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Old 6th July 2020, 02:43 PM   #1
shayde78
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Default Victorian bastard(?)

So, as some of you know, I am collecting on a budget (I guess we all are, just some budgets are greater than others). That means I often have to swing for the fences on items that hold the prospect of being more than they likely are. This is one of those times.

I would love to get your impressions of the item below. The auction company listed it as 'Late Victorian reproduction of a bastard sword'. This company does not specialize in arms, and I appreciate that hey are generally conservative in their descriptions. This is the same company that listed my 17th century Pappenheim as a 'reproduction basket hilt from the 20th century' just a couple months ago, so there is a pattern of underselling.

Anyway, based on the limited auction pictures, I thought I saw something with legitimate age. Ulberth recently offered pictures in a thread about zweihanders that showed the detail of leather on a grip that is consistent with hundreds of years worth of age. The leather on this item's grip seemed consistent with the reference Ulberth provided, and at least placed this in the Victorian era. So, I went for it, and, even if Victorian, got a really (REALLY) good deal.

Once I received it, I noticed the whole piece seems understated. Given the Victorian (and modern) reproductions' tendency towards exaggeration and overdoing it, this shows remarkable restraint. Here are the specs:

Blade length - 37"
Blade width (at guard) - 2"
Quillions - 9"
Grip (with pommel) - 10.5" (large enough for two bare hands with room to spare)
Weight - 2.2 lbs
Blade thickness (distal taper) - 1/4"(at base)
2.5/8" or 3.5mm (at 1ft from the guard)
1.8/8" or 2.5mm (at 2ft)
1/8" or 1.5mm (at 3ft)

The blade is nearly identical in proportions to the Pappenheim I referenced above. In fact, given the weight and proportions, the entire thing handles like a rapier. It is light, very well balanced, can be wielded with one hand quite effectively. Also, I added a picture below showing the amount of flex this blade has. This certainly would not have been able to punch through mail (and the idea of piercing plate has been largely debunked). However, this could certainly slip into gaps and do some damage. This is certainly a thrusting weapon, and now, when I see some of the early bastard/2-handed swords with swept hilts, I can understand why. The blade has a flattened diamond cross-section, again, like a military rapier blade.

So, taking all of this into account, could this be something more than a late Victorian copy? Could this be a conglomeration of parts from different eras that came together to form a chimera? Or, did I actually find something authentic that sold for less than a LOTR novelty sword?
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Last edited by shayde78 : 6th July 2020 at 03:20 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 6th July 2020, 02:45 PM   #2
shayde78
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Additional pics, including the picture of the blade flexing
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Old 6th July 2020, 06:32 PM   #3
ulfberth
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Hi Shayde ,
this one is indeed a Victorian copy , the leather has some age to it but if you look at the pommel and the crossguard you can see it's to perfectly rounded geometrical identical from all sides .
kind regards
Ulfberth
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Old 7th July 2020, 12:26 AM   #4
Oliver Pinchot
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Incidentally, it's never wise to flex a blade this way.

Last edited by Oliver Pinchot : 7th July 2020 at 02:36 AM.
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Old 11th July 2020, 02:23 AM   #5
shayde78
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Oliver,
Proper criticism. I look at that picture and cringe. An idiot move on my part.

Ulfberth,
Thank you for the straightforward assessment. I knew it was a long shot.
Some new questions come to mind now:

- When did the technology become available to create symmetrical hilt components? I'm interested in the guard, but specifically, I know that in the typography a spherical pommel is classified as type 'R' (right?). Can you show an example that is an authentic such pommel? I've had a devil of a time finding one since I first started looking to compare to the one on this copy. I'd love to see the differences side by side, and I hope that would prove interesting for others here, as well.

- Regarding the blade, I feel like the Victorians were prone to use stiff, overly heavy blades when creating their 'interpretations' of medieval weaponry. Could the one here be a repurposed rapier blade...actually, that seems unlikely given the size of the grip that the tang pass thru. Since I debunked my own question, do you think a blade was forged specifically for this historimus, and would they have bothered making one that seems so well tempered?

As always, I appreciate the willingness to share such a wealth of knowledge. Of course I'm a bit disappointed, but the education is well worth the cost of tuition
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Old 11th July 2020, 11:56 AM   #6
fernando
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Lightbulb If you read this forum front page ...

Not that we encourage the discussion of replicas, as per the scope of this particular forum but, let us consider this is still within context.
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Old 11th July 2020, 05:01 PM   #7
Oliver Pinchot
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In this case, the symmetry ulfberth is talking about can come from both turning (lathing) and casting. But more to the point, they are simply not wrought up.

Beyond this, the forms of the pommel and guard are wrong when compared with originals. The ability to recognize this (and one can, with study) from almost any photos, will save a lot of guess work. And expense.

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Old 11th July 2020, 07:42 PM   #8
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Casey's sword is a good example of an original sword with a similar pommel, you can also see what is meant by "to symmetrical" on both the guard and the pommel . The blade on yours is to thick near the tip, in fact the whole just looks evident 19th C at the first glance. Weather blades were tempered or not on 19th c reproductions would entirely depend on the maker. There is a wide variation on 19th c reproductions, from wall decoration to real works of art, swords of 19th c maker Ernst Schmidt for instance sell for serious prices and Anton Conrad a bit later even higher, sometimes higher than originals.
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Old 12th July 2020, 06:17 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
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While discussions of reproduction or altered swords is of course, typically counter productive in discussions of arms from a historical perspective, it is in my opinion, almost an essential study for collectors. Even the most seasoned collectors can be hoodwinked by the ever increasing skills of artificers and unscrupulous sellers.

In Victorian, and Edwardian times, the gentlemans 'smoking room' was essential in a status sense, and these baronial settings were often if not typically appointed with armor and weaponry of antiquity. There were few connoisseurs of weaponry with key knowledge, so many weapons were created by makers such as Ernst Schmitt, as noted, and others.

Many of these weapons were stunningly accurate and seemingly authentic, and honestly have become antiques in their own right. The famed Higgins museum in Massachusetts had many of these on display.

Having the observations and expertise of those posting here provides key insight into recognition details and character of this very good example, so thank you Shayde for posting it here!
Regarding use of authentic components in the assembly of these Victorian examples, if I am not mistaken, was not unusual. As Oakeshott once noted, the blades of many kaskara broadswords brought back from Sudan were mounted in fabricated 'medieval' hilts, and many quite convincingly.
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Old 12th July 2020, 06:44 PM   #10
ulfberth
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I did not answer your question fully , but as Jim points out some of the better 19th C reproductions had original parts.
Anton Conrad often used original blades , however its not the case on your example but your question is entirely valid.
Studying the better reproductions is key to fully understand this field of antique arms.
Kind regards
Ulfberth
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Old 12th July 2020, 06:44 PM   #11
kronckew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...
As Oakeshott once noted, the blades of many kaskara broadswords brought back from Sudan were mounted in fabricated 'medieval' hilts, and many quite convincingly.


Many blades from Kaskara were originally remounted 'European' blades in kaskara hilts, so it comes full circle.

Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...

As noted, real period weapons were not 'perfect' as we expect in more modern machine age (and not hand-made) times. Repros and even frauds can be too good. The adage "If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't" holds true again.
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Old 12th July 2020, 09:22 PM   #12
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Many blades from Kaskara were originally remounted 'European' blades in kaskara hilts, so it comes full circle.

Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...

As noted, real period weapons were not 'perfect' as we expect in more modern machine age (and not hand-made) times. Repros and even frauds can be too good. The adage "If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't" holds true again.


Well noted Wayne!
There were a good many original European blades in kaskara and so it was sort of a righteous return.
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Old 14th July 2020, 09:03 PM   #13
shayde78
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You, sirs, are great!
Thank you for allowing this thread to continue. I (obviously) am not the most savvy collector, and information like this is priceless. I hope my misstep proves useful for others, as well.
So, again, to each of you, thank you
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