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Old 19th December 2021, 10:47 PM   #1
Tuthmose
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Default Seeking information on a polearm from Graz

Greetings all!

I’m a long-time lurker who finally got off his buttocks to join; I’m (attempting) to embark upon a project which requires details only the highly knowledgeable scholars here are likely to have.

My interest is in a polearm I’ve only ever seen at the Graz Landeszeughaus. Their inventory apparently lists is as a “Gusy” (a corruption of Kuse/Couse?), though it is more glaive-like than anything else. It is the center item in the image from Peter Krenn’s “Schwert und Spiess” excerpted below. Although they appear unique to the Graz armory, they seem to have quite a number of them (second image below). John Waldman mentioned it specifically in his “Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe” (also image below), of which I’m sure you are all more well-versed than I. Apparently most if not all of the examples in the Graz Armory were the work of Peter Schreckeisen of Waldneukirchen in Upper Austria in the latter half of the sixteenth century.

To my mind, it’s a near ideal staff weapon. It’s a spear, it’s a glaive, it’s a double-edge sword-on-a-stick, it has a hook with armor-piercing capabilities. It looks to be fairly nimble but also carry some authority. What’s not to love? I’m looking to commission a functional replica of one for some hands-on martial study, and the more data I have on it, the better. Sadly, a return trip to Graz from Virginia to get such data myself isn’t in the cards. That’s where this post comes in 😊

To make a long-story short, I’d love to have some more specific information about its dimensions and construction. Length of the cutting edges, thickness at the medial ridge between them, diameter of the pole socket, thickness of the back-spike, etc. Anything I could give a smith to help make a high-end, functional copy for me to experiment with.

If anybody with more knowledge of these arms has any insight or data they’d care to share, or could direct me to someplace for further research, I would very much appreciate it the help.
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Old 20th December 2021, 04:26 AM   #2
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Tuthmose,

I don't have much to add, but thank you for posting this! These are beautiful, clearly skillfully made, and thoughtfully designed. This is quite an interesting polearm and I will keeping an eye on this discussion.

One thing that I will add, just as an observation, is there appears to be quite a wide variation in the group pictured. There is a range of blade widths and lengths. It is most apparent when comparing the 6th from the right with the 7th from the right. The 6th is clearly much longer, and when you compare others there are plenty of differences to note.

Looking forward to more discussion.
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Old 21st December 2021, 09:39 AM   #3
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They of course vary, being all hand made by artisans rather than identical mass-produced factory machine made ones. Depends on what came out of the forge and the artisan's mood when he ground it to shape and applied any decorations. They look close-enough at a distance.
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Old 21st December 2021, 02:57 PM   #4
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They obviously vary, as do all such objects of the period, even if made by the same hand on the same day. One of the things I find interesting is how comparatively little this set of arms varies pver a large batch of them, all of other things considered. Even the flourishes on the spike and the decorative piercings are nearly identical.

This is especially intriguing of a style that I, at least, have never seen any other place but the Landeszeughaus. I’d love to know the backstory on that, which I’m sure is lost in the mists of time. The forges of Schreckeisen were (together with his competitor Taller) a major center of pole-arm manufacture. One of Schreckeisen’s works is in the Philadelphia Museum, and they come up at auction not infrequently. This design, though, is only seen at Graz . . . but there in large numbers. It's even give a peculiar name not seen in other inventories or sources (that I know of). Was it the bespoke specification of a procurement officer there? A “trial run” of a style that never caught on? The pet project of one underling at Schreckeisen’s forge? I’m sure there is a cool story there we’ll sadly never know.

As for specs, I’m assuming that any data on one would be valid for all of them, give or take 10%-ish. Since I know the total “head” length of the one featured in Krenn’s “Schwert und Spiess” photo-spread (a little over 29.6 inches), I can pretty much estimate the length of the primary and false edges. I can probably guess the pole diameter pretty well too, based on that image and on other similar weapons. Krenn’s photo says 8.4 feet total on the pole (assuming they weren’t cut down for storage at some point). Ditto for spike thickness, extrapolated from other contemporary halberds. Krenn says width is 2.25 inches, but . . . measured where? That stat from his book isn’t too useful, sadly.

What I really need to know is the thickness of the central ridge, and MOST critically, is there any distal taper, and if so how much? The presence of taper, or the absence of it, would change the entire handling characteristics of the arm, and its performance in the cut and thrust as well. If I could find out those two bits of info, I’d be well on my way.

Again, thank you all in advance for any information or pointers!
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Old 21st December 2021, 07:26 PM   #5
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No point in e-mailing Landeszeughaus asking for specs ?
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Old 21st December 2021, 07:47 PM   #6
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You know, I did briefly consider that . . . but then I figured museum staff probably have better things to do than take detailed measurements of polearms for random folks that pop up out of nowhere. Especially in the middle of a pandemic.

Now that you mention it, though, I guess it can't hurt to try; worst case they ignore me. My wife is a museum curator who speaks fluent German, so I'll rope her into translating esoteric weapon-centric terms into a coherent query. I'll post updates if they have any information to share.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 03:43 AM   #7
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Weird question related to this request I'm putting together for the Graz Armory:

Does anyone know how to say "distal taper" in German?

As I mentioned, my wife is fluent in German. Her command of the language doesn't extent to technical terminology for antique weapons, however; she has no idea how to translate this concept without sounding totally inarticulate!

While I'm at it, is there specialized German terminology for the rear piercing point/hook, the langets, and the socket?

Thanks in advance for any pointers!
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Old 3rd January 2022, 07:36 AM   #8
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rear piercing point/hook = Reißhaken
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Old 3rd January 2022, 07:36 AM   #9
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rear piercing point/hook = Reißhaken
socket = Tülle
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Old 3rd January 2022, 08:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuthmose View Post
...
Does anyone know how to say "distal taper" in German?
...

How about: distale Verjüngung
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Old 3rd January 2022, 10:20 AM   #11
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This may be of help.
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Old 15th March 2022, 04:57 AM   #12
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As solely a polearm collector, I just want to say this is one of the finest looking types and I wish I could own one.

Even if one came up for sale, I couldn’t afford it. I believe a good example would fetch $10,000 or more.

Maybe I’m crazy and one has sold before, but I don’t recall ever seeing one.
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Old 17th March 2022, 11:43 PM   #13
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Bad news, possibly good news on this quest:

I wrote to the Landeszeughaus; I even suckered my bi-lingual museum-curator wife into translating it into German for me. That was about two months ago, and I've yet to receive any reply or even acknowledgement. I know they are chronically under-staffed and under-funded, and there is Covid to contend with, so I tried not to take it personally.

The good news, however, is that the smith I have commissioned to make a copy, who lives and works in France, HAS made contact with them. He is currently working on getting detailed photos and information; both he and I are hopeful. If it pans out, I'll try to share whatever details he finds here in case anyone else is interested.

I can't imaging one ever would come up for sale, unless for some dire reason the Landeszeughaus needed to de-accession one for funds. So far as I've every been able to see, the Armory holds the only surviving examples (perhaps the only examples that ever existed at all?)
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