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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 4:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:

However, you did specify that your question here wasn't: "Is it important for a swordmaker to examine originals?" but rather : "Do you care if the swordmaker you buy from has handled originals?" And that is a completely different and far more subjective question.

So, I don't see who you are trying to convince with this argument. Question

The purpose behind my argument is this: there are some people who are not aware of the fact that a sword that happens to feel reasonably good in hand is not the same thing as a replica sword. There are people who think "Oh, here's a sword for sale- it says it's a Type XII, and hey, other forum members here on myArmoury praise this swordsmith and say that his weapons feel agile and cut well, so I'm getting a good replica medieval sword". Wrong. Or, perhaps more accurately, "not necessarily true". Having the general shape of a Type XII and feeling good in hand is not the same thing as buying a replica Type XII that is constructed from research of antique swords- from real Type XIIs- rather than going by the smith's own knowledge/ideas and intuition.

In some cases, there are forum members here who order custom replicas of specific historical swords from smiths who have not handled antique originals, or who may not have handled examples of the particular type of sword being reproduced. Having done measurements and line drawings and having handled an antique Type XII does not mean that you can accurately produce a Viking Type X sword from that knowledge. But I'm not sure how many myArmoury members consider this when they purchase a sword. I'm not sure how many ask themselves "I'm looking for a sword, and I know that just because a replica is generally shaped like a particular Oakshott type and seems to feel good in hand does not make it an accurate replica, an actual replica medieval sword. Which sword makers have actually handled medieval swords?"

In other words, I'm trying to raise awareness about something that may slip under the radar for some people. I know that it's happened for me. If you're happy with a sword that feels good in hand, then there's no need for you to change your views. But I think many people haven't really thought this through as well as they might, considering that they're spending a significant chunk of money on a "replica" medieval, or renaissance, early modern- whatever it may be- sword.
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Chad Arnow
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myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I get your point, but I'm not sure I agree with everything you say. I also worry that there may be a maker or set of makers you have in mind that you're talking around without actually mentioning.

The bottom line is that some people don't know what they should expect. And some people don't care. The biggest flaw with your line of thought seems to be the assumption that everyone wants/needs/should have the same standards you do. The reason there is variety in the marketplace is because there is a need for it. The need for a sword made with pleasant handling that only bears a passing resemblance to a period piece is real. We can debate whether that demand is due to ignorance of what a medieval sword is, price considerations, personal connection with the maker, bad advice, or simply liking the aesthetic of the item. But the demand is there.

I think you'll find the crowd here is more educated about what a good sword is than most. They have access to info that tells them about historical swords, good replicas, and access to some of the finest craftspeople in the world. I appreciate your desire to help people out, but please bear in mind that old phrase about a horse, water, and drinking. Happy People can and should do their homework before purchasing. If they choose not to, they'll either be happy with something inaccurate (which is their prerogative) or they'll eventually figure out the issues with it and seek out something better. Either way, it's up to them.


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Jared Smith

Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To me the most critical aspect of this is that someone had to do it (study originals in depth) first, and did. I don't know how many people reinvented the wheel, but I suspect most copied once they witnessed it.

I just feel very lucky to have joined this forum, and bought the highest recommended makers replicas within my budget that have already been based on; years of study of originals, practice application (ARMA, HEMA, etc.), and fabrication improvement through the most rigorous of modern technology trials.

With my "replicas", I feel o.k. about test cutting and handling them in a way that I would be ashamed to have done abusively to an original. I prize information about originals most highly for dating period of style, and aesthetic aspects. Combine those two, and I would say a talented maker could make VERY GOOD reproduction swords understanding handling traits of the best current day replicas, and authentic design elements of period originals. (Plus around 15 years work on learning how to do some specific aspect of the fabrication at a master level of craftsmanship.)

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I get your point, but I'm not sure I agree with everything you say. I also worry that there may be a maker or set of makers you have in mind that you're talking around without actually mentioning.

I have my doubts about the number of swords that certain makers have handled, but that's neither here nor there. I do not know for certain, and I'm not about to start making accusations. All that it means is that I am less likely to buy from them, but as there will undoubtedly be other customers who will, I am sure their business will do fine without me.

The biggest flaw with your line of thought seems to be the assumption that everyone wants/needs/should have the same standards you do.

Yes, I can see from the tone of my posts that there is that undercurrent. If nothing more though, hopefully this thread will get people to consider the subject a bit more. I know personally that there's times when I haven't given it much thought when looking at a particular sword and I am sure there are others like this too.
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Ken Nelson

Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maurizio, your posts about the laser scans have the skeptical and scientific part of my brain going. It has taken a bit of time to develop random strings into full thoughts.

We have a tremendous advantage over out predecessors with the science and technology available today. It is theoretically possible to use modern methods to recreate a sword with such precision that if a person were to be blindfolded, I doubt that they would be able to tell one from the other, or if they could it would be no different that distinguishing two swords from the same shop.

I have also started to wonder if using a scan like the ones you have would be as good if not better than the series of measurements I have on some of the blades I have studied, as the resolution is much finer than my hand measurements as my hand measurements are spread out further. (.1mm vs .1mm each 10-12mm)

There is something to be said for the feel of a weapon, the balance, the handling characteristics, but those are dependent on the geometry and materials used. I am still of the opinion that to design a sword of a given type a smith needs to study that type of sword, but to make a replica it may be possible to use information like what you have gathered, and hve it so close to the original that they would be as similar as two made by the same hand.

Some of the questions I have yet, are is it possible, and to what degree? How could it be tested, can a double blind test be set up to eliminate confirmation bias and other variables? To what degree could a replica built off of the scans of the original be useful for study, and would a hand build replica or a computer controlled build be more useful for study?

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Maurizio D'Angelo

Location: Italy
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Oct, 2010 12:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree in part. A scan does not need to have precise measurements, this can be done very well by hand. Need to study a very long time a sword, that sword because I study it for two years and are half done. Need a scan to see what's inside a sword. It is used to study the sections. The study of sections also shows us what vocation he had the sword, if more for the cutting or thrust, us to understand if it was sharpened after and how, in short, all information that otherwise would not be possible to have. That was when the sections are controversial. I understand that the photos are very misleading, alone may easily mislead. Also see close up a sword can be misleading. I used a linear scale to understand the shape. In many swords, this may not be necessary, but some swords, yes.
Is easy to measure flat parts, a bit more difficult to measure curves and arcs.

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Bernard Delor

Location: France
Joined: 19 Nov 2010

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2010 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, as a blacksmith, I must say that agree - in principle - with what Craig says. I continuously try to gather as much informations as possible. Handling a sword is one important thing. But the ability of seeing swords (even not handling) is quite important too. If I had to choose, I should prefer to see a thousand swords than handling ten of them. Because, the most you can see, the most you will retain. I gather as much books and photos as possible. And of course, when I can buy one ancient sword, I do !

Nevertheless, things might be sometimes less simple.
First, some of the ancient sword you may get are not accurate at all. Because fake and decorative-only swords already existed in the past times. They were forged, and sometimes rather good looking, but not good at all for any fighting !

Then, I have to deal with the "modern taste" : most of the people who buy a sword or a dagger today, will like it to feel strong and heavy. Go to a museum ! The pieces are usually much smaller and lighter than the modern copies. Should I make such a blade, the buyer might not like it !

Last question is how far should I be historically correct. Our sword are made of modern good quality steel. Those of the ancient time were made of weird and unknown quality materials (this is why they were pattern welded). So should I make my own steel ? Should I use modern tools or not ? What about an air engraver ? What about an electric grinder or a power hammer... What I mean is that in a reconstruction, not only the shape and geometry are important, but also materials, technics and tools.

As a conclusion I should say that there is not one single right answer, it's all a question of focus and will. But when I am hammering, and I see that the steel goes easily into the right shape, I deeply feel that I am doing the right move with the right tool at the right time, just like the other guy did hundred years before, and this is one fantastic feeling. And at that time you know the work is going to be OK.

PS : sorry for my "french looking" english syntax !
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