doesn't have to destroy the whole pommel.

If it's fitted more loosely, and held in place by the grip or wedges or similar, then you can simply remove those, move the pommel down, and remove the peen.

Instructor and scholar, Cambridge HEMA
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Mon 26 Sep, 2016 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interestingly enough there are many surviving examples of wheel or disk pommels that are slightly flattened. That could be an artifact of some aspect of their manufacture but it can just as easily result from grinding down the peen when no peen block is present. That said I did take down a Windlass Type XIV once and it was surprising how little metal had to be removed, hardly altered the shape of the pommel at all.

Anyway has somebody done a rigorous count of nut vs wheel pommels on surviving swords to establish whether or not the OP's observation might even be a product of sample bias? There are a large number of pilzform pommels out there but I'm also aware of a large number of early disk pommeled swords with find sites going all the way to Russia.

Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com
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