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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 108

PostPosted: Mon 03 Dec, 2018 7:49 pm    Post subject: Germanic brothers - Messer and Bauernwehr!         Reply with quote

Took a picture of my two latest hobby projects side by side and it got me thinking so I started a separate thread.

Messer and Bauernwehr happen to be the two most common big knife types from the same time period (later XV to maybe early XVII, mostly XVIc), geographical area (German lands and neighboring countries), and even social environment (typically belonging to a commoner, though not necessarily a poor one).
There were a lot of discussions (including on this forum) touching on commonalities and differences between them.
I think this pair makes a very nice illustration for such a discussion (being of the same size and from the same maker):
- in common are relatively heavy single edged blades; presence of Nagel; and full tang handles with pinned scales.
- really the only clear difference is Messer's guard with prominent quillons (in this case also knuckle guard but it is relatively uncommon) vs. Bauernwehr's bolsters.

Both types by their shape appear to be functionally a combination of tool and sidearm. But to me at least it seems that Messer's proper guard in general makes it primarily a weapon that in a pinch can be used as a tool; while Bauernwehr is balanced at least equally between the two uses. And, BTW, this must be the reason why sword sized Messers are rather common, while such Bauernwehr are rare.

Makes sense? Am I missing anything?



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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 32 pages

Posts: 696

PostPosted: Fri 07 Dec, 2018 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those look great!

I would rank dynamic properties such as balance, distal taper and so forth higher than a guard for the distinction between war-weapon (messer) and utility weapon (knife/bauernwehr). And as so many have said the words for these are not probably as clear-cut as we make them out to be today.
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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 108

PostPosted: Yesterday at 1:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Nicolaysen wrote:

... as so many have said the words for these are not probably as clear-cut as we make them out to be today.


Yes, I guess we have no way of determining for sure how people distinguished messer and bauernwehr in period. So what I was saying applies more to modern usage of these words (among the weapons enthusiasts / historians / makers crowd). We tend to insist on more consistent use of words these days, in general.
I would be hard pressed to base any distinction between messer and bauernwehr on blade shape/balance. Seen very different blade shapes on knives described as bauernwehr, at least. The only clear-cut distinction I can think of is still "guard with quillons vs. bolsters".

Alex.
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