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Sam McLean




Location: Salem, Oregon
Joined: 19 Sep 2009

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat 19 Sep, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject: Gravenstein Two Hander. Custom job?         Reply with quote

This is my first post, so please forgive any technical difficulties.

I am in love with a sword. There are a lot of great swords out there, but this one. . . oi.

This is what I know about the sword in question:

1) It is in Gravenstein Castle in Ghent (Gent?) Belgium.
2) It is a true two hander in the style of a later landsknecht bidenhander (zweihander, dopplehander, etc.)
3) It is pretty freakin' big, but not uncharacteristically large for the type. (An ARMA article on two handed swords cites many examples at or over 6' in length, and this one appears to be about the same size.)
4) It is beautiful.

This is what I would like to know about this sword:

1) Has anyone seen it in person?
2) Does anyone know what the plaque says? Is the date of production, length or weight known/listed?
3) Who would I go to for a custom reproduction of this weapon?
4) How much would it likely cost? (Saw the A&A custom two hander, and while it's a little smaller/simpler, it might be similar. Think that one's around $2500.00 US?)

Here are the images that I've scraped up:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_SuJS54jRtSY/Sk5Pk66...-h/015.JPG (Don't know who the guy is. This one is from someone's travel blog.)

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_mmG0QwOa3lc/R_L2s4baYQI...C_0072.JPG (This picture was taken from a wonky angle, making the grip seem even longer than the previous picture portrays.)

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2391/2242589186_df679bd50f_o.jpg (The side view is great, showing how thin the cross guard was forged. This view, more than either of the other two, just gives me the feeling that this was a functional sword, not a parade sword.)

Hope these work. And a preemptive 'thanks' for any replies.

Sincerely,

Sam McLean

"As a galleon among many galleys"
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for posting these great pictures! I don't have any information about this sword, but do have some recommendations for a replica. The best way to find out how much it might cost is to contact someone who could make it. There are a lot of good choices and you've already mentioned one, A&A. I might also inquire with OlliN and Michael Pikula. If you do get a replica made be sure to post lots of pictures!
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Lucas S




Location: poland
Joined: 25 Dec 2007

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi,
do you have any email for sending pictures?? my email: lukpuh@interia.pl

Lukasz
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to say that I have not yet visited that castle, but here are the contact details. I guess it can't hurt to try. They have a specialised arms museum (Wapenmuseum), so you can try to ask for the conservator.

Gravensteen
Sint-Veerleplein 11
9000 Gent
Tel.: +32 9 225 93 06

Alternatively, you may also try the City's Archeological Department:

Dienst Stadsarcheologie
De Zwarte Doos
Dulle-Grietlaan 12
9050 Gentbrugge (Gent)
Tel.: +32 9 266 57 60
Fax: +32 9 266 57 87
E-mail: stadsarcheologie@gent.be
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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Location: upstate NY
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know if it makes any difference to you, but that's a bearing sword, not a fighting model. There are fighters with blades like that, though.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
I don't know if it makes any difference to you, but that's a bearing sword, not a fighting model. There are fighters with blades like that, though.


What makes it a bearing sword, in your opinion?
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Sam McLean




Location: Salem, Oregon
Joined: 19 Sep 2009

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey guys,

Thanks very much for replying so soon.

I would especially like to thank Paul for the contact information. I will write or call very soon.

James, I have seen your work, and I must say, impeccable stuff, man! I am curious how you know that this weapon is a bearing sword, however. The cost of forging a weapon like this only for processions and affairs of state seems counter-intuitive. Also, this sword is proportioned to be used like a pole weapon, with a very long grip, an ample ricasso, long (and sharp!) parrying lugs, and a beautiful, weapon-snaring crossguard, with rings that allow the user to stuff his whole hand through to choke up on the ricasso. It seems perfect for great swings or half-swording.

There is another sword, opposite the object of my desire, which definitely looks like a bearing sword. See below:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2151/2242589026_76639e04d9_o.jpg

It is on the reverse of the sword which inspired this topic, matter of fact. I can see the outline on the back of the display in the above image. Overall, the sword appears to be longer, the blade is much heavier, the grip much shorter, there is no ricasso, are no parrying lugs, and the quillons terminate in bestial forms. This one, I think, IS a bearing sword.

Sam

"As a galleon among many galleys"
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The cost of forging a weapon like this only for processions and affairs of state seems counter-intuitive.


Huh?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2497/3938099653_6ed54a1f2c.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2430/3938877020_9b9c15af64.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3030/3938877618_5648ea0712.jpg

This harness, belonging to Henry II of France, is only one of many hundreds of surviving examples that lends credibility to the fact that the most lavishly detailed and expensive arms and armour of the 16th century were those made specifically for processional use. But, like most field harnesses, this is a fully functional suit of armour. The sword in question, although completely functional, could have been created with similar intentions. I claim little merit in my personal opinion as to whether it was designed for functional use or not, as swords are not my forte... But the quote above is a contradiction to the mindset of Renaissance thinking and merited response.

-Gregory

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Sam McLean




Location: Salem, Oregon
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2009 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Point well supported, Gregory. What I mean is that while it may have been present in processions, it was also likely present on the field of battle, not meant SOLELY for display.

To me, having handled a couple two handers, it just looks like it would swing well Happy

Sam

"As a galleon among many galleys"
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Krist Martens




Location: Belgium, Bruges
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 11:56 am    Post subject: Re: Gravenstein Two Hander. Custom job?         Reply with quote

Sam McLean wrote:
2) Does anyone know what the plaque says?


If you have a better/readable picture of the plaque, I'm more then happy to translate it for you.

Gent is the city I was born. But it's ages I've been there. It's an impressive weapon
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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Location: upstate NY
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Posts: 560

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've handled a great many bearing swords, mostly in private collections, as I don't bother with them if I'm in a museum that has 'fighters' - I tend to focus on them when I see them in private collections too, though it seems most of what I've seen privately have been bearing swords, or Victorian knock-offs. I admit I have a hard time telling a 400 year old bearing sword from a Vic'y; there just aren't the red flags you see with working pieces. I've looked very closely at over 20 'fighters', and handled at least half a dozen in museum reserve collections (mostly England's RA) and private hands, and I'm repairing the grip on one now. The easiest way to tell the difference is unfortunately not usually possible from photos, which is the blade thickness towards the tip - they get VERY thin for the last 8" or so. Bearing swords have little or no distal taper that is comparable. There are some general rules of thumb, but they must be used CAUTIOUSLY, as exceptions abound. Real 'fighters' exist that have no ricasso and/or flukes. A prime tip-off is whether the grip looks like a fancy furniture leg. This is characteristic of bearing swords. At the very least, it means that the grip has been replaced. Fighting grips are not dead round, but have an orientation, and often look like scaled-up bastard sword grips. Bearing swords tend to be of great size as well, whereas the typical fighter is about five and a half feet long. They can be much bigger, however, but this is rare. They can also be shorter, and a broken tip was often redone, resulting in a shorter sword (see Graz arsenal). Also; how 'fru-fru' is the guard? Fighters tend to have simpler, more practical guards, with some exceptions for certain elite units, in which case the guards may be as fancy as the simpler bearing swords. The more elaborately swept towards the blade they are, and the more superfluous projections they have, the more suspicious I become. Particularly if they're flimsy. Tassels, too. Sometimes they appear on fighters, but I suspect most were added later, as sometimes fighters were used as bearing swords in later times, or were jazzed up by dealers. I have even seen one elaborately done for the House of Brunswick, complete with etching, which had a reused fighting blade! It's the only bearing sword I've ever seen that I think worth owning!
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A selection of fighters from the Graz, just for viewing pleasure...

-Gregory



 Attachment: 74.91 KB
Graz Zweihanders and Shields.jpg


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Sam McLean




Location: Salem, Oregon
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James,

Again a well stated case.

As for the bearing or fighting status of this sword, you may be correct. As you said, exceptions abound, but you make some good points.

I do think the blade on this sword is from a fighting weapon. The distal taper is clearly present in the profile shot that I presented. Also, the long, functional ricasso (as opposed to some shorter unusable one seen on the Brunswick state sword) and the prominent parrying lugs seem to match many of the fighting blades in the pictures of Graz.

The grip does seem like a chair leg, but the length seems like it would provide the right kind of leverage for a sword of this scale.

The guard, okay, I admit, a bit posh. But it's got some nice features, too. The ends do sweep toward the blade, but they do so well ahead of where a hand would be placed for choking up. Also, the thickness of the steel used for the guard is thin, but no thinner (in fact a bit thicker) than that used for the blade, and would probably not be flimsy. You know more about the characteristics of steel than do I, so you are probably a better judge.

Is this sword a bearing sword? Maybe.

Is it still possible to wield it like a fighter? Likely.

Is it the most beautiful two hander I've ever seen, and would a reproduction be worth owning? Definitely.

All in all, I think I could make it work as a fighter with little modification (a proper grip, with a slightly elliptical cross section, and lacking the 'furniture' in the middle, as you mentioned), but your knowledgeable input is invaluable.

Thanks so much. (Haven't had time to contact the Gravenstein museum, but when I do, I'll let you all know).

Sam

PS: Your point, James, about the average length of the fighters you've handled, raises a question. Did the length of these weapons depend at all upon the height of the average wielder? I'm a 30 year old athletic guy with a 6 foot, 210 lb frame, and I wonder if a larger sword (closer to my own height) would be a better match than a 5' 6" version? Just a thought.

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Josh MacNeil




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I could be wrong about this, but I would think that a fighting sword of this size would have a guard made of thinner stock reduce the overall weight of the weapon. So I wouldn't think that a thin guard would be a red flag for a bearing sword. As for the "chair leg" handle, notice the upper and lower parts of it are more utilitarian in appearance, and look like they would provide a good grip. The middle part, IMO looks like an artistic choice made to compliment the overall aesthetics of the sword. Since you would most likely want to keep your hands farther apart for more control, it seems to me that this design element of the handle wouldn't be any detriment to it's function. Again, I'm by no means an expert on swords of this type, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents and make some educated guesses.

Cheers,
-JM
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Mr. James Arlen Gillaspie has stated, the sword featured here is absolutely a bearing (processional) sword as are some of the pieces shown in the Graz collection photo above.

(it is not possible to identify distal taper in the photos here. They are angled and at a significant distance that it would not be visible to see regardless)

To my eye, it's quite attractive -- though I agree with James again on the fantastic nature of the Brunswick examples.

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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, I hadn't noticed before how many bearing swords Graz has... Blush
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
You know, I hadn't noticed before how many bearing swords Graz has... Blush


My thoughts exactly Wink

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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't tell how long the blades are or the distal tapers (obviously), so I didn't even consider the idea that the Graz would have a supply of bearing swords... It does make sense, though. The place was built in 1645 after all of these styles had run their course as useful weapons, so I guess it'd all be thrown in together. There are quite a few parade harnesses in the stores there, as well.

Bugger.

But at least the distinction from a reproduction standpoint is pretty easy to make. Just get the thing to match the functional examples in terms of standard blade lengths, etc... And viola. Modeling after a specific example would be more daunting.

-Gregory

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2009 10:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
I can't tell how long the blades are or the distal tapers (obviously), so I didn't even consider the idea that the Graz would have a supply of bearing swords... It does make sense, though. The place was built in 1645 after all of these styles had run their course as useful weapons, so I guess it'd all be thrown in together. There are quite a few parade harnesses in the stores there, as well.

Bugger.

But at least the distinction from a reproduction standpoint is pretty easy to make. Just get the thing to match the functional examples in terms of standard blade lengths, etc... And viola. Modeling after a specific example would be more daunting.

-Gregory


Actually there might be a mix of bearing swords and functional using swords in that Graz picture ? Size/weight making the big difference on the practical side assuming good steel being used in both the using and bearing swords.

These also don't seem over-decorated to the degree where hilt complexities would be detrimental to function.

Bottom line for me: 6 to 8 pounds it's a using twohander, 12 to 16 pounds or more or very huge and heavily decorated it's a bearing sword.

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Sam McLean




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, so a new query, then:

1) Can someone send some images my way (or just on this thread) of fighting two handed swords?

2) What would YOU do if you wanted a reproduction of this sword but wanted to make it a little more practical?

Point: I own a Windlass 'fighting two handed sword', and while it's alright, the grip feels too short for the blade, and the guard is freakin' heavy, placing the balance right at the parrying lugs. It feels like I'm always working VERY hard to 'put on the brakes', so to speak, after a swing. (Note: I'm swinging through air, not into people, in which case the path of the blade could be stopped by a conveniently placed pelvis or spine, natch Happy )

Anyway, that's part of the reason this sword caught my eye. Longer grip, steel guard (rather than one cast out of 3 lbs of pig iron), and a beauty to boot.

The Lowlander two handed sword (Hanwei?) is the only other European two hander replica that I've handled. The grip length made all the difference, as that sword felt much more reactive in my hands than my own sword *seethes with jealousy*. But that sword is a bit too simple for my taste.

In response to some of the recent posts:

Here is a link to a fascinating and enlightening article I'm sure you've all read, but the table at the bottom deserves a thorough perusal, with detailed length/weight info: http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html

You'll note that many of the swords around the 6 foot mark are still under 10 lbs (a few around 6-8, aye Jean?). I still wonder whether length was often matched to the height of the wielder. . .

Cheers, until later,

Sam

"As a galleon among many galleys"
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