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Old 1st April 2014, 07:28 PM   #1
dana_w
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Default Typology of a Medieval Sword

This medieval style sword is part of a weapons collection that my sister and I inherited from our father a few years ago. I have been trying to understand the distinctions of Oakeshott’s types and sub-types. Would anyone care to hazard a guess?

The sword weighs 2 lb, 6 ⅛ oz. The blade is 33 12/16 inches long and 1 10/16 inches wide where it meets the guard. The guard is 8 3/16 inches wide. The wire-rapped grip is 8 3/16 inches long. The pommel is 2 2/16 inches in diameter and 1 ⅛ inches thick and its thickest point.
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Old 1st April 2014, 09:11 PM   #2
Timo Nieminen
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I don't think this falls neatly into an Oakeshott type (his classification isn't a general one for all swords, only for the common types of European Medieval swords). One difference between lots of modern replicas and genuine Medieval swords is that modern ones are much more likely to have diamond-section blades, even on the cutting-oriented types that were typically lenticular. Also modern fullers are often much narrower, and terminate before the guard. Since blade section and fuller are major features used to classify into Oakeshott types, it's not so easy to classify replicas.

You could call it Type XVIIIa. Diamond section, shortish fuller, fairly narrow blade without much taper. Perhaps it is meant to be XII, but is diamond-section instead of lenticular.

I like binary keys (AKA dichotomous keys) for classification. However, they're not very common for classifications of arms. They don't really work well for incomplete classification schemes.
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Old 1st April 2014, 09:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
I don't think this falls neatly into an Oakeshott type (his classification isn't a general one for all swords, only for the common types of European Medieval swords). One difference between lots of modern replicas and genuine Medieval swords is that modern ones are much more likely to have diamond-section blades, even on the cutting-oriented types that were typically lenticular. Also modern fullers are often much narrower, and terminate before the guard. Since blade section and fuller are major features used to classify into Oakeshott types, it's not so easy to classify replicas.

You could call it Type XVIIIa. Diamond section, shortish fuller, fairly narrow blade without much taper. Perhaps it is meant to be XII, but is diamond-section instead of lenticular.

I like binary keys (AKA dichotomous keys) for classification. However, they're not very common for classifications of arms. They don't really work well for incomplete classification schemes.


Thanks for your comments Timo Nieminen. I'll checkout the Oakeshott types you suggest and read the Wikipedia page for dichotomous keys.

I take it that you believe this this is an obvious replica. (?)
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Old 1st April 2014, 11:16 PM   #4
Timo Nieminen
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At first glance, it looks like mid/late 20th century. Maybe not strictly a replica; it might be a masonic sword or similar rather than a replica Medieval sword.

Apart from looking far too new, it isn't in the style of Medieval swords, but has lots of features found on older modern replicas.

As for keys, the best thing I wrote about them is http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...437270801919875 but there isn't a free online version (I can send a copy by email). An earlier version, which is freely available, is at http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publica...02/cho02101.pdf

Those are about classifying behaviour, not arms. For a nice example with arms, see R. Shelford, "A Provisional Classification of the Swords of the Sarawak Tribes", The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 31, 219-229 (1901), http://www.jstor.org/stable/2842798 (alas, not free).

The classification system used in Zonneveld, "Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago", http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-W...d/dp/9054500042 is nice - has good visual aids.
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Old 2nd April 2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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I have looked at some of the intermuseum database schemas, but none of them really works for me.

As to the sword, my guess would be a Victorian era reproduction. But that is only a guess.
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Old 4th April 2014, 04:03 PM   #6
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I agree, this appears to quite possibly a theatrical item, and from late 19th into the early 20th c.
I think one of the major problems in typologies and classifications in weaponry is that the degree of variations and often even subtle characteristics in elements are considerable. This is compounded by the fact that blades are often separately produced and weapons were often refurbished over their working lives.
This is powerfully the case in most ethnographic arms especially, but even with military swords, typically these end up in many other contexts as they became obsolete or lost in campaign circumstances

I think the reference offered by Timo is an outstanding benchmark from an academic point of view, and intriguing to see this kind of system considered as an approach to this challenging task. The Oakeshott classifications have long been used as a benchmark for medieval swords.
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Old Yesterday, 11:40 PM   #7
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European swords are not myfield but might it be one of those Victorian-era "mediveal" swords?
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