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Old 23rd September 2008, 08:35 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Would you call this a lance or a pike ?

I wouldn't mention spear, as we don't have a strict translation for such term in Portuguese. We currently say 'lanša' for lance and 'pique' for pike. We also have 'zagaia' or 'azagaia' for assegai, but that's another story.
This piece was acquired by the seller in a mannor house in the north, where noble old places with coats of arms at the entrance abund. The house keeper said it belonged to the 'house defences'. So in principle this isn't a pike, but a lance, with a butt to stick on the ground, to resist a mounted atack.
The seller remounted it in a 1,7 mt. haft, made from old used oak.
The triple S marks (symbols or letters) in both sides of the blade surely belong to owner ... probably a part of the house crest, or family name initials.
It is dated 17th century.

Fernando

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Old 23rd September 2008, 10:02 PM   #2
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Fernando,

I would call this the remnants of a 16th to 17th century pike, thinking that the original haft was much longer. As you refer to its latest use, however, it may well have seen private re-use as a shorter lance in later times. Only one thing is clear: when the lancet iron originally belonged to a pike haft, the iron finial at the other end was not part of that original haft; it makes sense, however, in stabilizing a lance haft when put to the ground.

I also think that the S-shaped ornament does not refer to an owner. Telling by the deepness with which it was struck, the iron must have been warm and the striking must have been done by the smith, so I should rather identify it as a workshop mark in the shape of a stylized S. That might, but does not have to, mean that the gunsmith's name had the initial S. S-shaped ornament was widely in use in the Renaissance period alluding to snakes, sea monsters and the like.

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Old 23rd September 2008, 10:17 PM   #3
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I wanted to add that the habit of striking a mark or an ornament twice or three times is characteristic of Gothic and Renaisscance ironwork tradition, not only in weapons. It has to do with both stylistic reasons and the superstitious minds of those periods but was kept for long times after.

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Old 23rd September 2008, 11:37 PM   #4
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Thank you so much for your (partly unexpected) observations, Michael.
Let me digest the whole thing and be back here to confirm my understanding of yout input.
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Old 24th September 2008, 06:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
I wanted to add that the habit of striking a mark or an ornament twice or three times is characteristic of Gothic and Renaisscance ironwork tradition, not only in weapons. It has to do with both stylistic reasons and the superstitious minds of those periods but was kept for long times after.

Matchlock


Outstanding observations Matchlock! I recall seeing various forms of marking triple stamped on many occasions on sword blades, and of course the number three seems to have key symbolic connotation in many cases. It seems that I have seen blades even with four stamps repeated (I believe it was a Wundes blade with four kings heads). In the case of hallmarks these were often stamped in groups with guild, maker, city together in a grouping, but it seems sometimes there were repeated stamps. Lots of notes on these markings and practices with them, but far from complete!

In recently reading through material concerning pattern welded blades there is often reference to snakes or serpents alluding to the imagery of the pattern seen in the blade. I wonder if that connotation might have been adapted into a symbolism for quality in the product, in this case the lance or pike head. Just a thought, and the origins and symbolism of the markings on weapons has always intriqued me. Whatever the case, these triple 'S' marks are deliberate, so certainly stand for something.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 24th September 2008, 12:25 PM   #6
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"S" or Snake. In a largely illiterate society, a symbol makes more sense. Gotta check some references.
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Old 24th September 2008, 12:34 PM   #7
Gavin Nugent
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Default The "S"

The "S" seems consistant in grouping only with those previously found on Nimchas and those cuban machetes mentioned in past postings from memory.....is there a link???

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Old 24th September 2008, 06:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
The "S" seems consistant in grouping only with those previously found on Nimchas and those cuban machetes mentioned in past postings from memory.....is there a link???

Gav



Right on Gav!!!! Very well noted!
Those deep squiggle 'S' marks are all over on the blacksmith grade blade on the now identified as Cuban sword example I had. In that case they were stamped in rows all down most of the blade.
It has been suggested in many ethnographic cases that if a single quality or representative trademark imbued quality or talismanic properties in a blade, then several or many! ....well, there's the idea.

We'll see what Ed can find on the S marks. I cannot resist thinking of the serpent metaphor in sword blades from the Viking period describing the pattern welded blades and the classic article by Lee Jones, "The Serpent in the Sword" (I always loved that great title!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 25th September 2008, 12:45 AM   #9
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The first things I checked (Stockel for one) showed nothing similar. The problem is that now one must wade thru lots of references with marks being only a peripheral part of the work (The Wallace Cataloge, for example).

Boy, a serious effort against marks would be welcome.
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Old 25th September 2008, 12:46 AM   #10
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Well, i was considering some points that lead in a contrary direction to that of these marks been the smith's own (or traditional) symbol (isms).
I place myself in those days where rural civilian smiths were not allowed to make weapons from their own willing, but only if they were comissioned by (big shot) clients, for their house defences or private armies.
In such context, how could the smith have the impertinency of striking such show off marks in both sides of the blade and, instead, not the client's symbols ?
I once had a sugestion (Rainer Daehnhardt) that these could be the initials of a family with houses in three different places ... or i didn't catch the correct sense.
I would also guess that multiple equal letters may appear in the construction of coats of arms, indicating various family branches; there are ancestral families with their names starting by an S, such as the Sousas and the Silvas.
... Not that the client couldn't instruct the smith to strike the weapons with 'public' symbolisms, instead of those from his private universe.
Concerning the piece itself, i can assimilate it is a pike later modified into such quoted house defence lance. I may even admit that the iron head and the but spike actually belonged to different weapons and the seller had the idea to join them, makig a composite from his imagination.
... Just wondering. In fact i allways go for actual names or representation marks, by default, and only consider esoteric stuff when supported by actual or consensual evidence .
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Old 25th September 2008, 06:48 PM   #11
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Just sayin'
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Old 25th September 2008, 08:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
Just sayin'



Context?
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Old 25th September 2008, 09:25 PM   #13
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I'm trying to age a new chain mail coif to match an authentic jacket. The rust marks (totally accidental) on the porcelain head looked familiar.

Point is that as humans, meaning can be read into a lot of stuff.
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Old 26th September 2008, 02:28 AM   #14
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"..the other side of Ulfberhts blades is inlaid similarly with a pattern, no two of which are identical. These patterns consisted of arrangements of upright strokes, diagonal crosses, interlaced bands and isolated letters. We have no clue as to thier meaning, though there can be no doubt they had meaning, for we must remember that at this period names and words and symbols had a great and god like potency".
"The Archaeology of Weapons", E. Oakeshott,p.144
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