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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Feb, 2019 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's one I posted in a previous thread.



Notice the copious amount of forging flaws in the pommel. I don't know if it's an effect of the photography, but the blade also appears to have a slight sabering effect going on.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Feb, 2019 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps mentioned in this thread, apologies if I missed them, but:

- Wouldn't the smiths of those days generally have made consistently 'perfect symmetry' pieces if they could have?

- When equipping large numbers of men, would they have had the time to worry or even care about visual 'flaws'?

Some thoughts.

Jon

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Michael P. Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Feb, 2019 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:
Perhaps mentioned in this thread, apologies if I missed them, but:

- Wouldn't the smiths of those days generally have made consistently 'perfect symmetry' pieces if they could have?

- When equipping large numbers of men, would they have had the time to worry or even care about visual 'flaws'?

Some thoughts.

Jon


Well, it think it’s more about expectations, than aims.

In the modern age, access to the means to produce precise, near perfect shapes is ubiquitous. Because of that, modern consumers expect near perfection. Deviations from that perfection are seen as a lack of QA, and the sign of inferior product. Anytime hand work is introduced, variation will tend to increase. Just take a look at a lot of threads about Albion’s... any variations are called out as a QA problem, even if variation is fairly small and cosmetic. Because of the ease of access to the means to produce near perfection, that variation suggests potential underlying quality issues to many modern consumers.

The medieval mind would not view the world the same way. Without access to easy means of perfect mechanical reproduction, an expectation of variation would be part of their worldview. In other words, minor asymmetries and imperfect geometric shapes would not be seen as a sign of unacceptable inferiority. That’s not to say a medieval craftsman wouldn’t’ have pursued perfection, or even gotten close to it, just that falling short of perfection would not seem to have been seen as the disqualifier we tend to see it as today.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 10 Feb, 2019 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

There are certainly many antique swords that I've seen in museums that are quite thin, both in blade and in the components of the hilt. I've seen very few modern made swords that replicate this. Frankly, I can't remember off-hand any examples. Things have gotten better in the replica market over the last decade or so. Before that, most swords were by and large overbuilt and oversized by a pretty extreme amount. You still see this, of course, particularly on less expensive options.


I should have prefaced my comments by stating that I'm referring to the very top makers of production swords and also custom makers. It seems though that even they don't necessarily replicate some of the especially thin-pieces found in museums, from what you've said, Nathan. We've certainly come an immense way compared with the swords seen for sale in the 1990s. Nevertheless, it's 2019, and I think a good time for consumers to evolve in their understanding of medieval swords, and for makers to replicate features on swords that "don't fit the mold" of our conventional expectations of swords up to this point in time.

Reproducing some of the especially thin-bladed medieval swords is important, because it impacts our understanding of how these swords are handled and how they perform. As someone practicing HEMA, I see people using swords in ways that might have rapidly destroyed originals given the amount of force employed; this is especially true for swords of the high middle ages, whose metallurgy seems to be less consistent and durable than many of the swords from the 14th and 15th centuries. If we are to really understand how swords would have been used, we need to see the examples that clash with our current understanding of these weapons.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 4:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:
Perhaps mentioned in this thread, apologies if I missed them, but:

- Wouldn't the smiths of those days generally have made consistently 'perfect symmetry' pieces if they could have?

- When equipping large numbers of men, would they have had the time to worry or even care about visual 'flaws'?

Some thoughts.

Jon

Modern engineers and machinists tend to be disturbed at how even late-20th-century machinists accepted slop and small manufacturing errors. Modern engineers try to design things to use as few materials as possible even if that means they will have to throw out a percentage because the design has hardly any margin for error, even 50 years ago they designed with tolerance for humans being human and our models being flawed and incomplete.

To one mindset, any deviation from the model is a flaw to avoid at all costs, to the other mindset, asking for perfect symmetry or exact reproductions is a wasteful distraction like telling your chef what size of frying pan to use.

Lee Hutchinson, How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 “moon rocket” engine back to life wrote:
"You look at a weld that takes a day," (Nick Case) continued, "and there are thousands of them. And these guys were pumping engines out every two months. It's amazing what they could do back then and all the touch labor it took."

"Their ability to withstand imperfection, too," said Betts. "There were a few things on the engine that we disassembled, where today you may throw that part away because of the imperfections, but it goes to show that they fully understood what the big drivers were in their design. That's one thing we were trying to get knowledge on: what imperfections were OK to live with versus what imperfections are going to give us problems?"

"Like with the injector," said Case, speaking of the 44-inch (1.1 meter) metal plate that spewed the propellent into the engine's nozzle. "There are hundreds of holes drilled into the main injector—all drilled by hand, too. And one of the holes you can actually see where the drill bit came down at the wrong spot, and the guy just stopped—you can see where he moved over to where the hole was supposed to be and finished drilling the hole. They kept that and would have flown with that engine. Those kinds of things were pretty neat."


You see the same difference in other areas too. If you have a good woodcutter guide the felling, you can use a forest much more efficiently, with each shape and type of wood being used to make the goods it is most suited for so that the grain takes the strongest forces and redirects them ... but you can't turn that forest into generic cords of number 2 softwood 2 by 4s, you have 2600 angles to support ships' decks, 11314 angles to support boats' decks, 420 long beams roughly 12" by 12", 1312 long beams about 12" by 10" ...

A good product made from steely iron with fire and hammers will not be designed the same way as one ground from a homogeneous alloy bar by computer-controlled cutters, one made in a minimum order of 20 will look different than lovingly unique custom products.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Notice the copious amount of forging flaws in the pommel. I don't know if it's an effect of the photography, but the blade also appears to have a slight sabering effect going on.


Patrick,

Despite the photo angle, there does indeed seem to be assymetry in the blade. If you place a ruler on the screen, and have it so that it runs through the center of the pommel down through the centre of the point, you'll see what I mean.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a sword that's from the normal exhibition in the Musée national du Moyen Âge (Cluny), Paris, France. You can see a wavy bend in the tang, as well as the obviously bent cross. From the appearance of both, I don't think either was caused by use.

What makes this sword really interesting is that, visually, it sort of "looks wrong". The pommel and cross look like they should be found on a classic 12th or early13th century sword, and yet the blade looks as though it's a hollow ground diamond cross section. Even more interesting in my view is that this sword probably only looks "wrong" to an "experienced" sword enthusiast, as opposed to a member of the general public. A good example of a sword that defies expectations.

Images from Vikverir.



The rest of the sword. The last portion of the blade is seriously bent; perhaps it was excavated in this condition?

Edit: I wonder if the sword was indeed excavated, and both the hilt and blade deformations were caused by this?



Last edited by Craig Peters on Mon 11 Feb, 2019 9:16 am; edited 2 times in total
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Michael P. Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Here's a sword that's from the normal exhibition in the Musée national du Moyen Âge (Cluny), Paris, France. You can see a wavy bend in the tang, as well as the obviously bent cross. From the appearance of both, I don't think either was caused by use.

What makes this sword really interesting is that, visually, it sort of "looks wrong". The pommel and cross look like they should be found on a classic 12th or early13th century sword, and yet the blade looks as though it's a hollow ground diamond cross section. Even more interesting in my view is that this sword probably only looks "wrong" to an "experienced" sword enthusiast, as opposed to a member of the general public. A good example of a sword that defies expectations.

Image from Vikverir.



Interesting. I wonder if this is an example of a very nice blade getting into the hands of a mediocre cutler. I've seen other example of swords that the blade suggests is later, but the hilt components appear to older, based on style. WE know that blades were sometimes rehilted. I wonder is hilt components are ever re-used in a case where a sword of sentimental or heirloom value had a broken blade, but the owner wanted to "fix" the sword with a new blade? A sort of "this sword was carried by my grandfather to the Holy Land!" kind of thing. And maybe the local cutler had a trained orangutan as an apprentice and beat the hilt and tang into submission. Happy Pure speculation, of course.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Despite the distortion in the hilt, if the blade were straight, this would probably be an extremely fine sword in terms of handling. I suspect it might compete with the famous Cluny long sword were it in fairly pristine condition and perhaps having fewer hilt eccentricities.
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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:
Perhaps mentioned in this thread, apologies if I missed them, but:

- Wouldn't the smiths of those days generally have made consistently 'perfect symmetry' pieces if they could have?

- When equipping large numbers of men, would they have had the time to worry or even care about visual 'flaws'?

Some thoughts.

Jon

Thanks for the responses so far.

But the question remains: Were the earlier smiths capable of making consistently symmetrical swords?

Regards, Jon

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:
But the question remains: Were the earlier smiths capable of making consistently symmetrical swords?


Capable? Of course they were. People today can do the same with the same tools and materials were used then. The issue is this: Would it be worth the time and effort? I doubt it.

Was "perfectly symmetrical" considered the height of aesthetic appeal in period? We cannot assume it was.

We look at other things that the medieval mind considered to be beautiful and can contrast that with our own aesthetic sensibilities now days. Often, these things differ to an incredible degree. Even for those of us who look at stuff from back then and find it attractive, how much of this is due to nostalgia and reverence?

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 9:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm personally not completely certain this next sword is a genuine medieval sword. It reminds me of some of the modern phony antique weapons I have seen come up for sale at certain auctions. The sword is held at the Musée de l'Armée of Paris, France. The flattened egg-shaped pommel is inconsistent in shape and execution; similarly, the inner circle is reasonably neat yet free-hand in its execution. The pommel also looks to be canted to the left on the tang. One of the details that is particularly odd is the widening of the fuller near the cross, which is somewhat reminiscent of swords of Oakeshott Type XIX, although the style of this sword suggests it would date to earlier than most XIX blades. The strong of the blade seems to be quite skewed in shape, although this might be a result of resharpening, assuming it is a genuine antique.

Images from Vikverir.



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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Feb, 2019 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Capable? Of course they were. People today can do the same with the same tools and materials were used then.

Was "perfectly symmetrical" considered the height of aesthetic appeal in period? We cannot assume it was.

We look at other things that the medieval mind considered to be beautiful and can contrast that with our own aesthetic sensibilities now days. Often, these things differ to an incredible degree. Even for those of us who look at stuff from back then and find it attractive, how much of this is due to nostalgia and reverence?

I'm not sure how "capable" most modern smiths are in producing symmetrical swords without their modern machines, tools.

I also assume symmetry WAS desired back in the day, and very much the "height" of aesthetics. That fact it is obvious by looking at architecture, among many other things.

Jon

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Feb, 2019 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:
I also assume symmetry WAS desired back in the day, and very much the "height" of aesthetics. That fact it is obvious by looking at architecture, among many other things.


Looking closeup at almost any piece of art, buildings and architecture, or other man-made products from the day reveals lots of asymmetric. They look fine 10 meters back, of course. Happy

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Tim Harris
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Feb, 2019 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Hargis wrote:

I'm not sure how "capable" most modern smiths are in producing symmetrical swords without their modern machines, tools.


As a smith, I can elaborate on that to some extent.

I, or any other competent smith, could produce a flawless, geometrically consistent blade ( at least as far as the average eye could detect) - given enough time and painstaking attention to detail, and customers who are prepared to wait as long as it takes. Those customers would have to have pockets deep enough to cover the time we'd spend creating the result - days of hand sanding, measuring to a micro level, etc.

Another thing worth factoring in would be the variability of materials. Even modern monosteels can have small inconsistencies, and these can affect the behaviour of the blade during heat treating. It doesn't take much of a variation in thickness or temperature to cause a straight blade to sabre or an edge to wander.

Considering that swords were working tools in their time, I'd imagine the swordsmiths of the day would would be looking for the optimum balance between serviceability of their product and the time it took to make it.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 19 Feb, 2019 10:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a great example of one of those lovely XV.a swords that typically date to the 14th century, from the Musée de l'Armée. The pommel, while not perfect, is fairly symmetrical. Notice, though, the arms of the cross do not seem to be the same length; the left one is longer than the right. Also notice the ends of the cross which are not precisely the same either. The left one is shaped more regularly, like a hex key/Allen wrench, whereas the right seems to be a bit more crescent-shaped.

Images from Vikverir.



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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2019 8:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This sword is charmingly eccentric. The cross guard is irregular and it honestly reminds me of someone who rolled a lump of Play-Doh or plasticine into a thin log. The tang's shape is irregular; if you look at the angle of where the left side of the tang meets the cross and the right, you'll see they are not the same. Also, the fuller seems to be off-center, with the right side of the blade wider than the rest. This could be the result of resharpening, but it seems odd that only one side of the blade needed work. I suspect the fuller was not centered on the blade from its manufacture.

The sword is kept at the Musée de l'Armée. Images from Vikverir.



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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2019 3:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Here's a great example of one of those lovely XV.a swords that typically date to the 14th century, from the Musée de l'Armée. The pommel, while not perfect, is fairly symmetrical. Notice, though, the arms of the cross do not seem to be the same length; the left one is longer than the right. Also notice the ends of the cross which are not precisely the same either. The left one is shaped more regularly, like a hex key/Allen wrench, whereas the right seems to be a bit more crescent-shaped.


The finials are indeed somewhat differently shaped, but even checking with a tape measure the lengths of the arms seem to be within a millimeter of each other...

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2019 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko,

Yes, you're right. I'm not sure why they seemed to be of different lengths to me. Maybe it was because of the subtle angling of the cross in the photo, giving the impression of foreshortening.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 01 Mar, 2019 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have posted this in another thread, but it is relevant here, too.

This is a sword with a Brazil nut pommel from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg. The peen on the tang is not perfectly flush with the pommel and, as is to be expected, you can see the seam between the tang and pommel.

Photograph taken by Craig Peters.



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