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Old 6th August 2014, 05:43 PM   #1
Roland_M
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Default Highly decorated medieval (?) french two hand mace

Hello everybody,
I am a new member of this forum after a long period of passive reading and learning. Now it is time to show my collection to the forum here and this is my first thread.
It is a most probably french two hand mace. I purchased the mace by auction at the delcampe.net website. It was a private seller with no experience and I thought, 99€ is ok, whether authentic or not. The mace is ~64 cm long and weighs impressive 2,35 kg. The handle is deeply engraved with lily flowers, the edge shows very nice bird heads with flames.
The question is, authentic or not? I sended highly compressed pictures to a museum and they said its made from cast steel (no gray iron). Cast steel was patentet in 1860.
In this case the mace is a piece of historism or a modern fake.
Now I have better pictures and the handle shows clear signs of lamination. I believe this mace cannot be made from cast steel, because the geometry have too many undercuts.
Next indicator is that it is a very complex work. It must have taken weeks or months to make this mace, to much time for modern times. The mace once was decorated with gold and maybe more, but over the centuries (?) almost everything is gone.

I would be very pleased about any opinions on this remarkable mace.


Best regards Roland
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Old 6th August 2014, 07:06 PM   #2
AHorsa
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Dear Roland,

welcome to the forum!
On the second picture the mace looks like there is a seam on the handle. If this is the case it is an evidence for cast steel. If it is cast steel it might be composed of several parts.

Best regards,
Andreas
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Old 6th August 2014, 07:09 PM   #3
Fernando K
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Hi there:

In the picture No. 2, I distinguish the line separating the two molds, which indicates that the handle was cast; It would then be a reproduction

It would take some closer photo

Affectionately. Fernando K

(sorry for the translation)
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Old 6th August 2014, 08:32 PM   #4
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Hi Roland,


Welcome on the forum, and my congratulations on introducing us to this great object!

Though no longer medieval, this definitely is
a finely carved wrought iron
Renaissance period horseman's mace, Italy, ca. 1520-30.

Much more soon.


I am longing to see more of your collection!!!

Glad to have you here with us,
and best wishes,
Michael

Michael Trömner

Rebenstr. 9
D-93326 Abensberg
Germany

Last edited by Matchlock : 6th August 2014 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 6th August 2014, 11:55 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum! I am a bit of a newbie myself, after quietly lurking and having a peek for a while I realized this group has a lot of depth and breadth in the world of European and Ethnographic weaponry. I finally realized that I could contribute a little of my experience to the big picture.

I am a master silversmith who has collected and restored this stuff for longer than I can remember!

Now, as I look at your mace, I also see the parting line (or mold mark, as Fernando put it), in photo number two. If you follow along the line you will see a knop midway up the shaft that bears the resemblance to twisted wire. It originally was done by careful chisel work. But right in line with the parting line, the individual channels on the knop become undefined, like something filled them up. When the piece was cast, a fine flashing, or a fin of metal was left to finish off, a common occurrence in casting. The contour was defined by finishing with a file or other abrasive tools, and left as it is. Were it of the original period, the spiral detail would have been chiseled on to the surface.

Don't misunderstand me. It's a great quality casting, probably done during the mid nineteenth century, when a mania for filling up manor houses was in fashion. Today it would be too expensive to make, especially for the sum that you mention.

It's a great looking piece that was made to give a certain "look" to its location, not unlike what's going on in the furniture and decorative arts field today. There are not enough genuine, of the period antique (armor, tables, brasses, etc.) pieces to fill the demand.
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Old 7th August 2014, 04:39 AM   #6
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Hi Roland,

after a closer look at the type of iron of your mace i must conclude it is made of cast iron just like Fernando said.

Kind regards

Dirk
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Old 7th August 2014, 07:34 AM   #7
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It is a 20th century copy of a 16th century mace, in Ewart Oakshott and Clive Thomas typology of maces; type M2/b2 popular in western Europe in the early 16thC.


My first impression is that the shaft has been cast, original shaft of this type are hollow/tubular and formed by rolling or hammering a flat section of metal around a cylindrical former.The seam at the shaft of your mace itself is where it should be, a seam along the length direction!
Sometimes the central moulding divides the shaft into segments, wherein the cross-section of the shaft sometimes changes.
The flanges of the macehead of this type are fitted in slots cutted in the shaft, from the top down through the metal, and fixed with copper solder.
At the grip a lower guard/lower finial or pommel as you like is at original pieces fitted in the hollow shaft, it is not part of the grip. same for the top finial, at your pictures it looks like it is part of the shaft, one piece.
The head has usually 7 or 8 flanges, earlier types 6.
sometimes a hole is pierced through the shaft above the grip/moulding to fit a wrist band.
The weight of your mace is way too heavy, which should have a maximum of around 1.2 kg,
but most are lighter than 1 kg.

so my conclusion is a very nice early 20thC reproduction mace of type M2.

For an extremely nice article about earlier maces, see London park lane arms fair 2014- Clive Thomas/ the gothic mace.

hope it helps

Best,
jasper
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 8th August 2014 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 8th August 2014, 09:24 PM   #8
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Default more pictures

Thanks for all the answers, makes me really happy.
Here are some macro pictures and a picture of a mace in a german museum from the 16th century. The mace is hard to photograph because of the dark brown patina. Or maybe a very good job in artificially aging. The patina have a similar color like the nakago of my koto-tanto.
My mace have seven flanges, I forgot to mention this.
There are at least 4 of this lines from forging or casting on the handle, they are not straight and unevenly spread. I think it looks like overlapping layers, typical for medieval forging.
The eagle or phoenix heads are all different, 28 different heads, quite time-consuming for casting.
The flanges are separately welded to the handle.
It seems to be a work of the 20th century, made with traditional methods. How do they made such a wonderful patina job? I have a little experience in etching pattern welded blade steel and this was no acid. I am astonished, that modern blacksmiths can make such good jobs after traditional methods.
A nice detail, gently beaten with wood the flanges produce a wonderful bright and pervading sound. The best sound of a weapon I ever heared, including many movies.

Best wishes Roland

p.s.: I am from Germany and i hope, my English is good enough for the standard here. I give the best I can.
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Old 9th August 2014, 10:18 AM   #9
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Thanks for the clear pictures!
Iam sorry but no matter how much you want to believe it, it is sure to be a later reproduction and not an original mace.
the faint lines and very low quality of the fleur de lis in your pictures clearly show that it is a casting and no chiselling in relief.
The mace from the berlinerzeughaus inv. nr4453 you posted, is of a totally different category, high quality carving and etching and non comparable to the coarse casting/workmanship of your mace.

hereby also attached some pictures how a 16th-century mace should look.

Best,
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 9th August 2014 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 9th August 2014, 03:44 PM   #10
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Hi Roland and Jasper,


I am nor sure about your respective opinions.

Attached please find images showing details of the finest known carved wrought-iron barrel of its kind, Brescia, ca. 1525-1530, and is of top quality manufacture.
I is most probably a masterpiece, and is preserved in optimum original condition, with the carving in high relief.
The
finely grained ground the latter still retains its original blackened surface for contrast.

This item reprents exactly the same Italian style as the contemporary maces.

Preserved in The Michael Trömner Collection.



I'd like you to comment on this.



For contemporary Italian arquebus barrels wrought and carved in the same style please, cf. my threads

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...chlock+arquebus



http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...chlock+arquebus

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlock+harquebus



Best,
Michael

Photos copyrighted by Michael Trömner.
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Last edited by Matchlock : 9th August 2014 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 9th August 2014, 05:53 PM   #11
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Dear Michael,

the barrel you show is a very nice one. Thanks for sharing. But in my eyes there is a large difference between your piece and the mace. If you compare your pictures to the detailed ones of the mace, the "carvings" of the latter one are more vague and also there is this seam with its little misregistration, which in my sense clearly speaks for a cast iron product.

Best regards,
Andreas
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Old 9th August 2014, 07:52 PM   #12
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Michael,

Everything on your barrel is either chiseled or chased by hand, one tap of the hammer at a time.

The mace in question is cast, possibly using an old piece as a pattern, but no chiseling or chasing went into its production, with the exception of quickly finishing off flashings or spruces left over from casting.

The deep parts of a design that were tooled will usually be smooth, with the exception of places where a background texture is applied with a matting tool, as in pebbled backgrounds on your barrel. Linear designs should not have roughness in the troughs. A casting will always leave some roughness here.
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Old 9th August 2014, 08:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock

I am nor sure about your respective opinions.
This item reprents exactly the same Italian style as the contemporary maces


it is not the same Italian style nor technique!
Actually these are two completely different techniques and incomparable
At your barrel example material around the figures is chislelled away by hand , this is the so-called embossing technique.
At the shaft of the mace just the line around the fleur de lis is removed, so called engraving technique, however not done by chiselling but by casting.

I expect you meant a style and technique similar to the foliage decoration on the maces in the pictures, which is completely different as a casting.


best,
jasper
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 10th August 2014 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 10th August 2014, 10:59 AM   #14
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Hi fellows,


You're right, of course, no doubt about that!

I fully agree with your statements that the item in question is a cast-iron 19th c. decorative reproduction. The etchings are done primitvely as well. I don't thik they are etched at all.


It's just that, at the moment, I lack the time to go into details.
So all I wanted to show was the ample bandwith of early 16th c. ornamental patterns.

For comparison, I have just authored a new thread that will provide you with tons of genuine Italian iron carvings on barrels and maces from the 1520's to ca. 1540.

Please see
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18904


Enjoy,
and best es ever,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 10th August 2014 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 11th August 2014, 07:20 PM   #15
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Hello,

thank you for the pictures, very useful for me.
I believe now for sure, that it is a reproduction. Not very well made and the patina is not real.
I have added one macro with traces of golden color. That is mentionable because the mace was covered with a thick layer of ugly and smearing bronce-color (picture 1). I spent one day for cleaning with a hard brush and 500 ml nitro-thinner (removes almost everything, including the plastic bucket and my bronchia) to remove the bronce-color. But some tiny spots of "color" were much harder to remove than the rest of the color, only by scratching. Then I discovered, that it is probably gold and I thought everything under the bronce-color is older, much older (picture 2).
It looks to me, that the gold or whatever is oxidized into the surface of the steel and this is the reason for my misapprehension. I have seen similar effects at very old items. That was the moment I begun to think that it is maybe authentic. If it is just color the nitro-thinner would have removed it.

Maces are normally no part of my collection, it was just a good opportunity.
It was never my intention to doubt the competence of the experts in this forum. I apologize if it seems so.

Best wishes Roland
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Last edited by Roland_M : 12th August 2014 at 08:21 AM. Reason: forgot my signature
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