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Drake Abram





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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject: What is 'historical accuracy'?         Reply with quote

Hello everyone!

I've read through several topics and some of the articles of this website. Good stuff.

I can easily see that this site is dedicated to history and portraying it with accuracy. My question is, what exactly consistutes historical accuracy as far as newly made reproduction arms are concerned?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 9:24 am    Post subject: Re: What is 'historical accuracy'?         Reply with quote

Drake Abram wrote:
Hello everyone!

I've read through several topics and some of the articles of this website. Good stuff.

I can easily see that this site is dedicated to history and portraying it with accuracy. My question is, what exactly consistutes historical accuracy as far as newly made reproduction arms are concerned?


Ask 15 people and you'll get 16 responses. Happy This is a highly personal and subjective definition. Your question should provoke interesting debate.

For some, historical accuracy means dead-on accurate shapes, geometries, forms, and handling made from period-correct materials using period techniques. For others, modern materials that approximate period ones are acceptable as are modern methods that don't compromise shapes, geometries, appearance, and handling. Others accept more modern materials (complex alloyed steels, stabilized wood grips, etc.) since they might have been used by period makers if they were available to them; use of these materials captures the spirit of medieval arms making for some: use the best materials available. For yet others, resemblance to period arms is close enough, since the item will never see battle. There are many other definitions, too.

Happy

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 9:28 am    Post subject: Re: What is 'historical accuracy'?         Reply with quote

Drake Abram wrote:
Hello everyone!

I've read through several topics and some of the articles of this website. Good stuff.

I can easily see that this site is dedicated to history and portraying it with accuracy. My question is, what exactly consistutes historical accuracy as far as newly made reproduction arms are concerned?


I am not sure there is a simple answer to that. In my opinion, there are different levels of "historical accuracy"

At the most stringent level it would mean something being made form the same materials using the same methods and tools, and achieving a result identical to some preserved historical piece. That, as you may imagine, would be nearly impossible to do.

Most people will settle for something made with modern methods and materials that is very close in form and performance to period originals

then there is the "historically plausible". Things that are "averaged" over several period originals such that they convey the "feeling" and "performance" of the originals without being exact copies of any of them (Albion's NG line of swords for example). IN the hands of knowledgable people, "historically plausible" and "historically accurate" become very fuzzy terms. For one we do not know the complete range of that was made or all that was made during any given time. Generally exiting pieces set limits and as long as you stay within limits an item will be "plausible"

Different people value different aspects of accuracy and plausibility. Some do not care about materials and only about the looks. Some only care about the performance and not about about the assembly or construction, and most of us are somewhere in between.

The more "accurate" the construction of an item is (including processing of raw materials like smelting your own ore for wrought iron), likely the more expensive it will be due to labor and research. At some point we need to balance price vs goals. What do you need that item for and how much are you willing to you pay for it?

I hope that begins to address your question.

Alexi
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Drake Abram





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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply guys!

I'm by no means looking for a simple answer. I'm looking to get as complex/long(winded) Wink answers as possible.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me, it's in between some of the definitions I gave above. I prefer things that look like, handle like, and have at least the same durability you'd expect from a period original. More modern materials don't bother me as long as they don't look overtly modern and as long as they don't compromise function. The subtle period shapes that don't show up in 2D pictures are something I really want. Many lower-end manufacturers base weapons solely off pictures, which results in things that are close, but no cigar. When handling/viewing a repro, it can be pretty obvious if the maker has studied originals up close. That limits my collecting to pieces by a few makers.

As my Collection Gallery shows, my pieces by lower-tier makers (MRL, Del Tin) have been phased out as my standards have risen over the years. Unfortunately, my standards have risen faster than the balance in my bank account. Happy There are some gems by MRL and Del Tin, of course. Some pieces are fairly close and would readily meet or exceed someone else's definition of historical accuracy.

Interestingly enough, my standards aren't the same across the board. I have higher standards for swords and daggers than for impact weapons or armour. Does that make sense? Not necessarily. Happy

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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One definition might be that (if this were possible) if the item were handled / used by a historical person it should be acceptable to them as not unusual or strange. Some things fail this test in small but important ways. Examples might be modern buckles and rivets on otherwise very "historical looking" armour, threaded nuts allowing sword hilts to be disassembled, obviously modern stamps, e.g., "Made in India", stainless steel hardware, brass used when a period item would use bronze, exposed and obvious machine stitching in clothing,...

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Apr, 2006 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends on how I want to use the item.

For display costumer, my requirement is more rigerous.

For and abuse, my requirement is less rigerous.

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Drake Abram





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PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2006 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just wanted to revisit this topic again since reading the latest Angel Sword thread.

Any more thoughts?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty much on the same page with Alexi, in particular, and the rest of this topic in general. For me and my collecting tastes, I don't have any particular interest in the materials being used. I only care about the general form and function of the piece. And having said that, there are always concessions that each of us are going to be okay with. Cost and the realities of a modern production and research environment simply prevents every item to be completely faithful. Does the item look and behave like its historical inspiration? That's the question for me. I don't need a sword that will chop down a Buick if its historical inspiration wasn't able to do that. I don't need a sword to be made out of exotic materials if its historical inspiration didn't have it.

Ideally, I would love to own the actual things: museum pieces. Second to that, I'd love to own faithful reproduction of extant examples. Next, I'm happy to own items that, as Alexi puts it, are historically plausible, ie, something that looks and acts as though it is significantly similar (note the subjective term, we all have them) to the historical record of similar pieces.

The bottom line, for me, is that these things are difficult to quantify. We each will have a different line and it's important we try to couch our conversations with our own needs when using terms like "historical accuracy". There are, of course, contemporary designs that are so significantly different than anything historical that many of us in this community don't feel it necessary to explain further. One here would not call the swords from Conan historically inspired, despite them having a fullered blade, a cross-guard, grip, and pommel. While it's clear that the elements and general cruciform shape are inspired by something historical, the design has been taken in a completely different direction and moved it into something completely contemporary.

My own collection has fluctuated. I've had items in my collection that were quite historical. I've had items that, while having a general "historical appearance", one cannot really call them historically accurate at all. I've had everything in between. I've also had things with fairly accurate hilts and not-so-close blades as well as the reverse being true. The collection has changed a lot and what I'm left with currently is something in the middle. (though, again, what I consider "the middle" is going to be quite different than what others might consider it to be... ahh, subjectivity...)

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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 7:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thing about historical accuracy that I keep forgetting is that, for most people, 'it looks like a picture of a sword in a book I have/movie I saw' is the standard - all this stuff about correct proportions and materials is just not that important to a large slice of the sword public.
To pull an example from my area of interest - so many makers put ricassos on swords (or stop the fuller short of the guard) and then call them 'viking', that it would be impossible to list them all - far easier to list the few who don't. And yet, they are accepted as Viking, even celebrated - dispite being almost entirely unlike any artifact from that period.
Hopefully "Swords of the Viking Age" is fixing that issue, but it's my issue - I don't think anyone else cares Cry
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it comes down to how much research the individual has done thus far, including collecting. Too often have I asked people what defines historical accuracy, and I hear more about what it "isn't" rather than what it "is.

When I first starting developing an interest in Medieval history and arms & armor nearly a decade ago (I still consider myself new to the hobby; still lots to learn and discover), it wasn't long before I started hearing names like Oakeshott and Johnsson with an air of reverance. Then I came across other names like Talhoffer, Silver, Liechtenauer, and Fiore dei Liberi and others. "Who are these people?" I asked myself. After finding out, I would base most of my knowledge on theirs. Period artwork, surviving artifacts, and other primary sources are also a huge step in defining historical accuracy.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Pringle wrote:
The thing about historical accuracy that I keep forgetting is that, for most people, 'it looks like a picture of a sword in a book I have/movie I saw' is the standard - all this stuff about correct proportions and materials is just not that important to a large slice of the sword public.


Exactly. Each person's idea of accuracy will be different; it's an individual choice. For some, having a blade and handle is enough. For others, the parameters are much more strict. Historical accuracy is very subjective.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A personal guideline I use is the theoretical time loop. If my sword were somehow transported back to the time period and area in which it would have most likely been encountered, would a knowledgable person of that time think anything remarkable of it? If it is unlikely for a person to think it is strange, then that's good enough for me. I don't mind modern heat treatment or modern metals provided the sword was designed to perform as good quality antiques would have in their prime.

Like others here, I want attention to the subtle details such as blade geometry and shaping that are often overlooked. I prefer the hilt to be assembled as it was in period, but I'm less picky about that. I also don't mind subtle changes to design that don't affect the big picture, but ultimately keep the cost down. For example, A&A's Henry V sword doesn't have a hollow pommel the way the original does, and that doesn't bother me for the price... though I certainly wouldn't mind owning an EXACT copy, either. Happy

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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it has already been said here but just my two cents is that the amount of period accuracy that someone requires to be acceptable is very subjective. To be totally period accurate an object would need to be made only with materials available in period using only methods available in period. To be honest I wonder if even that is enough.

However, as has been noted that type of accuracy is not required by all customers. Most are willing to take compromises. In many cases those compromises mean using modern materials that are approximations of period materials. In other cases it means using construction methods that take advantage of modern technology. These compromises are necessary because of other customer demands like "reasonable" cost or modern expectations of manufacture.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
I think it has already been said here but just my two cents is that the amount of period accuracy that someone requires to be acceptable is very subjective. To be totally period accurate an object would need to be made only with materials available in period using only methods available in period. To be honest I wonder if even that is enough.

However, as has been noted that type of accuracy is not required by all customers. Most are willing to take compromises. In many cases those compromises mean using modern materials that are approximations of period materials. In other cases it means using construction methods that take advantage of modern technology. These compromises are necessary because of other customer demands like "reasonable" cost or modern expectations of manufacture.


Great point, Russ. It's the amount of period accuracy that people have to choose for themselves. Meaning, since it's hard to find/afford swords made of period-correct materials with period-correct tools, we all have to decide how we want to manage the inevitable comprises we face as consumers.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

Great point, Russ. It's the amount of period accuracy that people have to choose for themselves. Meaning, since it's hard to find/afford swords made of period-correct materials with period-correct tools, we all have to decide how we want to manage the inevitable comprises we face as consumers.


Exactly. There's also the little bit about how modern sensibilities have higher expectations especially in the area of aesthetic then did period sensibilities. In many cases people do not want a period sword, the want what they expect a period sword was. A minor dustup a few years back about the pommel of a viking sword comes to mind. As I recall the customer was somewhat unhappy because the lobes on the pommel of his viking sword were not "properly" symmetrical. As it turned out the lobes on the original were basically identical to the ones on his reproduction... but they did not meet his expectations. I think people often fall into that trap. They think that something must be "pefect" to be "authentic" or "historically accurate."

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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You also, I suppose, have to determine the difference between 'historical accuracy' and 'replica' (or any other similar term). To me historical accuracy is the modal average of the definitions in this thread. But a true replica would be made of exactly the same materials in exactly the same way, and go so far as to include pitting, scratches, etc. in the right places, to the right depth, and (preferambly) caused by the same means. Basicly, a copy that would be impossible to differentiate from the original piece. This is, of course, a completely absurd expectation. Even if it were done, I would balk at the pricetag attached. Perhaps for this reason, I have come to prefer collecting pieces based on the general trend of arms during a given time (that aforementioned modal average), rather than replicas of extant pieces.

I guess my point is that, just like in target shooting, expectations of accuracy can be taken to absurd extremes. Almost all of us (and since I don't see Donald Trump post here much, I'll go so far as to leave off the almost) have to make compromises. The best part is that we all do so in slightly different ways, and that results in a wealth of great pieces and ideas to discuss.

Edit: Well, I see that while I was typing, Chad summed up the crux of my post, Blush sorry for the redundancy.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Exactly. There's also the little bit about how modern sensibilities have higher expectations especially in the area of aesthetic then did period sensibilities. In many cases people do not want a period sword, the want what they expect a period sword was. A minor dustup a few years back about the pommel of a viking sword comes to mind. As I recall the customer was somewhat unhappy because the lobes on the pommel of his viking sword were not "properly" symmetrical. As it turned out the lobes on the original were basically identical to the ones on his reproduction... but they did not meet his expectations. I think people often fall into that trap. They think that something must be "pefect" to be "authentic" or "historically accurate."


Russ,

Not so sure I concur with all of this. Think about some of the museum pieces out there. Are you so sure we have higher aesthetic standards than they did in the past? I think we have a different standard, especially in regards to symmetry, but I am also starting to think that much of what we consider historically accurate and get all excited about would be considered rather pedestrian back in the day.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:

Russ,

Not so sure I concur with all of this. Think about some of the museum pieces out there. Are you so sure we have higher aesthetic standards than they did in the past? I think we have a different standard, especially in regards to symmetry, but I am also starting to think that much of what we consider historically accurate and get all excited about would be considered rather pedestrian back in the day.


I both agree and disagree with that. To our modern sensibilites "less is often more." That is a great many collectors tend to go for things like "simple elegance." I can't tell you how many plain black and silver scabbard motifs I've done over the years. It's only been in the last couple of years or so that people have been willing to be a little more flamboyant. Compared to the over the top nature of the ostentatious display our ancestors were so fond of many of our choices in the plain blacks and browns would indeed be considered pedestrian.

However, having said that we have certain expectations as modern consumers that our ancestors would never have had. The example I noted above with the pommel is one example. Or consider what happens when you order a Talhoffer from Albion or a German Bastard Sword from A&A. If you got a Talhoffer with the cross slightly out of alignment with the blade would you be satified? If you got a GBS with a blade that was slightly sabered would you be excited? Of course not you would be disappointed and would undoubtedly return the sword for a fix or replacement. However we have many extant originals that exhibit those or similar problems but yet which apparently were not fixed up nor returned for a refit but instead saw a long working life.

You mention swords in museums but it should be noted for every extraordinary piece in a museum somewhere there are ten less then extraordinary pieces in the basement an were probably a few thousand more that got turned into a plowshare at some point in time over the centuries because they were unremarkable. Yet we expect our swords to be of museum quality. We expect perfection in order to have "historical accuracy."

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 10 May, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Joe Fults wrote:

Russ,

Not so sure I concur with all of this. Think about some of the museum pieces out there. Are you so sure we have higher aesthetic standards than they did in the past? I think we have a different standard, especially in regards to symmetry, but I am also starting to think that much of what we consider historically accurate and get all excited about would be considered rather pedestrian back in the day.


I both agree and disagree with that. To our modern sensibilites "less is often more." That is a great many collectors tend to go for things like "simple elegance." I can't tell you how many plain black and silver scabbard motifs I've done over the years. It's only been in the last couple of years or so that people have been willing to be a little more flamboyant. Compared to the over the top nature of the ostentatious display our ancestors were so fond of many of our choices in the plain blacks and browns would indeed be considered pedestrian.

However, having said that we have certain expectations as modern consumers that our ancestors would never have had. The example I noted above with the pommel is one example. Or consider what happens when you order a Talhoffer from Albion or a German Bastard Sword from A&A. If you got a Talhoffer with the cross slightly out of alignment with the blade would you be satified? If you got a GBS with a blade that was slightly sabered would you be excited? Of course not you would be disappointed and would undoubtedly return the sword for a fix or replacement. However we have many extant originals that exhibit those or similar problems but yet which apparently were not fixed up nor returned for a refit but instead saw a long working life.

You mention swords in museums but it should be noted for every extraordinary piece in a museum somewhere there are ten less then extraordinary pieces in the basement an were probably a few thousand more that got turned into a plowshare at some point in time over the centuries because they were unremarkable. Yet we expect our swords to be of museum quality. We expect perfection in order to have "historical accuracy."


Well I agree and disagree more!! Razz

There are conditions under which I would keep the GBS or Talhoffer in your example, but that's very influenced by price point. I'm keeping a MRL Warhammer that self destructed out of the box earlier this week.

So in some cases aesthetics are more important than others. Today the hisorical community seems to prefer a clean look. In days gone there sure seem to have been plenty of people that wanted to pimp their weapons out though. I guess I just wonder how much of what we call historical, if sent back in time, would go straight to the aesthetic enhancement department.

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Last edited by Joe Fults on Wed 10 May, 2006 6:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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