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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject: Anyone know these symbols on a medieval sword?         Reply with quote

Greetings!

I managed to add a sword to my medieval collection from a German auction house. I just received it yesterday and love it. It's one hefty sword! The circa 1450 blade has two latten inlays on the blade, the same on both sides. The lower one looks like some kind of cross but the upper one is a total mystery to me. There is a sword listed in Oakeshott's Records of the Medieval Sword that has an identical blade shape, cross-guard and grip and has two Passau "running wolf" marks on each side. He dates it 1400-1430. Mine has no wolf marks, though I'd love to think it came from the same or related shop. Has anyone seen the symbols my sword has? Do they relate to the maker (like the famous wolf) or the owner? I am enclosing some pictures. Any information anyone has would be greatly appreciated!



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Maurizio D'Angelo




Location: Italy
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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2009 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi Jan,
The cut the sword seems different, the method of casting bronze equal. (I think it is bronze but could be more).
It seems a way to influence fashion and also fill some time before 1400.
Regards



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Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2009 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting, same symbols are on a sword found in river Ljubljanica in Slovenia:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...jubljanica

Although there are two sets of these symbols, number ones and daggers, each in it's own fuller.

Sorry, no good photos of the symbols, but I have seen (and held) the sword, and I think they are pretty much identical. CLick on the thumbnail for bigger image:



Sword is dated to the beginning of 15th century. South German, if I remember correctly.


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Blaz:

Wow!! I love the internet!! I believe you may be right about the sword found in Slovenia has the same or very similar symbols on the blade. You say you recall it is believed to be South German - the auction house listed my sword as South German or North Italian. The scallop pommel design on my sword makes it more likely Italian, but in those days blades went a long way (literally) sometimes.

I took the liberty of attaching one of your (absolutely beautiful!) computer modeling results you posted on the thread you refer me to for others to see the interesting similarity.

One question - In your original thread you describe the symbols as "swords and 'number ones'". The lower symbol can easily be seen as a sword, dagger or (with one cross-guard bigger and pointed) even as some sort of ax. But where did you get the number one description for the upper symbol? What script would it be in?

Also, any chance of providing me some information about who I could contact in Slovenia to try to get detailed photos and descriptions of their sword?

Many thanks for your post! If you're right, this is exciting and I'll try to dig deeper into the weapons' origins.



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Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
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PostPosted: Sat 30 May, 2009 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for the image intensive post. I'm not sure if posting the whole page scans is allowed, I'll reduce them or remove them if I violate some rule here. Anyway, buy the Records of the Medieval Sword. Big Grin Also, this book hates scanning, I'm not sure I'll be doing it again, I'm afraid it'll fall apart on me...

---------------------------------------------------------------

It looks you bought a very interesting sword!

The sword numer 22 from National Museum of Slovenia is published in this "book":


"Oboroženi stan srednjeveške družbe na Slovenskem na osnovi materialnih virov. Primer: meči" by Nabergoj Tomaz, 2001

It's in fact his Master's Degree, 200 pages long. It's not on sale, there are only 3 copies in Slovenian libraries. And he is the man to contact regarding additional information. He is a curator in archaeological department of our National Museum, and is in charge of high and late middle age artefacts.

His e-mail address at work: mag. Tomaž Nabergoj, tomaz.nabergoj(at)nms.si

Replace (at) with @

He described the signs as "some kind of number 1". Here is a better scan of the drawing:



In the book he also lists the swords with similar signs. One is the sword from Bavarian national museum in Munich, XXa.1, page 212 in Oakeshott's RoMS. Dated 1425-50:



The other has even closer matching signs to sword NMS 22 and your sword. It's XVa.a, page 141 from Glasgow museum, dated 1320-40.





The punched signs appear to be exactly the same on all 4 swords. There is another sword with similar "number 1" in Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wienna, but it's dated around 1520 (Katalog der Leibrustkammer, Leibrustkammer, Kunsthistorische Museum, Wien (Vienna), 1976, by Bruno Thomas and Ortwin Gamber). Unfortunately, I don't have that book.

So, a same sign on a sword dated 1320-40. Two swords from the early 15th century. And another sword from early 16th century.

Looks like a sign of a modern reproduction maker, doesn't it. Big Grin

Just joking. I'm quite sure they're genuine, after all, sword in Slovenia was found in river Ljubljanica in 1832. Can't imagine anyone making such exact replica here, and then throwing it away.


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Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 30 May, 2009 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Unicorn is a mark that occurs in several versions. It sometimes looks very much like a Running Wolf, but also has a horn in the forhead. It the images posted on this thread there are two other versions of the Unicorn: one looking like a chess piece, and the other a very minimalistic version reduced to a capital "J" upside down with an additional "spur" representing the horn (this is what is being described as "some kind of number one").
To see them clearly, one has to remember the direction of reading: marks are almost always cut or stamped into blades to be read when the point is held upwards. Exception to this is the running wolf, and running unicorn that are read when the sword is held in your right hand and the point towards the left. Inscriptions are always inlayed so that they can be read when the sword is held in the left hand with the point towards your right.
So in all these cases the markings are the same: a small sword and the head of a Unicorn. Seems to point to the same area of manufacture for all those blades, even if they are of different date.
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Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
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PostPosted: Sat 30 May, 2009 4:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Inlays together, correct side up:



Yeah, it does look like an unicorn's head. I have seen the "running wolf" lookalikes, but I have never seen this sign described as unicorn.


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat 30 May, 2009 5:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Guys for the inputs. And thanks Blaz for pointing out two swords with the same symbols shown by Oakeshott in Records of the Medieval Sword. I am actually a bit embarassed because I actually have that book. But I never assumed my sword's markings would be on any swords showcased in the book so I didn't look at the detailed photos closely. Now I know there are 2 swords in the book with identical markings to mine. Cool!

With regards to Peter's theory that one symbol represents a unicorn, I find that interesting but am not entirely sold. In another Oakenshott book - The Archeology of Weapons - at the very end of Chapter 12 he shows a sketch (Figure 105) of the Passau "Running Wolf" and a unicorn. His point is that the two look extremely alike. He states " the examples of the unicorn which I have met with look exactly the same as the wolves except that they have a long straight stroke sticking out in front". Since he has two swords with my markings in his other book he didn't consider one of them a unicorn (he calls them "maker's marks". Not that Mr. O. is always right but still...

Our discussion sure got my curiosity reved up though. There's got to be a link between these 4 swords to be revealed somewhere.

Thanks again!
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Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
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PostPosted: Sun 31 May, 2009 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, mr. Oakeshott didn't connect these marks with the "unicorn sign", which really looks much like a Passau wolf:



Interestingly, this amazingly well preserved mid 14th century sword from Hermann Historica has both, a wolf and a unicorn:


http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm56...at56_p.txt



Weird.


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
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