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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 7:22 am    Post subject: XVIIb Project / Customized A&A Dürer         Reply with quote

A work in progress but almost done. It's harder for me to set up a proper photo shoot than to do the work shown here, so for now I'll post a couple of pathetic snaps. Proper photos to come as I complete the project.

Most of the techniques for this project are well-covered in other posts and in my Workbench feature articles, so I’ll just post a brief overview here.

I didn’t know anything about Oakeshott Type XVIII swords when I volunteered to write this site’s “Spotlight” feature of the type several years ago ( http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_spotxviii.html ). I’ve been a great admirer of the type since then and the XVIIIb subtype has occupied a special place in my imagination. Oakeshott reckoned that the famous XVIIIb in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum might be the finest existing medieval sword, and that sounds about right to me ( http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ayerisches ).

Price has been the primary obstacle to ownership. Albion’s Munich is beautiful, of course, but far, far out of my price range and lacking the integral leather chappe that seems to have been standard equipment, historically. A&A’s Dürer (less costly but still out reach) lacks the distinctive grip that, to me, is so much a part of the XVIIIb’s appeal.

When a battered and bruised Dürer appeared in the Marketplace earlier this summer I was finally able to scratch the XVIIIb itch. This was a perfect scenario for me—a fine sword sold cheap because it’s led a hard life and needs minor repair. I had to destroy the original grip in order to straighten the bent tang and that gave me a guilt-free excuse to create a more complex grip inspired by historical artwork and various surviving examples.

Special thanks go to Mathieu Harlaut for responding to my request for details of chappe construction. He turned up some extremely helpful archaeological drawings of surviving chappes and described his own experience in recreating one of those (details here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=rain ). I used my finished grip and cross, along with photos of originals, as my references for construction and consciously avoided accurate measurement, although I did make a simple foam test piece just to make sure I was headed in the right direction.

Some historical chappe decoration —even that of the very fine Bayerisches sword--looks crude to modern eyes. To approximate that look I tried to avoid overthinking and overworking mine. I absorbed what I could from contemporary depictions and surviving examples, then did the work freehand and freestyle. I quickly filed a “good enough” star pattern in the end of a hardwood dowel, lay the leather on my anvil and tapped the dowel with a hammer wherever the mood struck, without any measuring or planning. The subtle and handmade look is exactly what I was hoping to achieve. I would have done it slightly differently if I had planned it carefully--staggering the stars instead of stacking them atop each other, for example. But I’m very pleased with the effect. The star motif is inspired by the background design of a German religious painting of ca. 1500.

Everything is tightly, but not permanently, assembled because I intend to make an historically appropriate scabbard and might want to work with the bare blade for part of that process.

So, for almost $800 less than a new Munich and $250 less than a new Dürer, I finally have an XVIIIb of my own, and with a grip treatment unavailable as a standard option for either. I know my work here doesn’t compare to what Albion and A&A can do but I think it suits a relatively plain sword made for the field. Anyway, I’m happy!



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-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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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean, your DIY projects never cease to amaze me. Wonderful work! The chape in particular is a detail that really pulls the look together.
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a great looking sword! (I almost said "sharp" looking, but caught myself in time) The contour of the new grip is excellent, and as Bill said, the chappe really finishes it off.
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
a detail that really pulls the look together.


Thanks! I agree--whatever it's practical purpose might be, that little piece of leather seems to visually unify hilt and blade. I've looked at so many swords in German artwork of this period that reproductions without the rain guard/chappe look kind of incomplete to me. Not all German swords of this period had chappes, but those without seem to have been a minority.

You'll appreciate this, Bill: I had a theoretical understanding of why the lower half of the grip should be of oval or rectangular section while the upper half should be very slender and of circular section, but I didn't fully appreciate the martial value of this until I assembled the piece and gave it a test run. The upper section makes it amazingly easy to change the orientation of the edge. I'm all the more impressed by the design.

-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: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For those who haven't seen the Bayerisches XVIIIb's details, here's the main reference for my chappe construction:


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-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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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Sean...

Great work! as ususal

The detail on the rain guard looks perfect to my eye. And the close-up of the grip wrap looks great.

ks

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Hey Sean...

Great work! as ususal

The detail on the rain guard looks perfect to my eye. And the close-up of the grip wrap looks great.

ks


Thanks! I've given up on trying to get the cord impression as neat as Albion does because I think the only way to do that is to dispense with the cord underwrap, which I value for its comfort as well as its historical authenticity. It just doesn't seem possible to get a "perfect" cord impression with a natural fiber cord underwrap--too many little irregularities. Plus, the outline of the cord underwrap tends to conflict with the impression of the overwrap. This time I minimized the conflict by using some wonderful and very even "antique" natural cord (a giant spool found in my grandfather's old workshop) for the permanent underwrap and perfectly even synthetic cord for the temporary overwrap. That and very careful overwrap helped. Thicker leather would probably minimize intrusion of the underwrap as well, but that would create problems with seams and overlap.

I wonder if sword cutlers used cord overwrap, historically. Cord impressions are clearly visible in some contemporary artwork, but I wonder if the very clear definition we see in some antiques is due mainly to wear--a sweaty hand pressing the leather against the cord.

We're getting to the point, with improving research and reconstruction techniques, at which some reproductions surpass originals in some ways, including symmetry, fineness and regularity of finish. The machine-perfect look turns off some collectors and the more originals I see the more I value historically authentic irregularity (a.k.a. individual personality). This is good for me, because right now the market values perfection. There are great bargains to be found among slightly damaged or imperfect reproductions.

-Sean

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


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since I haven't mentioned it before, I should point out an important construction detail for folks who want to make their own wood/cord/leather grips. Remember that the cord and leather will add significantly to the size of the finished grip. The bare core should feel too small.

When estimating, keep in mind that the finished cord and wrap add more than just the combined thickness of a single strand of cord and single thickness of wrap. When the core looks almost right to you, wrap a short section with cord and leather and hold everything together with your hand. That'll give a good idea how much more you need to reduce the core. You can eyeball and measure all day, but there's just no substitute for feeling the piece in your hand.

Even knowing this, and even knowing that the upper part of this type of grip should be only slightly thicker than the tang, I had a few moments of doubt as I finished the core for this project. But the finished grip feels exactly right for my hands. It's amazing how slender and delicate a grip core can seem before it's mounted and finished, then becoming a very solid platform.

By the way, I used the "sandwich" construction method for this core, chiseling away the exact shape of the tang in two pieces of very dry poplar. That makes for a very close fit.

-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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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean that is just one awesome job. I almost bought that sword but now I am glad it found such a great home. The A&A Durer is a wonderful blade very well balanced and fast in the hand. The type XVIIIa-e are sort of addicting so be careful....... in many ways I consider them to be the pinnacle of western sword design. Love the embossed leatherwork you did. Just excellent! Thanks for sharing. tr
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thom R. wrote:
The A&A Durer is a wonderful blade very well balanced and fast in the hand.

Thanks! You ain't kiddin' about the handling. It's the first sword I've owned that really feels like a natural extension of my body. This piece is a revelation, especially with this grip. I know some basic longsword drills, but this piece makes me wish I'd focused seriously on the great German texts when I was studying WMA in ARMA. Instead, it's sort of like sitting in a Porsche--I love the aesthetics and understand the theory of the engineering but can't operate it as intended or fully appreciate what it can do.

-Sean

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


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:


You'll appreciate this, Bill: I had a theoretical understanding of why the lower half of the grip should be of oval or rectangular section while the upper half should be very slender and of circular section, but I didn't fully appreciate the martial value of this until I assembled the piece and gave it a test run. The upper section makes it amazingly easy to change the orientation of the edge. I'm all the more impressed by the design.


Great work on the hilt: Very well done and attractive.

I did the same polygonal section and round section as a cord handle on a training waster and the polygonal section gives you a reference of edge orientation and the circular section of the second hand lets one rotate the sword easily.

The off hand needs to be able to rotate freely while the forward hand never or rarely shift orientation. ( I think. Big Grin ).

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:


The off hand needs to be able to rotate freely while the forward hand never or rarely shift orientation. ( I think. Big Grin ).


That's what I found to be true. The left hand needs only to slightly unclench for the weapon to twist freely in the right. Then, once the edge is realigned the left can immediately close and secure the new grip. It's effortless, natural and very, very fast.

-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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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,
As always, this looks great. Happy It does end up being a Bayerisches-light kind of sword. I was corresponding with Craig a few years back about the Durer and he mentioned it was based on a sword in a private collection and period art more than on the sword from Munich. But they are kind of their own sword family.

So make it more Munich-like, it would need a longer grip and a few other tweaks, which Craig and company could do.

Really great results. Happy

Happy

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Sean,
As always, this looks great. Happy It does end up being a Bayerisches-light kind of sword. I was corresponding with Craig a few years back about the Durer and he mentioned it was based on a sword in a private collection and period art more than on the sword from Munich. But they are kind of their own sword family.

So make it more Munich-like, it would need a longer grip and a few other tweaks, which Craig and company could do.

Really great results. Happy


Very interesting. I assumed it was based on measurements of the Bayerisches sword. I view my own project as fitting generally into this group, but not imitating any particular sword. As you note, the B. sword and Musee de l'Armee swords both have the super-long grips. Couldn't match those with the Dürer. Adding the Cluny sword into the mix helped me adjust the grip proportions for the Dürer.



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-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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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's what A&A says on their website:

Quote:
#195 Dürer Bastard Sword
This is a knightly sword for war from the end of the 15th century. A steel wheel pommel and slightly S-shaped guard are mounted on this elegant Oakeshott Type XVIIIb blade. The grip is 8" long and bottle-shaped in style, with a full lower grip and then sharply tapering upper grip. This long sword provides great reach and versatility to the warrior who rode to battle with it at his side.

This style of sword was much used by the German man-at-arms of the late 15th century. It is depicted in many illustrations of knights from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, A Knight, Death and the Devil by Albrecht Dürer being one of the most famous. In fact, many of Dürer's knights carry such a sword and thus why we have named it after him.

Original: Circa 1480-1520, Private Collection, Germany


It's the same style/family of sword, but the blade cross-section is different, the grip is shorter, etc.

Happy

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:


It's the same style/family of sword, but the blade cross-section is different, the grip is shorter, etc.


Sorry, I misread your post and thought you were talking about Albion's Munich. Yeah, the Bayerisches/Munich is also narrower and more acutely pointed, and probably handles much differently due to the grip/blade proportions. When I first started this project I really longed to see A&A's model for the Dürer. I decided against asking them for a photo because I thought it might put them in the uncomfortable position of having to decline. I figured that if they had a photo they were free to use they'd already be using it. Maybe that's not the case, but if they (or anybody else) want to post a photo of their model, I'd sure love to see it.

-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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Dan Dickinson
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great work Sean....looks very nice.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, I don't think its just the chape, I think the reshaping on the handle makes a very big difference as well. Regardless of why, the whole thing looks very elegant.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For grins I feel like I have to ask if you have a before and after shots?
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work as always, Sean....Well done!
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