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The "One"

 October 8, 2023    African Arms

Every collector has a sword that is the "one". The one sword they would never sell, the one that slides smoothly into the hand and you simply know is an utterly devastating weapon. It does have to be the oldest sword you have, the prettiest or the most tangibly valuable. It is simple the piece that you connect with the best and instinctively know is the sword you would carry with you if that was required.

Mostly swords I own stay on the wall. They are secure and easy to view. But there always seems to be at least one piece around my desk. Today that piece is one that can already be viewed on this site. It has a very old Italian blade and a very sleek profile.

This is a sword I am always drawn to. It is the very definition of a workmanlike weapon. Sturdy but surprisingly light it is also one of the sharpest I have ever handled. The edge slopes gracefully into the spine of the blade. There is a dark side to it also, it feels like it wants to bite. When you lift it the blade almost imperceptibly seems to cut the air.

Many swords I have are also sturdy and sharp, but they have a reassuring quality to them. They are good, solid weapons and nothing more. This sword is something more and it is always a slightly unsettling experience handling it.

This is probably starting to sound like the sort of sword you would want to leave up on the wall an admire for a distance. But I am fascinated by it and I have come to find the uneasy aspects of its nature are not malicious it is simply startling how well the sword is made. How flexible, sharp and light the blade is and how well it was hilted.

It was sold rather cheaply at a major auction in the USA. Overshadowed by the large selection of Medieval arms and fancy Ottoman and Far Eastern offerings, it had only a brief description. It took quite sometime before it joined me in Europe and as with every sword bought over the Internet and relying on a few photos to aid in the decision those months of waiting were filled with anticipation mixed with many disappointments with past purchases.

Thankfully the sword's characteristics were immediate the minute it emerged from its packing. The pommel is a beautiful hollow sphere with exactly the right weight to balance the blade. The grip tube would originally have been covered in leather.

The cutler who assembled it took great care with the peen block and every join, carefully brazed with copper. The decoration is simple but imprinted deeply into the steel.

It's one of only a handful of swords I own where I suspect the mounts have not been changed in the life of the blade.

This is a sword I respect and it is my "one". It is not the sword I value the most, it is not the prettiest by far and it is not the oldest either. But is the one I take off the wall the most often and simply appreciate having next to me. I notice fresh details every session and marvel more and more that I am privileged to own it.