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James Martin




Location: Hutto, TX
Joined: 12 Jul 2006

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 7:16 pm    Post subject: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

Hello, this is my first time posting. I have been lurking on this board for a couple of days and was coaxed out of hiding by the polite and informative posters on this board. First allow me to explain my motivations behind this project: I am a direct descendent of Hernan Martin, who served Cortes during the famous 1519 expedition into the New World his son or grandson was Hernan Martin-Serrano who was also a Conquistador under Onate. Needless to say I am very proud of my heritage and I thought that I should seek a sword of the same kind that the Conquistadors carried to pass down to my children along with our family history.


This is what I want:
1.) It must be a sword that was known to be used by the Conquistadors or there was a good chance that it was used by a large number of Conquistadors.
2.) A Sword that is fully functional and very sharp. (I want it to be as strong or stronger than the the original. I want to know that I could pull it out of its scabbard over the fireplace and put down an indian revolt if need be. Obviously I dont expect to do that but you get the idea.)
3.) It must be a replica of an actual surviving sword.
4.) It must be of very good quality and craftsmanship I am willing to spend up to $2,000 on this sword.

This is what I know about this subject so far:
(Please bear with me as I am new to swords in general and feel free to clarify or add anything missing.)
1.) The Conquistadors did not use only Spanish swords as I had assumed but brought a wide variety of swords from different nationalites to the new world.
2.) The main sword used by the Conquistadors would have been a "swept-hilt" (not sure what that means) rapier from about 1480-1520.
3.) You cannot cut down trees with swords. ( I seriously thought you could before visiting this board.)
4.) As far as sword makers go there are three "big dogs" putting out swords which are Albion Arms, Arms and Armor and the AT swords (though these AT swords are not replicas of anything in particular) beyond these are smaller outfits and the custom makers.

So far I think the "Serenissima Rapier" from Arms and Armor would be a good candidate. I would have the scabbard made by either Arms and Armor or Chrisitan Fletcher.

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/rapier212.html



Is there another sword out there that I am missing?
Is there a custom maker who is interested in the swords of the Conquistadors or has experience making these kind of Rapiers?
Is my information correct? Is this the right sword? Am I missing anything?
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, first welcome to the site and as you have already mentioned A & A, Albion and AT you are already on the right track.

With A & A I would look at the rapiers or swords that fit the circa 1500 period. Also a battlefield weapon like the German Bastard sword might be ideal fighting Aztecs. A good rapier is obviously a good possibility.

Craig at A & A might be able to suggest a known historical sword to duplicate or even better a sword know to have been used by your ancestor or at least very likely close to what he might have used.

Look into a custom sword as A & A does that kind of work also and it might be within your price range.

Albion doesn't do custom work and in their present line up there are few that would be for the period you are looking at in production at the moment. The Markgraf might be an interesting choice ? http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...-2-xix.htm

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Kenton Spaulding




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 7:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like Jean, I think Arms & Armor will be able to supply you with what you need, one way or another.
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James Martin




Location: Hutto, TX
Joined: 12 Jul 2006

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank You for replying, Jean Thibodeau and Kenton Spaulding! I will have to contact Craig and ask him. I think Craig is a member of this board maybe he will chime in later? I would like to get this inscription on the blade 'No me saques sin razon; no me enbaines sin honor.' Which I think translates to something like "Draw me not without reason, Sheath me not without honor." I heard that this was a common inscription on Conquistador Swords but maybe that just bs. I was thinking getting it inscribed down the fuller on one side and "Hernan Martin" on the other side.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 8:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also A & A are great to deal with, and although the custom route is more expensive that stock items, their pricing for custom work is reasonable and not at the astronomical level, and most important they are reliable and established.

With a custom order one must be ready to wait a while and the target delivery date should be taken as a ballpark figure only, but my personal experience with A & A has always been AAAA customer service.

I don't want to oversell the idea of using A & A and you could look at other possibilities but on a price / value / historic / real usability basis it would be hard to find better IMHO. Wink Laughing Out Loud

Oh, Christian Fletcher would be another possible source: Here is a sidesword that looks similar to the one you posted.
http://www.christianfletcher.com/Site/Sidesword.html

Swiss saber of about the right period as a serious battlefield weapon: http://www.christianfletcher.com/Site/Swiss%20Saber.html

The general site: http://www.christianfletcher.com/Site/Welcome.html

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James,

While the Arms & Armor sword that you have posted is called Serenissima Rapier, the sword is technically a spada de lato as the A&A webpage notes, or a side sword. As such, it's not technically the same as a swept hilt rapier, for example, the Lombardy Rapier: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/rapier211.html. Rapiers aren't particularly good for cutting things and are used pretty much exclusively for thrusting; in contrast, a side sword can still cut, but not as well as a more military-oriented sword.

One thing to consider is what general type of sword you want. Rapiers are primarily civilian weapons specialized for the duel. The Spanish took them to the New World as a sign of distinction, and also as an emergency weapon, since a rapier can function in a military context when facing foes who are typically unarmoured. You might decide that such a weapon is just what you want. If you'd like a military style sword, I would consider something like this http://www.arms-n-armor.com/sword082.html, or this http://www.arms-n-armor.com/sword167.html or this http://www.arms-n-armor.com/sword081.html . Personally, I would tend to go with the last one depicted myself, since it's a very capable weapon and aesthetically it's the most pleasing of the three, and at $670 it's relatively cheap.

If you'd like to contact Craig about a custom sword, consider taking a look at the photos here at myArmoury of antiques: http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/thumbnails.php?album=17

You could also consider Albion Armorer's Regent for a military sword http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...xviiia.htm or the Hauptman if you want a side sword http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...1-xix.htm. As Jean suggested, the Markgraf is also a good choice: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...-2-xix.htm


Last edited by Craig Peters on Thu 13 Jul, 2006 9:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 8:45 pm    Post subject: Re: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

Hi James,

Welcome to myArmoury!

I'll throw in my 2 cents on several items:
Quote:
3.) It must be a replica of an actual surviving sword.

Arms & Armor is good for this. Only some of Albion's swords (their "Museum Line") are reproductions of one specific sword; the others are examples of certain types (such as those defined in Oakeshott's typology), based on careful research of multiple extant swords.
Quote:
2.) The main sword used by the Conquistadors would have been a "swept-hilt" (not sure what that means) rapier from about 1480-1520.

Swept-hilt is a style with curved bars that flow around the hilt, not just in the plane of the blade and crossguard, but on each side of it. For example, see this rapier, which has a typical swept-hilt.
Quote:
4.) As far as sword makers go there are three "big dogs" putting out swords which are Albion Arms, Arms and Armor and the AT swords (though these AT swords are not replicas of anything in particular) beyond these are smaller outfits and the custom makers.

The three you mentioned are popular among enthusiasts of western arms, but there are many fine manufacturers and custom smiths whose work you may want to examine. Custom smiths such as Vince Evans, Patrick Bárta, and Peter Johnsson, or custom cutlers like Erik Stevenson all do extremely fine work, for example. Of course, custom often demands high prices and/or long waiting lists, and on the flip side, some of the best production swords are very high quality as well. I agree that for your specifications the Arms and Armor rapier you mentioned is a good candidate, but this brings me to my central point:

Rushing in to buy a sword is the less ideal way of getting into arms and armor or fulfilling a specific goal. With the help of these boards and the resources of this site, you've already got a terrific start at scoping out the playing field and sorting out a few of the key facts. However, in the long run you'll likely find it more rewarding to hold off on buying anything for a few months at least, and instead spend that time reading (check out some of these books), researching your specific interests, getting a wider feel for the market, etc.

In the end you may find that that Arms and Armor sword is everything you want and more, but you won't have wasted the time - you'll instead have an even deeper appreciation for the sword itself as well as its historical context. Or you may find that with a bit more knowledge, you'd like a custom sword, or a different production sword, or MANY swords, etc. Wink Big Grin.

Anyway, it's all up to you. I personally know very little about the Spanish Conquistadors or their arms and armor, so I can't help you directly on that point. I hope whatever you end up doing / buying, you're happy with it. Good luck! Happy

-Gabriel L.
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James Martin




Location: Hutto, TX
Joined: 12 Jul 2006

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 9:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Craig and Gabriel! You have helped to open my eyes. So the Conquistadors would have used a sidesword or even something bigger when it came down to actual fighting? What they would have actually used in battle is the sword I am interested in. These replies have been very helpful in trying to understand how the differents swords would have been used. I do intend to spend much time researching this topic I want to "spend the money once" so to say and am not afraid of the cost or time involved with a custom maker as long as I am happy with the design and know that it has historical provenance.

Some of these swords mentioned are absolutely beautiful! I may have to get one of them just on their own merits (We will see Laughing Out Loud )
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 9:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Martin wrote:
Thank you Craig and Gabriel! You have helped to open my eyes. So the Conquistadors would have used a sidesword or even something bigger when it came down to actual fighting? What they would have actually used in battle is the sword I am interested in. These replies have been very helpful in trying to understand how the differents swords would have been used. I do intend to spend much time researching this topic I want to "spend the money once" so to say and am not afraid of the cost or time involved with a custom maker as long as I am happy with the design and know that it has historical provenance.

Some of these swords mentioned are absolutely beautiful! I may have to get one of them just on their own merits (We will see Laughing Out Loud )


I'm no expert on the subject, but I think the rapier was used in fighting too. As I said, it works as an emergency weapon when one isn't dealing with foes protected by maille and plate. I have little doubt that rapiers were common weapons for the Spanish; I've even seen Alvarado's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_de_Alvarado rapier on display in a musuem in Antigua, Guatemala. However, side swords and long swords/great swords would have been preferable in a military situation, and I'm sure the Spanish used them as well.

My link to A&A's German bastard sword, the one I personally recommended, was broken, but I've fixed it in my earlier post. Here's another pic: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/view.html?sword081a.jpg
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 10:43 pm    Post subject: Re: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

James Martin wrote:

3.) You cannot cut down trees with swords. ( I seriously thought you could before visiting this board.)


Well, Actually you can cut down a sapling with a good broad bladed sword, but you really ought not to. It's very bad for the sword. There was a rather extencive thread on this on Swordforum by a higher end katana salesman who was having fits with his customers cutting saplings, and eventually breaking their swords.

Now, if your ancestor was an officer, a Rapier might be quite proper. The Spainish were famous for just plain loving the Rapier, and they kept it longer then any other culture, after everyone else had switched to the smallsword. I'm brought to understand the cuphilt rapier was a required dress item at court. http://www.arms-n-armor.com/rapier127.html
it might be worth your while to tell us anything you can about your ancestor's personal roles. The people here have a huge knowledge base, and the more narrow you define things, the better they are at answering your question.

Now, I know rather little about the weapons of the Conquistadors, but I can tell you a quick bit about swords in general. You basically have three types you need to decide between.

Option One is the standerd cutting sword, single handed and very popular. It's generallized effect didn't change much from 600-1600, but it's form varied wildly. This is likely what you want as far as a general type of sword, but the speicific will need to be narrowed down by a drastic degree as this covers everything from the viking sword to the cavalry saber in 1860.
I do know that the sword and target was popular with the Conquistadors, (It's one of the few things I know about them) and if you are using a target, this is the sword you'd use it with.

Number two is the longsword, which has gotten much more attention in recent years. It's a two handed sword for the most part, though the ancients considered it a hand and a half sword, and didn't consider anything a true two hander unless you couldn't hope to use it with one. I have no information on how popular this weapon would have been with the Conquistadors. It's popularity might have varied wildly.

And number three is the Rapier. The Rapier was for dueling, but might have seen battlefield use in the hands of officers. Some consider the Rapier as much a fashion statement as a weapon, but many in period had great confidence in it. Others didn't. I remember a quote "in the English civil war long rapiers were used for a time, and then set aside." They ended up with a basket hilted backsword. OF course, that was another culture. The Rapier can cut, but it's not really for that. To remove peices of the body, see the other two swords. Most regular soldiers seemed to have prefered option one, for the simple reason that they could chop the enemy up.

Now as sword collecting is addictive, you might pick up another sword, say, something simple from Angus Trim for the purpose of hitting things with. Or you might buy an Angus Trim Blade and have a custom hilt installed. That would certainly give you a good sword, strong and sharp.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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James Martin




Location: Hutto, TX
Joined: 12 Jul 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 11:14 pm    Post subject: Re: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:

I'm no expert on the subject, but I think the rapier was used in fighting too. As I said, it works as an emergency weapon when one isn't dealing with foes protected by maille and plate. I have little doubt that rapiers were common weapons for the Spanish;


This is a very good point, I wonder what kind of armor the Aztecs were wearing and if the Spanish had enough "intelligence" to prepare for this?

George Hill wrote:

it might be worth your while to tell us anything you can about your ancestor's personal roles. The people here have a huge knowledge base, and the more narrow you define things, the better they are at answering your question.
... and if you are using a target, this is the sword you'd use it with....


This I actually know, Hernan Martin was a blacksmith with Cortes and Hernan Martin-Serrano was the equivalent of a lieutenant with Onate. Does that help?

what is a target?

Once again Thank you guys and keep the input coming!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jul, 2006 11:49 pm    Post subject: Re: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

James Martin wrote:
This is a very good point, I wonder what kind of armor the Aztecs were wearing and if the Spanish had enough "intelligence" to prepare for this?

George Hill wrote:

it might be worth your while to tell us anything you can about your ancestor's personal roles. The people here have a huge knowledge base, and the more narrow you define things, the better they are at answering your question.
... and if you are using a target, this is the sword you'd use it with....


This I actually know, Hernan Martin was a blacksmith with Cortes and Hernan Martin-Serrano was the equivalent of a lieutenant with Onate. Does that help?

what is a target?

Once again Thank you guys and keep the input coming!



Aztecs would have had thickly quilted cotton armour that was very effective. ( Look up gambison with the search function and you should find many topics dealing with " European " cloth based armour and underarmour padding. Something also used by Europeans. )
The Spanish eventually also used this armour, both their own European made and locally made: It was effective against the weapons the Aztects used and was cooler to wear than plate armour.

Oh, a Target is a kind of shield, usually round but might be called by various names like " Rondache " or " Buckler " if very small. The Spanish also used thick multilayered and hardened leather or rawhide shields called " Adarga "

This topic post talks about these: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...p;start=20

Quote:
One useful tool for understanding the weapons and armours of a specific age and place is to look at another age and place and see what was done under similar circumstances. Concerning the use and usefulness of leather armours, one may go to the Spanish experience in the New World to see how this material was used to solve the problems of that day and place.

Although the armours in general use by Cortez's Conquistadors was primarily made of heavily quilted cotton (quite similar in fact to the armours worn by the Aztecs and Tlaxcalans themselves), as they moved North, the Spaniards adopted leather as the prefered material for "native armour". Part of it no doubt was due to the availability of cow hides as the herds of imported cattle became more prevelent, and part was out of a preference for the material (in my opinion, no specific quotes to back me here). As early as the Coronado Expedition of 1540 (which traveled from Campostela to mid-present-day-Kansas and back) there were specific references to leather horse armour, and by the Onate Expedition of 1598 it seems to have been the norm listed in the manifests. Although maille seems to have been pretty standard among the soldiers, the leather (probably rawhide) armour for the horses was the rule.

As late as the 1820's, leather jackets were issued as standard to the Presidial troops ("soldados de cuerra"), along with the leather "adarga" shield. It seems as though leather was considered to be perfectly suitable defensive armour against the common Native weapons of the day (which were of course primarily stone-age bows and lances) . One may deduce from this that leather armour was considered likewise to be a suitable defense for most of the lower-impact weapons of Europe up until the adoption of such items as the Long Bow and Crossbow, and remained serviceable against most cutting weapons as well.

Gordon Frye

____________

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James Martin




Location: Hutto, TX
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 12:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are the man Jean Cool ! Already my understanding of this period is expanding beyond anything I had imagined. So would a rapier be an effective weapon against this kind of opponent and armor? I would guess that a soldier would not be trying to penetrate the actual armor but attacking limbs and heads/necks or am I wrong here?

I found that the library at UT in Austin has a copy of

"Spanish arms and armour, being a historical and descriptive account of the Royal armoury of Madrid,

by Albert Frederick Calvert

* Type: English : Book Book
* Publisher: London, J. Lane; New York, J. Lane Co., 1907."

Even though it is from 1907 maybe it would be a good start, I don't know.
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Risto Rautiainen




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 12:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vladimir Cervenka does similar swords, although I hear he has a terribly long backlog.

http://www.sword.cz/eindex.htm

Excellent customer service though.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Martin wrote:
You are the man Jean Cool ! Already my understanding of this period is expanding beyond anything I had imagined. So would a rapier be an effective weapon against this kind of opponent and armor? I would guess that a soldier would not be trying to penetrate the actual armor but attacking limbs and heads/necks or am I wrong here?


To the Rapier, Almost certainly. It rather depends on how thick the passing is, but generally it's not hard to shove a large needle through thick cloth. But yes, the adverage soldier generally wants to take off his enemy's arm or head. This brings us back to the one handed cutting sword and it's infinite individual types, or the longsword.

You know, it's actually possible your ancestor's sword is in a museum somewhere.

As to Targets and bucklers, and many other things, the ancents were not anywhere near as concerned with the close definition of terms as we are. They would call things by all sorts of names, which is quite confusing to the modern scholar. Today, (And appearntly then) a target is usually strapped to the arm, and a buckler is usually held in the hand like the lid of a trash can. But it's not that unusual to find someone back in the day calling them the other way around. This is true of a lot of things.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, Cortez's sword still exists. It's pictured on the cover of a book I own. You can probably find it online as well. All my books and computer equipment are packed up or I'd scan it for you. It's very similar to the Serinissima, so you've made a very wise tentative choice.

If you want a sword associated with the first ancestor you cited, something like this would be outstanding . Much, much more appropriate than a late 16th c. rapier, IMHO. Plus swept-hilt rapiers are a dime a dozen, style-wise, but these early 16th c. military cut-and-thrust swords are rarely encountered in reproduction form and truly stand out from the crowd.

If it was my ancestor and my money, I'd already have the Serinissima in hand, maybe with a special finish--browned or blackened. I think the Cortez sword was browned with some gilding.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, this Swordforum thread deals specifically with the swords carried by Cortez's entourage:

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=23025

It also points out some appropriate Del Tin models, but I think you'd find those unsuitable as heirlooms.

I really think a stock or customized Serinissima is your very best bet.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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James Martin




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
You know, it's actually possible your ancestor's sword is in a museum somewhere.

Wouldnt that be crazy? Eek! At a museum here in Austin is the actual decree by Charles the V to Cortes giving him control over everything he discovers and it was a strange feeling knowing that my ancestor probably saw this very same document or at least probably heard it read to the group.

George Hill wrote:
As to Targets and bucklers, and many other things, the ancents were not anywhere near as concerned with the close definition of terms as we are. They would call things by all sorts of names, which is quite confusing to the modern scholar. Today, (And appearntly then) a target is usually strapped to the arm, and a buckler is usually held in the hand like the lid of a trash can. But it's not that unusual to find someone back in the day calling them the other way around. This is true of a lot of things.


That is good to know, I will be sure to not apply terms too rigidly.



Also looking at the Cervenka swords I noticed that the Spanish version that was listed here: http://www.sword.cz/swords.htm Looks very similar to the Serenissima Rapier. I am starting to notice a definate style going on here.



And thank you Sean Flynt for the advice and the link to that thread. That is very helpful. I guess the "Serenissima" used to be called the "Venetian" by Arms and Armor but it is interesting to see that one is mentioned too!
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David Welch




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2006 5:49 pm    Post subject: Re: I seek a sword to teach my family history...         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Now as sword collecting is addictive, you might pick up another sword, say, something simple from Angus Trim for the purpose of hitting things with. Or you might buy an Angus Trim Blade and have a custom hilt installed. That would certainly give you a good sword, strong and sharp.


I was just looking at my ATRIM LPM1508 the other day, thinking it would be a really good blade to rapier hilt and make into a military C&T.

$500 for the blade and $500 for a custom hilt would give you a really impressive sword for just $1000.
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Gordon Clark




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Jul, 2006 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I to think that the Serenissima is pretty much perfect for what you want. As someone suggested, perhaps a customized version. Maybe you want to start to build an entire kit centered around the sword. There is some good info and a large number of links here: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/calderon/

I wonder what kind of dagger would have been typically carried? A bit earlier and it would have been a rondel or ballock dagger, I would guess. Later there are the cool parrying daggers of the later 16th - 17th centuries. In this "transitional" period, from medieval to renaissance, what would be typical?

Gordon
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