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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jan, 2020 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Again everyone,

I have a few new photos to show with a completed chape and nearly completed scabbard.







Here is the scabbard illustration which Jeff is basing the reproduction scabbard after. It will be a vertically hanging integral belt set up once done. This will be a different configuration than those off-set belt systems typically seen in reproductions but is more, I believe, historically accurate based on what I have learned about earlier medieval scabbards. This configuration will have the complication that when worn naturally the scabbard will reach the ground. Apparently, in period, forward pressure would be applied to the hilt to raise the scabbard off the ground. What was done when the sword was drawn I don't know but staying as accurate as possible outweighed the more practical concerns I suppose.




Anyway, we are almost there!
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jan, 2020 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really beautiful. Here's a seasonal name suggestion: 'Snowpiercer' (not to be confused with the movie).

Interesting suspension. I'm not clear what you mean by 'forward pressure on the hilt'. You mean with your hand? Sounds awkward.

The texture of the scabbard surface confuses me a bit. Near the throat its clearly leather, but toward the tip in almost looks like carved and stained wood. But I don't see a transition point, so I guess its all leather?
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jan, 2020 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Really beautiful. Here's a seasonal name suggestion: 'Snowpiercer' (not to be confused with the movie).

Interesting suspension. I'm not clear what you mean by 'forward pressure on the hilt'. You mean with your hand? Sounds awkward.

The texture of the scabbard surface confuses me a bit. Near the throat its clearly leather, but toward the tip in almost looks like carved and stained wood. But I don't see a transition point, so I guess its all leather?


Oh I think it would be awkward but all the evidence we have shows that scabbards before 1200 C.E. hung vertically. Yes, by forward pressure I mean with the left hand. For a blade of this length (36.5 inches) the wearer would have to be 6 ft. for the scabbard to clear the ground hung vertically. Like I said; I don't know what they would have done when the sword was drawn.

It's an interesting issue.

The scabbard is covered in leather for its length.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jan, 2020 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
For a blade of this length (36.5 inches) the wearer would have to be 6 ft. for the scabbard to clear the ground hung vertically. Like I said; I don't know what they would have done when the sword was drawn.


Presumably this blade is meant to be used from a saddle. How would that work? Maybe shift the belt to the side a bit?
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Feb, 2020 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, here it is completed.

Now begins the wait until I receive it. I'll post some pictures and a review when I do.





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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Mar, 2020 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I received my sword and wanted to give an informal review here. There are plenty of pictures here on the thread so I really didn't add any- plus it is difficult to photograph due to it's length. If folks want any specific shots please let me know and I can take them.

Introduction and Overview:

I have always been drawn to swords of the High Middle Ages and even more specifically, to swords of the period 1050-1200 C.E. For whatever reason, I had never picked up a classic type XI (Oakshott's medieval sword typology) despite these being my favorite blade form. I love the long and elegant blades often coupled with the stark, yet beautiful brazil-nut pommel and straight guard. Of course varied hilt configurations existed but this combination seems to have been common.

I wanted a sword as close in construction to an original which, to me, would necessitate a smith working in historic steel construction, iron, and silver or iron inlay. Drawing from information learned here on myArmoury and it's many knowledgable members I have come to believe that many swords of this era would have been constructed of an iron or lower carbon steel blade core surrounded by a high carbon content steel edge.

Now, I needed to select a smith to help make this project a reality. There are a number of smiths out there who have produced swords of this type- but the list is not extensive. After reviewing my options and the pro's and con's of various smiths I became convinced that Jeff Helms was a good choice for this project. Jeff began tinkering with blacksmithing in 2002 and became a blacksmith in 2005. In 2010 he began making swords and has been producing them along with knives ever since. Here is a short video produced by his local news station which gives an excellent overview of his craft.

https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1916167&binId=1.1164511&playlistPageNum=1#_gus&_gucid=&_gup=Facebook&_gsc=0CkWmZC

Now having found the right smith and with some idea as to the kind of sword I wanted; I needed to decide on a specific historic example to draw from. Reviewing museum examples, Gerbig's typology, and Oakshott's works we find a number of beautiful swords from this period but only a few have a very clear picture of the blade inlay or a drawing of it. I consider inlay to be a lovely addition to a historic recreation when it is called for, so I wanted to include this factor if the original featured it. This narrowed down my choices to a handful and I finally chose to have Oakshott's XI.3 from Records of the Medieval Sword reproduced. This sword is sometimes called the Søborg sword.

I feel I should mention that Albion Swords of Wisconsin makes an exacting replica of this weapon drawing from first-hand documentation conducted by swordsmith Peter Johnsson. I have never handled this replica but understand that it is a beautiful piece. I approached this project with Jeff in a slightly different philosophy than the Albion example. While our sword would lack the exacting measurements and handling of the original, it would feature historic construction including the aforementioned blade composition and true silver inlay. For that reason I will say that the sword being reviewed here is more of an "inspired by" reproduction of the Søborg sword,.

Handling Characteristics:

Measurements:

Overall length: 107.31 cm.
COG: 15.6 cm from guard
Blade length: 92 cm.
COP: About 21 cm. from the tip
Weight: 2 Lbs. 8.5. oz.

I will preface this section- as I always do- by saying that I am not a HEMA practitioner. I have next to no experience or knowledge of specifically how this or any medieval sword would have been used. I have handled only a few originals and none of the type here under consideration. My impressions are based on my subjective experience and comparisons to other high-end reproductions, as well as some generalized knowledge of what circumstances these types of swords would have been used in period. So please take that into consideration in reading my impressions of this sword's handling.

This sword is quite long with a blade of 36.2 inches- this length is fairly characteristic of swords of the period which tend to range from 34-38 inches. That being said; it has a feeling of being, "out there," and not necessarily close to the body as we find with stouter type XIIs and Type XIVs. There is a moderate level of blade presence, though less than I have experienced with some other swords. The blade does have a fair amount of flex compared to other swords in my collection. I would not call it stiff but then again it isn't "whippy" either. This sword wants to be swung in long and wide arcs and would have a fair deal of "punch" given the COG at 6.14 inches. It seems to be built as a cavalry weapon which isn't surprising given what we know about the characteristics of battle in the 12th. C. The blade overall is on the thin side- especially towards the tip. with this in mind; I wouldn't call it a "shield splitter" in common nomenclature. It seems designed to deal with relatively lightly armored targets against which, I am sure it would excel. I do not cut with my swords but imagine it would preform well against light targets. This sword is not designed for the thrust and wouldn't be especially suited in that context given the degree of flex in the blade and the rounded tip. On the other hand I can see tip cuts as being devastating against light targets. In short, Jeff did an amazing job of managing the blade proportions on such a long, and relatively light weapon.

Fit and Finish:

The sword is composed of a medium carbon content core surrounded by a higher carbon content edge. The hilt components are made of wrought iron. The inlay is of fine silver.

It's really a stunning sword. I would say that it's aesthetics show a kind of intersection of precision and handmade elements. I like that even though heterogenous materials are used, there is no effort to draw attention to a kind of "rugged" presentation as we can sometimes see in modern reproductions using iron, pattern-welding, etc. Jeff has taken these materials to a high finish. All lines are clean and crisp but the materials used show a character and dynamic only available in that medium.

There are no undulations in the blade or wandering of the fuller, yet the differential steel composition of the blade shows grain and character. The blade is finished to a satin level. Jeff very lightly etched the blade so when looking closely one can see the swirls and waves resultant form the construction and finishing. There are several inclusions in the blade which may bother someone tied to the clean appearance of modern mono-steel but here they fit with the presentation and show you that this sword is made using materials closely matched to those found in period.

The blade inlay matches that found on the original and is executed masterfully. It is neat and precise but still organic in presentation. Jeff is clearly one of the best out there in this regard.

The pommel and cross are executed in wrought iron and so show an attractive grain and surface irregularity. Both are well shaped and symmetrical. The peen is indistinguishable from the surface of the pommel.

The grip is finished in a linen under-wrap and "wine" colored leather surface. There are five well executed risers. The seam where the leather joins along the grip is visible but neat and tidy.

The scabbard is composed of a wool lined wood core, a deer hide belt, and iron shape. It is covered in ox-blood colored leather.

I wanted a scabbard historically correct for the 12th. C. and this involved looking at period illustrations and some interpretation by Jeff. He decided to use deer skin for the belt as it more closely resembles the "fabric" looking materials seen in illustrations. A simple incised line motif is used on the scabbard face as opposed to the more elaborate designs seen on some modern reproductions. It is my belief that scabbards of this period tended to be more simple in appearance.

Overall, Jeff did a good job interpreting the period illustrations. The iron chape is especially beautiful and shows amazing blacksmithing work. Unfortunately, I have to say that the scabbard does not fit me. It is too loose to be tied and remain in place. Whether this is because I gave Jeff my waist measurements as too big or his interpretation of the belt system was a bit off, I cannot say. I plan on sending off the scabbard to have it adjusted and I am hopeful that adjustments can be made to the existing belt, but if not a new belt system will have to be made. This was a bit of a bummer but to be fair to Jeff- this is the first time a period-correct 12th. C. belt has been attempted as far as I know so there was a high learning curve. I am confident I'll get it worked out.

Conclusion:

I am so happy with my new sword. It fits a prime place in my collection as an exemplary representation of a type XI from the 12th. C. I consider myself lucky to have obtained such a beautiful piece which shows the passion and attention to detail of its maker. Jeff was open, friendly, and communicative throughout the process from its formative stages through to the completed delivery. He gave progress reports and photos as we can see in this thread. The sword came in a custom wooden crate and was very well packaged. Finally, I would encourage anyone interested in an historical weapon of the highest caliber to give Jeff Helms serious consideration.


Last edited by Jeremy V. Krause on Mon 23 Mar, 2020 2:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2020 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lovely blade on that sword, and the inlay looks great! Just a minor note: did you mean 107.5 cm for OAL? 175 cm really doesn’t seem right.

Really cool to see just how close Jeff Helme’s version came to the exacting Albion! That can be very difficult to do with complex blade laminations (so long and thin! Love it).

If possible, would you mind posting some photos that show off the material grain? I’m curious to see how much comes through with a high polish and no reapplied etching compound (like sweaty hands).

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2020 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
Lovely blade on that sword, and the inlay looks great! Just a minor note: did you mean 107.5 cm for OAL? 175 cm really doesn’t seem right.

Really cool to see just how close Jeff Helme’s version came to the exacting Albion! That can be very difficult to do with complex blade laminations (so long and thin! Love it).

If possible, would you mind posting some photos that show off the material grain? I’m curious to see how much comes through with a high polish and no reapplied etching compound (like sweaty hands).


Thanks for spotting the typo above! Yes, the overall length is 42.25 inches or 107.31 cm.

Here are some photos hopefully showing some of the character in the steel of the blade and the iron of the hilt.

In this first pic you can see some of the character in the steel. I will say that Jeff did very lightly etch the blade so this may be bit more visible than it would be otherwise.



Here's another.



Here's one showing the tip. You can also see an inclusion in the steel. I mention in the review that this blade has a few of these. This may be interesting to some as the topic of inclusions on reproductions using heterogenous steel has been floating around here recently.



This pic shows another inclusion in the fuller.



Lastly, you can see some character on the iron used in the hilt.



I hope these pictures give a fuller idea of the visual aesthetic of this piece.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2020 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great Sword, great review Jeremy.

Jeff is definitely one of the top artists in this game, and a heck of a nice guy to boot.

I've had several versions of these long-bladed XIs. It's remarkable how small changes in weight distribution toward their tip can make the difference between hockey stick and fillet knife in the handling department.

I hope those analogies make sense to non-Canadians. Happy
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2020 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey! Those photos show off exactly what I was hoping to see. What a lovely piece.

I will say that I have hilted up a brazil nut pommel and long thin cross on a sword with a short grip, and regular handling and no oil other than what is on my hands has veeery subtly brought our a pattern in the iron from the constant rubbing and contact. Not much, mind, but similar to the level of etch seen on your blade--perhaps a touch less. I have found that the extra visual texture really adds to the 'authentic' feel of these early blades for me.

Really diggin' that silver inlay too. I also really appreciate you showing good photos of the slag inclusions. Those things would be there on some originals (especially given the 'meh' quality of materials that tend to go into these long XIs), and seeing them on a reproduction is kind of nice, in a weird collector-y way.

Congrats all around on your fine new sword, and a shout out to Jeff Helmes for making another splendid piece.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Mar, 2020 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

WoW! Jeff did a heck of a job! That is gorgeous. A true masterpiece. Congrats on a fine sword Jeremy, and thanks for all the pics along the way. I always enjoy following the progress of a sword.
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