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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Nov, 2021 6:10 am    Post subject: Late 9th. C.- early 10th. C. pattern-welded seax         Reply with quote

Here's something which came in the mail a week or so ago. Sword/weapon delivery days are the best- aren't they?

I focus more on the period 1000-1300 C.E. but I have a few earlier pieces and I didn't have a pattern-welded seax so I felt my collection wasn't complete without one.

DESCRIPTION: This seax features a pattern-welded blade made by Owen Bush https://www.owenbush.co.uk/shop/ and hilting done by Leo Todeschini https://todsworkshop.com . It is in a style seen (in my mind) to the late 9th.- early 10th. C. The blade is constructed of vintage wrought iron and some type of modern steel I can't remember. The handle is made of spalted boxwood with a horn bolster with silver inlay. It has a copper end cap. The sheath is heavily decorated (have to ask Tod what examples he drew from) and features bronze fittings. The overall presentation, I would say, is pretty conservative, but does draw from different period examples and combine them into one piece so there is a bit of conjecture.

Measurements:
Length (in scabbard) 18.5 inches
Length: (out of scabbard) 18 inches
Blade: 9 inches
Blade thickness at base: 5-6 mm.
Blade at broken-back section: 8 mm
Handle: 7.5 inches
Weight: ??

HANDLING: The handling is of a solid, stout knife. It is comfortable in the point up and ice pick position. I suppose that in vigorous use in the thrust, one might worry about the hand slipping down the blade but this is an historically accurate form so. . . what are you going to do? The grip is smooth which might also cause some concerns with slipping but, again, many historical examples show fairly plain grips. The stoutness of the blade would allow for penetration without fear of breaking the blade.

FIT AND FINISH: This is a beautiful piece. Those familiar with Tod's work know his unique and skilled approach or combining a strong knowledge of period originals with a keen eye for beauty in fit and finish. His pieces are characterized with a strong and neat presence along with a healthy touch of handmade aesthetic. Once you have handled a few pieces form Tod you can readily see his artistic approach whether in a 16th. C. dagger or, in this case, a 9th. C. Anglo-Saxon seax. There are few artisans who nail this approach so well.
The blade has a very attractive pattern-weld. It is etched but not as heavily as some modern reproductions, which I like. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about forging techniques and final finish but to my eye this blade is very well done. There are no visible flaws or gaps. The spine shape and finish is especially nice, featuring a gentle swelling in thickness from the base up to the broken-back section before narrowing down to a stout point section.
The handle is one of the the most striking pieces of wood I have seen. The spalting creates a beautiful swirling surface of browns, grays, and even some red or almost pink hues. It's pretty awesome. The bolster in horn is well formed and the silver inlayed circle/dot designs are very neat and clean.
The end cap is well done but, again shows Tod’s handmade presentation. It features line details along with triangle designs. Again, you can see slight asymmetry in the decoration.
The sheath is heavily decorated in a period style. Im not sure what historical pieces Tod drew from but I think he has taken elements of different examples and combined them into this sheath. I really don't know about leather finishing techniques but Tod has combined approaches resulting in a very 3 dimensional surface with different levels of decorative detail. It is a very striking and authentic presentation.
The bronze fittings are well cast with no casting seams visible.

Overall, I'd say it's fairly historically accurate- which is my main focus of collecting. I suppose I would say the main departures from history would be the mottled leather in the sheath. We moderns love the look but I don't think period artisans did that. The sheath fittings are cast. I suppose this is possible historically, but I kind of doubt they did this. I believe the pattern on the blade is plausible. Folks have different opinions on this though. Some people believe there were specific stylistic forms to patterns in certain times/areas. Owen Bush believes that nearly any pattern you can think of could have been used historically. I don't know enough about the issue to have a strong opinion. And the steel used along with the iron in the blade is modern. Lastly, the spalting in the boxwood is pretty sweet but I'm not sure that this aesthetic would have been appealing or desirable to period craftsman.
Overall- I think it's awesome and I think I'll be holding onto it for a long time- if not permanently. i'd recommend anyone seeking a historically accurate seax to check out Owen Bush and Tod from Tods workshop. Last note Tod included a cool tee-shirt which I think is pretty classy. Happy

I can answer any questions.











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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Nov, 2021 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bravo! That's a real beauty. I love the whole piece! It's inlayed friend looks pretty nice too....
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2021 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic. I always love seeing something that's as thoroughly and intricately detailed, especially the scabbard. The boxwood grain is also fascinating to look at. How is it finished?
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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2021 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan D'Silva wrote:
Fantastic. I always love seeing something that's as thoroughly and intricately detailed, especially the scabbard. The boxwood grain is also fascinating to look at. How is it finished?


I believe it's just linseed oil. It's really a very attractive piece of wood.

Again, can we know if period folks valued such patterns? It's an interesting issue.
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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
Joined: 27 Oct 2019

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu 11 Nov, 2021 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don`t think so. Of the finds where wood handles of saxes was preserved, the wood types are consistent (ash,oak,maple), but not spalted wood or something similar like that. They knew what type of wood was appropriate to use as handle, but if they saw any value in spalted wood, which are decaying wood from fungi, i am not sure they did. If so it would be a rarity i think.

Nice looking sax though. The sheath is very beautifully made.
What was the inspiration behind a stacked handle design, as that is something i haven`t seen much from 9th,10th century saxes?
Is the chape of the sheath filigree made? That is very nicely done.
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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2021 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
I don`t think so. Of the finds where wood handles of saxes was preserved, the wood types are consistent (ash,oak,maple), but not spalted wood or something similar like that. They knew what type of wood was appropriate to use as handle, but if they saw any value in spalted wood, which are decaying wood from fungi, i am not sure they did. If so it would be a rarity i think.

Nice looking sax though. The sheath is very beautifully made.
What was the inspiration behind a stacked handle design, as that is something i haven`t seen much from 9th,10th century saxes?
Is the chape of the sheath filigree made? That is very nicely done.


I tend to agree with you on the aesthetics of wood used in period.

I am going to have a long seax re-hilted and I may just resist my modern tendency to choose a spalted or burl wood. Kind of hard to do when that wood only costs marginally more but is so beautiful. I know Tod uses Box butI am having problems locating that to re-hilt. You bring up oak and maple. Do you feel these choices would be just as accurate? What is your opinion on the use of burl- do you tend to see this as a matter more of modern taste? I'm just trying to put together a plan. A plain brown grip- even with inlay would be pretty sparse- I'm not immediately opposed to the idea though.

Regarding the handle. I know there is a period illustration around 900 showing what seems to be a bolster of some kind. Now the end cap- I don't know. I am not as much an expert on the finer points of seax decorations. I want them highly accurate but I tend to rely on the knowledge of the smith in bringing the to life.

I know that Tod was in commutation with Matt Bunker around decorative choices. Truthfully, history hasn't left us many examples of intact handles. There is the Aachen example and the seas of Charlemagne.

There is evidence of wood inlay being used in the 10th.- 11th C. on an example. So it may be conjecture to use inlay on horn.

On the sheath- I believe all components are cast but the tip section may have been specifically made. I'm not sure.

The leather work is indeed something to see.
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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
Joined: 27 Oct 2019

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sat 13 Nov, 2021 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
I tend to agree with you on the aesthetics of wood used in period.

I am going to have a long seax re-hilted and I may just resist my modern tendency to choose a spalted or burl wood. Kind of hard to do when that wood only costs marginally more but is so beautiful. I know Tod uses Box butI am having problems locating that to re-hilt. You bring up oak and maple. Do you feel these choices would be just as accurate?


Well, it depends on what you want and trying to accomplish. The sax topic is huge and spanning across all of europe with alot of variations. If you want a hybrid solution then you can`t go wrong, but if you want a historically correct sax from a certain area or country it becomes much more difficult and require time and effort to get the details right. If they are there at all.
So, when i brought up examples of wood types of ash,oak and maple for handle material on saxes; That was taken from a good research paper of wood handles from the Merovingian era of north eastern France. So it is the period before the Viking age but it is the best research done on wood handles on saxes that i know of. What we found in these papers is that in these areas in these times oak,ash,maple and beech were the dominant wood types used as handle on saxes. These woods are all high in density. The paper also covered spatha sword handles, small knife handles, spear, arrow, axe shafts and wood used on shields. They used different types of wood for alot of them. So if you are going to re-hilt your sax, have these things in mind.

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
So it may be conjecture to use inlay on horn.


That is not conjecture. There exist inlays on horn on saxes.

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
There is evidence of wood inlay being used in the 10th.- 11th C. on an example


Do you have som pictures? Would like to see it.

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
the handle. I know there is a period illustration around 900 showing what seems to be a bolster of some kind.


Is it this illustration you think of?



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