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Old 18th April 2012, 04:38 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Flamberg Two-hand Swords, late 16th-Early-17th Century

In the Museum in the Heidecksburg, Rudolstadt, Thuringia, the former armory of the Princes of Schwarzburg.

m
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Old 18th April 2012, 05:23 PM   #2
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When I started collecting, I was also fascinated of such big swords, and acquired one. That was a great mistake, and I sold it again as fast as possible(luckily without a loss). These swords are no real weapons, they are only for processional use, and the quality is most often not the very best. Hundreds of these swords with or without a waved blade have survived, and on nearly every auction appear one or more. Nevertheless there are always some crazy bidders, who pay incredible prices for them, sometimes more than for genuine medieval swords in not excavated condition. No serious collector should have such swords in his collection.

Best
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Old 18th April 2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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That's absolutely true.

As I have stated several times, all they were was bearing swords (Vortrageschwerter).

Likewise I have also felt that swords of justice and executioner's swords were not actual weapons either but signs and tools respectively.

Best,
Michael

Last edited by Matchlock : 18th April 2012 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 18th April 2012, 05:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
No serious collector should have such swords in his collection.



Hmm. That's odd, because every museum with a large arms and armor collection has them on display.
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Old 18th April 2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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I know, Dmitry.


I guess that's partially due to the old inventory descriptions of these swords which, even as late as the early 17th century, were listed as fighting swords (Schlachtschwerter) - which of course they were no longer - when ordered for processional purposes, e.g. for the Graz armory in the 1620's.
Since at least the 1560's, they did not play any role as 'Landsknecht' swords any more, and they looked different from the actual Landsknecht two-handers of the first half of the 16th c. as well.
Another reason might be their sheer size and sometimes 'flamed' blades that accounted for their becoming preferred display objects as the average inexperienced visitor will intuitively start speculating about them being 'handled' in fight. That may also account for the fact that in the characteristic traditional 18th-20th century museum array, they were used for an armored 15th-16th c. knight to lean on them, in many ridiculous cases the armor being scantly as tall as the sword ...
The photo attached below, which I took in the armory of Schloss Braunfels, shows a moderate arrangement; at least the big sword between the two suits of armor can be dated to ca. 1580, and the 'Maximilian' knight is not displayed leaning on it.

Sometimes traditional terms die out hard, especially in a field as traditional as weaponry. It's funny but the very same problem occurred to me only today when responding to Jean-Marc's post and putting right the actual meaning of the - internationally widely misapplied - term 'arquebus'.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=15432


When I remember it correctly it was Guy Wilson of the Royal Armouries, then London, who, in an article of the 80's, confined the historical term (h)arquebus to late 15th/early 16th c. light portable guns on the basis of Henry VIII's inventories.


Best,
Michael
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Old 18th April 2012, 06:59 PM   #6
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Hello Michael, first of all sorry for my ignorance. I'm a collector of the Indonesian kerises which are very often wavy. While I know that the kerises were forged just this way -- wavy --, I have not the faintest idea as to how the Flambergs were made. Did they start as straight swords with the waves subsequently filed in? Regards, Heinz
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Old 18th April 2012, 07:10 PM   #7
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Interesting question; thank you, Heinz,

The genuine flamberg swords that I have had the chance to closely inspect all showed clear signs that the 'flames' were added by holding the blades against a rotating stone wheel (Schleifstein). Filing them would have been too costly, even for the period. We know from period weapon orders that each little detail had to be paid separately by the armories.

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Michael
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Old 18th April 2012, 07:36 PM   #8
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Thank you, Michael. This answers an old question of mine when looking at Flambergs in museums and comparing them with my kerises (although these two types of edged weapons cannot be compared in any way, of course). Best regards, Heinz
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Old 19th April 2012, 01:41 PM   #9
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These swords are very expressive, in my opinion. Very large, wavy blades, huge hilts add to the mythology of the knights (even though they had nothing to do with the knights]. That's the main reason the museums love them, I think.
Given a chance and an inexpensive price, I'd gladly buy one. Or two. I guess I'm not a serious collector.

They display beautifully.
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Old 19th April 2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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The two items you posted are 19th to 20th century copies!

m

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Old 19th April 2012, 05:21 PM   #11
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I'll take 4 then.
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Old 19th April 2012, 05:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
... No serious collector should have such swords in his collection...

This is a bit of a drastic way to put it, but perfectly coherent.
If i was offered one, i wouldn't throw it away but i wouldn't give it a prime display and, even if i could afford, i wouldn't go look for a specimen.
... Whereas a real combat two handed sword sounds to me highly collectible and a serious competitor to a sword collection ex-libris status.
Two handed swords are called "montante" (mounting=raising) over here; they were the elegible weapon carried by most nobility in combat during the discoveries period (XVI century).
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Old 19th April 2012, 06:28 PM   #13
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A couple XVI century montantes in the Lisbon Military Museum

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Old 19th April 2012, 06:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
When I started collecting, I was also fascinated of such big swords, and acquired one. That was a great mistake, and I sold it again as fast as possible(luckily without a loss). These swords are no real weapons, they are only for processional use, and the quality is most often not the very best. Hundreds of these swords with or without a waved blade have survived, and on nearly every auction appear one or more. Nevertheless there are always some crazy bidders, who pay incredible prices for them, sometimes more than for genuine medieval swords in not excavated condition. No serious collector should have such swords in his collection.

Best


Omg, I have a couple of these swords in my collection. fortunately only a few percent

do you mean with "only processional use", similar Processional use as the very fine mail coat you put in a thread on this forum?

this statement varies between quite amusing and absolutely nonsense of course, I know beautiful medieval processional swords that I would love to see in my collection.


picture tower of London around 1400, length 2.70??
picture topkapi sword, palace istanbul allover length 270cm, blade 205cm x 10cm ,cross 66cm , pommel 13cm
picture landeszeughaus Graz (photo carl Koppeschaar)

best,
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Old 19th April 2012, 08:47 PM   #15
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What Michael calls Victorian or 20th c. pieces, are attributed to the 16th c.
Again, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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Old 19th April 2012, 09:43 PM   #16
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Sorry, Dmitry,


That's my opinion on the basis of your image.
Again: I can and will defend all my statements concerning 14th-17th century 'military' firearms but I have never claimed being an expert in related fields.

I guess we all should take it for granted that there is a manifold basis in judging historical pieces of weaponry.
In my eyes, the Philly, housing the Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection, have never tried to rethink their outdated inventory descriptions - which is true for almost any museum worldwide. Take the Met! Take Graz!

Any advanced study in weaponry, after all, seems to have been taken over by - and readily left to - a couple of internationally engaged private enthusiastic collectors - at their own expenses ...
It seems to me that a few of them are united here on the forum which might be a first humble step in the right direction!
The academic 'ivory tower' society formed by the established museuns has been looking down upon them from the very beginning - and has excluded them. That's exactly what I have experienced for some 35 years, in spite of my academic career. Well, you cannot graduate in weaponry, after all!

In my opinion we are facing a basic problem.
What is needed most is up-to-date scientific research methods to enable any user to exactly define the age of single components of a weapon: when the metal parts were last heated, when the wooden parts were last treated, etc., etc. I know it sounds like a Space Ship Enterprise phaser of the '80's but I do know they exist in laboratories - unaffordable to average people though.

Why not? Just because there is extremely little interest worldwide in resolving such questions concerning weapons. I guess that weapons range way below 1 per cent overall with the average historians ...

E.g., no serious research has ever been taken to define historic woods, except from oak. But all that can be defined even in this narrow field is when the oak tree was cut down - which is not helpful in any way, given the case that somebody acquired a 500 year-old oak beam from an old house and, afterwards, cuts e.g. an oaken stock out of it to complete a genuine haquebut barrel! The decisive questions should be: when was the wooden surface last treated? When was it last stained, and what are the components of the staining or 'lacquer'? Do they only contain period recipes? Unbelievable as it may sound, it is absolutely true: not even the varnishes of earliest pieces of furniture and caskets have ever been analyzed and dated!

On the other hand, these methods have been well approved long since in historic pottery and related fields; laboratory research can specify when a piece of earthenware was last heated. So why not in weaponry? Why not for medieval pieces of furniture? Dendrochronological anlyses can only define when a piece of oak wood was cut down but not when it was used secondarily to build a new piece of stock or furniture! For other types of woods generally employed in weaponry, especially for stocking firearms in limewood and fruitwood (16th c.) and beechwood or walnut in the centuries to come, no research has ever been attempted. Too low interest ...

So who are we to decide?


Best from a sometimes disillusioned
Michael


P.S. As this a fundamental issue concerning our common interests, I encourage other members to utter their opinions!

Last edited by Matchlock : 19th April 2012 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 20th April 2012, 05:53 AM   #17
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Hmmm. I agree to some extent. Unfortunately, if the item has been extensively handled or curated, I'm not sure you can get a decent age off any of the surfaces. The problem is similar to that of items excavated before modern archeology came around. So much context has been lost, and so much has been done to them, that it's unclear how much, if anything, you can learn from the exercise.

My <0.002 cents,

F
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Old 20th April 2012, 06:46 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Sorry, Dmitry,


That's my opinion on the basis of your image.
Again: I can and will defend all my statements concerning 14th-17th century 'military' firearms but I have never claimed being an expert in related fields.

I guess we all should take it for granted that there is a manifold basis in judging historical pieces of weaponry.
In my eyes, the Philly, housing the Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection, have never tried to rethink their outdated inventory descriptions - which is true for almost any museum worldwide. Take the Met! Take Graz!

Any advanced study in weaponry, after all, seems to have been taken over by - and readily left to - a couple of internationally engaged private enthusiastic collectors - at their own expenses ...
It seems to me that a few of them are united here on the forum which might be a first humble step in the right direction!
The academic 'ivory tower' society formed by the established museuns has been looking down upon them from the very beginning - and has excluded them. That's exactly what I have experienced for some 35 years, in spite of my academic career. Well, you cannot graduate in weaponry, after all!

In my opinion we are facing a basic problem.
What is needed most is up-to-date scientific research methods to enable any user to exactly define the age of single components of a weapon: when the metal parts were last heated, when the wooden parts were last treated, etc., etc. I know it sounds like a Space Ship Enterprise phaser of the '80's but I do know they exist in laboratories - unaffordable to average people though.

Why not? Just because there is extremely little interest worldwide in resolving such questions concerning weapons. I guess that weapons range way below 1 per cent overall with the average historians ...

E.g., no serious research has ever been taken to define historic woods, except from oak. But all that can be defined even in this narrow field is when the oak tree was cut down - which is not helpful in any way, given the case that somebody acquired a 500 year-old oak beam from an old house and, afterwards, cuts e.g. an oaken stock out of it to complete a genuine haquebut barrel! The decisive questions should be: when was the wooden surface last treated? When was it last stained, and what are the components of the staining or 'lacquer'? Do they only contain period recipes? Unbelievable as it may sound, it is absolutely true: not even the varnishes of earliest pieces of furniture and caskets have ever been analyzed and dated!

On the other hand, these methods have been well approved long since in historic pottery and related fields; laboratory research can specify when a piece of earthenware was last heated. So why not in weaponry? Why not for medieval pieces of furniture? Dendrochronological anlyses can only define when a piece of oak wood was cut down but not when it was used secondarily to build a new piece of stock or furniture! For other types of woods generally employed in weaponry, especially for stocking firearms in limewood and fruitwood (16th c.) and beechwood or walnut in the centuries to come, no research has ever been attempted. Too low interest ...

So who are we to decide?


Best from a sometimes disillusioned
Michael


P.S. As this a fundamental issue concerning our common interests, I encourage other members to utter their opinions!




yes, I know many people in the field, but actually none with your level of knowledge of early firearms. I would be the last to debate this with you.
further your comments on other weapons are always very valuable, perhaps in terms of dating and authenticity they sometimes differs from the norm, but it is always well researched and always makes sense.

Most of the innovative researchers who are truly publishing innovative articles also come from other professional groups, please do read the wonderful array of catalogs of the park-lane arms and armour fair in London.

Also don't underestimate the power of new media such as these forums, there is a large group of weapons enthusiasts reached, including those in the ivory towers.

best,
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Old 20th April 2012, 09:44 AM   #19
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Thank you, Jasper,

My experience has shown though that museum people, e.g. from the Met, actually care very little to virtually nothing about what some forumites think, especially as long as they are anonymous and unidentifiable, and have never published books or articles the traditional way, which to them still is the way it has to be done in order to get acknowledged.
German museum people are all the worse.

Best,
m
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Old 20th April 2012, 11:04 AM   #20
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I do not share this experience, the majority that I've approached is extremely helpful. But I also believe that the old-fashioned way of publishing articles, ink on paper, may give more recognition and "name awareness".

Well then we just come along to begin with publishing

best,
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Old 20th April 2012, 11:25 AM   #21
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I readily would, given that anybody provides ca. 100,000 euro for a minimum of 500 copies, each of course containing litterally thousands of photos ... Up to now, I have not found anybody to do so.

m
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Old 20th April 2012, 01:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Thank you, Jasper,

My experience has shown though that museum people, e.g. from the Met, actually care very little to virtually nothing about what some forumites think, especially as long as they are anonymous and unidentifiable, and have never published books or articles the traditional way, which to them still is the way it has to be done in order to get acknowledged.
German museum people are all the worse.

Best,
m



Well said.
Not only the museums, but fellow enthusiasts. Case in point, on another well-known bulletin board/forum centered around early and medieval weapons, someone had started a thread about naval dirks, which is my passion and my specialty in collecting. They had quoted the British National Maritime Museum website for attribution of a couple of pieces that were attributed very wrong, in an obvious way. When I pointed that out, a couple of forumites there brushed me away, in an unfriendly fashion.
After all, who am I, not even a published author, to question THE MUSEUM ?!
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Old 20th April 2012, 01:42 PM   #23
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That's as sad as it's true, Dmitry.

m
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Old 20th April 2012, 01:57 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Sorry, Dmitry,


That's my opinion on the basis of your image.
Again: I can and will defend all my statements concerning 14th-17th century 'military' firearms but I have never claimed being an expert in related fields.

I guess we all should take it for granted that there is a manifold basis in judging historical pieces of weaponry.
In my eyes, the Philly, housing the Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection, have never tried to rethink their outdated inventory descriptions - which is true for almost any museum worldwide. Take the Met! Take Graz!

Any advanced study in weaponry, after all, seems to have been taken over by - and readily left to - a couple of internationally engaged private enthusiastic collectors - at their own expenses ...
It seems to me that a few of them are united here on the forum which might be a first humble step in the right direction!
The academic 'ivory tower' society formed by the established museuns has been looking down upon them from the very beginning - and has excluded them. That's exactly what I have experienced for some 35 years, in spite of my academic career. Well, you cannot graduate in weaponry, after all!


My $.02.
This is a compounded issue. One one side, there's the "old boys club" relic mentality. After all, these people created the whole museum wings by donating significant numbers of weapons and armors. So the old tags are still in place.
On the other, art museums, uniformly governed by the liberal elites, eschew weapons, in fact, hate them, and would like them to go away. Some have removed weapons from their public displays, probably forever.

I will say though that in the past couple of decades, at least in the Metropolitan Museum, the curatorial staff has been doing a phenomenal job in attributing the pieces in their collection, some of which have been attributed wrong for decades, or were composites. The curators at the Met publish a number of fine research papers from time to time, which, unfortunately, seem to go out of print quite quickly.
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Old 20th April 2012, 02:12 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry
Well said.
Not only the museums, but fellow enthusiasts. Case in point, on another well-known bulletin board/forum centered around early and medieval weapons, someone had started a thread about naval dirks, which is my passion and my specialty in collecting. They had quoted the British National Maritime Museum website for attribution of a couple of pieces that were attributed very wrong, in an obvious way. When I pointed that out, a couple of forumites there brushed me away, in an unfriendly fashion.
After all, who am I, not even a published author, to question THE MUSEUM ?!


A recurrent situation. Some attributions in (some) museums are so implausible that even a modest non qualified enthusiast can notice the error at miles of distance.
But i know about a published author who alerted a determined (military) museum for the fact that a certain pistol in exhibition had the hammer of a different weapon and they did nothing to correct the failure ... having a couple hundred more of such pistols in their arsenal depot.
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Old 20th April 2012, 04:24 PM   #26
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And probably retaining their correct hammers, I guess!

m
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Old 20th April 2012, 04:28 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry
My $.02.
This is a compounded issue. One one side, there's the "old boys club" relic mentality. After all, these people created the whole museum wings by donating significant numbers of weapons and armors. So the old tags are still in place.
On the other, art museums, uniformly governed by the liberal elites, eschew weapons, in fact, hate them, and would like them to go away. Some have removed weapons from their public displays, probably forever.

I will say though that in the past couple of decades, at least in the Metropolitan Museum, the curatorial staff has been doing a phenomenal job in attributing the pieces in their collection, some of which have been attributed wrong for decades, or were composites. The curators at the Met publish a number of fine research papers from time to time, which, unfortunately, seem to go out of print quite quickly.


Fully agreed, Dmitry; I did not intend to minimize the Met's work. I know one of the curators very well personally. Indeed he is a member of our forum but I have not heard of him for a long time, and my emails and phone calls have sadly remained unresponded. Hope he reads this and improves!

Best,
Michael
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Old 20th April 2012, 04:41 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
And probably retaining their correct hammers, I guess!

m

Naturally
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Old 20th April 2012, 04:52 PM   #29
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All that a dedicated collector is to such smug people is a nuisance and an inconvenient amateur trying to air himself.
I gave up pointing out errors to museum people decades ago. It's just not worth my breath, and I guess they like me better when I keep silent or just say 'wow', pretending to be impressed - which of course I am, in the negative sense of the word!

Best,
Michl
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Old 20th April 2012, 05:50 PM   #30
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Salaams all~ There are those exhibits in some museums which need to be corrected on detail ... we all know of examples.. however many of the museums experts are very helpful so on balance I think they come out on top. No one on the other hand has the right to look down his nose upon those students of Ethnographic arms who are trying to learn the ropes... I think everyone agrees on that ..

....but why cannot Ethnographic Arms be studied as a formal degree course..? These days degrees can be undertaken on virtually any subject. It is a very worthy study subject...certainly enough content in it to merit a doctorate no?

My question develops ~ Why don't we at this forum expand the equation to include Forum certified courses on Ethnographic Arms and Armour? There are enough qualified persons on Forum to generate this as a series of modules. This Forum already has doctorate level individuals in most fields. What is the definition of University Study? Has anyone ever approached a leading University for accreditation of such a series of modules?

Regards, Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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