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Old 7th July 2011, 01:34 AM   #1
VANDOO
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Smile SCHIAVONA SWORD VARIATIONS.

I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED THESE SWORDS BUT HAVEN'T SEEN ONE IN MY PRICE RANGE BUT PERHAPS A GOOD REFRENCE WITH PICTURES WOULD BE IN ORDER. MY KNOWLEGE OF THEM IS LIMITED BUT FROM WHAT I HAVE READ THEY WERE OF VENETIAN ORIGIN. THESE EXAMPLES ARE ALL SAID TO BE 17TH CENTURY EXAMPLES.
I HAVE ADDED PICTURES OF 6 VARIATIONS, FEEL FREE TO COMMENT OR ADD MORE EXAMPLES AND INFORMATION.
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Old 7th July 2011, 02:06 AM   #2
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Venetian in use. However, used by central European/Slavic mercenaries, and the square cat head pommel is seen on other central European broadswords and is reminiscent of some katzbalger pommels.
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Old 7th July 2011, 12:37 PM   #3
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Note the upturned rear quillon on two of these. Upturned rear quillons are certainly a thing one sees on European swords. This pertains to a thread about a Batangas/Luzon sword recently.
Note how the pommel lies within the basket.
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Old 7th July 2011, 01:03 PM   #4
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Great examples and a wonderful topic...what part of the Philippines are these from????.....seriously, I'd ask for this to be shifted to the EU forum where there is likely to be less head scratching :-P

Gav
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Old 7th July 2011, 03:27 PM   #5
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You are quite right Barry, in that these Venetian Schiavonas are always selling for prohibited prices.
I too dream of having one
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Old 7th July 2011, 04:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
You are quite right Barry, in that these Venetian Schiavonas are always selling for prohibited prices.
I too dream of having one


I quickly checked my collection.
Nope, no schiavonas in my cupboard.
If I where a richman, these would be on my list "to buy" together with a claymore. I like the extravagant type of handprotection.

These are indeed pretty rare.
But I am sure there must be forumite(s) who own them.
Otherwise surely there will be some info around.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 7th July 2011, 05:07 PM   #7
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STONES SAYS
"THE VENETIAN BROADSWORD OF THE 16TH CENTURY. IT HAS A BROAD, STRAIGHT BLADE WITH A VERY HEAVY ELABORATE BASKET HILT THAT COVERS THE ENTIRE HAND. THE NAME IS DERIVED FROM SCHIAVONI, HIRED SOLDIERS. THE SCOTCH BROADSWORD OF THE 17TH CENTURY AND LATER IS COPIED FROM IT. "
CAN'T ADD MUCH MORE TO THAT EXCEPT THE POMMEL IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS A CATS HEAD DUE TO ITS SHAPE. ADDED THE LAST TWO PICTURES IN MY FILES.
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Old 8th July 2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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This is an excellent topic Barry! and I'm really glad you posted it. Ironically, its rather a good thing that you inadvertantly posted this distinctly European topic on the Ethnographic Forum, as having it moved to the correct forum may have heightened some awareness that there IS a European Forum
It seems after years, many readers and even some members are completely unaware of the 'three' forums here, or the search and archives functions which truly serve well at providing outstanding research resources.

One of the reasons the 'schiavona' is such a great topic is due to, like many weapons, the many misperceptions about them....the fact that they are wonderfully beautiful and historic weapons not withstanding. I have been of course digging through notes to try to recapture some of this material from some years ago.

Actually the sword we know as the schiavona was popularized by its well known use by the bodyguards of the Doge of Venice, who were most often actually Dalmatian's and serving there from Venice's colonial control of Dalmatia as one of its Adriatic holdings. There has been considerable debate over the source of the term for these swords, which may derive from the earliest reference to some type of sword termed 'spada schiavonesche' (1391). In modern Italian the term 'schiavo' means slave, however it seems that 'schiavona' in earlier Venetian parlance actually pertained to 'a woman', this suggesting the feminine colloquial terming of the sword (known as the 'Queen' of weapons). This is supported by an early portrait of a lady by Titian titled "La Schiavona". The Slavonian association presumably would have called for the term for Slavic people, which is 'Slavo' in Italian, and it seems unlikely that these rather elite bodyguards would have been considered 'slaves' in any sense.

It seems the form of the schiavona is most likely derived from 14th and 15th century hilt styles from Hungary and the Balkans, which would include in many cases the distinctive 'cats head' type squared pommels. These may in some way be associated with the well known 'katzbalger' swords of German mercenaries in these times, as some schiavona type hilts in thier more developed form are known among variations of katzbalgers (Wagner, "Cut and Thrust"). The term 'cat' was a colloquial application having to do with 'fighting' in the alley cat sense, a scrapper. The Hungarian influences are well placed as the Dalmatian territories were under thier control until ceded to Venice in the 15th century with influences well emplaced.

Probably the most notorious representation of the schiavona swords were from a number of them associated with the mysterious 'Council of Ten' of Venice which are typically marked 'CX' accordingly (see "The Rapier and Smallsword 1400-1820" , A.V.B. Norman).

The developed 'trellis' style basket hilts ('gitterkorb') seem to have been fully developed by the 18th century, when these swords gained most of thier notoriety. It is important to note here that it is now generally accepted that the schiavona while having some superficial likeness to the Scottish baskethilt (often termed claymore somewhat incorrectly, these are the 'great swords'). ..there is no direct connect, particularly developmentally. This misperception was construed in the fervor of some late 19th century Scottish writers, and almost immediately contested by Lord Archibald Campbell (1899). The great arms historian Holger Jacobsen of Denmark in 1940 showed that while these are similar in appearance, there are no constructional similarities sufficient to warrant any direct connection. It has also been well proven that the Scottish basket hilt evolved primarily from North European swords of the type known as 'Sinclair Sabres' (another misnomer for another time) and actually predated most of the developed trellis hilts of the schiavona.

I do know that the schiavona, while mostly associated in developed form from latter 17th through the 18th century, was still in use traditionally as late as the Napoleonic period. I have seen one with hilt in asymmetrical trellis form, with typical 18th century backsword blade (these did become cavalry weapons as well). It is inscribed 'VIVA FERNANDO IV' and 'RE DELLE DVE SICILIE' on the blade, which is to Ferdinand I (1751-1825) who was King of the Two Sicilies (Naples & Sicily) as reconstituted at Napoleons defeat in 1815, thus placing the sword in that period. It should be noted the use of the schiavona was well known throughout Italy, Spain and the Balkans in these centuries, though primarly associated with Venice as mentioned earlier.

Like most vintage European swords, these are often expensive, however relatively affordable in many cases but it takes of course some good research and networking. I think I have photos of the schiavona I mentioned and will post as soon as located.

All best regards,
Jim

PS extremely nice photos posted Barry!!! and thank you again for bringing up the topic. Hopefully you or anyone out there who has examples of these or who is inspired to acquire one will share it here, as well as any other data or thoughts on the material I have presented.
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Old 8th July 2011, 10:09 PM   #9
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Nathan Robinson has a passion for these and did a nice article.

http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_spot_schia.html

There are more examples in galleries there.

Jean Binck had also penned a short article back in 2003

http://swordforum.com/articles/ams/the-schiavona.php

Cheers

GC
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Old 8th July 2011, 11:02 PM   #10
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GREAT INFO JIM AND HOTSPUR NOW I KNOW A LOT MORE ABOUT THESE BEAUTIES.
STONES GLOSSARY IS STILL THE BEST OVERALL REFRENCE OVER A WIDE RANGE BUT IS SOMETIMES INCORRECT AND SELDOM GOES IN DEPTH SO LEAVES A LOT TO LEARN BUT AT LEAST POINTS US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
THE FEW EXAMPLES I HAVE SEEN AND HANDLED OVER THE YEARS WERE ALL DOUBBLE EDGED HEAVY BROADSWORDS. LOOKING AT THE PICTURES I POSTED I SEE THE SECOND ONE DOWN TO THE LEFT IS A SINGLE EDGED EXAMPLE. THE LAST EXAMPLE TO THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAS A LIGHTER FASTER BLADE BUT I CAN'T TELL IF IT IS SINGLE OR DOUBBLE EDGED.
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Old 9th July 2011, 03:56 AM   #11
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Default SCHIAVONA Circa 1600 late, (17th Century)

Hi

This Schiavona is the only one in our collection, and we particularly like it becaue of the pieced balde and armourers marks.

Nationality: Venetian
Over Length: 95 cm
Blade length: 80.5 cm
Blade widest point: 3.3 cm

Marks, etc.: The running wolf is the passau mark generally found on words supplied to mercenaries of the Arch-Duke Leopold V. The other makers mark is yet to be referenced, but is supposed to have something to do with St Mark?

Description: SCHIAVONA Venetian broad sword, the hilt with characteristic complicated multi bar basket guard. The outside elements of the “basket” splay out quite broadly at the ends, and each end finished with a well shaped knob. This form is repeated on the single rear quillon, while the lower bars of the guard spring from the ends of the atrophied branches. The upper elements of the basket are formed from a pair of narrow bars joining the upper part of the knuckle-guard to the inside of the rear quillon. These are set quite wide apart and are joined by a series of short curved bars at right angles incorporating thumb ring and rear facing quillon. Leather covered wooden grip. Brass Cats Head pommel with raised central boss on each side featuring what may have been a floral motif. Straight double-edged blade with pieced design, running wolf mark and another maker’s mark on the ricasso. Some pitting commiserate with age otherwise good condition.

References:
CURTIS, Tony, Lyle Price guide Militaria Arms and Armour Pp127
EVANGELISTA, Nick THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SWORD Pp529-530
OAKESHOTT, Ewart EUROPEAN WEAPONS AND ARMOUR Pp 182-191
STONE, George Cameron A GLOSSARY OF THE CONSTRUCTION, DECORATION & USE OF ARMS & ARMOUR Pp
WAGNER, Eduard, CUT AND THRUST WEAPONS Pp109,172
WILKINSON, Frederick SWORDS & DAGGERS Ward Lock & Co. Limited 1967 Pp

The best place to see a range of Shiavona’s on the market is Czernys Auction House Italy. They have two auctions a year and always appear to offer a good selection of these swords.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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Old 9th July 2011, 04:18 AM   #12
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You're welcome Barry, and thanks again for the posting which gave me an opportunity to revisit and try to make sense out of my heaps of old notes.
The Nathan Robinson article is excellent, and probably one of the most comprehensive studies written on these.
For anyone wishing to pursue further, some of the other references I have found among my notes are, in addition to Norman and Wagner:

"A Schiavona Rapier" , Claude Blair. JAAS, Vol.V, #12, Dec. 1967 pp.453-454

"Blankwaffen: Schiavona" Gerhard Seifert, 'Deutsches Waffenjournal', Vol.2 #12, Dec. 1966, pp.42-7

"In Search of the Schiavona", Karel Sutt, Knives 2000, 1999, Ed. K. Warner

"Historical Guide to Arms and Armour", Stephen Bull, 1991, p.125

"17th Century Europe" by Anthony North , 'Swords and Hilt Weapons', Barnes & Noble, ed. M.Coe, p.74

While Stone remains an outstanding, and amazing most venerable resource, there are numerous revisions which are attributed mostly to the subsequent research which he himself encouraged in his introduction.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 9th July 2011, 04:28 AM   #13
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Cathey and Rex, thank you so much for adding this wonderful and beautifully described example..we crossed posts and I just saw it!

Have you done any further research on the openwork devices in the blade?

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 9th July 2011, 06:54 AM   #14
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I had posted a reply, perhaps right about as this was being forum jumped.
Jim seems to have covered about everything in it, and in greater depth and articulation, anyway; hand of fate there.
There seems to be some association in central Europe of cat's head pommels with professional soldiers.
I would think "mortuary" hilts are a close relative/ancestor of the Scottish basket hilts. Certainly not the schiavona in any direct way.
Lovely sword type, most distinct to my eye, not for the formation of the basket by 2 or more rings covered by leaflike bars that radiate from the front, as by the cat's head pommel, the long blade, and the position of the pommel within the guard.
Note the pommel is usually brass, the guard steel.
I like the pierced poison-holes in the one blade.
Lovely photos, but I do notice a thing is happening that sometimes happens, which is the showing of just the hilts.
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Old 9th July 2011, 08:36 AM   #15
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Beautifully sculped hilts on these types. I've always wanted to have one to hang above the mantle. Very nice pics, Barry.

Jim, you out-did yourself with that dissertation. Wish I had half the knowledge as you, my friend! Not to get off-topic, but I remember the days of the Forum when this item would still be considered Ethnographic in a manner of speaking. After all, it's not like these were generic models issued from an armoury. Each one of these appears unique in their own form and is due the respect they deserve. My point is that it's too bad we've become so rigid that we can't discuss (on occasion) A Scottish baskethilt over on the Ethno forum or a Malay pirate sword here-

Back on topic with probably a really dumb question. If this form of sword served the Dalmations, is the supposition that they came from there, or were crafted in Venice for them?
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Old 9th July 2011, 10:36 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
... My point is that it's too bad we've become so rigid that we can't discuss (on occasion) A Scottish baskethilt over on the Ethno forum or a Malay pirate sword here-


I wouldn't put it the rigid degree, Mark my friend. But i would accept it to be sometimes tricky. A determined piece may be genetically ethnographic but also European.
Given that that the youngest Vickingsword descendant has by no means the same load of clientele as the Ethno section Jim, as one of the European section's co-authors, is naturally revealing his motherly feelings , by pulling the coal to his sardine ... isn't that right Jim ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
... Back on topic with probably a really dumb question. If this form of sword served the Dalmations, is the supposition that they came from there, or were crafted in Venice for them?

Good question
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Old 9th July 2011, 06:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Beautifully sculped hilts on these types. I've always wanted to have one to hang above the mantle. Very nice pics, Barry.

Jim, you out-did yourself with that dissertation. Wish I had half the knowledge as you, my friend! Not to get off-topic, but I remember the days of the Forum when this item would still be considered Ethnographic in a manner of speaking. After all, it's not like these were generic models issued from an armoury. Each one of these appears unique in their own form and is due the respect they deserve. My point is that it's too bad we've become so rigid that we can't discuss (on occasion) A Scottish baskethilt over on the Ethno forum or a Malay pirate sword here-

Back on topic with probably a really dumb question. If this form of sword served the Dalmations, is the supposition that they came from there, or were crafted in Venice for them?



Thank you so much for those kind words Mark! Actually though, I wish I were as knowledgable as noted, its mostly just a lot of digging through references and simply relaying the knowledge of many outstanding arms authors. In the references I have gone through on this topic, the work done by Nathan Robinson (founder of MyArmoury forum) is beautifully done and he does an excellent job of catogorizing some the the many variations as well as a great synopsis of the history on the schiavona.
The reason I have tried to list as many reference sources as possible here is for the benefit of others wishing to continue research on these swords and presenting a benchmark bibliography for study. There are of course likely countless other references passim in the huge corpus of arms literature, and I hope others will respond in kind by adding them here as well.

It is indeed an excellent question you ask, and exactly the kind I always hope for in these discussions. The schiavona itself has become a distinctly recognizable style of hilt which has become most commonly associated with the forementioned bodyguards of the Doge of Venice. It is presumed that the earlier versions, such of some 300 swords in the armoury of the Doges palace in Venice listed in the 1548 inventory as 'spada schiavonesche' (Norman, p.65) were likely to have been with the more basic, undeveloped hilt style. Norman, p.101, notes "...by the third quarter of the 18th c. the basket hilt of the schiavona had been completed". In Blair (1967, op.cit. p.454) , he states that "...it seems probable that swords of this type were introduced to Italy from Hungary, perhaps Dalmatia, and they very likely to have been called 'Slavonic swords'.

Since Hungary is contiguous to the borders of Dalmatia and was under its control until the early 15th century, the influence of the war swords of Germany and into Hungary easily were transmitted via mercenary troops and constant interaction from trade and colonization to warfare into these regions.

Wagner (1967, p.173) notes, "...by the end of the 16th century sword baskets began more variety on form above all due to Italian influence. The sword of Dalmatian Slava acquired a deep basket made up of connecting bars and perforated plate . About the year 1580, this weapon due to trade with Brescia and Saravelle, won unusually wide popularity in other armies as well. The schiavona fitted with a longer blade was also introduced into the cavalry, and under Emperor Ferdinand II even among the cuirassiers".

In my opinion, while there were of course many North Italian swordmakers in Genoa, Milan, Lucca and others as well as Venice, there were many blades imported from Germany and Spain. The Brescians seem to have been among the greatest artisans for hilts, and these baskethilts are basically in greater regard in accord with the diagonal movement of swept hilt rapiers of these times. I would suspect that in large degree these more developed 'trellis type' hilts were Italian produced for the Dalmatian troops following the addition of these guards to the established simple war sword forms of the earlier type which had come from Dalmatian/Hungarian and German ancestry.

Naturally, this is suggested broadly as the developing hilts were appearing across Europe through the constant diffusion of influences and geopolitical flux. The amount of variation which understandably ensued allows only circumstancial assignment of a certain hilt form to a region or period by preponderance of distinctly provenanced examples.

Regarding the separation of forums, it really is not a matter of being 'rigid' as described, as there are many instances of European versions of ethnographic swords and vice versa. These I find personally fascinating as they reflect so much history from colonial and developmental views, but they are very much exceptions. The reason I encouraged the forming of the 'European Armoury' was to place distinctly 'other' than ethnographic type weapons in thier own context to limit the amount of 'explanatory' dialogue in reasoning thier presence in category and focus on constructive examination of the weapons themselves.

Nando, you are of course most astute!! and I do very much 'paternally' and proudly want everybody to know about our 'European Armoury' .
One of the most common 'reasons' I hear from those who lurk for thier reluctance to participate is that they 'do not know enough about the topic'. For me, the goal is to learn, and for everybody to join in on the research, and then add thoughts, observations, questions and additional information.
A European weapon with no connection to anything the regular vistors are familiar with, placed in the wrong area will simply drop off into oblivion, which
happens too much as it is.

Thank you so much guys!! I hope we can keep this thread going and bring together a compehensive study to date on these swords.

All the best,
Jim

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Old 5th July 2012, 09:14 PM   #18
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Hello,
I hope this thread is not too old to reply...
I am a very new french member on this forum . Hope my english will be ok.!!

I actually make some research on what I think to be an hungarian sword, an ancestor of the schioniva if I well understood the Nathan's article.
I dated from late 15th c. Wagner discribed a such one on his book plate 25.

I will need help to go further on my research.
What would be your advices on its provenance, datation,homogenity, genuine?
I will be very glad to read and learn about from much more specialists than me.

Many thanks
Alain
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Old 6th July 2012, 12:38 PM   #19
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Bonjour Alain,
Welcome to the forum .
Threads are never old in here.
Let us see what our knowledged members say about this interesting example .
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Old 6th July 2012, 01:08 PM   #20
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Hi Alain,


This belongs to a well-known group of swords that seem to have originated in Venice in the 1460's and were made almost identically up to the 1490's, and as you say, in Hungary as well.

My expertise in edged weapons is not really sufficient though to tell a Hungarian sword from one made in Venice. If I am not totally mistaken, the ends of the quillons are broader on Hungarian swords, so you may be right.

The piece seems quite homogeneous, possibly apart from the grip leather.

The trade mark on the blade seems to be a running wolf, probably the Passau type.


I add photos of another sample of that type of Venetian swords, sold at auction by von Morenberg, June 19, 2010.


Best,
Michael
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Old 6th July 2012, 01:10 PM   #21
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Some more pics, and the group of four swords in the Doges Palace of Venice (on the left side).

m
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Old 6th July 2012, 07:00 PM   #22
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From what I remember is generally associated with late-15th c. Hungarian swords of Venetian type is the attached form of a long saber or Grosses Messer, the hilt of characteristic Italian shape.

The similarity between the pommels and hilts of Venetian and Hungarian swords in the late 15th c. is, on the one hand, based on the fact that Northern Italy was style-defining throughout the Renaissance period, while on the other, Hungarian soldiers did service in Venetia in the second half of the 15th c.

Alain's sword is certainly an authentic Venetian piece of the 1480's; even the grip leather with its characteristically thick cord binding underneath seems to be the original.
The Passau wolf does not necessarily mean that the blade was imported from Passau; since at least the 15th c., it had become a wellknown trade mark
and was copied widely.


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Old 7th July 2012, 09:34 PM   #23
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Old 8th July 2012, 02:58 PM   #24
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Exactly, Valjuhn,


Sorry for overlooking that thread.

You can identify your type of sword among the group displayed on the right in the photo from the Doges Palace at Venice I posted above.


Best,
Michael

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Old 8th July 2012, 03:23 PM   #25
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These Venetian swords are referred to in Armi Bianche, 1975.

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Old 22nd July 2012, 03:18 PM   #26
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Hi all,

I just come back home and read all your posts.
Let me thank you for your interest and the photos as well.
I learned so much...Great and cool !!!
The thread "Schiavona and swords variations" was also very helpful.

About the Passau wolf on the blade, is it coherent to say that a blade could have been made in Passau and guard, pommel, quillons in Hungary.?
I read on Oakeshott books that parts of the swords can be made in several locations and put togheter in one. Blades due to their costs were often reused and swords becoming then composite.
What about that?

All the best
Alain
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Old 22nd July 2012, 04:35 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sioume
Hi all,


About the Passau wolf on the blade, is it coherent to say that a blade could have been made in Passau and guard, pommel, quillons in Hungary.?
I read on Oakeshott books that parts of the swords can be made in several locations and put togheter in one. Blades due to their costs were often reused and swords becoming then composite.
What about that?

All the best
Alain



Hi Alain,

Although blades, just like barrels, were exported widely it is more reasonable to assume that a blade showing a wolf mark and combined with an Eastern European hilt was most probably made in the same country as the hilt and, as I pointed out, the wolf was copied as a traditional trade mark because it was generally associated with superior quality.

Best,
Michael
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Old 23rd July 2012, 04:38 AM   #28
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Posts: 3,140
Cool

I HAVE JUST ENJOYED REVISITING AND READING THIS POST AND LOOKING AT THE PRETTY PICTURES. I NOTICIED SOMETHING ABOUT ONE EXAMPLE I POSTED EARLY IN THE POST. HERE IS A PICTURE OF IT SO YOU WON'T HAVE TO GO SEARCH TO SEE WHAT I AM REFERRING TO.
THE GAURD IS FORMED WITH FINGER JOINTS AND A CLAW AT THE END. PERHAPS A DRAGON OR CHIMERAS CLAWS ARE REPRESENTED. VERY COOL DON'T SEE HOW I MISSED IT BEFORE.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 06:02 PM   #29
sioume
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Thanks Michael for explanations.
So how someone can recognize a blade made in Passau and one with a wolf mark on it on it?
What differentiates them?

Thank for helping
Best
Alain
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Old 23rd July 2012, 08:35 PM   #30
Enibas
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Smile Is it from Passau?

I am new in the forum, so at first I say Hello to all.


I think it is not easy to recognize a real blade from Passau. But it is well known, that a lot of blades from Passau were sold to the Steiermark (Styria).

Certainly we would find in the Zeughaus Graz (Armoury of Graz, Styria) many
blades from Passau, which could be useful for comparative purposes.

In his book "Die Passauer Wolfsklingen" the author Dr. Heinz Huther noted a consistent practice of stamping and inlaying the wolfs mark of Passau by the craftsmen since 16th century.

But if that's true, why should not this practice have been copied also by other craftsmen?

The blades of passau are worth a new topic, I guess.

king regards
Ben

P.s.The sciavona shown by Vandoo is great! In my opinion a very old type around 1600 or before.
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