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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Jun, 2015 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:


So really a blade to be very careful with during sparring. It can really pierce well as it is stiff.


It is a real sword (as real as the original) and can't be used for sparring. Solo drills, yes, but even then, you had better be very conscious of your surroundings. (Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying)
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2015 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:


So really a blade to be very careful with during sparring. It can really pierce well as it is stiff.


It is a real sword (as real as the original) and can't be used for sparring. Solo drills, yes, but even then, you had better be very conscious of your surroundings. (Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying)


Oh I meant that you could maybe use it when training/sparring in armour (so to train with sharp edge sword-binds), but given it's a stiff blade - even in armour - any thrust with this blade is too dangerous.
Without or with little armour you would both need to know what is going on (ONLY pre-determined sequences), as the sword otherwise is to lethal.....
So would you think it's safe enough to do sparring in armour with "restrained cuts" only?
[You understood sparring as "free combat" only? - I meant to use sparring very broadly that also included sequence-practice]
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2015 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I guess if you were both wearing full plate armor and were being very cautious, you could get away with it, unless a stupid mistake occurred. But remember, this sword is a lethal instrument. Much better to use a blunt sword with a rounded tip.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Craig Johnson noticed and posted here: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=14282&start=110

An Alexandrian Arsenal sword rediscovered after being "lost" since the 1940's.
The Harriet Dean sword:


Source: http://www.christies.com/features/Discovery--...932-3.aspx

It has been on sale at Christies - [Sale 11287, Lot 335] - realized price was HIGH. £386,500 ($576,658)
Source: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/arms-armor...7004b40f22


Last edited by Niels Just Rasmussen on Fri 18 Dec, 2015 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was an absolute pleasure to go there and handle it. I'd been searching for the 'Harriet Dean' sword for about 17 years!
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
It was an absolute pleasure to go there and handle it. I'd been searching for the 'Harriet Dean' sword for about 17 years!


Yeah it must be such a experience to relocate something everyone feared could have been lost forever and to actually have it in your hands !! Happy
Can you enlighten us why it "disappeared" and now suddenly reappeared?
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
It has been on sale at Christies - [Sale 11287, Lot 335] - realized price was HIGH. £386,500 ($576,658)

Wow! Almost four times the estimated price... is this a new record for a medieval sword at auction?

Clive Thomas wrote:
It was an absolute pleasure to go there and handle it. I'd been searching for the 'Harriet Dean' sword for about 17 years!

That's great, Clive! By any chance did you get any additional measurements of it? The auction description only seems to have the blade length...
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was very interesting to have found this sword after so many years. Basically, it was sold by the executors of Harriet Dean's will back in 1943. This was at the Parke-Bernet galleries in New York, where it was auctioned for the then princely sum of $475 to a chap called Percy S. Straus Jr. (of the Straus family that owned Macy's department stores). At some point in - I think - the 1950s, he changed the family name to Selden (this was actually his middle name).

So, any enquiries into the Straus collection subsequently drew a blank, as the name change seems to have gone unnoticed by most people. He died in tragic circumstances in 1976, but the sword remained with the Selden family until this year. It, and the rest of Percy's collection was earmarked for sale in a local auction house but it was noticed by an agent of Christie's. Howard Dixon, the arms and armour director at Christie's, recognised the sword for what it was and pulled out all the stops to acquire it. This is where I became involved, and visited Christie's in South Kensington shortly thereafter to have a really good look at the piece. Full measurements were taken, of course, the total length being 113.9cm, span of cross guard is 25.6cm, and blade thickness at the forte being exactly 5mm. Blade width at the forte is 8.45cm.

The provenance of the sword is rock-solid, as there is an old photograph taken in 1889 that shows this one, as well as the very similar example now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. No. 29.150.143) hanging together on the front of a pillar in the Ottoman Grand Depot of Arms.
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 5:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
It has been on sale at Christies - [Sale 11287, Lot 335] - realized price was HIGH. £386,500 ($576,658)

Wow! Almost four times the estimated price... is this a new record for a medieval sword at auction?



It's a very high price for a medieval sword at auction, but not unique. Another Alexandria Arsenal sword came up for sale at Christie's on 13th April 2010 (Islamic Arts sale, Lot 60) which made a comparable sum: £396-668.75 (and actually the hammer price was the same as the Harriet Dean Sword - £320,000).

Since that sale, and until very recently, I believe the highest price at auction paid for an Alexandrian sword was £163,250. This was for a superb Type XVII from the Christensen Collection which went under the hammer at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on 28th November 2012 (Lot 78). Most medieval swords make only a fraction of this amount, with perhaps the swords from the Castillon find being some of the best sellers. However, even these are nowhere near the huge sums realised by the Alexandrian pieces, which are in a class of their own.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
It was very interesting to have found this sword after so many years. Basically, it was sold by the executors of Harriet Dean's will back in 1943. This was at the Parke-Bernet galleries in New York, where it was auctioned for the then princely sum of $475 to a chap called Percy S. Straus Jr. (of the Straus family that owned Macy's department stores). At some point in - I think - the 1950s, he changed the family name to Selden (this was actually his middle name).

So, any enquiries into the Straus collection subsequently drew a blank, as the name change seems to have gone unnoticed by most people. He died in tragic circumstances in 1976, but the sword remained with the Selden family until this year. It, and the rest of Percy's collection was earmarked for sale in a local auction house but it was noticed by an agent of Christie's. Howard Dixon, the arms and armour director at Christie's, recognised the sword for what it was and pulled out all the stops to acquire it. This is where I became involved, and visited Christie's in South Kensington shortly thereafter to have a really good look at the piece. Full measurements were taken, of course, the total length being 113.9cm, span of cross guard is 25.6cm, and blade thickness at the forte being exactly 5mm. Blade width at the forte is 8.45cm.

The provenance of the sword is rock-solid, as there is an old photograph taken in 1889 that shows this one, as well as the very similar example now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. No. 29.150.143) hanging together on the front of a pillar in the Ottoman Grand Depot of Arms.


Many thanks Clive for both "lost" history and measurements of the sword. Happy
I can see why name-changing could surely "throw trackers of the scent"!
What is the islamic inscription saying and is this sword part of the Shaykh bequests of 1414-19 (which you wrote earlier about in this thread)?
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
Full measurements were taken, of course, the total length being 113.9cm, span of cross guard is 25.6cm, and blade thickness at the forte being exactly 5mm. Blade width at the forte is 8.45cm.

The provenance of the sword is rock-solid, as there is an old photograph taken in 1889 that shows this one, as well as the very similar example now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. No. 29.150.143) hanging together on the front of a pillar in the Ottoman Grand Depot of Arms.

Thanks for the details, Clive. I think I know which photo you mean... Comparing pommels, I'd guess the Dean and Met swords are the top pair? Have the lower pair been traced? I know there is another member of the family at the Royal Armouries.



Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
What is the islamic inscription saying and is this sword part of the Shaykh bequests of 1414-19 (which you wrote earlier about in this thread)?

Kalus in Donations pieuses d'épées médiévales à l'arsenal d'Alexandrie reports that the text is identical to that on the Met example, which translates to "Donation of al-Mālik al Mu`ayyad Abū al-Nasr Shaykh to the armory in the frontier city of Alexandria year 822" [1419].
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The inscription reads: "Pious donation of the king al-Mu'ayyad to the arsenal in the frontier city of Alexandria in the year two and ten and eight hundred".
The name "abu'l nasr shaykh" ("Father of Victory, Shaykh") has been written above the main body of the inscription. Shaykh was the sultan's personal name, while al-Mu'ayyad generally means 'divinely supported', in reference to the means by which he usurped power in 1412, using a Caliph to support his claim.
The dating of all swords from this bequest is generally thought to be in error, as the date 812 (1409-10) in the Islamic calendar occurred before Shaykh became sultan. Therefore, we think it should read 822 (1419-20) instead.
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 5:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a good photo, but it doesn't show the Bashford and Harriet Dean swords. I'll post the correct one later when I get a moment! The photo above shows the sword now on loan to the Royal Armouries from Leeds Castle (Acc. No. AL.40.1) at the middle right, while I'm currently unsure of the others. I suspect that at least two of them (at middle and bottom left) might be hiding in private collections somewhere and may resurface in time.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 5:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mark and Clive for the answers.

I'm getting confused with the dating now! The 812 written on the sword had to be counted from the Islamic Year 1.
It depends how you reckon the year 1 in the Islamic Calendar.

A) If you take the muslim year 1 as 610 AD where Muhammed at the age of 40 was visited by Gabriel (Jibri-il/Jibra-il) in a cave and started to receive verses from the Koran, then you get year 1422 AD (610+812). -> Then 1422-1 to withdraw the "year 1" gives 1421 AD.

B) But normally the Year 1 in the Islamic Calendar is when Muhammed broke with his clan (Quraysh) and moved from Mekka to Yathrib (later Medina) - called the "Hijra" - and created a new religious society of muslims (the "Ummah" = people) in 622 AD.
So 622 + 812 would actually give 1434 AD?! -> then 1434-1 to withdraw the "year 1" gives 1433 AD.

So is their a change within Islamic history on how to count (or perhaps regional variants)?
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
That's a good photo, but it doesn't show the Bashford and Harriet Dean swords. I'll post the correct one later when I get a moment! The photo above shows the sword now on loan to the Royal Armouries from Leeds Castle (Acc. No. AL.40.1) at the middle right, while I'm currently unsure of the others.

Thanks for the clarification! I'm not familiar with the other photo then, would be very curious to see it.
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So is their a change within Islamic history on how to count (or perhaps regional variants)?[/quote]

Hi Niels, that's a good question that can be answered as follows:

Islamic dating follows a lunar calendar, known as the Hijra Calendar (al hijra) and based on the date that Mohammed left Mecca for Medina in 622 AD. This is based on a lunar year of about 11 days less than a solar year (so, circa 354 days as opposed to 365 days).

As such, the years begin to lose any kind of correspondence to the Christian-based calendar the further they are from 622 AD.

There are conversion tables for this, but the Islamic calendar is based upon an actual observation of the new moon and not a set date, which causes small fluctuations occasionally. I personally have a chart with all the official dates and their equivalents shown up to the year 2000, which is usually more than enough for anything I happen to write on the subject!
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[/quote]
Thanks for the clarification! I'm not familiar with the other photo then, would be very curious to see it.[/quote]

Here is the photo. As you can see, the Harriet Dean sword is on the left, with the Bashford Dean sword (now in the Met) on the right. Despite the fact that you can't see the pommels, if you look at the areas of corrosion on the blade you will see that they match those on the latest Christie's photographs.

This photo was taken, like the other one above, by the Ottoman photographic company Abdullah Frères in 1889 at the Grand Depot of Arms in the Matchka District, and not at Hagia Eirene as previously thought. During their time in the Imperial Ottoman Arsenal, the Alexandrian swords were spread across both locations probably up until about the 1920s.



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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
Here is the photo. As you can see, the Harriet Dean sword is on the left, with the Bashford Dean sword (now in the Met) on the right. Despite the fact that you can't see the pommels, if you look at the areas of corrosion on the blade you will see that they match those on the latest Christie's photographs.

Yes I see, the identification is very clear. Thanks very much for this photo. Happy
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Dec, 2015 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
Hi Niels, that's a good question that can be answered as follows:

Islamic dating follows a lunar calendar, known as the Hijra Calendar (al hijra) and based on the date that Mohammed left Mecca for Medina in 622 AD. This is based on a lunar year of about 11 days less than a solar year (so, circa 354 days as opposed to 365 days).

As such, the years begin to lose any kind of correspondence to the Christian-based calendar the further they are from 622 AD.

There are conversion tables for this, but the Islamic calendar is based upon an actual observation of the new moon and not a set date, which causes small fluctuations occasionally. I personally have a chart with all the official dates and their equivalents shown up to the year 2000, which is usually more than enough for anything I happen to write on the subject!


Laughing Out Loud Off course. Actually I did know that the Muslim has a lunar calendar, I just forgot to apply it to the calculation.
I will try without the charts - so correct me Clive if I'm wrong in the following!

So 11 days loss amounts to ~ +1 lunar year must be added every 33,18 solar years.
So 812/33,18 = +24,5 lunar years.
So to make the 812 lunar years into solar years we have to subtract 24,5 = 787,5 solar years.
AD 622 + 787,5 = 1409,5.
Then we have to subtract the "year 1 effect" as you can't have a year 0. Since there actually only has been 811 (lunar) years from (lunar-)year 1 to (lunar)-year 812.
[As the "millennium" was in 2001, not in 2000 (only 1999 years from year 1 to year 2000).]
So then we arrive to the conclusion that Year 812 in the Islamic calendar must be 1408,5 AD. Clive, it gives the problems you talk about of having a too early dating, where it should be between 1414-1419 instead -> and a +10 lunar years would solve that problem.
So if it is a scribal error on the sword with 812 instead of 822 it could fit - BUT I have a general aversion about the solution to explain scribal errors on blades if "WE" can't get a date or inscription to fit "OUR" interpretation. [That is done to much in runic research in my opinion].
Inscriptions on swords are not fast handwriting -> they are prepared and normally people know what year they live in. If uncertain they would surely ask someone to not make an error, since if people made glaring errors like that, they would likely face punishment.
So if we have a similar sword with the same dedicated inscription were it does say 822 instead - then I'm more sold it could be a scribal error. Otherwise I'm tending towards: "There are still something we don't quite understand".
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Clive Thomas




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Dec, 2015 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes Niels, you're probably correct and this one has been bugging me for years as the '812 / 822 hand wave' might just seem a little too convenient an explanation.

Consulting my chart of Hijra & Western dates, the Muslim year 812 began on 16th May 1409 and ended on 5th May 1410. The problem here is that the named donor in the inscription (Shaykh) was at that time either the Viceroy of Damascus or of Tripoli, and not the Sultan until 6th November 1412, which would have been in 815 AH.

He only started using the term 'al-malik al-mu'ayyad' (the divinely supported king) after he became sultan, and this particular name occurs quite clearly in the inscription. I think the 'correction' to 822 was originally asserted by Etienne Combe in his 1937 work on the subject, and this was repeated by Kalus in 1982 and assumed by everyone since.

So, something doesn't add up, and ALL of the inscriptions from this particular bequest appear to be dated 812. The numbers are written out in full grammatical - rather than numeric - form (i.e. 'ten' instead of '10'), and are often incomplete and with a total absence of diacritical marks. Therefore, they may be open to further interpretation. It's also possible that the original scribe confused the number 'ashrah (ten) for 'ishrin (twenty). Now, if the engraver had been, say, a Coptic Christian (they were often employed at the time in administrative roles) then this might have been an easily-made mistake for a non-native speaker of Arabic. However, and as you suggest, a mistake like this may have been worthy of punishment, especially as these inscriptions were of a particularly pious nature and would have been taken very seriously.

The bottom line is, of course, that we appear to be missing something with the dating of these inscriptions, unless Shaykh actually had delusions of grandeur and started styling himself as Sultan 2-3 years before he finally rose to that position. And this wouldn't then explain why these swords were donated to the Alexandria Arsenal by him, and not the reigning sultan al-nasir Faraj.
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