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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Jan, 2005 2:29 pm    Post subject: 1½-handed sword from Kovex-Ars         Reply with quote

Suprisingly, the Czech company Kovex-Ars is not very well known outside the Czech Republik, Germany and Scandinavia - In Denmark Kovex-Ars' retailer Venditio is more or less the market leader in swords. My own sword has been purchased through Venditio, but I have met the people from Kovex-Ars on fairs and markets, they are really nice people - who take a lot of pride in their work.

I have had my Kovex-Ars 1½-handed sword for more than a year now and I am very pleased with it - though I might consider changing the leather-wrapping on the handle to something more historically accurate.

The sword is a standard lightweight 1½-handed sword
The blade is forged and tempered to between 52-60 Rockwell C (the edge is left unsharpened for reenactment fighting)
The lenght of the blade is 92 cm.
The overall lenght og the sword is 116 cm.
The weight of the sword is 1,4 kg.
The balance lies about 12 cm. from the crossguard

The sword has been used for fighting a couple of times - and has been through one "torture-test" so far, with only minimal marks to the edge of the blade as result. For the record; I am training 15c. german long-sword (Lichtenhauer, Talhoffer, Dürer, von Baumann etc.).

I really like to rough look of Korvex' forged swords - by my opinion they fit a mercenary much better than a posh looking Del-Tin or Pavel Moc.

My sword is pictured below, together with a nice leather scabbard, made by a friend of mine, and my ballocks-dagger from Fabri Armorum (sorry about the quality of the pictures, my digi-cam sucks just as much as my photographing-skills).



Regards

Jakob



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Sword2.jpg
Detail of the handle

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Sword1.jpg
Sword, scabbard and ballocks dagger

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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jan, 2005 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems I finaly found out who the maker of my sword is! Laughing Out Loud




I bought this sword from Czech resellers Modua Fictum, which attended medieval days in Slovenia in Ljubljana castle. I paid around 90$, and the sword was in really rough shape. They told me who the maker was, but I left the pen and paper in my other tights, and I didn't remember it for very long.

Fuller was black - not blackened, but left uncleaned after the tempering. Sword had an ugly ricasso - totally unshaped area to around 10 cm (4") from the cross. Cross had the "ugly" square middle just like on Jakob's sword and lots of deep pits, I guess from overheating at forging. Disc pommel had deep marks from making on a lathe.

So I took a Dremel, a file, sandpaper and some other tools and really transformed this thing. I extended blade geometry and fuller to the cross (thus removed the ricasso), reground and repolished the fuller, gave the blade some distal taper, reshaped the cross to a more rounded form (I completely rounded the "box" at the middle, but I didn't remove all the pits at the ends of cross), repolished and reshaped a bit the pommel, glued replica coins in the recesses (I had to grind those two to a smaller diameter too).

I'm quite pleased with the result. I'm sorry I didn't made any good "before and after" pictures. The sword is otherwise very soundly made, and quite light for a reenactment blunt. I use it quite regularly, and it deals with all the abuse easily.


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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It sure looks like an early Kovex-Ars to me. Does it have the Kovex-Ars mark (a treeleafed clover leaf in a circle) on the blade?

How long ago did you buy it? If it is one of the REALLY early Kovex-Ars swords, I can clearly imagine how ugly it must have been (oh, the horror).

As to the general finish of Kovex-Ars' swords; according to my knowledge, as a student of archaeology, far from all swords wielded on the medieval battlefields were shining masterpieces - most of them were - quote G. Embleton; "cheap, but serviceable swords". As I see it, Kovex-Ars' swords are such swords....


Regards.

Jakob

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen wrote:

As to the general finish of Kovex-Ars' swords; according to my knowledge, as a student of archaeology, far from all swords wielded on the medieval battlefields were shining masterpieces - most of them were - quote G. Embleton; "cheap, but serviceable swords". As I see it, Kovex-Ars' swords are such swords....


Regards.

Jakob


That is interesting. I have always wondered about sword prices and quality. As far as I have been able to trace, the swords with recorded prices varied in price significantly. Some swords from the migration era were listed in wills as costing ~120 oxes in monetary value. In general it appears that the European swords from the migration period were highly priced and respected objects even by the persians who had Damascus (Wootz) steel. Later ~ 10-11c swords are generally listed as costing about ~2oxes and were cheaper than a mail hauberk. The price doubled if the sword had a scabbard (Kind of reminds me of nowadays: a good scabbard's price is almost equal to that of a good sword).

And during the 14c, records of inventories list swords as half the price of long bows. This is not all inclusive, as records of the repair of the royal sword (Edward III's if I remember) and some other armor costed about 10pounds. A huge sum for the time. Unfortunately the cost was not itemized so the cost of repairing the sword could have been a small fraction of the paid sum. But Edward was known for spending a lot of money on new armour and swords, and my guess is that he could have afforded the BEST.

Which book from G. Embleton are you quoting. I'd like to follow up on that.

I'd like to get an idea of how "cheap" were the cheap ones, and what made them "cheep". Is the difference only in the level of ornamentation? If so, that is a minor issue IMO. Is it also the finish (smoothness of line), and elegance? How about blade geometry? Were these made by the same makers that made arms for the rich nobility, or did they have a medieval "MRL"?

I do not know if enough survives to be able to answer my questions, and even more, I am not certain that these are the right questions to be asking.

Anyhow, comments are welcome.


Alexi
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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The book I am referring to is "Medieval Military Costume" by Gerry Embleton ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-...p;n=507846 ). I can't remember which page the quote is referring to - but I'll (hopefully) have the book delivered by mail within a few days. Then I'll post the page number and the exact quote.

I belive that the price and quality on swords varied tremendously through the middle-ages. Just like armour, swords were also mass-produced. - And, just like armour, it is mostly the master-pieces that has been kept in collections and the like - and thus have survived to the present day.

A huge amount of (mostly earth-found) swords of poor to average quality and of simple designs are being kept in museum-stocks in Europe, but they are mostly (and sadly) not displayed in exhibits, due to the fact that they are often wery corroded - and in the public eye - ugly.

Swords, not even the cheap ones, never became a commen weapon for the average peasant-soldier. But I believe that they were rather common among professional soldiers, expecially in the later middle-ages.


Regards.

Jakob

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Peter Johnsson




PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen wrote:
The book I am referring to is "Medieval Military Costume" by Gerry Embleton ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-...p;n=507846 ). I can't remember which page the quote is referring to - but I'll (hopefully) have the book delivered by mail within a few days. Then I'll post the page number and the exact quote.

I belive that the price and quality on swords varied tremendously through the middle-ages. Just like armour, swords were also mass-produced. - And, just like armour, it is mostly the master-pieces that has been kept in collections and the like - and thus have survived to the present day.

A huge amount of (mostly earth-found) swords of poor to average quality and of simple designs are being kept in museum-stocks in Europe, but they are mostly (and sadly) not displayed in exhibits, due to the fact that they are often wery corroded - and in the public eye - ugly.

Swords, not even the cheap ones, never became a commen weapon for the average peasant-soldier. But I believe that they were rather common among professional soldiers, expecially in the later middle-ages.


Regards.

Jakob


There are a few things about the varying quality of historical and contemporary swords we need to look closer at before we jump to conclusions.

Today the market is divided between a number of different types of products: purely decorative pieces, safe blunt sparring weapons, historically accurate replicas.
All these types exist in a variety of quality levels. "Historically correct" and "authentic" are notions that are almost as hollow as the term "battle ready". Be wary of those expressions and try to keep a critical attitude to why things are made the way they are and why the product might have a certain price.
Show me one single producer of "historical swords" (be it decorative, basher/traning swords or replicas) that does *not* say his products are very close to, exactly as, or even surpassing original historical swords in quality...
In truth it is really quite sad (or funny, depending on mindset) to see what is being passed of as being the "restult of studies of originals", or "copies of museum pieces".

Something we must understand is that swords were not made in ancient times to be decorative peices to be displayed in living rooms and restaurants. They were not made to look good an stage while being safe to use in mock fights.
They were made to be funtional weapons.

A sword made with that intent has to fulfill certain aspects and qualities.
Even if it is rough and assymetrical, even if it is made as part of an order of 1000 swords, it must fulfill demands that very, very few contemporary low price range swords never even aspire to. (And sadly, you get the impression that many makers lack a understanding what a functional weapon/sword has to be to fulfill its role).

There is a vast difference between a safe blunt sword and a real sharp sword. Untill we have studied that differnce it is not really rewading to compare the "quality" of a low to medium budget sparring tool to a soldiers grade weapon.
A blunt sword does not have to bother itself with edge geometry or aspects of cutting ability or other offensive qualities. As soon as you enter that area you are bound to work with another set of ideas , than if you are faced with the task to make a sword that looks OK and works OK in a stage fight or fro WMA training.

I´ve seen quite a few second rate swords of German manufacture that were exported to Scandinavia during the 15th C. They commonly have the nice Passau stamps but are very obviously of lower quality than those magnificent weapons we see displayed in central European armouries.
These simple soildiers swords might have the tang off centre, they might have a sabering curve in the blade, they might have undulating edges and uneven grind lines. Their hilts are simple and often rather crudely made.
Still you can tell they were made by professional cutlers and bladesmiths with years of priofessional experience. They have a crisply defined cross section, they have a richness in their expression that only can result from being made by a master in his field.
There is a vast difference betweent the mistakes by master craftsmen and the compromizes of a contemporary stunt sword producer to keep his product within a certain budget.
I really do not want to sound derogative saying this. I understand the need to keep within a tight budget, but it is important that we realize this difference between contemporary compromizes and results of hasty work by a historical master if we are to understand anything about the nature of the sword.

There is also a notion that swords were out of reach for peasants and somewhat rare or elevated in medieval society. This is simply not true.
Look at numerous representations in art from the 15th and 16h C. Look at the written laws of swedish counties from the 13th C, where it is stated that every farmer owning a certain amount of land was bound to arm himself with mail shirt, kettle hat, crossbow or bow, spear and/or axe or sword.
Swords were common and made in the thousands. They existed in many levels of society.
Yes, they did exist in various levels of quality, but they were never made so badly that they failed to fulill their purpose.
Yes, they could be somewhat crude and simple, but they still surpassed most of what is being made today in both quality, functionality and looks, however crude they were. This is simply becaue of the fact that in those times swords were made to be swords, and today they are made for our entertainment and often to be safe (the opposite of original intent). That will invariably lead to differences.

It is perfectly Ok with compromises, as long as we are aware of what they imply and why they were made. It is a mistake to build conclusions based on contemporary compromises.
Turn to the sources. Look at original swords in museums. Do not form an idea about historical swords based on contemporary sparring tools. Especially if they are made to meet a very low budget.
Again, there is nothing wrong with using and making low budget swords. I do see and understand the need for that. We should just not let that be our only reference in trying to understand the actual history of the sword.
A wider base is needed in our studies.

And now I step down from the soap box...
...Sorry about the rant. I needed to get that of my chest.
I really hope this does not come across as an attack on previous posts. It is really not intended that way.
Thanks
Happy
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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen wrote:
It sure looks like an early Kovex-Ars to me. Does it have the Kovex-Ars mark (a treeleafed clover leaf in a circle) on the blade?

How long ago did you buy it? If it is one of the REALLY early Kovex-Ars swords, I can clearly imagine how ugly it must have been (oh, the horror).

Jakob


Hi, Jakob. I guess the mark is slightly different - it's a three-leaf clover in a square. Square was punched in the middle of ricasso so deeply, that when I ground the fuller across it still remained. Here is a small photo of the mark (slightly ground):





I bought it in September 2003, so it's not that old. But it was among the best made swords in Modua Fictum's tent - some others had crudely welded crosses and similar abnormalities.

I don't think European middle-ages have seen much of such crudely made swords. I have seen several museum catalogs with pictures or drawings, where they display the whole collection pf their weapons, not just the prettiest ones. And none of them looked that crude and half-finished.

----------------------------------------------------

About the sword prices - I thing the debate requires a topic of it's own. But I'm too lazy right now to start it. Here is a short list of values of several middle age items I copied from Tomaz Nabergoj's book (in Slovenian, so this is a rough translation):

Prices around 1330:

horse 1 - 12000 denarios = 15,62 swords
horse 2 - 8640 denarios = 11,25 swords
ox 1 - 4800 denarios = 6,25 swords
chalice - 3840 denarios = 5 swords
barrel 1 - 3630 denarios = 4,73 swords
barrel 2 - 3168 denarios = 4,12 swords
ox 2 - 2880 denarios = 3,75 swords
ox 3 - 2520 denarios = 3,28 swords
long overcoat - 2400 denarios = 3,12 swords
ceremonial overcoat - 1920 denarios = 2,5 swords
tunic - 1920 denarios = 2,5 swords
bed - 1920 denarios = 2,5 swords
sword - 768 denarios
plate bevor - 768 denarios = 1 sword
hair jewelry - 640 denarios = 0,83 swords
crossbow - 576 denarios = 0,75 swords
piece of cloth »barhant« - 448 denarios = 0,58 swords
studded club - 132 denarios = 0,17 swords
spear ronchonus - 64 denarios = 0,08 swords



After this list a sword (standard military one, not embellished) was not very expensive equipment. A mason that built in 8 months a wall and a roof of a house in Piran (Slovenia) in 1338 (no material included) received payment in value of 15 swords. Barrel maker that in 1330 made an ash barrel in 15 days could buy 2.5 swords for his payment.

Compare this to a penalty for threatening a citizen in Izola in 1360 with weapon - 6000 denarios. Almost ten swords! Ouch. And they took the weapon too...


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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First of all; It's always nice to be taught by someone with a greater knowledge than one self.... Happy

I agree on most of that you say Peter - expecially the point about the difference between modern blunt sword for reenactmen-fighting and real historical swords. This ought to be somewhat obvious....

The only place, where we really disagree, as I see it, is how common swords were among the more common perople of the middleages - I too know the sources you are referring to;

1. The art; by my opinion one must not underestimate the, what can be called, "Rambo-effect". The desire of the artist to make his pictures as interesting and catching as possible and thus displaying the soldiers more from an idea of the "ideal" warrior than from a point of reality.

2. It is true that some sources (expecially law-texts) state that a man should own a certain amount of arms and armour - but again, I believe that these statements must be looked upon as ideals, rather than picturing the actual situation.

I'm not saying that there wasn't an amount of weapons and armour - including swords, in circulation among the more common perople of the middle-ages. But I believe that the sources should be looked upon with precaution.


Regards

Jakob

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen wrote:
The book I am referring to is "Medieval Military Costume" by Gerry Embleton ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-...p;n=507846 ). I can't remember which page the quote is referring to - but I'll (hopefully) have the book delivered by mail within a few days. Then I'll post the page number and the exact quote.

I belive that the price and quality on swords varied tremendously through the middle-ages. Just like armour, swords were also mass-produced. - And, just like armour, it is mostly the master-pieces that has been kept in collections and the like - and thus have survived to the present day.

A huge amount of (mostly earth-found) swords of poor to average quality and of simple designs are being kept in museum-stocks in Europe, but they are mostly (and sadly) not displayed in exhibits, due to the fact that they are often wery corroded - and in the public eye - ugly.

Swords, not even the cheap ones, never became a commen weapon for the average peasant-soldier. But I believe that they were rather common among professional soldiers, expecially in the later middle-ages.


Regards.

Jakob


This seems like a good book. I will get a copy soon.

The interesting aspect then becomes, as I asked before, whether it is only the finish and decoration that makes the "cheap" swords cheap, or were there compromises in the blade geometry, mass distribution, distal taper, etc (i.e the care and expertise with which the blade has been made).

There are several issues that need to be made clear. What does "poor or average quality" mean? Does that refer to the state of conservation, or does it apply to the level of workmanship? If the latter, how is the level of workmanship judged?

My uneducated guess is that the blades were made in several centers and they were quality blades with no compromises.
Then scabbards and hilts were made separately according to local fashions and the depth of the pocket of the customer, and the blade could have been engraved, etc. In other words, the cost differences come after the blade is made and heat-treated.

This opinion of mine may not hold up in the face of facts.

The importance of this argument is that these "cheap" swords DID NOT lack in the performance department as compared to the "expensive" ones.

Nowadays, however, this argument cannot be made. Most "cheap" swords (read bellow $300) fall short, and some more than others, in the performance department and not only in the aesthetical.

Cheers,

Alexi

Edit: I did not see Peter's post until I submited mine, so most of my concerns were already addressed.

Thanks, Peter
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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jan, 2005 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:
There are several issues that need to be made clear. What does "poor or average quality" mean? Does that refer to the state of conservation, or does it apply to the level of workmanship? If the latter, how is the level of workmanship judged?


By poor or average quality I mean the level of workmanship....

And by level of workmanship I mean the time spent on "non-functional" details on the sword, such as finish and decoration - not the funtionality of the sword. One must expect that most of the swords used in the middle-ages were functional enough....

As I see it, it is most likely that some swords were imported as bare blades and then fitted with hilts and scabbards elsewhere - Danish sources mention "sværdfegere" (sword-fitters) whose job was to produce and fit sword-hilts to blades produced elsewhere.

Blaz; Yes, Kovex-Ars uses that mark some times (mostly on their cheap grinded swords).


Regards.

Jakob

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Benjamin McCracken




PostPosted: Wed 12 Jan, 2005 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob,
The more I look at the Kovex-ars site the more I want one of the their blades. Thanks for bringing this seller to our attention. I just have one question though. a lot of the swords are listed as onehanders, but the blade and handle length appear to allow for two-handed use. I was just wondering if the sword you have was one listed as a single hander or a hand and a half? Thanks. I really like the rough look of these swords too.

Ben
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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Jan, 2005 10:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin McCracken wrote:
I really like the rough look of these swords too.


Hello Benjamin

Nice to know I'm not the only one in here Happy

My sword (a GM019 I believe) is listed as a 1½-handed sword. But, you are right; some of the swords listed as one-handed swords could be used for long-sword techniques.


Regards.

Jakob

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Jakob Elbæk E. Pedersen




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Medieval military costume" by Gerry Embleton came in the mail today, The Quote about the "cheap but serviceable sword" is on page 13, in the below-left collum.

It's a really nice book, not much text, but a lot of astonishing colour-photograps - it's really good as inspirational material when making/purchasing gear.


Regards.

Jakob

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Konstantin Tsvetkov




PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have just received the abovementioned book, it is great, thank you for the hint, Jakob.

Have you noticed an interesting coincidence, gentlemen? On page 80 you can see a sword very similar to the weapon, introduced by Jacob, probably by same manufacturer. On the next page, I am almost positive, shown Albion Armourers Svante Sture sword, one of the most wonderful works by Peter Johnsson. There definitely is a point.
I love Svante Sture sword, this is the best replica sword I have ever seen and though I have included it in my wish list, I will never use it for daily test cutting, as I would not use for it Brecia Spadona either, if I had one. For this purpose are available more affordable swords of good quality, produced by numerous manufacturers, many of them located in Czech Republic.
As to steel-to-steel competition, which Jakob is participaiting, decoration and finish doesn't matter at all, those swords must be strong and good balanced, and so they were in the past, I believe.
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, could you us how the Dordogne swords and the the Castellan based on them fit in this spectrum.
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Peter, could you us how the Dordogne swords and the the Castellan based on them fit in this spectrum.


I´d love to, but could you please develop this question a little?

What aspects do you want me to expand on?
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:
This seems like a good book. I will get a copy soon.


Of course it is - it's got Peter J in it! Wink

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Allen W




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2005 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I understand it the Dordogne swords were munition swords of nearly identical form. I'm wondering if they are representative of cheaper swords and if the castellan(though I am not doubting its quality) is in character in terms of finish.
If the answer in both cases is yes does that leave the more expensive swords to be determined only by hilt materials, ornamentation, and perhaps complexity of grind?
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Peter Johnsson




PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2005 2:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
As I understand it the Dordogne swords were munition swords of nearly identical form. I'm wondering if they are representative of cheaper swords and if the castellan(though I am not doubting its quality) is in character in terms of finish.
If the answer in both cases is yes does that leave the more expensive swords to be determined only by hilt materials, ornamentation, and perhaps complexity of grind?


It is correct that the Castillion find is supposed to be a cashe of swords from a battle. Some of the swords in this group stand out in both quality and type; they are a bit different than the majority. I´ve seen a few of these. On some there was traces of gilding in the fullers and the blades were simply outstanding.
However, even among the "standard" swords of the Castillion gruop we are looking at swords of very fine quality.
This only proves that we should not think that soldier or army grade weapons automatically were crude.
The grind on these swords is not very basic either. Crisp and well defined hollow grinds and well defined midribs.
The hitls are very well made and expertly fitted.
Those I´ve seen were defenitly of absolute top level craftmanship, regardless of they were of the more singular types or "standard" swords.

The Castellan in the NG line is an attempt to make a sword of the same level of detail and defenition as the "munition grade" Dordogne swords, even if the blade of that sword has a flat diamond section (some of the Castillion swords do have the same section, not all are hollow ground) and that most of those swords were single handers. The Castellan is representative of a smalle subgroup in the find that is of this rather short bastard sword type.

The sword of a knight can be very simple in the design, and still very well made.
The same goes for a soldier or a man at arms.
Those weapons that are obviously expensive can be even higher in the fit and finish and usually have unique details in the design.

There ar many swords that are more crude than the Castillion swords. But even among the lower greades there is still a strong feeling of purposefullnes and awareness. This is very dificult to communicate in words.
I´d like to stress again: You simply cannot compare even the most simple and crude historical sword to the low end budget "swords" we see on the market today. They belong to two different worlds.
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2005 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Peter. That is precisely what I was looking for.
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