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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2003 4:16 pm    Post subject: Continental Basket-hilts         Reply with quote

Lately I've become obsessed with continental European basket-hilts. Perhaps it's more specific to say non-British basket-hilted swords.

These types of sword hilts can be found with a tremendous variety of forms and are mounted to a vast selection of blades. While my interest started with the schiavona about three years ago, it's now extended into all the other types of hilts. The evolutionary evidence available through the study of such hilts demonstrates cultural, military, and commercial influences throughout Europe as well as gives a great deal of info as to the evolution of hand protection in hilts. Fascinating stuff.


I'm curious what level of interest there is on these types of hilts from this community. What are your thoughts on these types of swords? They're not generally reproduced, and certainly are rare for production swords. Museum Replicas has found themselves willing to create several types of Euro-baskets, but these models generally get cancelled. Is it due to a lack of interest from the sword buying public? Is the Scottish basket-hilt so strongly embedded into our expectations for a basket-hilted sword that we're unwilling to accept other variants?

I'm curious what your thoughts are on this.


I'll include some examples of a selection of pieces. Even this small sample demonstrates the wide diversity.
Click each photo to see another view and info in the myArmoury.com photo albums








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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From a layman on the subject, a very quick visual impression is that several of them look like a rapier that has had the stuff on the blade side pushed back to the grip side. They look 'messy'. Maybe that accounts for some of the unpopularity. Obviously I'd leave the schiavona out of this. Pommel aside, the latter looks really good, and looks like it would allow more wrist movement than a typical scottish basket hilt.
Generally , I think the scottish basket hilt is popular because of the cultural kudos of 'celtic' links in the US, the world's most significant market for most things, plus possibly the role of the weapon in the instances of the highland charge, which may have been the last times in european warfare when edged weapons really made a difference.
As I said, a lay impression. I've never handled any of these types.
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think Geoff is on track with how people perceive these as rapier-ish , and in certain cases "messy" , or odd, when compared to the popular Scottish / English baskethilts we've come to accept as the norm !

Personally I think they are quite awesome ...... But would I commission one to be made ? ....
Probably not .... but that's due more to the fact that there are still so many "normal" pieces I wish to add to my collection!

They are so interesting , though, and I certainly would luv to see Vince, Eljay, or Erik, do one up ...... !
Heck, if I can beat Nathan to the punch , maybe I'd snatch one if it came available !

One other thing ......

I hear alot of folks, like Geoff mentioned, talk about the restricted wrist movement within a basket-hilt ?!!? How so ??

When I have my hand on the grip, within a basket, the hilt follows and moves with my wrist no problem .... not really any different than a cruciform ! So I think the "restictive" bit is more assumption than anything real !

Mac





Geoff Wood wrote:
From a layman on the subject, a very quick visual impression is that several of them look like a rapier that has had the stuff on the blade side pushed back to the grip side. They look 'messy'. Maybe that accounts for some of the unpopularity. Obviously I'd leave the schiavona out of this. Pommel aside, the latter looks really good, and looks like it would allow more wrist movement than a typical scottish basket hilt.
Generally , I think the scottish basket hilt is popular because of the cultural kudos of 'celtic' links in the US, the world's most significant market for most things, plus possibly the role of the weapon in the instances of the highland charge, which may have been the last times in european warfare when edged weapons really made a difference.
As I said, a lay impression. I've never handled any of these types.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My feelings pretty much run in-line with everyone else. I find these swords to be very interesting from an historical standpoint. From an aesthetic standpoint though they seem to be neither fish nor fowl. They look like a baskethilt, but not really. Many look like a rapier, but not really. They seem to lack the visual refinement and proportion of either the earlier designs, or the ones that followed them.

Fascinating from the standpoint of historical development, but aesthetically they leave me cold.
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think its the individuals that we're looking at. Somewhere, and I don't recall where, I've seen a German basket that looked quite fascinating.

I think a couple of these could be used for "inspiration", and dressed up just a wee bit different, made quite attractive.....

And, if Eljay decided he would like to do a continental basket, I'd sure be willing to mount it on an AT blade.........

swords are fun
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While the German Basket hilts don't tickle my fancy much either, those Italian Schiavona.... wow.... if I had more money, I'd branch out into them puppies....
I recently had the chance to handle an original 17th century Schiavona. What a treat. Amazing, light, lively in the hand. And the basket was not "too restrictive" to me....

But, as I must control my spending somehow, the schiavona sadly gets left behind......

Maybe I should consider that second job, what, Patrick? Wink

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Maybe I should consider that second job, what, Patrick? "

It is a big help Dave. Since you mention it, I've just lost my second job due to corporate restructuring. I too need to find a new way of supporting my addiction . I can feel the withdrawal pangs starting already Eek!
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Kevin S. McCarley




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I, for one, would love to add replicas of this type to my collection. Thanks for posting the question & pics.

I've recently focused my collecting on more 'late period' blades (like 1500-1650-ish) and, while I like certainly like rapiers, I have a fascination for 'rapier-hilted' military swords, sideswords, backswords, broadswords, etc.

Yes, some of these designs can be a bit aestetically 'messy', but I think that is part of their charm. Transitional periods in design are always interesting to me. I agree with Mr. Trim, I'm sure it'd be possible to take inspiration from a historical piece, 'clean up' the hilt design a bit, and have a superbly functional, protective, and pleasing-to-the-eye sword.

Just my opinion/vote. If this type of sword doesn't have a big enough market for a big volume retailer (e.g. MRL ), perhaps this is a niche for a custom smith?

Kevin
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I love all basket hilts. My theory is that there are plenty of folks with a taste for these less well known hilt designs, but I would expect that they're more informed about historic examples than the average consumer, and thus are more critical of replicas (less likely to buy slipshod offerings). I was looking through an old MRL catalog last week and saw a now-discontinued German basket hilt sword. I thought "I would really like to have that...IF THEY HADN'T RUINED IT WITH THAT HORRIBLE NICKEL PLATING!!!!!" Again, that was an old catalog and I'm confident things have improved at Windlass/MRL. Still, I can just hear somebody at Windlass now saying "we've tried Continental basket hilt swords in the past-there's no market." I would argue that they haven't and there is. I mean, they don't know that there's no market for GOOD continental basket hilt replicas because they haven't yet offered one. MRL charged, what, $240 for its recent Scottish Backsword? Why not match that blade with a simple, steel, non-plated German basket hilt of historically accurate size (e.g., the last photo above) for $30-50 more? If they were to put that hilt on that blade I think they'd see that there IS a market for it. They'd sell at least one, anyway Big Grin
-Sean

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I absolutely love these two hilts:


Photo, left, copyright Czerny's International Auction House; Photo, right, copyright Hermann Historica

I personally find them very graceful.

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Allen Johnson





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Sep, 2003 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

heres a few more...


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Michael L Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Sep, 2003 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm also a big fan of the continental baskethilts, especially those with simplier styles. They have a grace and elegance that, in my opinion, is missing from the later Scottish forms. This not to be construed, however, as a knock against the Scottish baskethilts. I'd just like to see some makers concentrate on the simplier models. I'll be eager to see what Gus comes up with in the near future.

Regards
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2003 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stylistically, the thing that intrigues me about these hilts is that the forms of many of them are so organic compared to the Anglo-Scottish baskets. The elements of these hilts oftentimes resemble vines, leaves, berries, grasses, nuts, etc. while all of the A-S baskets I can call to mind are more geometric–rectangles, triangles, circles, etc. Am I just imagining this?

Here's an off-the-cuff, quasi-crackpot theory just for grins–The earliest basket hilts were inspired by actual baskets, so armorers retained the organic elements of the original inspiration, demonstrating their skill by making the steel resemble woven vines, grasses, twigs, etc. and even adding nut or berry-shaped finials and pommels as references to the common contents of real baskets. Take a look at all the hilts Nathan shows us above. Look at that first one. If anybody here has ever picked blackberries/dewberries I think they'll see in this hilt exactly what I see in this hilt. By the time the basket hilt emigrated to the British Isles, they were farther removed from their organic origins and becoming more stylized and thus more "rigid" and mechanical looking, and, from there, more geometric. Of course the latter (and weakest) part of this theory presupposes a single rather than parallel and culturally independent evolution of the basket hilt. I'm not really comfortable with that presupposition. It's a bit too close to the faulty logic that gives us the "Egyptians must have visited MesoAmerica because both cultures built pyramids" theories.
Discuss. Big Grin

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Sep, 2003 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean, that's a great observation and a really good synopsis of why I like these types of baskets so much: their organic nature. I've seen so many geometric designs on swords that the organic, asymmetric forms have become very appealing to me.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Sep, 2003 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IS THERE A WELDER IN THE HOUSE?????


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-Sean

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Stephen A. Fisher




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2004 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,

Here is one that might be of interest to you. (recently appeared on Ebay)

Overall length- 37"
Blade Length- 32"
Blade width- 1.25"
Quillin to quillon length- 7.75"



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circa 17th century

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Last edited by Stephen A. Fisher on Sun 04 Jan, 2004 10:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Stephen A. Fisher




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2004 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

...


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Eugene George




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2004 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great call on the MRL Scottish backsword mod!
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2004 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These type of European Basket hilts are exactly the sort that had me sighting the 17th century on Mac's "if you had
to pick a century " survey . I love 'em . I have one made back in 1978 by a fellow named Luther Sowers thats
a copy of one in "Arms an Armour in Colonia America 1526-1783 " that I adore .
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Stephen A. Fisher




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2004 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[from Faganarms Inc.]


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