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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 4:34 pm    Post subject: Repair of an Antique Blade         Reply with quote

Hello friends.

I recently purchased an antique sword. Age is about 200 years. The sword seems to be in very good condition, except for one major problem. Before I get into that, PLEASE NOTE that I donít want to discuss the sale itself, how it happened or who the seller is. I will state that the seller has thus far been very responsive. He has offered to refund my purchase in full. Alternatively, when I brought up the possibility of a repair, he offered to pay for that and discount the sword, if I wish to try that.

The problem is this - the sword has a crack in the blade. Cry The crack is located approximately 18 inches from the cross / 14 inches from the tip. It is a through crack, i.e., through the entire thickness of the blade, and perpendicular to the length of the blade. The crack is about 13/16 inch long, thus running from the blade back, about 1/2 way to the blade edge, so this is a significant crack. I have attached some photos, below. (The crack is located next to the cork)

My questions for my fellow forumites are as follow:

1. Can such a crack be repaired? If so, how should such a repair be done? What are the risks and any special precautions that should be taken?

2. Even if the crack can be repaired, should such a repair be attempted? Why? Why not?

Why am I asking? Other than the crack, I really like the sword.



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spadroon 1 small.jpg
overall view

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spadroon 5 small b.jpg
blade side (a)

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spadroon 6 small b.jpg
blade side (b)

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




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would accept the person's offer for a partial refund. If the sword was damaged in transit, insurance will take care of it. I would not fix the crack. It does not detract from the appearance, but a repair would be much more noticable. Cracks and imperfections are expected in antique weapons and collectors usually tolerate such damage, as long as the weapon is not in danger of falling apart. As long as you treat it with caution and dont attempt to swing the weapon, you should be fine.

Don
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

My sympathy on what may end up being a tough choice. Only you can say whether it is the one you can live without. Also between you and the seller would be an adjustment, repair or no.

There are some real whizzes out there and welding technology is such that it could be welded pretty easily. If it were a piece headed for complete restoration, it might be worth it. The thing is that there is no real way to do it cleanly without a great difference in appearance. It could also be brazed with a hard silver solder. Dismounted and headed for complete refinishing, there are some forging options but is it really a sword to spend that much on.

Appearance is the only real downside to a weld or braze. It is not something you mean to use in striking, or other real use. That is probably a good argument for not repairing it, if the main purpose is appreciation. It survived in its current state for some time (looks like to me) and would probably still outlive us all with due respect in handling.

I'm sure some others will probably have good thoughts on this. I have seen blades that have been repaired, so there is the option. It just becomes a matter of justification. I don't have a good suggestion on who to approach. I do know a pretty techy welder but couldn't warrant an outcome (if he were interested). There are sword restorers around.

Cheers and best of luck with a happy outcome

GC

Can we get more pictures of goodness??
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Allan Senefelder
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Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would tend to agree with Don on this. Any repair will involve heat and that heat is of a temperature that will screw with the temper of the blade before you even tackle the esthetics issues that will arise. I've cleaned a fair number of welds in my time to be "seamless" but it takes alot of time and coupled with the temper issue I would say leave it alone if you opt to keep it. I wouldn't fault you at all for taking him up on the discount if you opt to hold onto it as you paid a very respectable dollar for this one based on it not having this flaw or for that matter asking for your cash back if your so inclined but I wouldn't try to restore it.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal preference, if the sword was mine, would be to ask for a price reduction and keep it as is. It is a really beautiful example of a stirrup-hilted spadroon, and who knows, maybe the damage is period? The soldering fixes I have seen are quite visible and turn me off to a sword. In most cases (that I have seen), this type of fix is the result of a complete break in a blade. Whether or not it should be attempted is a personal decision and will depend on one's goals as a collector. Once again, if I was in this situation, I would ask myself how a fix would contribute to or enhance the sword. For me, a fix would not add anything becuase I would not be swinging the sword or using it to cut, etc. If the crack is so severe as to compromise the integrity of the blade (i.e., it's gonna break) and I was keeping the sword, I would probably opt to preserve it rather than let it fall apart.

(Hmm...Did that answer any questions or was I just preaching?)

Jonathan

PS--I understand your pain! It's a beauty!
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 8:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would either leave it as-is or send it back for a full refund. A repair would compromise any value it has as an antique. Not to mention that a repair would be somewhat tricky, not knowing exactly what the blade is made of, how it was heat treated ,etc.
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P Ballou




Location: N California
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you are mainly concerned about preventing the crack from propagating, I would propose a repair using one of the aircraft-grade epoxies intended for steel, such as Loctite Hysol 9460. This way you do not need heat for the repair. The area should be carefully cleaned with a solvent such as acetone before applying the epoxy. This particular epoxy cures gray in color, but there are similar Hysol epoxies that cure white, so you could stain it to match the blade color.

Last edited by P Ballou on Fri 09 Feb, 2007 10:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 12:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Antiques cannot be touched as long as you want to preserve them.

Any intervention that would be not completely reversible would not be accepted by any real expert in museum care.

Just leave as it is, the crack is part of it history.
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D Critchley




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
Antiques cannot be touched as long as you want to preserve them.

Any intervention that would be not completely reversible would not be accepted by any real expert in museum care.

Just leave as it is, the crack is part of it history.


I concur completely. Additionally you'd probably reduce the value of the piece by about a third at the very least. As it is it's just wear and tear to a greater or lesser extent.

The marks look a bit like a "scarf weld" from the pictures. The sort found near the hilt, and show different patenation between the iron and steel.

David

David C

"The purpose of the cavalry on the battlefield is to give tone to an event that otherwise might be considered a common brawl"
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don Stanko wrote:
... If the sword was damaged in transit, insurance will take care of it....

The sword does not appear to have been damaged in transit. The packaging was robust and only had some minor dings on the outside. in addition, there appears to be some patina right around the crack, so I think it has been there for some time.
Allan Senefelder wrote:
I would tend to agree with Don on this. Any repair will involve heat and that heat is of a temperature that will screw with the temper of the blade before you even tackle the esthetics issues that will arise.

Good point - I suppose that the heat effects on the material from a weld or braze are a very important consideration.

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


Last edited by Steve Grisetti on Fri 09 Feb, 2007 12:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
... Appearance is the only real downside to a weld or braze. It is not something you mean to use in striking, or other real use. That is probably a good argument for not repairing it, if the main purpose is appreciation. It survived in its current state for some time (looks like to me) and would probably still outlive us all with due respect in handling....

Thanks for your sympathies, Glen. You are correct that I would not subject this sword to "real use". (I have never done fencing or cutting exercises, even with my replicas.) The main purpose is, indeed, appreciation, though I'm not sure whether you mean the 'look at it and enjoy it' sort of appreciation or the financial sort of appreciation. In my case the purpose is mostly the former, though I don't want to hurt myself on the financial value end, either. (Not that it matters, since it seems that the opinion here is pretty uniform that both sorts of appreciation would be harmed with a repair effort.)

Quote:
Can we get more pictures of goodness??

I will try to spend some quality photo time this weekend.

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




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
... If the crack is so severe as to compromise the integrity of the blade (i.e., it's gonna break) and I was keeping the sword, I would probably opt to preserve it rather than let it fall apart....

The crack is severe, in that it fully penetrates the thickness of the blade for about 1/2 the width of the blade. However, the remaining blade width, where the crack has not yet propagated, seems to be reasonably strong. I would appreciate it if you clarify what you mean by "...opt to preserve it...." It sounds like you are suggesting a conservation effort - minimize unnecessary handling, keep the blade and furniture properly oiled to prevent active corrosion.

Quote:
(Hmm...Did that answer any questions or was I just preaching?) ... I understand your pain! It's a beauty!

Yes - your response did help! Thanks for the comments and advice - it is a pretty sword.

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




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P Ballou wrote:
If you are mainly concerned about preventing the crack from propagating, I would propose a repair using one of the aircraft-grade epoxies intended for steel, such as Loctite Hysol 9460. This way you do not need heat for the repair. The area should be carefully cleaned with a solvent such as acetone before applying the epoxy. This particular epoxy cures gray in color, but there are similar Hysol epoxies that cure white, so you could stain it to match the blade color.

This is an interesting alternative. Yes - my main concern would be to (at least) maintain the current integrity of the blade. It seems to me that there is a substantial stress riser at the crack. Even casual handling (e.g., swinging the sword around) will put a force into that stress riser and promote propagation. However, it is not clear to me how this adhesive would be applied. The crack is very tight, so the area around the crack could be cleaned, but I don't see how to clean the internal crack surfaces themselves or how to get the adhesive in there. Or is this meant to be an adhesive to bridge OVER the crack, on the outside surfaces?
Another question is reversability of this process. I.e., if the stuff looks ghastly, how difficult is it to remove, and will it leave behind damage on the surfaces it contacted?

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




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

D Critchley wrote:
...The marks look a bit like a "scarf weld" from the pictures. The sort found near the hilt, and show different patenation between the iron and steel....

Please pardon my ignorance, David, but, what is a "scarf weld"?

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




PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
I would appreciate it if you clarify what you mean by "...opt to preserve it...." It sounds like you are suggesting a conservation effort - minimize unnecessary handling, keep the blade and furniture properly oiled to prevent active corrosion.


Steve,
I meant that given the choice between a broken blade and a soldered (or whatever) blade, I would choose the fix. Overall though, based on your description, I would leave it as is. As far as conservation, gentle handling for the purpose of study/admiration seems reasonable, as does your mention of taking measures to prevent active corrosion, etc.

SFI has an article you might have already seen and/or read, but here is a link just in case: Conserving Antique Swords

Have you decided to keep it?

(I hope so!)


Jonathan


Last edited by Jonathan Hopkins on Fri 09 Feb, 2007 2:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

By appreciation, I was certainly meaning exhibition and not monetary. Also implied in my commentary was that although some welding/brazing techniques might alter hardness, it is irrelative because the item would not likely be used as a functional sword. A spot or two with a tig welder would hardly touch the temper of the rest of the blade. The aesthetic and collectible considerations would still apply.

I somewhat disagree that the value would be harmed a great deal unless the work was outrageously sloppy. I also somewhat disagree that conservation and preservation could never include some stablizing repair.

Considering the general flexibility (read thinness) of these blades, general handling of this piece in its current condition would be of concern to me. Mine, I know I can put in the hands of the public and know that an accidental bump on the table is not likely to cause any undue harm. I don't really see these as rare and common examples deserve hands on appreciation, albeit needing slightly more than ordinary care.

Me, I would leave it alone if I kept it but would have been much more likely to send it back. I didn't want to be that blunt about it and it wouldn't have addressed your questions.

I'm not sure if I know this particular sword but it does look familiar. I look forward to any more pictures you are able to share.

(Jonathan beat me to the article link)
Cheers

GC
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan - thanks for the conservation link. The article looks like a helpful reference!
Glen A Cleeton wrote:
...Considering the general flexibility (read thinness) of these blades, general handling of this piece in its current condition would be of concern to me. Mine, I know I can put in the hands of the public and know that an accidental bump on the table is not likely to cause any undue harm. I don't really see these as rare and common examples deserve hands on appreciation, albeit needing slightly more than ordinary care....

I do like 'show-and-tell' with my swords, so perhaps my biggest concern is the ability of the piece to withstand general handling.

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
...Have you ... decided to keep it? ... (I hope so!)

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
...Me, I would leave it alone if I kept it but would have been much more likely to send it back. I didn't want to be that blunt about it and it wouldn't have addressed your questions.

The jury is out for this sword. My mind is somewhere between the two of you. I will take some pictures this weekend, and see whatever other helpful comments come in from our friendly forumites in the meantime, and decide after that.

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




PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good point, Glen, about allowing others to handle the sword--especially those who have not handled antiques before. I have a few swords in my collection that I hesitate to allow people to handle. With these swords, I tend to allow "sword people" to hold and examine the pieces, but would be reluctant to let others do the same. As I said in my original post, your goals should matter when you consider keeping the sword. If you want to allow others to hold a piece of history, this might not be the ideal piece. But that depends on frequency of handling, etc.

As a hyper-vigilant and controlling teenager, I would set ground rules with people who handled my swords: clean hands, no touching the blade with bare fingers, no swinging or sweet moves, and let's look at it over a soft surface, like a carpeted floor. I have relaxed since then, but I also don't have many people come to see my collection.

I think that all points presented are quite valid, which complicates the decision making process. Good luck!

Jonathan
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D Critchley




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
D Critchley wrote:
...The marks look a bit like a "scarf weld" from the pictures. The sort found near the hilt, and show different patenation between the iron and steel....

Please pardon my ignorance, David, but, what is a "scarf weld"?


It is where a softer steel forte and tang are welded to a harder steel blade by overlapping. It's often seen on blades from the early 1780s and before. It appears as a line across the flat of the blade at different places on either side and sometimes a diagonal line across the spine. Usually it is done about 3" from the guard. It shows up sometimes because the aging of the steel produces different colours

Like this:



 Attachment: 93.46 KB
1786 scarf1.JPG


 Attachment: 92.02 KB
scarf2.JPG


David C

"The purpose of the cavalry on the battlefield is to give tone to an event that otherwise might be considered a common brawl"
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for that bit of information, David. I am now wondering if my late 18th century British hanger has such a weld. It is much more discernable in person:

It still lives in Wisconsin, so I cannot inspect it at the moment (d'oh!). Sorry if this is straying off-topic!
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