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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.




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Lovely work. I have heard at least 2 explanations of what makes it a Messer. One is that the clipped tip made it, legally, a "knife". The other is that if it is a full tang (which yours is not), that is what makes, in the eyes of the law, a knife.


What is your take on the issue?


In any case, I'd be proud to have made a piece as nice as this.



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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.)

12_6_2012_  Gr_ Messer, Ende 15_Jh_, mit Ahle_  1b kl.jpg

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.

Edited by J.G. Elmslie
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I love it.

So, tell me, please, is the handle made from wood slabs such that the steel is visible underneath the leather, or is the handle made from a wood core that completely covers the steel of the tang?


I love messers, and indeed many types of sabers.


that is a great creation. Thanks for sharing it, and the information from the originals.



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That is an amazing piece!

I don't know why but messers speak to me...

One question... In all your book learning, and studying of single edged weapons like the messer, did you happen upon any geometries like Mr. Johnsson has with the Soborg http://www.peterjohnsson.com/the-soborg-sword/?

I would be very interested to know!

I am very envious of all you who live across the pond... so many museums with so many blades to study!


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Fantastic!, the straight bladed messers are my personal favorite sword style, and i think they are woefully underadmired.

I must also say that this blade looks like it came straight out of a museum, you captured the medieval aesthetic quite good.


Can't wait to see it in Solingen. :D

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