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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 11:45 pm    Post subject: How Important is it for You that a Smith Handle Originals?         Reply with quote

In his article on swordmaking written in Records of the Medieval Sword, Tony Mansfield asserts: "The first step necessary is to handle the weapon to be replicated in some detail, feel how it moves through the air, and make a detailed set of drawings and templates for the blade, cross and pommel." If this is not possible, "it is equally important to handle similar examples of the same type so that an accurate guess may be made of the sword's weight, balance and general 'feel'...[t]his is [sic] relatively simple, if time-consuming, process with [sic] is absolutely vital to the success of the blade."

When you commission a custom made sword, or even when you purchase a higher-end replica, how important is it for you that the smith has handled and made line drawings based upon antique swords?

For that matter, for all the immense improvements to replica swords in the past decade or so, how many swordsmiths or makers are there who regularly handle a variety of antique sword types? I am not trying to imply that hardly any do, but I'm curious as to what extent this is common in the industry.

Mansfield, Tony. "The Living Sword: Construction of Modern Replicas of the Knightly Blade". Ewart Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press), 1998, p. 247.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Mon 27 Sep, 2010 10:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Sep, 2010 2:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I imagine that if you want to make a good, exact replica of a historical sword - which seems to be what Mansfield is refering to here - then doing this kind of research is at the very least a very, very big help. (As is, of course, having the original weapon at hand when you draw up your blueprint.) Though, if we are just talking about using the original for basic inspiration, I'm not sure it's quite as vital to examine it in such detail.

Rather, having handled a lot of authentic swords gives you a better idea of how a good blade is supposed to feel and perform, which gives you something to go by when making your own. Over-all, I say it depends on the skill and experience of the sword maker, and how accurate a replica he or she is trying to create.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Sep, 2010 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If a smith didn't handle any historical antiques a least similar to what he is supposed to do, he will probably have no idea if his product is a good representative of the type or not. It may be a good sword, well balanced and a good performer, but not really accurate for the type. Windlass is doing exactly this, they make some nice looking swords quite accurate visually and often good performers for backyard cutter, but not in the least similar to the performance of an antique they replicated only visually. Like their XVIII swords that look good, cut well, but are not really similar to historical XVIII's which would be much thicker at base, with a lot more distal taper, some would have reinforced points, and would be much stiffer usually. They might get some idea by handling high quality replicas, but it is still not as good as handling antiques.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 27 Sep, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see that the title of my forum post is a bit misleading, so I've edited it. If you look at my intial post, my question isn't actually "How Important is it that a Swordsmith Handle Originals?". It's actually "How Important is it to You That a Swordsmith Handle Originals?" The reason I did not include "You" in the title the first time is because I ran out of characters. This time, I've changed it and made it more accurate.

So, again:

I am curious about when you purchase a sword. Do you, personally, care if a smith has handled originals or not? How important is this to you?

My second question is more directed towards people involved in the manufacturing of swords. I'm wondering who among the various makers have extensively handled antiques; how many have handled a few; and how many go by their own skill as a smith, following things like profile tapers, sword cross-sections from books, and fuller shapes from photos, without having held an antique sword.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Tue 28 Sep, 2010 2:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Sep, 2010 2:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
I see that the title of my forum post is a bit misleading, so I've edited it. If you look at my intial post, my question isn't actually "How Important is it that a Swordsmith Handle Originals?". It's actually "How Important is it to you that a Swordsmith Handle Originals?" The reason I did not include "You" in the title the first time is because I ran out of characters. This time, I've changed it and made it more accurate.

So, again:

I am curious about when you purchase a sword. Do you, personally, care if a smith has handled originals or not? How important is this to you?


Well, I haven't gotten around to collecting any customs or high-end replicas, but I would have to say: "Not too important, but it's a plus." I think I'd be more interested in just getting a nice sword as opposed to a sword that handles exactly like the original, but at the same time, it's nice to know that the person making the sword knows what he's doing.

Basically, I care more about the results then the way they were achieved.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Sep, 2010 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very. That's why I pretty much only buy from people who handle and study antiques. Obviously, it's easier to get handling right when you've handled something yourself. Also, you experience the subtle shapes in person that don't come across in photos. That affects the look of the sword as well as its handling.

Even if the sword being made isn't an exact copy, handling a sampling of antiques can give you an idea of handling and shapes across a class of swords and will help the final product be better.

Of course, it's possible to get a nice-looking and nice-handling sword from someone who hasn't done that. But the odds are greater if you buy from people who handle antiques whenever it's an option. Happy

It's like buying a car made (or sold) by someone who has never driven a car and only read about them in books. You might get something great, or they might have missed on it pretty badly.

Happy

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Sep, 2010 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a maker, I'd say the actual handling (as in swinging it to feel the weight, balance etc.) isn't very important. But it is vital that you have the ability to study it or similar pieces up close, looking at it from all angles, figuring out the construction details, how the edge is shaped, how the materials are worked etc. etc. There are many details that you will never get from drawings, photos etc. And just studying it once isn't sufficient either. You will have missed out details the first time, and your memory gets distorted. I've revisited the same weapons lots of times, and learned .
new things every visit, including fundamentally important information thiat I'd only recognize as my knowledge in the artifacts increases. Eventually I strive to reach the point that I know the weapons well enough that I can make them without the use of reference material. As you learn more about these artifacts, it will become easier to make acurate reproductions of other artifacts of which you have more limited information though.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Sep, 2010 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It isn't important for me that the smith/maker has handled originals. Strictly speaking, not at all important. But it is important that the product works.

What does it mean for a sword to "work"?

For a pure wallhanger, visual appearance matters. If it's meant to be in a particular style, it might be enough to work from photos or having looked at originals. If you want blade profile and thickness exactly so, then measurements will be needed. Don't need to handle to get measurements. Somebody will have handled the original to get measurements, but that doesn't need to have included "feel" or "handling".

For a martial arts sword, it should handle like a sword that the particular martial art is designed to use. Since originals are at least attempts to achieve the ideal sword, handling originals would help. But it may be possible to outdo the average original, and certainly some originals (as I think about the way a Tinker longsword disappers in hand). If you're after a real "performance" sword, the designer should understand the use of swords. Handling originals will (IMO) certainly help. But handling and training with good swords, replicas or otherwise, should be enough. The feel and handling need to be good - should they be better than that of originals? If cutting with it, should cutting performance be better than that of originals (a common choice, what with all the specialised mat-cutters)? Should it be more durable than originals? As a good martial arts sword, why not? Feel and handling matter; they are perhaps the most important thing. But I don't think they need to replicate the feel and handling of an original. But this would work, even if not the best, if it's a good original.

For a "user" replica, the sword needs to both look right and feel right. But feel is a result of mass and mass distribution, and the mechanical properties of steel. Young's modulus is pretty much the same across the board, so the elastic properties depend on the dimensions of the blade. Get the dimensions, including profile and thickness (and thus mass distribution and stiffness), right and measurements will suffice. Feel and handling by the smith/maker provide quality control.

So, I don't think there's any need for a smith/maker to have handled originals. For the 1st and 3rd types above, I think it's very important for somebody to have made detailed measurements of originals. Ideally the sword designer would do so. "Feel" and "handling" is a hard-to-communicate non-quantitative way of making detailed measurements, so it's a valid approach if the measurer, designer, and maker are the same person. If the designer can communicate the design to the maker, perhaps a combination of human and computer-controlled machine, and due attention is paid to quality control, why would the smith/maker need to have handled originals?

I'm happy to buy an Albion even if it isn't made personally by Peter Johnsson.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2010 12:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having given this subject some thought more recently, I have come to the decision that it is definitely important that a smith handle originals. A sword is a three dimenisonal object with varying planes, tapers, thicknesses, shapes,
and lines. To be able to accurately reproduce one, you need to be intimately acquainted with the antique original, and failing that, you need to at least have a very good understanding and knowledge of similar swords in order to extrapolate and create a reasonable reconstruction.

Moreover, I think the smith being able to hold an original sword is valuable too. It gives the smith a sense of the sword's character, what the sword was intended for, and communicates much about a sword that cannot be captured merely through making extensive, detailed measurements. To be able to hold an anitque sword is to more fully understand its purpose, and the intentions of the original swordsmith when crafting it. Swords are weapons meant to be held in hand; you cannot fully appreciate a swords function without knowing how it feels.

Some of the forum users have suggested that its the results that count, or the performance of a sword, with a reproduction. But if this is true, then how can we even refer to the sword as a replica?

At the risk of potentially antagonizing some people here, let me suggest that many people who are buying replica medieval swords are actually purchasing modern swords. Even if a smith is supposed to be replicating a specific sword and has some information about the sword, their reconstruction is based upon their own particular skill and ability as a craftsman, rather than how a real, antique sword is shaped and balanced. It's the craftsman's own creativity and ability that determines how the sword feels in hand, rather than it being an actual reproduction of a historic sword type. Or, to put it more simply, just because the sword follows the general outline of an original, and seems to feel good and have a decent balance does not make it a replica sword. A replica sword needs to be based around real, surviving examples, rather than merely aping the general shape of a weapon and such that it feels good in hand because the craftsman has some skill at balancing a weapon.

I would argue that not only is examining real swords vital for a smith, but further that many craftsmen are not making medieval/early modern replicas, but rather are designing modern creations in the broad outline and form of an original.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Sun 03 Oct, 2010 2:18 am; edited 2 times in total
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Ken Nelson




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2010 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Without measure.

Being a smith, examining originals to me may be compared to an artist being able to examine an original Da Vinci.

I enjoy being able to examine the originals, and measure, weigh, balance, photograph, sketch, handle them. It has improved my own swords more than any reading could have possibly done.

I have not made any direct copies of a particular blade yet, but I have used the profiles and cross sections of one or more blades when I have made my swords in the last few years. They handle dramatically better than the earlier swords I made. Swords are 3 dimensional objects, no matter how many pictures of a sword are in a book, they cannot add up to the complete piece.

I have only been able to examine several private collections, and I have been backstage in one museum, so my collection of studied pieces is small, I am contacting other museums in an effort to expand my knowledge. It is my goal to make swords that a warrior of that time would be proud to carry. To do that I will need to continue to study the work of the masters.

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Harry J. Fletcher




PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2010 12:43 am    Post subject: weight, balance, and handling         Reply with quote

I like the balance of a sword to be correct in a medieval sword either in the single hand or two hand swords. In the past I have bought a couple of klunkers which were too heavy, lacked good balance and handling qualities which really are the essence of a good sword. I have purchased two from Albion and the handling, balance, and weight is first rate which only comes from research into extant swords from the medieval period which a particular sword represents. this is only done by carefull handling or the orginals to get a good idea of how the sword qualities were built in by the smith. these were using swords and not just for wall hanging. When I purchase a sword I want those same qualities designed into the sword. It comes at a price but is worth it. The only sword I have seen besides the ones from Albion that does this is one I have from Tinker Pearce made by Hanwei. It has great handling qualities and shows Tinker's experience with swords.

regards,

Harry

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Marko Susimetsa




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I had to choose between a good looking/handling sword and a sword that was historically accurate, I'd go historically accurate every time. It is history that I'm most after with this hobby. And, yes, I believe that having handled actual historical pieces will make the artists work more authentic.

Last edited by Marko Susimetsa on Sun 03 Oct, 2010 11:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marko Susimetsa wrote:
If I had to choose between a good looking/handling sword and a sword that was historically accurate, I'd go historically accurate every time. It is history that I'm most after with this hobby.


While there were undoubtedly bad-handling swords back then (Oakeshott mentions a few), I would think that a historically accurate sword would handle appropriately. So it should fill both needs. Happy

Happy

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2010 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its important to me, and its also important to me that I got to handle some period originals, thanks to the generosity of a fellow collector. I think it really helped my understanding of what could be and handling some period pieces really forced me to re-evaluate some of my assumptions, and preferences.
Joe Fults

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Maurizio D'Angelo




PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2010 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had the good fortune to manage many originals in recent times, even in some museums and private collectors, one for all, Roberto Gotti, perhaps the largest collector Veneto swords. His availability for me is great, is a master West sword and taught me many things that I did not know. My idea has changed a lot about swords. You can not understand unless you have a sword original. Understand some basic functions can be used to build a sword with a better handling of the original, a penetrating thrust better than the original, better than the original cut, but be aware that you're building a sword that does not exist, even if it handles better than the original. Personally, I think that a sword should respect all the historical features of an original. My idea is that those swords to the ancient masters entrusted their lives. So maximum respect for the way they were built.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that it's important that a smith is intimately familiar with originals, but I think that means more than just handling them at one occasion. Like Jeroen said, it's possible to revisit a single sword time after time and still discover new aspects.

Also, quite a number of originals may be to fragile to "swing" them, or too corroded to deduct anything meaningful regarding original weight and balance.

In the end, the perfect, 100% accurate, replica of a single original is unattainable. But one has to strive to get there anyway.
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Maurizio D'Angelo




PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2010 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul,
I basically agree. If a sword is very corroded, it is difficult to do well, maybe it can come to the aid of the examples of other similar swords and a good deal of interpretation.
If the sword is in good condition, I think you can reply identical. I'm at my third scan, using a three-dimensional laser scanner. It 'a very expensive scanner, but allow me to within an accuracy tolerance of 0.1 mm x meter. In fact I use it for my work as a mechanic, but for passion and delight I am using it to get the exact dimensions of some swords that interest me. Do not really need to have precise measurements so, for a good reply, but I need to see what's inside a sword, in other words, as is the exact section. I discovered that sections such as lenticular are not all equal, it seems that should be classified. Here I enjoy the swords cut without actually cutting the original. It 'goes without saying that you can have the exact weight and perfect balance. If you want you can also replicate the defects of the sword.
Although he noted the feeling you get holding in my hand, I can assure you that once built has the same handling. Reply to 95% is possible.
Here is a picture of a view of the scan. The photo is actually a set of small triangles, a sword can hold millions.
We can see a rust hole near their guard.



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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maurizio, that looks like a certain Italian sword. Happy
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Having given this subject some thought more recently, I have come to the decision that it is definitely important that a smith handle originals. A sword is a three dimenisonal object with varying planes, tapers, thicknesses, shapes,
and lines. To be able to accurately reproduce one, you need to be intimately acquainted with the antique original, and failing that, you need to at least have a very good understanding and knowledge of similar swords in order to extrapolate and create a reasonable reconstruction.

Moreover, I think the smith being able to hold an original sword is valuable too. It gives the smith a sense of the sword's character, what the sword was intended for, and communicates much about a sword that cannot be captured merely through making extensive, detailed measurements. To be able to hold an anitque sword is to more fully understand its purpose, and the intentions of the original swordsmith when crafting it. Swords are weapons meant to be held in hand; you cannot fully appreciate a swords function without knowing how it feels.

Some of the forum users have suggested that its the results that count, or the performance of a sword, with a reproduction. But if this is true, then how can we even refer to the sword as a replica?


See, this is why I'm not necessarily interested in replicas. I'm just interested in swords. At least to me, historical correctness is merely one way of approaching the aesthetics and functionality of the weapon. Happy

Of course, this is slightly besides the point. I think we can all agree that having examined and handles original swords is a vast benefit for a modern swordsmith. And this is especially true when you want to make an exact replica. I think I voiced my opinion on that pretty clearly in my first post.

It's just that since the question here was whether or not I personally felt this is a big deal, my answer is going to be that no, it's really not that important for me as long as the results are satisfying. (Yes, making a sword that performs well is probably way more difficult if you don't have anything to go by, but I figure that's not my problem. Razz )

Quote:
At the risk of potentially antagonizing some people here, let me suggest that many people who are buying replica medieval swords are actually purchasing modern swords. Even if a smith is supposed to be replicating a specific sword and has some information about the sword, their reconstruction is based upon their own particular skill and ability as a craftsman, rather than how a real, antique sword is shaped and balanced.


I'd argue that knowing how a real sword is shaped and balanced is part of the particular skill and ability of the craftsman.

Quote:
It's the craftsman's own creativity and ability that determines how the sword feels in hand, rather than it being an actual reproduction of a historic sword type. Or, to put it more simply, just because the sword follows the general outline of an original, and seems to feel good and have a decent balance does not make it a replica sword. A replica sword needs to be based around real, surviving examples, rather than merely aping the general shape of a weapon and such that it feels good in hand because the craftsman has some skill at balancing a weapon.


Without getting into the debate of how to define a replica, I don't think anyone here has claimed to believe one can make a good reproduction of a historical sword without having examined the weapon one wishes to reproduce. Really, that seems like common sense.

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 sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
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Maurizio D'Angelo




PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Maurizio, that looks like a certain Italian sword. Happy


I have the impression that you know exactly. Happy
Yes, Nathan
"She" is Italian. "She" is without a doubt, my first love. Wink

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Maurizio
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