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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 6:43 am    Post subject: Over-representation of some sword types?         Reply with quote

Partly based on my own observations and partly on some comments Matt Easton made in a video (check out his scholagladiatoria channel on YouTube if you haven't), I've been curious why certain sword types/configurations seem over-represented in the modern marketplace. Matt noted that HEMA folks often gravitate to scent stopper pommels even though wheel pommels may have been more popular. For me, I've noticed a ton of Type XIV-bladed swords out there. Almost every maker seems to make at least one version. Personally, I love the type, but I don't think they were as common in period as they are on today's market.

Obviously, there are aesthetic and functional reasons in some cases, as well as market factors like simple demand, but I'm curious on people's thoughts on this phenomenon. Why do we see so many skewings of popularity in modern-made swords vs. period swords?

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An interesting issue,

I suspect- with the type XIV- that it is seen as a great "combination" sword of cut-and thrust. I has much of the shape of earlier swords like type XIIs but then has a bit more of a point. People might say to themselves- I like the look of that sword- it looks like it is good for everything!

I have observed that reproductions tend to show more graceful tapered profiles- especially on type Xs, Xis, and very much XIIs. Period examples often look more "blocky" or just weirdly balanced in form to my eye- at least.

In my mind. we also see a disproportionate number of swords following the general shape and handling of the Albion Knight- it's a "sweet" looking sword in terms of visual appeal- plus swords in this class tend to have a very pleasant heft and just feel really good when used. Many historical type XIIs- to me- appear to have less profile taper.

I also suspect that the handling- as much as the general form- are shaped by modern tastes. I think our modern reproductions- especially mid level ($700-$1500) tend to have a sweet and neutral balance. Kind of like the world's taste for "pop" music- it's easy to approach and catchy. Manufacturers are going to choose designs they feel have a wider net of appeal.

I love seeing the more peculiar looking historical swords getting made.
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe they're easier -- relatively speaking -- to make.
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Houston P.




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For certain HEMA practitioners, it may be that they think swords are “cool”, but don’t care to study either the sources or swords at all; they just want to fence or collect.These people want something that stands out. The taper on a type XIV simply looks very distinct and imposing, whereas many people would likely struggle to tell the difference between any types with a fuller and less dramatic taper. This seems like heresy to us sword aficionados, but we have often seen thousands of pieces and carefully studied details that these individuals wouldn’t notice. I would personally love to see more reproductions of XVII and XX-XXII, as I hardly ever see them.
...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬)
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 3:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Over-representation of some sword types?         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Obviously, there are aesthetic and functional reasons in some cases, as well as market factors like simple demand, but I'm curious on people's thoughts on this phenomenon. Why do we see so many skewings of popularity in modern-made swords vs. period swords?

One of my recent posts has a quote from Fabrice Cognot about how Technology, Use and Fashion shape the design of swords. If you think about it, two of those cannot be the same as in cultures before the 19th century, and the third rarely is. Sharp swords today are generally made by stock removal from homogeneous steel (not forged from steel made in pre-Bessemer ways), they are hung on the wall or used to cut up rolled mats and pop bottles (not worn all day every day in all weather and used to strike and thrust human beings), and they are sold within modern cultures with modern ideas of what a sword should be.

Horses were a big part of what many swords were designed to do, but not many 'sword people' are 'horse people.'

I think the good makers try to make something which will sell and is as close to some of the swords which once existed as possible. But even A&A has had to offer variants of its blunt swords modified to be what the longsword tournament crowd wants a sword to be.

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Leelund K





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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really appreciated this video!

I think the movement towards sport in HEMA is a big contributing factor.

On the tournament sparring side, people want longer, faster blades to score points. How much damage the sword does to the target doesn't matter as long as it gets to the target quickly. In fact, doing damage to the target is to be avoided in the spirit of good sportsmanship and not hurting your training partners. This leads to swords that are light and hand weighted.

On the competition cutting side, tatami is the standard cutting medium and a sword that sails through tatami easily is preferred. In general a good tatami sword and a good sport sword handle pretty similarly, and I think those are the types of sword that we're seeing over represented in the market.

As a big fan of swords, one thing that frustrates me about this trend is that a lot of the competitive community have shifted the trends towards light, fast, thin swords, but then complain that swords don't hit very hard or do much damage. "Weak" as Matt Easton himself says in an earlier video, while he holds a light XV arming sword in his hand. People are quick to jump onto the bandwagon of heavier, slower polearms for their power, but won't tolerate a 3+ lbs single hander or a 4+lbs hand and a half sword.

The beauty of swords vs polearms is that swords are metal sculptures from tip to pommel (minus the grip). If a sword doesn't hit hard enough, doesn't move fast enough, is too light, is too heavy, you can sculpt a different shape to get the job done- hence the sheer variety of swords.

I test all my weapons on soaked newspaper with roughly 4" diameter (6" diameter if I perceive the sword to be a good cutter), but I also hit a stabilized tire as well to test a weapons blunt trauma. Swords are also blunt trauma instruments as well as cutting instruments, and it's frustrating that so few think of them as such. Heavy hitting swords are a lot of fun! My Albion 13th Century Great Sword (MK1) hits almost as hard as any polearms, with much less wind up.

As for the type XIVs, I think the glowing early reviews here made it trend. There was a time where this forum had the most reviews of high end swords in one place, and because the official reviews here were curated, the opinions of those here really shifted the market, for better or worse.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2021 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Over-representation of some sword types?         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Partly based on my own observations and partly on some comments Matt Easton made in a video (check out his scholagladiatoria channel on YouTube if you haven't), I've been curious why certain sword types/configurations seem over-represented in the modern marketplace. Matt noted that HEMA folks often gravitate to scent stopper pommels even though wheel pommels may have been more popular. For me, I've noticed a ton of Type XIV-bladed swords out there. Almost every maker seems to make at least one version. Personally, I love the type, but I don't think they were as common in period as they are on today's market.

Obviously, there are aesthetic and functional reasons in some cases, as well as market factors like simple demand, but I'm curious on people's thoughts on this phenomenon. Why do we see so many skewings of popularity in modern-made swords vs. period swords?


If you remember, the Type XIV became popular and soared in popularity immediately after translations of the I.33 manuscript became available. The swords illustrated therein appear to be of the type, or similar. When Roland Warzecha began his work with I.33 the Type XIV was also his sword of choice. This all gave the type a lot of exposure. Many people in the hobby don't have a deeply layed knowledge base and if they see Type XIV they'll translate that as, "You have to use a Type XIV for I.33" Most people in the hobby aren't really serious academics who research individual sword types and their places in history, or concern themselves with that context. Today, they seem to fall into different camps: they want a sword that's cool and the XIV certainly is or, they're HEMA practitioners who want a sword for sword and buckler use. They see Roland with his on Youtube and see it in manuscript form, so XIV it is. We're way past the era where we obssessed over Oakeshott's Typology regarding blade, pommel and guard types and where they fit into the historical context because there wasn't much else in print.

HEMA competitors have also driven the market. Most of them want to practice sword games and compete. They're not really concerned with historical context or representation. They want a sword that cuts mats and bottles well, is comfortable to wield and easy to use from a competitive standpoint. It's not surprising companies are focusing on certain types when that's where the money is.

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




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Sep, 2021 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In this interview with Guy Windsor, Craig Johnson talks about what A&A's market wants of them and how they respond when customers want something which is not very representative https://guywindsor.net/2021/02/how-to-make-swords-episode33/

In 19th century Europe and 20th century Japan, the rise of formal and informal cutting competitions lead to the creation of specialized swords for those games. Its no surprise that Forged in Fire, vlogs, and the mat-manglers are having the same effect today.

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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Sep, 2021 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me to know how modern sword reproduction variety differs from medieval sword variety I'd have to know much more about what was common in certain eras, regions. Common where, medieval artwork or archaeological finds? I don't have any literature that would cover this part, although it would be an interesting read.

Modern reproductions cover the whole medieval period, but I don't think they cover it equally. There is a large focus on 15th century for longswords (hence also the prevalence of scent stopper pommels compared to wheel pommels).

Also, I think the whole market has been shaped a bit by the choices of first good makers of reproductions of what is aesthetical in swords - we have whole types of swords now that are poorly represented because they just look differently - even if they handle just as good.


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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Sep, 2021 9:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Blaz Berlec wrote:
For me to know how modern sword reproduction variety differs from medieval sword variety I'd have to know much more about what was common in certain eras, regions. Common where, medieval artwork or archaeological finds? I don't have any literature that would cover this part, although it would be an interesting read.

We need a fleißig German to write a thesis on late medieval swords like Geibig did for swords in West Germany from 800 to 1200! But the kinds of things Craig Johnson says in that interview (and the blog posts that I cite on my own site) are not controversial for anyone who knows the data ("artists in the late 14th and early 15th century show a lot of narrow tapered longswords with a medial ridge and a blade short enough that they can hang upright" and "the Oakeshott type XVIII-c longswords are a distinctive group that was probably intended for a specific purpose").

There are other topics, like weight and balance, where its hard to have an opinion unless you go out and measure originals (and are sure of your ability to identify fakes). I hope that some of the people who do that will start publishing their measurements.

www.bookandsword.com
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