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Michael Olsen





Joined: 28 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 8:19 am    Post subject: Horn Grips         Reply with quote

I tried searching the forums with a few different terms and some different settings, but was virtually unable to come up with much on this topic. If there is a previous discussion that someone has bookmarked, please link me there.

I was browsing through Records of the Medieval Sword and happened upon XV.9 in the work, described as follows:
Ewart Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword wrote:
XV.9

Type: XV

Find-place: Unknown

Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Blade-length: 29" (73.7 cms)

Pommel-type: K

Cross-style: 8, curved

Date: c.140050

Condition: Not excavated, but preserved indoors. The blade shows a lot of quite deep overall surface pitting as if it had been allowed to get very rusty; but the hilt of gilt-bronze with a horn grip is in near perfect condition.

The very elegant grip of dark greenish-black horn is held by long vertical fillets of gilt-bronze along each edge. It is a most elegant, useful sword which has had doubts cast upon its authentic age, being held by some authorities to be a 19th century fake.

Publication: New York, Metropolitan Museum Bulletin Oakeshott, SAC, pl.23 and 24

The use of horn on the grip gave the sword a very interesting appearance. However, in print, the image is black and white, leaving something to be desired. I was curious if anyone had color images of this sword or other horn-gripped swords, or any information about them. Was the use of horn a ceremonial, not combat, implementation? Was it overwrapped in leather or cord, or left bare?

Thanks.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is the sword you're speaking of, from our Type XV spotlight:



This Type XVIII has a grip of black horn. Its cross may be more recent, which could cast doubt on its grip too:



This Type XXII has a grip of horn also:



This is not exactly a sword, but the middle Scottish dirk in this picture has a grip made of horn:



It seems to have been a using weapon. We see knife grips of horn and antler often enough that they must have some strength. I'm actually having this dirk recreated. Happy

This rondel dagger has a grip of horn:



These all seem to have been left bare on purpose.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Michael Olsen





Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you. I couldn't grab the B&W picture from the book, but the first one you posted should let others know what I was talking about. I'd still be interesting in seeing a color picture of it, or any others, if they are out there somewhere.

Chad Arnow wrote:

These all seem to have been left bare on purpose.


I agree. It makes sense, as horn is rather nice looking. I was curious primarily about the rather smooth finish on it, though. In the book, it looks very polished and slick - perhaps not the best thing for holding on to.

That's a very interesting rondel dagger. I've seen lots of them gripped with wood and metal, but not too many with horn. Thanks for posting that.
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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Olsen wrote:
Thank you. I couldn't grab the B&W picture from the book, but the first one you posted should let others know what I was talking about. I'd still be interesting in seeing a color picture of it, or any others, if they are out there somewhere.

Chad Arnow wrote:

These all seem to have been left bare on purpose.


I agree. It makes sense, as horn is rather nice looking. I was curious primarily about the rather smooth finish on it, though. In the book, it looks very polished and slick - perhaps not the best thing for holding on to.

That's a very interesting rondel dagger. I've seen lots of them gripped with wood and metal, but not too many with horn. Thanks for posting that.


Horn is good 'cause it is "plasticky", and can be shaped into pretty much whatever you like. It has a little more of a "tacky" feel than you might imagine just from looking at the smoothness of the finish.
It was enormously popular as a grip material in the Middle East, for both dagger and sword-sized weapons. Lots of jambiyas, qamas/kindjals, and shamshirs/kilij have been hilted in horn.
It is also a popular material for handgun grips, in the present day.
Also, a great many khukuris, including many of the high quality Himalayan Imports blades, come hilted in horn.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Horn can even be shaped by bending, after it's softened in boiling water. So it makes it sorta thermoplastic too Happy It's also very strong and tough, more then any other organic material (such as wood, bone, antler). It can also be polished to a very high shine, which really brings out the colors, making it look a bit like marble. Very nice material to look at. It can crack or delaminate though if it dries out, but oiling it might help prevent that.

I don't know exactly what color cow horns had in the medieval period. I seem to recall that prehistoric cows did not have black in the horns, but I don't have a reference to verify it. Mind that blank horn can get a black surface if it has been f.e. in a bog. So if it looks black now, that doesn't mean that it was black originally.
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Michael Olsen





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting. I had always thought of horn as a novelty or decorative item that also happened to work well enough to get by, but never thought that it could be chosen for its ease of application and benefits in use. Thanks!
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2007 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:
...Horn is good 'cause it is "plasticky", and can be shaped into pretty much whatever you like. It has a little more of a "tacky" feel than you might imagine just from looking at the smoothness of the finish.
It was enormously popular as a grip material in the Middle East, for both dagger and sword-sized weapons. Lots of jambiyas, qamas/kindjals, and shamshirs/kilij have been hilted in horn....

I have also seen horn grips on a lot of antique hunting swords/hangers.



 Attachment: 23.97 KB
hunting sword with horn grip.jpg
18th Century Continental Hunting Sword with horn grip

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Eric Myers




Location: Sacramento, CA
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 214

PostPosted: Sat 27 Jan, 2007 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Old Dominion Forge has put horn grips on several sword, and there are good color pictures of there swords online.

http://www.olddominionforge.com/swords.html

http://www.myArmoury.com/review_odf_hanger.html

Eric Myers
Sacramento Sword School
ViaHup.com - Wiki di Scherma Italiana
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