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Martin H Page




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Mar, 2017 9:02 am    Post subject: I've handled the original, fought with replicas...         Reply with quote

I'm not a swordsmith or a curator. However I am a HEMA longsword person and have an academic background in Medieval History. So, for what it's worth:

I've examined the original. It handles like a cow on a stick. I very much doubt all the gold decoration is original because:

1. The edge has substantial damage consistent with use in combat, most notably a deep nick on the strong - more significant damage than you'd expect from people just dicking around with it. The gilding, though battered, doesn't look as if it's taken the kind of hammering you'd expect on the cross. This implies it wasn't there during the sword's working life.

2. The weapon is hilt heavy and doesn't want to cut. It's quite unlike other original pieces I've handled. Intuitively, I had a strong sense of a real weapon trying to get out from under all the gold. Again, this implies the gold appeared after its practical career.

I'm on my second replica of the sword. Each has been longer in the grip than the original in order to create something functional. The first replica fell apart after many years of use: the pommel snapped off then, when it was repaired, the tip of the blade snapped off. It's just possible the triangular/diamond configuration sends shock waves in particular directions in particular ways, so that this may be indicative of what happened to the original.

Thus, my take on the Sword of Battle Abbey is:

It was a working sword without the gilding. It suffered some career-ending cataclysm, probably involving the loss of the pommel. Maybe it was shortened and repurposed as an arming sword. If so, that deep nick on the strong spelled its ultimate retirement.

It was then turned into a feudal presentation sword, not supposed to be seen without its now lost scabbard. That's where the current gilding comes from, and quite probably the pommel and the crossguard. If the pommel didn't snap off in use, then I'd wager it was removed during this dressing process and the grip shortened.

Martin
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Mar, 2017 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin H Page (nice line about the cow and I concur completely) wrote
Quote:
The edge has substantial damage consistent with use in combat, most notably a deep nick on the strong - more significant damage than you'd expect from people just dicking around with it. The gilding, though battered, doesn't look as if it's taken the kind of hammering you'd expect on the cross. This implies it wasn't there during the sword's working life.


I thought there was edge damage, but not substantial.

I agree that the sword has been changed, but I don't really see why the gold couldn't be original to it and if you are implying that the weight of the gold and silver would materially change the balance, I disagree as there can't be more than 20g-30g of silver/gold on the hilt and this wouldn't make much difference.

Anyway the sword is now finished and installed and here it is and I hope you like it. Obviously the pommel was gilded over silver and this had worn in places through to the silver. One of these places was on the ring around the badge and where the gold had worn away completely - or it was originally left as silver. I couldn't see and I thought it would look good in silver to help offset the gold, so this is what I did here.

As a point of note, the POB on my replica is 32mm/11/4" in front of the guard and the all up weight is 1960g/4lbs5oz. This sword is probably a little heavier than the original, but not a lot. The original had silver clad steel fittings which were gilded and the density of this is 7.8 and the density of bronze is 8. I am sure there are other differences but I hope I am around the right area. Forumite Ryan Renfro will be looking at this sword in the next couple of weeks and so he will get a weight for it and then we will know.



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Last edited by Leo Todeschini on Mon 20 Mar, 2017 4:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Mar, 2017 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like it....I like it a LOT. Big Grin I bet swingin' it would play hell with my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome though! Laughing Out Loud Nice job, well done. Big Grin ....McM
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Martin H Page




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Mar, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's just beautiful! I am awed.

Regarding edge damage: To clarify.

There was one obvious nick on the strong, and I think a couple of obvious nicks on the weak.

However, when I ran my gloved finger over the edge, it kept snagging on tiny nicks, which I took to be the remnants of deeper nicks that had been ground down. My (untutored) interpretation was that the sword had seen a lot of use.


Regarding balance... What you say about the gold is fascinating.

How much longer would the blade have had to be for the balance to be improved?

Martin
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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Mar, 2017 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Absolutely beautiful, except the grip wrap.

It looks unfinished & tentative. Sorry.

Thanks, Jon


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Julien M




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:

It looks unfinished & tentative. Sorry.


I would not be as categorical. Looks like a silk wrap. Granted, the finish of the grip is somehow unexpected, and looks rather plain compared to the splendid hilt...but I think that is partly because grip appearance on modern repro has become very codified (Albion leather cord marks over leather has become the norm for high end products, and recently we see a trend for heavy tooling all over). So for makers to explore new (historical) solutions and different materials is risky business, as experimentation may not meet positive reviews. We don't see much velvet and fabric around - leather is too attractive for the modern eye and perceived as the material of choice with strong association with the medieval period (look at the viking series -all are wearing leather outfits). For my part, different ways are always welcome.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 5:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bravo, Julien! Well said...my thoughts exactly. Big Grin ....McM
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J. Nicolaysen




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Silk on a hilt seems way more posh and acceptable for a sword like this than leather anyhow. Great work Tod!
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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo does say that leather was apparently beneath the cloth wrap, so ...
Quote:
The grip is wood and then looks like it has been leather covered and then fabric covered.

While silk can be posh looking and elegant to the eye, this one, as done, is not, IMO.

I love his work in general, own some of his pieces, I just think that after all the work in reproducing this sword the finishing touch is lacking, blasphemous an opinion that it is.

Thanks, Jon


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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jon Hargis wrote
Quote:
While silk can be posh looking and elegant to the eye, this one, as done, is not, IMO.


Firstly Jon, thanks for speaking out, debate and comment is always welcome and the only way you get better is to be pushed and part of that comes in comments.

I partly agree with you over this, however.... The original grip may or may not have been the original grip of the sword when made. I think we are all pretty much in agreement that the sword was altered in its life and the article written in 1878 says the grip is new. Whether this was 'brand new' or had a new covering on an old grip or whatever is not indicated. The grip that is on there now is wood with a very thin (0.5 or less) leather covering which cannot offer any degree of structural purpose and then covered in a fabric that is a little coarse, but leaves no obvious witness of what it was. As a guess I would say a regular 'shirt' grade linen. I infer from this that grip was original to a sword (presumably this one) that was cut down, was originally leather and then covered in a fabric at a later date, as fabric over leather as an original feature, serves no purpose I can see.

So I felt that my hand was forced to make a fabric grip with no risers or other features. The 1878 article shows no 'extra' decoration or features nor does the grip witness anything. So really as a reproduction/interpretation I felt that I had to go with a plain fabric grip and to be fair I pushed the envelope on this by using a raw silk to give some texture to the grip, though actually I think it really should have been plain woven silk or linen.

The grip itself is fairly true to size of the original, so no scope to jazz things up there either. So in a nutshell I would agree that it is rather plain and dull, but I am not sure what I could have done differently within the constraints of what was required of me.

Jon went on to say the 'finishing touch is lacking' again I agree and it is not the way I would have chosen to finish the grip were I to have free will here.

In the nature of debate and advancement though, if anyone has fabric wrapped grips, pile them in here.

Thanks

Tod

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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Mar, 2017 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I, personally, think the wrap lends authenticity to it....like an extremely well-preserved sword brought to modern day. If it were antiqued a bit(the whole sword), and in a museum case, I would swear it was an original historic piece. But, as is, it still looks the part. Wink Happy If I were to have had it commissioned, I wouldn't have had it done any differently. Happy ....McM
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Mar, 2017 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Then again, I suppose one day it WILL be an original historic piece. Actually...it already is. Big Grin ....McM
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Michael Beeching




PostPosted: Fri 31 Mar, 2017 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod,

Concerning the grip, I do have to agree with the sentiment it doesn't quite rise up to the level of the rest of the weapon. I wonder how common silk grip wraps (or textile wraps in general) would have embroidery worked into them? A contrasting green floral pattern is quite interesting to consider in that regard. Or, could the green have been from some sort of staining or decay from the time period before the grip wrap's details were recorded?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Mar, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The final execution of this sword is stunning. It's really beautiful. I like the grip execution and in particular the choice to do it in silk is especially inspired.

I do however feel that the original grip wrap's color would have been much more saturated. It's far too muted, faded and drab for my expectation of what would have been associated with a fine sword.

Silks of that period were really quite vibrant. And although the available color palette was smaller than what is seen today, the ability to saturate colors was surprisingly similar to what is seen today. Many extant original garments and fabric remnants demonstrate this. Some of them are still quite well preserved and others have areas within seams that have not been exposed to sunlight. These examples show a huge variety of color, saturation and style.

Given what was available at the time and considering other examples of ornamentation methods and styles for arms and armour, I'd imagine that the choice for a more vibrant grip would be chosen.

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Henry R. Gower




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PostPosted: Fri 31 Mar, 2017 5:59 pm    Post subject: Battle Abbey Sword         Reply with quote

If it had to be fabric, I would chose red velvet. I recently saw a Quattrocento painting of the nobleman and Knight of the Garter, Frederico da Montefeltro, kneeling in a religious tableau with his armour on and his sword with gilt furniture and a red velvet grip. Looked very period correct. The gilding and engraving is so rich and downright spectacular on this sword, the raw silk just doesn't fit, in my opinion. To me, it would be as if a man wore his dinner jacket and black tie with a pair of stone washed jeans.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Mar, 2017 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well all true words and thanks for pulling the wool from my eyes.

It seems consensus is that I fell at the last hurdle; rats.

As the well know orator Arnie once said "I'll be back"

Tod

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Mar, 2017 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I personally wouldn't say fail. The sword is beautifully executed and the overall presentation us fantastic. On top of that, anyone who is a creator has to understand that producing brilliant work requires taking chances and risks. I think this particular choice was a worthy one and I'm glad you did it.
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Apr, 2017 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I think it is beautiful.. and very reminiscent of the galloon sword belt of Sancho IV, which is made of a green fabric in the same subdued colour (almost exactly).

The coronation sword of Sancho IV is overall a very comparable sword, it looks like a sword that had a working life and yet was mounted or re-mounted in a more elaborate style for a coronation. In person we can see that the leather belt was cut (rather crudely, I must say) from the edges of the scabbard and then a green, bordered, fabric belt stitched on. I think the colour palette matches this re-creation by Leo Todeshchini rather well.

Further we have Fernando de la Cerda's sword grip, which itself looks rather furry/shabby... so I don't think that the raw silk would be too much of a problem.

Personally, I am not fond of the little fold in the fabric near the sword pommel where it looks like it got twisted during gluing... but thats far too much of a nitpick to really matter. Happy

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Hadrian



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Ed W.




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PostPosted: Sat 01 Apr, 2017 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I echo Julien's words above. The cord imprinted leather grip seems to be the stock standard these days, with a trend towards more and more ornately carved leather grips (as with scabbards) to the exclusion of other materials known to have been used. I think it's great you have deviated from the trodden path, even though it seems to have taken some people by surprise. My own personal taste is towards the simple, functional elegance of swords. Given the ornateness of the guard and pommel I think a carved/decorated grip, or even a more brightly coloured fabric covering as some have suggested, would just be too much.

The most important opinion of all though of course is that of the client! So I hope it got a good response there.

Ed.
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