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Old 8th November 2020, 03:59 AM   #1
BUCC_Guy
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Default Polish Hussar Lance/Spear examples?

I am trying to find more information on the lance in the attached photo. It was reportedly acquired via de-accession from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 and it is pictured in George Cameron Stoneís ďA Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armorď on page 500. (I misplaced my book and ordered a new copy.). It was reportedly from Stoneís collection.


Does anyone have any information, particularly photos of other examples, that even remotely resemble this type? I have never seen the side-mounted blades before.

It will likely be several weeks before the lance is in my possession.

More info from a prior retail sale:

Prior sale
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Old 8th November 2020, 11:45 PM   #2
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Well, I got to my 'Stone' finally and had been barking up the wrong tree entirely as Stone (p.500) shows this among 'pikes', which have nothing to do with lances or Polish hussars. These are of course infantry weapons, but do have basic similarities to many lances of course in that it is a pointed spear head attached to a haft or pole, usually using the langets extending down to attach with screws.

I have not seen those side 'wings' nor the curious hooks on the shaft on anything, and I have gone through every weapons and arms & armor reference I can think of. While lances were indeed used in Eastern Europe long after they had fallen out of use in the west, the Polish hussar lances were hollowed fir halves glued together a ball type vamplate mid shaft, looking mostly like medieval tilting lances.

There is the possibility this is a boar hunting spear, which often have 'wings' to prevent the prey from coming up the shaft, though these elongated side 'blades' seem contrary to the extended wings typically seen.

Whatever it is, it is certainly 'one of a kind' and having something of Stone's, one of the pillars of arms & armor scholarship, is outstanding!!!
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Old 9th November 2020, 02:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for looking into it!

The Kopia is the hollowed lance with the ball, and Iím not convinced this is the remains of one. From what brief reading Iíve done, there were likely shorter, solid spears used in second wave attacks (infantry). Kopia were also single-use items, and this appears to have too much effort out into it to be disposable.

The hooks are too far down to be for overpenetration.

I should get some better info when it arrives.
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Old 9th November 2020, 02:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
Thanks for looking into it!

The Kopia is the hollowed lance with the ball, and Iím not convinced this is the remains of one. From what brief reading Iíve done, there were likely shorter, solid spears used in second wave attacks (infantry). Kopia were also single-use items, and this appears to have too much effort out into it to be disposable.

The hooks are too far down to be for overpenetration.

I should get some better info when it arrives.


I wasnt aware of the name of the Polish hussar lance. I did not mean your example was one of those 'one time' things, I was just reading through the Zygulski article on Polish hussars ("Arms & Armour Annual").
Pretty intriguing characters, questions on whether they actually wore the wings in combat, then there were these splintering lances.

Would have loved to have seen Stone's notes on this one.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:25 AM   #5
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Default No piggy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall

There is the possibility this is a boar hunting spear, which often have 'wings' to prevent the prey from coming up the shaft, though these elongated side 'blades' seem contrary to the extended wings typically seen.



Jim, your suggestion is food for thought but this weapon does not fit the functional criteria exhibited by every boar spear that I have seen in person or in the literature. The head on this example is much less substantial than the norm, keeping in mind that a boar spear is designed to deal with a thick-skinned animal with a low center of gravity, consisting of several hundred pounds of muscle and bad temper that power a set of tusks that will disembowel any man, horse, or dog that gets close enough. The long blades on either side of the shaft don't do much good because the spear head, properly designed, is what does the job. The wool tassels are superfluous. A simple cross-piece (either forged integral with the socket as common in southern Europe, or a piece of antler or iron lashed or riveted to the shaft below the head in the German lands) suffices as a limit to excessive penetration.

Here are two "classic" examples of boar spear of a style common to the German-speaking countries, with antler-tip crosspieces lashed on with rawhide. The leaf-shaped blade on the left is a variation encountered in other northern and eastern European countries as well.
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Old 9th November 2020, 05:05 AM   #6
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Default analogous Chinese example of "bladed" lance

Here is an example of the same concept as used by some cavalry units in the Chinese Empire during the Qing Dynasty. The image was painted by Fr Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Xining), a Jesuit scholar/artist resident at the court of the Qianlong Emperor, whose armies conducted a series of campaigns in Central Asia in the mid 18th cent. that led to East Turkestan's eventual annexation. The portrait is of A-yuxi, a Dzungar Mongol chief persuaded to change sides and serve in the Chinese ranks to avoid execution as a prisoner of war, and is shown dressed and equipped in the typical style of the high Qing era. Castiglione's paintings and drawings are an invaluable documentary source for the military equipment and disposition of troops during this campaign, since some Jesuits actually accompanied the forces into the field and sketched troops and battles veri simile.

Note the lance. Under the stiletto-like head is a straight slender steel blade attached to the wood shaft by two iron hoops. The primary purpose of this knifelike attachment appears to be twofold -- to prevent the lance head from being cut off by an opponent's saber stroke, and to discourage an opponent on foot from grasping the end of the weapon in a close melťe with infantry.
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Old 9th November 2020, 06:17 AM   #7
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Agreed Philip, the boar spear suggestion was simply noted as this pike seems to defy any other examples (those curious hooks and the side pieces). The example of the Qianlong cavalry rider with lance coincides somewhat with some other reading I came across concerning pikes, and the adding of such protective side plates/blades.

In "Arms and Armor of the English Civil Wars" by David Blackmore, p.75, discussing pikes it notes the narrowing of the ash stave toward the head presented the likelihood of the pike being sheared by sword cut. Also the thinner part of the stave could break upon force of impact and penetration.
He notes long thin steel plates (cheeks or langets) but is unclear if these refer to the reinforcing/attachment langets screwed into the shaft or added plates as seen on this example.

Having sharpened blades on the sides of the shaft as mentioned with the Chinese example makes sense toward the grabbing of the end of the weapon. But as we have seen, this does not seem to have been a known element in any degree.

With lances, it seems that the purpose in use was not impalement, but jabbing thrusts, at least as described in most of what I have found. In the Battle of San Pascual in California in the Mexican war, the casualties of the US forces suffered as many as a dozen or more lance wounds each.
With pikes, I'm not sure as they were literally a barrier against encroaching cavalry typically, and the impact must have been pretty powerful in a fast moving target.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall

Having sharpened blades on the sides of the shaft as mentioned with the Chinese example makes sense toward the grabbing of the end of the weapon. But as we have seen, this does not seem to have been a known element in any degree.

.


It may have been more of a contingency factor, but why else would these steel flanges have stood proud of the shaft's circumference and have bevelled edges? If their sole purpose was to guard against enemy saber cuts, wouldn't normal langets have done that job with less cost and production time?
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:51 PM   #9
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Default deployment of lances and pikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
.

With lances, it seems that the purpose in use was not impalement, but jabbing thrusts, at least as described in most of what I have found.
With pikes, I'm not sure as they were literally a barrier against encroaching cavalry typically, and the impact must have been pretty powerful in a fast moving target.


Jim, I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion on the use of lances. A jab can be debilitating and fatal if rightly placed, and skewering an opponent at the gallop can have obvious disadvantages to with the weapon stuck in an opponent especially at speeds of 20-30 mph.

However I do believe that massed infantry formations with pikes could provide an effective barrier against horse -- if you would look at manuals of pike drill, there is a position requiring the soldier to hold the butt against the ground and steady it with his foot, with the weapon pointing forward and upward. Seems to me that the angle of the shaft would be just right to level with the rider's body or the horse's head. And from what I have read, horses are smart enough to get nervous when they see sharp things pointed at their chests and faces. (hence the popularity of those wooden barriers called chevaux-de-frise, which provided rows of upward-pointing wooden stakes intended for the same purpose).
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Old 9th November 2020, 10:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
It may have been more of a contingency factor, but why else would these steel flanges have stood proud of the shaft's circumference and have bevelled edges? If their sole purpose was to guard against enemy saber cuts, wouldn't normal langets have done that job with less cost and production time?



Exactly, and it seems that to have the usual langets at length for three screws on two sides as per the standard practice would be sufficient to prevent through and through cutting of the shaft. The bladed appendages would be against the grabbing of the lance business end to push it away.

Getting back to this being a pike, given the manner in which they were used as you describe, how would this added blade feature be feasible? As noted, the horse and rider would not rush into a sharp pole ahead, but if these were brought up as the riders reached them it would be hard to avoid.
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Old 10th November 2020, 01:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall

Getting back to this being a pike, given the manner in which they were used as you describe, how would this added blade feature be feasible? .


Good question. Have we resolved or even pursued the question whether this is actually a lance or a pike?

How long is it? Shaft diameter? What does the butt of the shaft look like? Would it have some sort of fitting or cap on it, suggesting that it might have retained it's working-life length, or does it look sawn off? With that info, we can explore the possibility about it being repurposed, which might complicate things a bit.

Once we address these questions and can surmise about its deployment (cavalry or infantry?) with greater certainty, then we can discuss these blade things.
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Old 10th November 2020, 02:12 AM   #12
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Good idea Phiilip, we need more detail on the character, dimensions etc. before speculating further.
For reference, here is p.500 out of Stone (1934) with the item in grouping of pikes.
The other is a boar spear from a JAAS article just to establish the character of many of these.
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Old 10th November 2020, 02:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Exactly, and it seems that to have the usual langets at length for three screws on two sides as per the standard practice would be sufficient to prevent through and through cutting of the shaft. The bladed appendages would be against the grabbing of the lance business end to push it away.

Getting back to this being a pike, given the manner in which they were used as you describe, how would this added blade feature be feasible? As noted, the horse and rider would not rush into a sharp pole ahead, but if these were brought up as the riders reached them it would be hard to avoid.


Just to spitball ideas...

The side blades could be an obvious ďDonít grab my lanceĒ addition. Could they also be additional damage potential from a glancing blow during a charge, or rather, when receiving a charge? This would be supported by the hooks, that could dismount violently if the lance tip did not make purchase. Very much a ďcongrats on making it past the tip unharmed. Guess whatís next?Ē

The hooks certainly donít appear to be for stacking purposes. A haft of similar size will not fit within the hook. I recall seeing some polearms stacked (or rather, leaning against each other like a tripod) in artwork, but this doesnít seem to be viable for this example.

In order of utility/role, my thoughts are currently, in order from most likely to least:

1) Receiving a charge, and engaging thereafter
2) Secondary infantry charge/role (unmounted)
3) Mounting a charge
4) Hunting
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Old 10th November 2020, 02:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Good idea Phiilip, we need more detail on the character, dimensions etc. before speculating further.
For reference, here is p.500 out of Stone (1934) with the item in grouping of pikes.
The other is a boar spear from a JAAS article just to establish the character of many of these.


Thanks for the picture!

I will certainly be checking to see if those hooks are actually connected by metal to the side blades. Wouldnít THAT be an interesting development... with the hooks, blades, langets, and head all being forged together as one piece. Iíd be stunned if thatís the case.

Iím very excited for this to arrive. I am currently hanging polearms in my new house and will have to rearrange the order around this item.
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Old 10th November 2020, 02:32 AM   #15
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Attached pic is the non-business end, and is presumed to be shortened as the whole thing is only 90 inches.

The cracks are interesting, as is the undetermined treatment to the butt.

If this is a hollow shaft, it will certainly answer some questions.
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Old 10th November 2020, 04:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
Attached pic is the non-business end, and is presumed to be shortened as the whole thing is only 90 inches.

The cracks are interesting, as is the undetermined treatment to the butt.

If this is a hollow shaft, it will certainly answer some questions.


Thanks! We're looking to more detail once you have it in hand.
Hollow or solid? Diameter? Type of wood? (as you say, the cracks are interesting, might be related to grain structure and hence the species of timber...)

Butt end does look shortened. 90 in. is short for either a cavalry lance or an infantry pike, but not unreasonable for some other type of spear or spontoon. But who knows how long the shaft was originally? Tell us something about how it balances in your hands and that might be instructive as well.
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Old 10th November 2020, 04:57 AM   #17
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Default what to make of those hooks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
This would be supported by the hooks, that could dismount violently if the lance tip did not make purchase. Very much a ďcongrats on making it past the tip unharmed. Guess whatís next?Ē

The hooks certainly donít appear to be for stacking purposes. A haft of similar size will not fit within the hook.



That pair of hooks is indeed puzzling, especially as to their purpose. I would also rule out stacking -- a much smaller split-ring swivel on one side would perform that function a lot more effectively.

The hooks may be too small for engaging other shafts for stacking, and they are also not big enough, nor efficiently shaped, for use as musket-rests (and they are on a pole too long for the purpose). I've seen Italian musket-rests that are slightly extended above the hooks to terminate in a spear head. There is also an Italian cannoneer's implement called a buttafuoco with a spear head with a pair of addorsed appendages below it terminating in holders for match-cord, allowing a gunner to safely stand to the side when firing (avoiding the inevitable recoil) and giving him a bladed implement to defend his gun position if overrun. However, the hooks on this spear/pike are of an inappropriate shape and the shaft is again too long.

However, I would question their utility for dismounting a foe (whether by engaging his harness, clothing, etc). This is because the hooks curl forward. One would think that to yank someone off his high horse, a pulling motion would be a lot more effective and as such, the hooks should curve backward.
Below is an image of some examples of a weapon called a roncone (big billhook) whose crescentic and pointed appendages curve backwards and are admirably suited for unhorsing. This is from Mario Troso's Le Armi in Asta delle Fanterie Europee (1000-1500), pp 268-69.
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Old 10th November 2020, 12:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
That pair of hooks is indeed puzzling, especially as to their purpose. I would also rule out stacking -- a much smaller split-ring swivel on one side would perform that function a lot more effectively.

The hooks may be too small for engaging other shafts for stacking, and they are also not big enough, nor efficiently shaped, for use as musket-rests (and they are on a pole too long for the purpose). I've seen Italian musket-rests that are slightly extended above the hooks to terminate in a spear head. There is also an Italian cannoneer's implement called a buttafuoco with a spear head with a pair of addorsed appendages below it terminating in holders for match-cord, allowing a gunner to safely stand to the side when firing (avoiding the inevitable recoil) and giving him a bladed implement to defend his gun position if overrun. However, the hooks on this spear/pike are of an inappropriate shape and the shaft is again too long.

However, I would question their utility for dismounting a foe (whether by engaging his harness, clothing, etc). This is because the hooks curl forward. One would think that to yank someone off his high horse, a pulling motion would be a lot more effective and as such, the hooks should curve backward.
Below is an image of some examples of a weapon called a roncone (big billhook) whose crescentic and pointed appendages curve backwards and are admirably suited for unhorsing. This is from Mario Troso's Le Armi in Asta delle Fanterie Europee (1000-1500), pp 268-69.


I was thinking of the idea that the hooks for for dismounting an adversary coming at you, when you are receiving a charge. It was just an idea.

The curve on the hooks is pretty aggressive. It is really hard to determine their utility. I agree that they donít appear to act as a linstock or musket rest.

Iím a big fan of Roncones and just got my first one.
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Old 10th November 2020, 08:43 PM   #19
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I do not know what the purpose of these hooks is, to me they appear rather weak to have a serious & direct offensive or defensive role & they immediately remind me of the lashing 'hooks' on this combination musket/crossbow (see link). I have no idea if they are for fastening something to the lance and this is merely food for thought.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...nation+crossbow
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Old 10th November 2020, 11:37 PM   #20
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As I understand it, the famous Polish Winged Hussars were equipped with exceptionally long lances of 4-7m. This meant that their lances would reach a pikeman first if the lance was longer than the pike. It also meant that the lances had to be hollow to reduce weight. Some say the lances splintered easily on impact and were disposable, others argue that the hollowness actually made them stronger and more able to absorb shocks. I understand that the Polished Winged Hussars charged at full gallop, and the shock impact must have been considerable. Some local sources claim that the lance could skewer several enemies on impact.

I think I have seen hooks like that somewhere but canít recall where. They look like they are intended to catch and rip or deflect (enemy pikes?). The sharp blades attached on the sides would slice where the point might be deflected or it might cut enemy pikes on impact. I tried to search for an antique kopia on the internet to compare but was unable to find one.
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Old 11th November 2020, 01:47 AM   #21
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I found this snippet from a book. These examples of Kopia heads certainly back up the ďdisposableĒ idea. My spear is different in every possible way, except that itís pointy.
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Old 11th November 2020, 02:24 AM   #22
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Default ronconi

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy

Iím a big fan of Roncones and just got my first one.


Wow, please post it after it's fully unwrapped and you have had a chance to brandish and have some fun with it. I am a fan of these too; in general I try to stay away from polearms (mainly because I don't have high enough ceilings in my house!), but these are awfully tempting, as are spetums and corsesche a pipistrello.
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Old 11th November 2020, 02:33 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
As I understand it, the famous Polish Winged Hussars were equipped with exceptionally long lances of 4-7m.


So true. A thought just came to me: if we are to assume that this weapon is indeed of Polish origin, and since from our discussion so far it doesn't seem to fit the description of the kopia associated with the hussars, could it possibly be a regulation pattern used by some other type of Polish military unit? If we had an idea, it could guide us to search in other areas.

The vexing thing is that there seems to be no other comparable examples in existence. At least to our present knowledge. Hopefully the historical military literature might provide an answer, or at least a clue.
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Old 11th November 2020, 03:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Wow, please post it after it's fully unwrapped and you have had a chance to brandish and have some fun with it. I am a fan of these too; in general I try to stay away from polearms (mainly because I don't have high enough ceilings in my house!), but these are awfully tempting, as are spetums and corsesche a pipistrello.



Iíve attached some pics. Iím not sure what order they will attach in, but I have an overview of the roncone, a closeup up the blade, a view of the original langets (partial, I assume), the benefits of high ceilings, and the rest of the children waiting to be attached to the wall. Should have 18 total, I think.

I like to arrange them with similar heads opposite each other, so Iíll likely put the Polish pike on the end, opposite the large boar spear, and have the roncone opposite the large Glaive.

This was another reason I was excited to get the pike in this thread. It is going to balance out the display with my other spear, I hope!

I lost a corseque at auction this weekend, which would have matched my 15th century Italian lance. Sad, but I have to keep money in reserve for a large painting this weekend.

I need a decent corseque and spetum. Iím always looking for a traditional pollaxe, but at $8-12k, thatís a... commitment. I just bought this new house so my play money is disappearing quickly.
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Old 11th November 2020, 07:51 PM   #25
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Default bellissimo!

Thanks for posting your new treasure, it really deserves a thread all its own, hopefully we can have other members chime in regarding the development of the bill in other European countries besides Italy, with examples of same from their own collections!

Your roncone is indeed a wonderful example of the genre, its form quite nicely preserved, without visible damage, repairs, or alteration. The extremely long dorsal spike is a nice feature. Let's see it after you clean it up, (should look spectacular!) and get a dedicated discussion thread going.
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Old 11th November 2020, 09:31 PM   #26
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Excellent wall display! Congratulations. Looks really great. Here is a picture from Inverary Castle in Scotland for inspiration.
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Old 12th November 2020, 03:40 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Thanks for posting your new treasure, it really deserves a thread all its own, hopefully we can have other members chime in regarding the development of the bill in other European countries besides Italy, with examples of same from their own collections!

Your roncone is indeed a wonderful example of the genre, its form quite nicely preserved, without visible damage, repairs, or alteration. The extremely long dorsal spike is a nice feature. Let's see it after you clean it up, (should look spectacular!) and get a dedicated discussion thread going.


I started a thread on it before it even arrived. I just bumped it with more closeup pictures.
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Old 12th November 2020, 03:46 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Excellent wall display! Congratulations. Looks really great. Here is a picture from Inverary Castle in Scotland for inspiration.


The castles make me depressed, because I will never have enough for the repetitive displays of 40 of the same item. I really like the fans and circles made up of muskets and polearms. Iíd love 8 swords crossed like they have, but, money wise, Iím likely targeting just two to three swords in the future.

I used the Higgins Armory (now closed) as an example for my display. I would have done a full half-circle if my ceiling wasnít slanted.

I have more to hang, and Iíll make a thread about my hanging system, which Iím very happy with.
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Old 12th November 2020, 09:35 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
The castles make me depressed, because I will never have enough for the repetitive displays of 40 of the same item. I really like the fans and circles made up of muskets and polearms. Iíd love 8 swords crossed like they have, but, money wise, Iím likely targeting just two to three swords in the future.

I used the Higgins Armory (now closed) as an example for my display. I would have done a full half-circle if my ceiling wasnít slanted.

I have more to hang, and Iíll make a thread about my hanging system, which Iím very happy with.


I think the Victorian collections bordered on the obsessive. No need to overdo it but it can generate display ideas. You will be surprised how much you accumulate and it already seems you have quite a bit. Luckily you have plenty space.

I decided to only display in one personal room in my flat (cozy office/TV room) for consideration to my wife, and so as not to alarm visitors in Sweden which is appallingly PC. My collection is ever increasing and my wife presented an ultimatum: either you donít buy more stuff or we need a bigger home. But I acquire more items by stealth and then ask her to wrap and give it to me for Christmas and birthdays. The problem is where to hide a 2.7m long halberd for 6 months...
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Old 12th November 2020, 09:32 PM   #30
CSinTX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
Iíve attached some pics.


Display looks great! Showed it to the wife and she gave the seal of approval. Love the bellow coffee table too!
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