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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Feb, 2017 5:46 pm    Post subject: Type XIIIb by Michael Pikula         Reply with quote

I took delivery of this beast earlier this week. Having lived with it for a few days I can now offer some observations.



I've wanted to check out Michaels work for quite some time. I also have a love for swords with large, bold proportions, so when this one became available I decided now was the time. However, it wasn't the swords design that intrigued me, but rather a combination of elements that have resulted in a very interesting sword. The design itself is that of a XIIIb, in Oakeshotts typology. The XIIIb is a lesser seen variant when compared to its sibling the Type XIIIa, the classic Great Sword or Sword of War. The type saw its heyday during the age of mail, specifically from 1240 to 1370, given the dates of existing examples and their representation in period artwork.

The entire purpose of the type is to deliver huge slashing blows and I have no doubt Michaels example will do exactly that. The sword has a forceful, yet still dynamic presence. At 2 pounds, 15 ounces it's no lightweight, but it isn't cumbersome or ungainly, as it might appear in a photograph. It possesses a very authoritative yet dynamic feel. It isn't a weapon I'd used for sword and buckler fencing, but it would be right at home in the armored press of a battlefield. When taken in context it's handling is quite pleasing, but it isn't a sword for those faint of heart or light of stature.




The swords hilt components are forged from wrought iron. This has become my favorite hilt material and one of the things that drew me to this sword. The wood grain like structure of the wrought iron gives the components a very natural, almost organic look . The appearance strays from the modern sensibilities of symmetric perfection and gives the sword a much more pleasing look, at least to my eye.





The guard is a fairly standard Oakeshotts Type 2 in design and is cleanly shaped and tightly fitted to the blade. Again, I love the sense of texture the wrought iron provides.




The pommel is one of the swords most interesting features. It's closest comparison would be the spherical shape of Oakeshotts Type R pommel. However, This one varies from that type with its strong and pronounced central ridge.





To make matters even more interesting, it also happens to be hollow.



The pommel is forged from two separate pieces that form a hollow cavity. This feature is more commonly found on originals than is commonly believed, yet it's very uncommon in swords of modern manufacture. The popular view describes the pommel as being a counterweight to the blade. While this is partly true it's only a small part of the picture. One very simple function of the pommel is to prevent the sword from slipping out of ones hand, yet its real function, from a mechanical point of view, is to tune the blade. A swords overall handling is dictated by the blades design and mass distribution, as well as the overall length of the hilt. While the pommels weight does help dictate the swords point of balance, it has far greater effect in dictating the placement of the nodes of vibration within the blade itself, ie. the center of percussion, etc. Consequently, if a pommel of a certain size is desired it might need to be hollow in order to obtain the proper size/weight ratio. Hollow pommels could also be filled with lead or sand in an effort to further fine tune the swords performance. This feature, rare in a sword of 21st century manufacture, was one of the things that drew me to this piece.

The pattern welded blade has its own set of interesting features. The blade has a width at its base of 2.7 inches, with very minimal taper towards the point. At its tip, before curving to the point, the blade still possess a width of 2.67 inches. Subtle or graceful it is not, but it isn't crude either. The blade is cleanly executed with a fuller running three quarters of the blades length. All surfaces are cleanly and evenly finished and the blade has a very sharp edge. This is a very purpose built weapon with a clear motive in mind. It isn't meant to be graceful or subtle, but instead powerful and dynamic. It certainly is that.




The blade features a random pattern weld, with minimal contrast between the steels used. From across the room you'd think it was a monosteel blade, with the pattern welding only becoming obvious upon closer examination. I like this bit of subtlety in a sword that's otherwise so "in your face". The sword may be bold and anything but subtle in its proportions, but this is one indicator that it has secrets to share if you take the time to get familiar with it.

From Michael concerning the blades composition:
"The steel is a mix of two modern alloys, 6150 and 8670M. I mixed several different layer counts into a billet which was forged out into the blade. The variation in layer count was used to create additional patterning and interest versus a standard random pattern."

In terms of visual interest I think Michael achieved the desired goal quite well.




As previously stated, the sword handles well for its purpose. It exhibits quite a bit of presence yet still maintains a good level of dynamic handling ability, with a center of percussion positioned at the end of the blades fuller and a point of balance six inches below the guard. Everything is tightly fitted and well finished. My only minor quibble lies with the grip. The leather covering is smooth and well applied, with the seam being nearly invisible. Nothing to complain about there. However, the grip is a bit skinny for my large hands. I would have preferred a grip just a bit wider at the top. Still, its tightly fitted to the tang, as well as to the guard and pommel. The grip length is perfect as it firmly wedges my hand between the pommel and guard. So all things considered, I'd give the grip a 9.5 out of ten. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

It's been said this sword appears a bit "Conanish". To my eye, it seems more like a dwarvish weapon. Something forged long ago from the iron of a star stone, by dwarven smiths beneath the lonely mountain. In reality, it's a finely executed example of an historic design that sees little representation in the modern craft. It possess features that make it unique and therefore even more interesting. Well done Mr. Pikula.

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




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Feb, 2017 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I *love* wrought iron fittings.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Feb, 2017 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is one beautiful, impressive sword. It reminds me, at least superficially of the Albion Tritonia. The Tritonia weighs a fair bit more. Since you are familiar with both swords, how would you compare these two?
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Feb, 2017 9:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's just fun, isn't it? Dwarven was also one of the first things I thought when I pictures.
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For cryin' out loud, PK, cheer up. You just received one helluvan' interesting and
impressive sword ... B-)
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz wrote:
For cryin' out loud, PK, cheer up. You just received one helluvan' interesting and
impressive sword ... B-)


I am smiling, on the inside in my feeling place. Happy

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




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
That is one beautiful, impressive sword. It reminds me, at least superficially of the Albion Tritonia. The Tritonia weighs a fair bit more. Since you are familiar with both swords, how would you compare these two?


The Tritonia is a bit longer and heavier, so this one is quite a bit more dynamic by comparison.

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




PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello
Something about a pattern welded blade,just screams"CLASS" and whispers "Magic" . I realy like the pommel and guard
mostly the unique pommel. The blade is a bit wider than i like,but I wouldn`t turn it down if someone offered to give it to me :-)
Is this the custom , you were selling your other high enders to fund? Good trade, congrats. Now all you need is a fancy
scabbard and belt for it :-)
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Patrick.

Very nice sword and very nice review. In case no one has mentioned it before, you have a very smooth writing style with several fine turns of phrase. Perhaps you missed your calling!

By the way, as I already mentioned to Patrick, there are historical precedents for this particular pommel shape (at least one that I recall, and it's on a similar shaped XIIIb 'to boot'). It is not speculative or fantasy.

Regarding the wrought iron cross, does anyone know how it will stand up to a full powered blow from a heavy weapon?

Congrats, JD
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Karl Knisley wrote:
Hello
Something about a pattern welded blade,just screams"CLASS" and whispers "Magic" . I realy like the pommel and guard
mostly the unique pommel. The blade is a bit wider than i like,but I wouldn`t turn it down if someone offered to give it to me :-)
Is this the custom , you were selling your other high enders to fund? Good trade, congrats. Now all you need is a fancy
scabbard and belt for it :-)


Yes, this is the one I sold my Principe and Vigil to obtain. That hurt a bit since those are two of my favorite Albions, but my collection is slowly moving towards the all custom route. Anymore, a piece has to have something different or unique about it to pique my interest. That usually means custom work. I guess forty years of sword study have made me a bit jaded. Happy

Scabbard and belt? Get out of my head! Happy

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




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Thank you Patrick.

Very nice sword and very nice review. In case no one has mentioned it before, you have a very smooth writing style with several fine turns of phrase. Perhaps you missed your calling!

By the way, as I already mentioned to Patrick, there are historical precedents for this particular pommel shape (at least one that I recall, and it's on a similar shaped XIIIb 'to boot'). It is not speculative or fantasy.

Regarding the wrought iron cross, does anyone know how it will stand up to a full powered blow from a heavy weapon?

Congrats, JD


Thanks for the compliment on my writing. I kind of wrote this one in a hurry, so I didn't think it lived up to my usual standards.

Do you know of any photos of this pommel design? I swear I've seen some before, but can't recall where.

I have no doubt the wrought iron guard would hold up as well, if not better, than the cast mild steel guards found on most replicas today. Not to mention brass. Remember, period guards were iron themselves and this is forged, not cast.

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




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This! All of this is just fantastic! The sword looks fantastic your your hand, Patrick! And that wrought iron pattern, combined with the fantastic write-up, is just stirring to witness!

Thanks for sharing all of this.
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Tyler Jordan





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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Such a broad blade! Gotta be a powerful cutter.

The iron fittings look great too, and it's neat to see someone doing a hollow pommel.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:

Thanks for the compliment on my writing. I kind of wrote this one in a hurry, so I didn't think it lived up to my usual standards.


Sometimes spontaneity reads better than over-edited text. (Speaking as a guy who has written or edited something like 1000 technical publications).

Patrick Kelly wrote:

Do you know of any photos of this pommel design? I swear I've seen some before, but can't recall where.


Check this out: http://www.vikverir.no/ressurser/usages_mythe...amp;page=7
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Patrick Kelly wrote:

Do you know of any photos of this pommel design? I swear I've seen some before, but can't recall where.


I can't seem to post the direct link here, but go to the Vikverir web site, then go to 'ressurser', then museum galleries, then Cluny (special swords; uses, myths and symbols display), page 7.


http://www.vikverir.no/ressurser/usages_mythe...amp;page=7



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J. Nicolaysen




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2017 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations! It's kind of genius by Michael Pikula to 1. use a blade type so distinctive 2. use beautiful wrought iron fittings...I'm a huge fan of the wood grain look. 3. have the pommel be so distinct as well.

Then he gets all the elements together in such a way. There's no mistaking it, this is a special work.
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Scott Kowalski




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2017 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for for not only the great review of this fine piece by Michael but also for buying it! That last comes from my bank account and the Minister of Finance in the Kowalski household because I was moving closer and closer to snatching this one up. It is definitely a sword that brings together many elements into a beautiful package. I also think that Michael has really gotten down the making of Type XIIIb swords and this one continues that trend. I have to agree with you on saying that it has more of the look of a weapon that those mostly dour and work like creatures known as Dwarves would not only make but use to defend their homes!

Please post up your thoughts on this as a cutter which I am sure it will be great at!

Chris Landwehr 10/10/49-1/1/09 My Mom
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2017 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Nicolaysen wrote:
Congratulations! It's kind of genius by Michael Pikula to 1. use a blade type so distinctive 2. use beautiful wrought iron fittings...I'm a huge fan of the wood grain look. 3. have the pommel be so distinct as well.

Then he gets all the elements together in such a way. There's no mistaking it, this is a special work.


I agree. It was the combination of these elements that really drew me to this sword.

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




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2017 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Kowalski wrote:
Thank you for for not only the great review of this fine piece by Michael but also for buying it! That last comes from my bank account and the Minister of Finance in the Kowalski household because I was moving closer and closer to snatching this one up. It is definitely a sword that brings together many elements into a beautiful package. I also think that Michael has really gotten down the making of Type XIIIb swords and this one continues that trend. I have to agree with you on saying that it has more of the look of a weapon that those mostly dour and work like creatures known as Dwarves would not only make but use to defend their homes!

Please post up your thoughts on this as a cutter which I am sure it will be great at!


Scott, I'm glad I could do my part to maintain harmony in the Kowalski household. Happy

I've heard from several people who stated they were getting close to snapping this one up. I guess I should consider myself lucky to have snapped first. I'd love to do some cutting with this one, but I don't think it will have any surprises for me. I'm sure it will be an incredible cutter. Unfortunately, age and my career choices are starting to catch up with me. More the latter than the former. It's not the age it's the mileage as the saying goes. A nagging shoulder injury will prevent any of those activities until it's resolved, but stay tuned.

I think I need a matching XIIIa to go along with it.

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




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2017 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great pickup Patrick! I love the proportions of this one. Michael has a way with wide blades, doesn't he? The type Z hilted vike he made for me has the widest blade I own, but it is still lively as can be. I'm sure this one is the same, looks like a beast but feels great in the swing. Anyway, congratulations!
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