“I used to have a ship, you know,” the old man says. He sighs heavily and stares across the water to the brightly-painted war vessel. “Nothing fancy like this ‘un mind, but she knew what she was doing out there. Aye, that she did.”
You grunt an indifferent response, eyes fixed on the approaching craft. You pat the left breast of your doublet, satisfied by the slight scrunch of parchment – the papers that will grant you a new start, another chance at glory.
“You’ll be off after the French then, will you?” the old man tried again. “Light some powder under their arses and show ’em what’s what, eh?” He chuckled to himself. “Well that’s a fine thing, I suppose.”
You wish the old sot would find some other seafarer to bother and leave you to your thoughts, but he persists.
“It won’t be a long life, mind. Never is. They all find their way to the bottom in the end. Boats, that is. An’ if you’re lucky, they’ll take you down with them.”
At this you tear your glance away from the incoming ship, irked. “If you’re unlucky, you mean,”
The old seadog grins showing stubs of brown teeth, and holds his palms out to either side as if to present himself.
“Look at me, lad,” he cackled. “Do I look like one of the lucky ones to you?”
You shift awkwardly, taking in the man’s haggard physique and straggly hair, a shirt that’s seen better days and battered leather boots. At his side hangs a sword, incongruous with his shabby appearance. An elegant basket of crossed black bars encloses a gold-patterned lining, crested by a large segmented pommel.
He sees you staring, and his hand flies to the hilt. Slowly, so as not to cause alarm, he draws the weapon and holds it out to you.
“You looking at this? Ah, she was never mine to keep either. May as well send her back to the sea. Go on, go on, take her! And may she bring you better fortune!”
Wide-eyed you reach for the brown leather grip, barely daring to believe your luck.
“They all find their way to the bottom, you know,” the old man repeated. And then he was gone, lost in the burgeoning crowd, leaving you dumbfounded, a sword in your hand, and a ship on your horizon.
Demonstrating close attention to historical detail, thanks to notes from the museum curator, this recreation of the renowned Mary Rose basket hilt is accompanied by a matching main gauche.
The sword showcases a number of original features and techniques: the saltires on both sword and dagger are split and forged out from a single bar, and the hollow segmented pommel is brazed together. The sizing of the sword basket it true to the original spec, providing good cover for a lightly padded leather glove. Its blade measures 36″, approximated from the incomplete tip on the extant sword. The sword is balanced to take advantage of its light weight and safely offer some blade presence. Keeping a low overall weight of 990g allowed Chris to emulate the feeling of some sharps of around this length, even with the safe flex of a fencing blade.
The curator’s notes indicated that an upper S-bar was likely, as is found on similar swords of the period, but there has been no mention of a weld point on the inside quillon block or the inside rear quillon. This is where additional bars would logically sprout to meet the S arrangement, forming a three quarter (or more) basket. It could be that the oxidation of the original erased these tells, but it’s also possible that the Mary rose sword represents a transitional period between a minimal inside guard and a more comprehensive one.
Chris chose to follow what we have of the original, particularly the form of the partial inside guard bar, resulting in a speculative assembly that has commonalities with the barwork of tessacks and other broadswords of the same period. It gives good coverage for the thumb and fingers whilst keeping the sword light, and presents a smaller profile when hung on the hip, which was an important consideration with asymmetrical guarded swords in the period.
A similar bespoke sword and dagger set would start at £1600 plus shipping
The hot-forged, heat-treated and hand-carved guards are oil-blackened to a matte finish. The custom-sized hardwood grips are wrapped first in linen thread and cord risers, and then in deep brown leather.
The set was finished with hand-tooled and painted brown leather basket liners, backed in thick brown felt. These have been wet formed around the bars for optimum movement and protection.
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