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Old 10th August 2020, 04:47 AM   #1
CSinTX
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Default Hand and a Half Sword

Recently added to my collection. Its extremely light and nimble in the hand. The blade is wide but flexible. The usual questions; age, origin, other known examples?

The straight line mark at the base of the fuller, would that have been from blade tongs during forging?

As always, all comments and questions are welcome!

Thanks!
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Old 10th August 2020, 06:04 AM   #2
Philip
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Thanks for posting this, looks nice! Could you please give us some measurements, and the position of the balance point? Also,a pic of the tang button?

The "straight line" that you mention -- I trust that you're talking about the slight transverse indentation. Does it appear on both sides, exactly opposite?
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Old 10th August 2020, 06:39 AM   #3
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Default images for comparison

Some examples of the genre to start the discussion. Line drawings show the gamut of hilt styles, from Ewart Oakeshott's European Weapons and Armour, fig 54. The simpler Group I guards are earlier, first third of the 16th cent. Photoplate is of 3 German bastard swords, 16th cent., in the Tower of London Armouries ( A. R. Duffy, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, plate 13 ).
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Old 10th August 2020, 09:17 AM   #4
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diagonally recurved quillons flattened and expanding evenly towards their ends where they are scrolled sometimes also the scroll is splitted, is "common" on Italian rapiers about 1520-1620.
this type of pommel, converging towards the top was populair about 1570-1625.
so if the sword is authentic, which I cannot judge from the pictures probably italian, and late around 1600.

best,

Last edited by cornelistromp : 10th August 2020 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 10th August 2020, 10:01 AM   #5
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Hi Casey , congratulations with a beautiful hand and half sword !
There is a similar one in the Wallace collection , however that one could be with a associated pommel it is a bit out of style with the guard , while your pommel is in style with the guard both are faceted and have the same type of design.
Here is the one in the Wallace collection and its description : Longsword Solingen, Germany and Switzerland Date: c. 1610 - c. 1630 (pommel) early 17th century (guards (Swiss))probably first half 16th century (blade (German))
Date:c. 1610 - c. 1630 (pommel)early 17th century (guards (Swiss))
probably first half 16th century (blade (German))
Longsword, the blued hilt made up of a pommel in the form of an elongated oval, divided by a central ridge, and notched in the middle on each side; grip, swelling in the middle, corded and bound with leather; diagonally curved guard with scrolled tips, and accommodating two large pierced shell-guards; the double-edged blade of hexagonal section with hollow groove, bears the running wolf mark inlaid in copper alloy.
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Old 10th August 2020, 12:19 PM   #6
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Very nice !



I don't have much to add, as Ulfberth already said everything, but I can however tell that, having personally handled an original XVIth longsword, this one looks good and authentic ! (With the usual caveat of judging such things from pictures only.)


I'm not sure what that dent or "line" is, but it is sure it is not a tong mark (you can't really mark a blade that deep just with your tongs during forging, and even if it was the case, it would have been polished out later). It could be a later blade damage, but could you tell us if that line is present on each face, and if the blade gets significantly thicker between the guard and the mark?
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Old 10th August 2020, 04:32 PM   #7
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Default Scarf weld?

Sometimes there will be a transverse difference in patination down in the lower forte like in your images reflecting different materials owing to a 'scarf' or overlapping weld where the tang is composed of a different (usually lower carbon) material. If this is the case, the location of the junction measured from the shouldering will be different on each side or will be seen just on a single side.
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Old 10th August 2020, 06:38 PM   #8
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hilt of Ulfberth's example, wallace A484
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Old 12th August 2020, 04:10 AM   #9
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Ill attempt to answer questions. Point of balance is approximately 9.5cm in front of the guard. Weight is around 3.4lbs.

The indentations in the lower part on the blade are present on both sides but they are not equal on each side. That would make sense about a tang being welded on separate. It does seem there could be a difference in metals in the area.

Cornelis, do you have a link to those pictures? I cant seem to locate them on their site. Mine doesnt seem to have ever had shell guards. The shell guards in the example do look pretty unique. The piercings seem to match the pommel but are unlike anything I've seen on other swords.

More pics-
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Old 12th August 2020, 04:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSinTX
Ill attempt to answer questions. Point of balance is approximately 9.5cm in front of the guard. Weight is around 3.4lbs.

The indentations in the lower part on the blade are present on both sides but they are not equal on each side. That would make sense about a tang being welded on separate. It does seem there could be a difference in metals in the area.

Cornelis, do you have a link to those pictures? I cant seem to locate them on their site. Mine doesnt seem to have ever had shell guards. The shell guards in the example do look pretty unique. The piercings seem to match the pommel but are unlike anything I've seen on other swords.

More pics-


Thanks, Casey! This is a beautiful sword you have, congrats.

Yours certainly has a responsive balance. Comparing with an example in my collection which I got recently (photos are in a PDF file which I can't separate into individual images so will take some phone pics and post them later), the POB comes in at 13.5 cm in front of guard, with a total weight of 1450 gm (around 3 1/4 lb) on a 91.5 cm blade length. So the balance on mine is not as "fast" as yours but is still effective in one hand.

The close ups of your blade reveal a definite "grain" in the steel, from lamination during the forging process. If these blades were polished and etched like Oriental swords, the layering would be just as impressive (Roberto Gotti's book, Caino, (Guardia di Croce, 2011) on the blade-making industry in a town in Lombardy, has a whole chapter on the metallurgy of some 16th-17th cent. rapier blades from its forges, and the work is pretty impressive).

Regarding those indentations, after looking at the latest photos yet again, I do notice in one of the images what appears to be a different color of the metal between the indentation and the guard. A sort of brownish tone? I don't know if we're seeing the same thing. Does the color change also coincide with the indentation on the other side? (you mentioned that the sunken areas are not directly opposite). If there is an offset, then it might just indicate a lap-weld as suggested previously.

To be sure, a good way to check might be a non-invasive etchant treatment, such as degreasing the area and applying a mild acid like lime juice or a strong vinegar. A sharply delineated color or texture contrast usually indicates dissimilar alloys of iron. The area can be easily cleaned afterwards with a bit of powdered cleanser and a damp rag.

(Lap-welding of a steel blade to an iron or low-carbon steel tang in an area just ahead of the hilt was common in some non-Western cultures, notably India. Late Ottoman blades often have this feature as well, the join usually being hidden by overlaid gold or silver decoration).

I think that the guard of your sword might be earlier than the otherwise similar one on the Wallace example posted above. The pierced "shells" seem to me a later design feature.

Last edited by Philip : 12th August 2020 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 12th August 2020, 09:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSinTX
Cornelis, do you have a link to those pictures? I cant seem to locate them on their site. Mine doesnt seem to have ever had shell guards. The shell guards in the example do look pretty unique. The piercings seem to match the pommel but are unlike anything I've seen on other swords.

More pics-


please see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=wallace

best,
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Old 12th August 2020, 12:45 PM   #12
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Good observation Casey, the cut out shapes on the guard shells on Cornelistrump's example are the same shape as the pommel of the sword in the Wallace Collection, so either it was born like this or as Philip pointed out its a later upgrade.
Indeed there never were guard shells in your sword rings because these are fixed in the slits or grooves and your's does not have any grooves . On swords/rapiers that have lost these scales you can clearly see the grooves were the shells were fitted. When we look at the design of your swords crossguard we can see the swung or shape of the Pappenheimer style guard , in my opinion your sword is an earlier version of the one in the Wallace Collection that later developed further upgrading it with guard shells and some more later as we all know developed further to the Pappenheimer rapier, interesting is that there are also Pappenheimer hand and a half swords. Below an example of the grooves in a guard ring that has lost a shell and some Pappenheimer guards to compare the style and shape and a hand and a half sword .
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Last edited by ulfberth : 12th August 2020 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 13th August 2020, 02:25 AM   #13
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Ha!
Ulfberth beat me to it as I was going to reference the groves into which the plates on my Pappenheim hilt fit. Given that yours is likely late 1500s or early 1600s, and the Pappenheim around 1630, I'm not sure if such fitting of the plates developed 50 years later, but I'm fairly certain your example never had plates in the guard.

I'm curious about the flexibility of the blade you mentioned. I'm of the opinion that the blades on some of these hand-and-half swords were as flexible and lively as military rapier blades. Can you give any specs regarding this characteristic?

Overall, thank you for sharing this impressive example.
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Old 13th August 2020, 02:49 AM   #14
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Default A specimen for comparison and contrast

Here's the sword I referenced in my post last night. This reportedly came out of a private collection in the Netherlands, via a Scandinavian dealer. German, ca 1520-30.

Blade length: 35 7/8 in. / 91 cm
Width at guard: 1 3/4 in. / 4.6 cm
Width 2" from tip: 7/8 in. /2.4 cm
Thickness at forte: 3/16 in. / 5 mm
Hilt length: 8 3/8 in. pommel to front of quillon block
POB: 5 1/4 in. ahead of guard / 13.5 cm
Weight: 3 lb 4 oz / 1450 gm

Blade with areas of moderate old corrosion typical of age, edges with very minor distortion in areas from period sharpening (whetstone marks visible under magnification), lamellar grain of steel readily visible in places, blade and edges still straight and sharp. Grip of leather over cord, signs of wear and patina,no losses.

German cross-and-orb mark in fullers, one side with traces of latten inlay.
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Last edited by Philip : 13th August 2020 at 05:48 AM. Reason: add metric equivalents
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Old 13th August 2020, 03:48 PM   #15
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Very nice and well preserved longsword/hand-and-a-half sword/bastard sword!

Many museums would love to have it!
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Old 13th August 2020, 04:17 PM   #16
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stunning beautiful Philip !
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Old 14th August 2020, 04:51 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
I'm curious about the flexibility of the blade you mentioned. I'm of the opinion that the blades on some of these hand-and-half swords were as flexible and lively as military rapier blades. Can you give any specs regarding this characteristic?


Unfortunately, I dont have a lot to compare it to or know a way to give specs. When put side by side, it is slightly less flexible than this sword- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=25090

and slightly more flexible than this one- http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...Hand+Half+Sword

To the uneducated, they might all seem to be more flexible than expected for their size. I would guess this has more to do with a thin blade cutting better than desiring flexibility but I dont know.

While discussing the blade, I would like to ask about the bottleneck where the blade gets narrower where the fuller stops. Would it likely be made this way or could this be from lots of sharpening? If made this way, does it tell us anything of origin?
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Old 14th August 2020, 04:57 AM   #18
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Beautiful sword Philip. Love the large pommel and matching finials.

Does the blade on yours taper much? I assume it must with the weight you list.
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Old 14th August 2020, 10:35 PM   #19
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Default blade taper

Quote:
Originally Posted by CSinTX
Beautiful sword Philip. Love the large pommel and matching finials.

Does the blade on yours taper much? I assume it must with the weight you list.


Thanks, Casey. The deep spiral fluting on the pommel and the quillon finials, mirrored on the obverse side-ring, are typically Germanic.

Regarding taper, the width measurements I gave in my post indicate that just where the edges curve towards each other at the tip, the width there is half the width right ahead of the guard. This, over a linear span of about 34 in. How does this compare with the proportions of yours?

As to thickness, if I put the caliper immediately in front of the guard, it reads 5.5 mm, and within a couple inches of the tip, 4.5 mm.

As you say, it's hard to objectively measure flex (and it's never a good idea to apply a great deal of lateral stress to a centuries-old thin piece of steel with areas of corrosion, for obvious reasons), but the general "feel" of the blade's resiliency generally compares with that of a 15th cent. Venetian broadsword of similar size in my collection -- admittedly a rather imprecise assessment.

Regarding the slight concavity in the edge contours on your sword, I've noticed this occasionally on other double edged blades of similar form, especially those which have seen a fair amount of field use, as opposed to being ceremonial or regalia pieces. I've always attributed it to the cumulative effect of many sharpenings. A bladesmith friend once told me that nicks or chips in an edge are likely stress points, which could result in fracture lines after subsequent lateral stresses. People back then must have realized this, and that is why you see old blades with edges ground back to the point where there are noticeable irregularities, or a general narrowing.

If the subject of pre-industrial blade metallurgy interests you, I highly recommend Alan Williams' The Sword and the Crucible: A History of the Metallurgy of European Swords up to the 16th century (2012). Lots of useful info on iron alloys, forging techniques, and heat treating based on lab analysis of blades from Roman to Renaissance times, with enough general info on the swords of Eastern cultures to provide a techno context.
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Old 18th August 2020, 01:09 AM   #20
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Swords are not my area, but I must say CSs new one has excellent proportions.

It would look far better on my wall than his, however.
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