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James Arlen Gillaspie
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Location: upstate NY
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Jan, 2019 7:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Years ago I worked on a 16th century Italian longsword, and was amused by such things as the off center holes. It's easy to do if you are hot drifting the holes, not drilling. Drifting is much faster in any case, not to mention that drills of that time were not of the best. Judging by the tang, the sword was for civilian use, I suspect. It needed a little work. ...And I can't post the last two photos because they are dimensionally irregular. Drat.


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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 17 Jan, 2019 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
The St. Omer is always gorgeous, thank you for posting that. Do you have any more photos or information on #17? I rather like that cross and would like to see the full monty, as it were. The grip is a little thick for me, but then that’s the point of the thread, isn’t it?


Hi Kai,

The sword is from the Deutsches Klingenmuseum, 1964.W.036. It is identified as a Type X blade, but dated to the 14th century. The pommel is bronze, and the grip is burl wood, possibly from oak root. It is 926 mm long. In its present form, its mass is a mere 646 grams, making it one of the lightest medieval swords I know of.

Here's the rest of the sword.



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Victor R.




Location: Spring, Texas
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Jan, 2019 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
19) Here’s a great example of a sword that doesn’t fit modern aesthetics for a variety of reasons. The grip is short, the pommel is unusual, and the cross is short, too.




I might elongate the cross a little, but I'd love to see that pommel on a sword I own.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 17 Jan, 2019 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Victor R. wrote:

I might elongate the cross a little, but I'd love to see that pommel on a sword I own.


The question is: can you resist the temptation to "fix" this sword? ;-)
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jan, 2019 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow Craig--that sword is wild! The blade looks rather fragile and thin (as well as narrow)--I wonder if it's older than the hilt furniture? The hilt itself looks remarkably like some of the early dagger-cum-proto-messer hilts you can see with longer, beefier single edged blades, though the piece is likely larger. What a cool, weird sword! I'm not sure I would want it, as my current aesthetics lie along other lines, but I don't think I would change anything about this sword. I actually think the bulging cross, thicker grip and longer narrow blade work for this piece--albeit in a way that is rather unlike anything else I've seen. Is there a find provenance?
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 18 Jan, 2019 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All that the text says is that it was an archaeological find, then purchased via the Dutch antiques trade.
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Victor R.




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jan, 2019 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Victor R. wrote:

I might elongate the cross a little, but I'd love to see that pommel on a sword I own.


The question is: can you resist the temptation to "fix" this sword? ;-)


If I had that sword, I'd do nothing further to it but care for it and use it as intended if the need arose. If someone were to give me a sword of the same dimensions, I'd thank them for it without complaint. If I saw another with the sword and was having a sword made for myself by the same smith, I'd likely tell him same pommel, but stretch the cross of the same mass and type another half inch in each direction.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 18 Jan, 2019 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, has any researcher or scholar ever suggested that swords with very short crosses like number 17 and number 19 in this thread were primarily meant as "dress swords" and not really meant as weapons? One could argue that swords with comparatively small blades as these are not particularly well suited to combat, nor are their crosses particularly good for protecting the hand, and therefore they represent more gentlemanly swords— usable if necessary, of course— but not really intended for serious combat? Personally, I do not think this argument is necessarily correct, but I can see how one might make it.

The reason I ask is that I can see how some modern people might view cross guards this small as entirely unsuitable, and therefore they might create hypotheses to “explain away” the purpose of these swords since they do not match their conceptions of how swords should look. Of course, Viking era swords clearly attest to the fact that swords with short guards are perfectly usable in war, yet the preponderance of medieval swords with fairly wide guards might lead some to nevertheless make arguments like this.
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2019 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think this is a really good topic. I often think of the difficulty of making swords entirely by hand and eye and the organic imperfections of them. I have one medieval sword which is pretty much symmetrical but not quite: the tang is not completely even on both sides, the pommel is a bit wider on one side, the blade (heavily corroded) is not 100% symmetrical in its original form probably. But the balance is beautiful and I am sure it worked as a sword.

As a mostly rapier collector, you see long rapiers with blades that as you look along them are slightly bent and imperfect. I think it is wrong to assume this is damage since they ceased to be used. If you think they were forging blades of 40 inches to 45 inches by hand, the skill to get each one perfectly straight would be extraordinary I imagine (though I am not a swordsmith!).

I have one early 16th century hand and a half sword which is probably my best piece which has a 42 inch blade with a triple fuller running the full length. The blade is dead straight throughout and the triple fuller is pretty much perfect. I had a friend visit who makes ironmongery and household items like lights and fire tools etc by hand and he looked at it and was flabbergasted at the skill it would take to do that by hand.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2019 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've decided to change the title of this thread. Although the previous title was perfectly adequate in characterizing the thread, I feel many online readers would be less likely to read this thread because the title "didn't look interesting".

Given that one of the goals of this thread is to reach and influence the sword community in general, I feel my previous title was not facilitating this goal. Therefore, "The Eccentricities of Antique Medieval Swords" is now "How Medieval Swords Really Look". Hopefully, more people will now take an interest in reading this thread.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jan, 2019 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The 'Korsoygaden' Sword [SIC] is one of my favorites. It has an asymmetic guard. But when I had it replicated, I asked for a symmetric version to meet modern our sensibilties:http://myArmoury.com/review_helmes_korsoygaden.html


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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jan, 2019 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding the apparently small size of pommels on some swords, I'm wondering if we aren't missing the point. Isn't the real issue whether the pommel is of the correct weight to properly counterbalance the blade, not how it looks? Many pommels were solid, while others were not like the putative Henry V sword in Westminster. That pommel is relatively beefy given the size of the blade yet its more or less hollow, with parts of it brazed together. A smaller pommel may look insignificant and yet be solid, dense, and more than capable of counterbalancing the rest of the weapon. Does this make sense?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 20 Jan, 2019 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert,

Many people think this way, but according to Peter Johnsson, this is not actually the case. He has mentioned elsewhere that many antique medieval swords had finely balanced blades which did not require the presence of a pommel to counterbalance them. Other blades are less lively, yet having a large pommel does not dramatically change the handling performance. The idea of pommels counterbalancing the blade seems to be more of a modern notion than a medieval one, and this makes sense. The blade itself needs to be well designed according to the parameters of what it was expected to achieve, rather than being dependent upon the pommel to make it more usable. Many if not most medieval swords had pommels created separately from the blade, so there was no guarantee for the cutler that the "right" pommel would be provided for the blade. Perhaps Peter can explain himself; I'm going from memory, and obviously my understanding is much less sophisticated than his.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 20 Jan, 2019 11:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
The 'Korsoygaden' Sword [SIC] is one of my favorites. It has an asymmetic guard. But when I had it replicated, I asked for a symmetric version to meet modern our sensibilties:http://myArmoury.com/review_helmes_korsoygaden.html


Looks like the lower terminal of the cross (in the photo) is noticeably thicker, and the "clubbed" end more pronounced. Is there anything else I missed?
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2019 2:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great thread! Contributing with some stuff, obviously Messers. Comments with the images.


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Notice the gap between cross and tang.

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Some tips on Waidpraxes might raise some eyebrows, though I personally like them a lot. [ Download ]
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2019 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the second image you posted, there are three images of messer hilts in the top right, with a single image of a messer cross, below. In the latter image, it looks like the cross guard is warped: the left arm does not look like it's on the same plane as the right. I don't know if this was present at the time of manufacture. However, the type of bend gives the impression that it is unlikely for the deformation to be caused by use.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 24 Jan, 2019 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've noticed on later medieval swords we have a greater tendency towards uniformity in shape and design. This means that it is more challenging to note inconsistencies in construction, requiring a more careful eye. Nevertheless, they're there. Take this sword from the Royal Armouries, a Type XVIII, Object Number: IX.3683. If you look at the ridge down the center of the sword, you'll see that it's not by any means "machine perfect". Yet I doubt that many would find this sword to be "aesthetically displeasing" because of it.



Here is the full sword, for better context:



Last edited by Craig Peters on Fri 25 Jan, 2019 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chris Dayton





Joined: 29 Oct 2017

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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jan, 2019 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a very nice one. I think Mateusz Sulowski has made a couple versions of it, or of a very similar one. Perhaps we can convince him to throttle back his craftsmanship and make a munitions-grade affordable version that is a little wavier and less consistent, like this original. Happy
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 25 Jan, 2019 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was looking at this sword again, and the pommel shape stood out to me. Both the "outer wheel" of the pommel and the inner circle look like decently skillful free-hand circles. Even if one argues that the pommel was not intended to be perfectly circular and instead was meant to be some sort of spheroid/"wheeloid" shape, it is still apparent that the curves are far from uniform.

Here's a close-up of the pommel, to better illustrate:



Last edited by Craig Peters on Sat 26 Jan, 2019 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jan, 2019 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig,

I can totally see that point of view, and its true with some of the modern swords in my collection, oddly enough one of them a Windlass! However, were that the case in the main then why even have a pommel? Just hammer the tang over enough to hold the grip in place and you're done ! Given that medieval cutlers often sold their blades separately for later assembly with prefabricated guards and pommels, I suspect that it had as much to do with the ultimate owners' personal preferences as anything else. Some liked an actual weighty pommel for physical reasons, while others may not. For myself, in my HEMA work I appreciate a beefy pommel as I find that the total mass and weight gives me more power and leverage in the bind. Black Horse versus Barbecuze? No contest. The beefy Black Horse wins in the bind hands down with its significant guard and pommel while the Barbecuze is super quick and nimble with a pommel so small I barely sense it. A large medieval swordsman might have felt the same (bear in mind that I'm a big guy with highly questionable HEMA skills who needs to rely on strength and grappling). A lighter, smaller swordsman may favor the fast affect of a well balanced blade and not want the extra mass of a heavy pommel. His pommel may be there as much to secure the grip as anything else. In the end, I suspect that the sword hardware depended upon the wielder's fighting style and physicality - money permitting - as much as anything else.

Just thinking aloud. This is a great thread and I really appreciate the views and photos being shared here!

Bob
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