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J.G. Elmslie

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J.G. Elmslie last won the day on August 30 2015

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  1. the worst thing about these fakes? Chances are, the makers are taking notes from discussions like this one here, myarmoury and vikingsword, though we'll never know it. I recall a point just a year or so back I made a joke with Peter about wanting to do a single-edged Ulfberht with an almost katana-like hilt, for an april fool's joke; and yet here we are, with this bent-as-a-£3-note "archaeological" example, that's just taking the piss. And there's plenty more. I've been looking at single-edged swords where its blatantly two different blades, welded together in the middle - and any data that could've been gained from the original, lost by the people adding to it. I dont know what we can do, money talks louder than anything else, and these fakes have plenty of cash at stake.
  2. oh, it is a full tang. its just very well hidden on many of them. here's the original that its most closely based on, as a reference for the tang profile. (the one I've done is a slightly longer tang that protrudes for an end-cap, but otherwise, just about the same shape. I could've done it without an end-cap, and just leather, but I wanted to reproduce that as a detail on this one.) its constructed with copper-alloy tubular pins that hold the scales together on each side. its very much a case there are degrees of "knife-ness" in messers. some are sandwich construction, some have end-caps, some have more solid pommels, most have a side-guard, the nagel, but some are made with a sidering, particularly 16th C ones. one or two have almost sword-like tangs though. its all a bit of a tricky mess at times. Personally, I suspect that its easier to look at the weapon as a whole, to determine the overall thrust of the design, than it is to try to determine it by any one individual feature... down that way, madness beckons.
  3. I completed this just recently as an item for the trade show at the Deutsches Klingesmuseum, Solingen's "The Sword: Form and Thought" exhibition when it opens this weekend. I'd like to hope that I can claim without too much exaggeration that its among the most accurate langes messer replicas of its style made, its the result of the ongoing research into single-edged arms that I've been doing for some time now, and its actually something I'm happy with, which is virtually unheard of. If it makes any sense, even the mistakes feel right! So, I'm hopeful it meets with approval. This is a Langes Messer or Grossemesser, depending on your choice of name (as with many things about messers, its a little bit of a blurry venn diagram to define where one group ends, and another begins), of a South German fashion, circa 1495-1515. Details are as follows: Overall Length: 1043mm Blade Length: 800mm Weight: 883g Balance point: 120mm from the cross All hilt components are hand-made from 100+ year-old antique wrought iron rather than modern steel, forged to rough size and then finished by hand with file-work and hand-polishing. I've deliberately aimed for a slightly rougher finish, to catch the same markings I've seen on originals - surfaces smoothed by files, rather than sanding, for much of it, for instance. The single-edged blade (no false edge on this one.) is made of EN45 spec steel. The blade shoulder is pierced, and the transverse nagel spike driven through and peined into position. (something that was rather great to do in wrought - it worked far, far better than those made in modern mild steel. I really understand why they made them the way they did, having done it with the right steel now.) The hilt is bound in a very lightly textured vegetanned sheepskin leather over a beech-wood core. The core itself is pinned with copper-alloy tubular pins, and the forged end-cap of wrought is peined into place. It currently has a simple scabbard of vegetan leather over a wooden core, lined with woven wool, but I would like to produce a properly made scabbard for it with extensive tooling copied from surviving late 15th century leatherwork, with a by-knife or pricker with horn or hardwood scales mounted in the scabbard, as per the originals, to really finish it off. ( Anyone got a cloning vat I can borrow for a bit, so I have the spare time? ) Its based on a number of surviving examples, particularly a south German example auctioned by Dorotheum Auctions, Vienna in July 2012, and data from a number of messers in private and museum reserve collections I've studied. The hilt shaping, with its distinctive end-cap curl is based on contemporary woodcut illustrations of messers of this type. But buggerthat. Have some pictures.
  4. yep - the longer false edge is sharpened halfway along, but the short edge is sharp throughout. they're a bit strange...
  5. Well, here goes. After a long, long time lurking, here's something I should finally put up to be given a mauling... a falchion made for sale at the Deutsches Klingenmuseum, Solingen “The Sword: Form and Thought” trade show later this month: A 14th century reverse-edged falchion, based upon but not directly copying the two surviving examples of the type, found in the Legersmuseum, Delft, and the Musée de l'Armée, Paris, this falchion is part of ongoing research work into Medieval European single-edged weapons that I've been undertaking for the last few years. This distinctive falchion type can be dated with a high degree of precision due to its short period of use. First appearing in manuscript illuminations and marginalia around the 1320's, they appear to have remained in use for only around 50 years, with the last depictions being found in the 1370's. They appear to have developed as a response to the increasing use of plate defence, and the need for a narrower thrusting tip than the previous generation of broad, cleaver-profiled falchions of the later 13th century, but were rapidly made obsolete by the rise of the Oakeshott type XV double-edged swords. The blade is made of EN45 carbon steel, with a medial taper, rather than the conventional distal taper of most swords; measured in cross-section, the blade thickness narrows from 5.0mm down to just 2.0mm towards the widest point of the profile, before flaring outwards to form a 4.5mm thick reinforced tip and features an asymmetric fuller on one side only, a feature to be found on the example in the Legersmuseum, Delft. The blade is marked with a cross potent within a circle, inlaid with 24-carat gold wire. The steel cross, of oakeshott's Style 7, is based on that of the surviving falchion in the Musée de l'Armée, while the type J pommel, hand-cast in bronze, is based on proportions of other, two-edged swords dated to the mid-14th century. Through the use of an aggressive taper, the sword is significantly more agile than its appearance would suggest, the balance point is just 110mm from the cross, and its overall weight is just 1,132g, significantly reducing its polar moment of inertia, and making it a frighteningly fast weapon in the hand. While the concave edge is the true edge, and sharpened for its entire length, the false edge is also sharpened to a little less than half the blade length, allowing its use in binds with the false edge, making it well-suited to its purpose in cutting against un-armoured targets with impunity. Dimensions: Blade length: 726mm, Overall: 882mm. Blade width at widest point: 57mm. Cross width: 186mm, Pommel: 47mm diameter. Balance point 110mm from cross. Weight: 1131g Overall view: A closer view of the hilt and blade inlay: And a couple of small detail shots of the lines of pommel and tip. I'm fairly satisfied with this one. There's only one problem. How the hell do you make a secure scabbard for a sword that's wider at the bottom than the top?!
  6. Glad it wasnt any offense - I'm afraid I was a bit on the blunt side. I'll try to put together a wee bit more comprehensive data in a bit, but it might be a day or three till I've got it all sorted out.
  7. Gabriel, you mean, you're glad someone else is daft enough to do it? I started doing this about 4, maybe 5 years ago. I'm not joking, my original thought was "Ah, it'll be easy. just look into them a little bit, and I can make a web-page about falchions. It cant be too difficult, there's only half a dozen out there....". Now, I'm sitting here having identified about 30-35 falchions in museums worldwide, easily 3 times as many messers, am very slowly working on cataloguing dimensional data on every single one I can get my hands on, all while also looking at hangars and the really rare stuff like single-edged swords, have put forward typologies and classification schemes at academic conferences, and, right now am sitting here at 2 in the morning, working on a messer and a falchion... I must be mad.
  8. ... And that's why I need to get the book published eventually. I apologise for not sugar-coating it, S.Cruse, but, what you've said is entirely wrong, there's not one single fact you've managed to get right in there, to the extent that I'd argue it was almost the absolute reverse of what you've said. They certainly aren't modified farm implements - on the contrary, when it comes to falchions for example, a fairly high percentage, particularly of the earliest ones, have bronze pommels with markings that indicate they are of exceptionally high social class, not lower-class origins. Messers, meanwhile started out as a lower-class weapon, but there isn't a single piece of evidence in a single source that indicates their use in farming - they're an urban weapon. I'd also disagree in lumping them into the same categories as saxes - there's absolutely no evidence to indicate a shared ancestry between the various weapon-types. They're not related species, they're Elvis taxons. The seax dies out in the 10-11th C, and the falchions replace them in their use about 200 years later. Fauchon is not the French word for Sickle, that would be Faucille - which does have the same linguistic roots, along with word for scythe; Faux. They all come from the Latin root word Falx, but Fauchon is certainly not used in a domestic, civilian context. Regarding balance, the surviving archaeological examples demonstrate a consistent design pattern: the broad, cleaver-like falchions exhibit some of the most aggressive distal tapers in all swords, the Conyers' falchion, as an example having its spine cross-section run from 6mm at the cross to just 1.2mm at the broadest point of the blade. While they are broad, the aggressive distal profile removes the vast majority of material from the blade, making them neither heavy, nor weighted towards the tip. The broad cleaver type falchions are generally a flat, triangular cross-section sometimes fullered on both sides, sometimes asymmetrically on one side only, and in some cases, entirely un-fullered. More complex hollow-grinds appear more commonly in the later 15 and particularly 16th C falchions, alongside complex-fullered messers. I would very much disagree that they are unwieldy or the likes. they are superbly optimised cutting weapons designed for accurate, controlled use.
  9. That sounds like it might be me ...Particularly the "takes forever" bit.... Somehow, I either missed the message, or don't remember it (not that that's unlikely, I have a memory like a... a.... what's that thing full of holes called again?) But if its not obscenely late, I'll be happy to see what I can do to assist and dig out some information!
  10. rather than a falchion, I would say that the large blade is what I tend to call a proto-messer, and is a similar form to those depicted in the maciejowski/morgan bible, the illustration of a man-at-arms by Villiard De Honnecourt, and carved on the portico of the Porta Romana gate, Milan, constructed in 1171. the reason I refer to it as a proto-messer is that having been looking at far, far too many of the images trying to work out what the buggers were for my research work, I rather suspect that the hilt construction of these is not falchion-like, that is, to say constructed in the same manner as a sword, with cross, grip and pommel with a tang going through them and peined, but rather, it is constructed in the same fashion as knives were. During the period the proto-messer are seen, knives are whittle-tangs, on wood or horn grips usually with a collar to help resist splitting. Whilst the later 15th C langes messer instead follow the majority of contemporary knives from that century in using a scale grip construction with bolsters (with a nagel), the earlier knives copy the whittle tang construction commonplace at that time. As such, I tend to look on them as being an early form or prototype of the later long knives of the 15th C. Caleb, I would greatly appreciate if you could give me a reference of what book the illustrations were from, or even better, a source for the illustrations themselves, and what manuscript they came from, as I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to add that one to my reference library for my research. Regarding the knives, I would also note that stylistically, the illuminations are of a fashion characteristic of roughly the turn of the 13th and start of the 14th centuries, though I'd have to stop standing with my head upside-down like some deranged bat, peering at my screen to say that with absolute confidence... In that context, the knife on the table of the scene is very reminiscent of a couple of square-tipped knives in the archaeological reports for the digs in London in the 1980's, which are published by the museum of london as "knives and scabbards", by Jane Cowgill - in particular, it resembles the blade of #36, from the late 13th C strata, and #54, from early 14th C strata.
  11. Ah-ha. At this point, I could claim its all part of my devious plan to protect my data till I'm ready to actually write a book. I would, however, be completely lying. there is, infact, a detailed and highly complex reason behind the discrepancy, which I shall reveal now: it is, infact, because I'm complete and utter sodding eejit. Yeah. Oops. I had a brain once, you know. I rescaled the image grid at one point while working on the various examples, and forgot to rescale some of the examples. My apologies for infact screwing the data in the image up utterly. A revised version of the studies does exist, and I'll pop it up here once I've checked it over with a very fine-toothed comb, to avoid cocking up again. Edit: Since a friend poked me about the info, and I promised a revised version of the image posted earlier... well, here it is:
  12. Peter, what can I say other than reading that, coming from you with your reputation, quality of study and workmanship leaves me feeling a little afraid. I'm not certain I'll be able to match your standard of work! Currently, I'm working from a combination of full-length drawings of each one where possible, and photographs and measurements supplied by museums as a temporary measure until I can study in detail. Fustratingly, I'm quite limited in how much I can afford to travel, so going all around europe to handle every one is going to take quite a long time. (I need a sponsor!) My intention so far is to look at publication either in the Park Lane Arms Fair Catalogue, or as a book. I suspect that it'll be down to how extensive the study gets as to which it ends up as. One difficulty I'm having is working out how far it should go - do I cover just falchions, or should it also cover the single-edged swords and messer? There's a little bit of a worry that a study the falchion on its own it will be too focused, and fail to address the inter-relation between messer and falchion. If I study falchion, messer and single-edged swords, will it be too vague a subject? Difficult choice to make. I've been considering if I dare to go about setting up a typology that is'nt based off Heribert Seitz' work, but rather which dovetails into Oakeshott's typology, particularly for falchion types, as the construction is fundamentally similar. But at the same time, I rather cant help but feel that I dont really have the academic background to justify proposing such a typology - I am a craftsman first and a historian second, and I'm acutely aware that I'm badly under-qualified for publishing actual historical papers. I would however love to know which falchions you've managed to get data on - not least in case there are some that I've missed from my list of surviving examples! In particular, I've yet to get to the Solingen Klingesmuseum example, which I know you've made a replica of, The Conyers Falchion has proven to be incredibly difficult to get hold of, and there is apparently an example referenced by in Laking, in the Museo Arquelogico, Madrid, that I've still to find any photograph of - I've attached the line drawing I have of that one below. Those in particular are examples I'd love to know more about. I would also like to ask about your opinion on a couple of details, if you would'nt object to a PM being sent to you. James G Elmslie.
  13. I've posted a little bit on there recently, as there's someone else who's started trying to do a nice little study on the same subject. Unfortunately that seems to have got dragged into a bit of a mire, unintentionally, after I observed that a pair of the falchions in thier photographs were, erm, how shall I put this... "remarkably similar to each other". Its rather got dragged into an argument of provenances, rather than the actual study itself. which is a shame, given it should be more about the overall subject of the weapon type, than one or two individual items which might or might not be as bent as a £3 note. Hopefully, it'll get dragged back on-subject. Ok, quick and dirty summary of the term "sword of tenure" for you (because I've got RSI in my hands, and it makes typing a bit of a pain at times.) - basically, there's a few examples of lands which were granted to certain nobles, monastic orders, or the likes, where the ownership was symbolised by a sword. in the case of the Conyers falchion, that was Sockburn, an area near Durham in Northumbria, which was granted by the king, from lands which were administrated by the bishopric of Durham. In some other cases it would be ownership granted from the monarch directly, or from another landowner. The area of Sockburn, therefore, was granted to Sir John Conyers, and his descendants in return for a repeated pledge, in recognition of his actions. In the case of the Conyers falchion, that action was the killing of a dragon; the sockburn wyrm. Yes, you did just read that correctly... for killing a dragon, as you do. "what did you do this week? oh, cleaned the armour, went to church, killed a dragon." "that's nice darling. well done. Supper?" Anyhow, the ceremony was recorded and repeated by Sir John Conyers' descendants as follows: On the appointment of a new bishop to the Cathedral of Durham, the land-holders were required to present themselves before the new bishop upon his investiture, and to present the sword of tenure to him, to renew their rights to Sockburn Manor, accompanied by the following statement: The sword was then handed to the bishop, who accepted it, and then handed it back to Sir Conyers, symbolising that the tenure of the land remained in thier hands. Wonderful, or Certifiably insane, I'll leave you to decide for yourself. Battle Abbey, likewise, held a similar series of rights. the abbey was founded close to the site of the Battle of Hastings, and granted by William giving the church there a large range of autonimous powers. Those powers were granted in the form of a sword (claimed to be that borne by William at hastings, though the sword which now carries the name is almost certainly of late 14th or early 15th Century in date.), which was presented as the proof of their tenure. I seem to recall a few similar stories of landowners where the ownership of a sword was the sign of right, which was used in legal disputes as the proof of ownership. I could to find some more info on that if I can, as its buried somewhere in my reference library... but you get the picture. In contrast, a Bearing sword is one that's carried in procession, be it a religeous festival, or the pomp and circumstance of a coronation, a royal event, or the likes. as such its a sword chosen to be displayed. those, over time became ever-more decorated and larger, to be seen better by the crowd viewing such processions - and so many of them become steadily bigger, gilded hilts, decorated blades, and other such finery, and as they become increasingly oversized, became bloaded, impractical weapons. However, that's not an entirely inevitable part of the process, and a bearing sword can be an entirely practical, workmanlike weapon just as much as it can be an exaggerated parody. Its sole purpose, after all, is to be carried througha procession or similar public event, and if a practical, working sword serves that purpose, then a practical weapon is as appropriate a choice. Their purpose is one of display to the public in the midst of a load of symbolism in a single event, whereas the sword of tenure is rather one of symbolism in itself, displayed in the confines of a court of law, or a much less public event of the swearing of tenure, than that carried through the streets. So while they're similar, they're not quite the same, and that (I hope) indicates the differences between them. does that make any sense? JGE
  14. And that's an idea I'm now going to shamelessly steal for future reference! thankyou for showing that.
  15. I'm not sure they're as rare as people think, but they certainly arent common. Including single-edged swords (which I feel should be considered a form of falchion, particularly those with a straight back and curved blade), I think I have about 20 surviving examples: 1: Miecz świętego Piotra, Poznań Archdiocesan Museum, Poznań, Poland, "sword of st peter" 2: Durham Cathedral "Conyers Falchion" 3: Musee Du Moyen age, Cluny CL.3452 "Chatelet Falchion" 4: Milan Sforzesco castle 5: Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, Inv no. AB.II.176, Hamburg 6: Scottish National Museum no K2007.210 (single-edged scots-hilted halflang sword or falchion?) 7: Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg (probably a fake) 8: Private collection, Hermann-Historica Auction # 61, Lot nr: 2308. 9:Private collection (also probably a fake) 10: Private Collection (Again a fake, those three just dont look right to me) 11: Museé de l'Armeé/ Invalides. Inv no. uncertain. 12: Legermuseum, Delft, Inv.no.011098 13: Koninklijk Legermuseum, Brussels, Inv. no. #15169 (Formerly Porte De Hal, referenced in Claude Blair) 14: Norwich Castle Museum, Thorpe Falchion 15: Royal Armouries, Leeds: Castillon Hoard Falchion, IX.5409 16: Wakefield Hangar Straight-bladed single-edged sword. 19: Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nurnburg, Inv.no uncertain. 18: Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nurnburg Inv no. W 2818 & W 2819. Malchus and associated pricker 19: Deutsches Klingenmuseum, Solingen. 20: Museo Arquelogico, Cordoba (Data still missing) 21: Metropolitan Museum Of Art N.Y.C. Inv.no #1984.73 Op top of those, there are also at least 4 other single-edged semi-falchion type swords of medieval date that spring to mind: the bankside house example in the royal armouries, a similar example which appears to have gone occasionally under the title of "the curtis sword" - which I currently seem to have misplaced my notes on, I'm embarrased to admit, a 3rd example auctioned by Czerny's auction house in 2010 (which infuriatingly, Czerny's have refused to reply to queries about, unlike Hermann-Historica.), and a fourth one very similar to the Bankside house example, only with a fuller, that I'm trying to trace. Lastly, there are a number of earlier medieval blades that are associated. the obvious ones are the norse langseax and single-edged swords with viking fashion hilts and pommels; the arhus sword is the best-known example of that, though it is a composite. from the south, likewise, there are the langobardian knife and cleaver forms which closely mirror the later hilt forms depicted in the maciejowski bible and in illustration by Villiard de Honnecourt. I'm personally of the opinion that the maciejowski bible cleavers, however, are not falchion, but proto-messers in hilt construction. To add to those, I've collated a collection of some 180+ depictions of falchion and single-edged swords/messer from the 12th century to end of the 15th century in manuscript illustrations, not including the copious volume of material of a duplicative nature in the body of fechtbuch in existence. From the incidence of falchions in the total number of illustrations studied (3000), that would suggest an average hit rate of roughly one in 16 manuscripts depicted a falchion at least once. Even eliminating depictions of Goliath, which seem to commonly have portrayed just such a weapon, a hit rate of 1 in 20 is fairly reasonable. and perhaps gives us a very approximate suggestion of the common popularity of the weapon compared to the conventional sword, seem much more constantly in those manuscript illustrations considered. I've yet to crossreference nation of origin and date for those manuscripts to try to calculate any table of incidence by geographic and chronological distribution, I suspect such is fairly conjectural anyway and those manuscripts which depict it repeatedly would skew the results heavily. I'd hesitate to call the conyers a bearing sword, the more correct term would be a Sword of Tenure, much like the sword of Battle Abbey, nowadays in the care of the National Museum of Scotland. though predominantly used in ceremonial duties, it is an entirely practical weapon, unlike the grossly oversized bearing swords of the later centuries. I would agree wholeheartedly with Oakeshott's description as "woefully understudied" - you can count the number of pages dedicated to them in print on both hands, Seitz' typology is packed with gaps, and makes very little sense in my opinion; sadly, I rather suspect that the proposed typology put forward on the Vikinsword fora, as referenced by mr McCormack earlier has cribbed extensively from Seitz, and continues to have the faults therein. Erm. or something like that. Edit: Inaccurate image deleted to correct a graphing scale error. Please see the image in a later post that has the correct scale reference.
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