Albion Mark Hallmark Series Sword of Svante Nilsson: A Farewell Review Marc Kaden Ridgeway Atlanta , GA 6 March 2012 There comes a time when every man must draw a line and say, "I go this far, and no further." Now that I have acquired this "totem of opulence" as a friend put it, that time has come in my collecting. After this review I will resign from the forum, retire from public life, withdraw and appreciate my collection in its completed state. So this is a farewell review. Got you Fillipo!!! Just kidding of course. This sword is not mine, just another purchase winding it's way to Italy into the arms of that god-like collector, Fillipo. I was happy to get a chance to handle and experience this sword. Historical Overview For the sake of simplicity , the entire historical overview is courtesy of Albion Mark. Svante Nilsson was born somewhere around 1460 from parents Nils Bosson Sture and Birgitta Karlsdotter Bonde, both members of the most prominent nobility. He was related to Karl Knutsson Bonde, a man who was elected King of Sweden no less than three times. This was a time of shifting loyalties and fragile alliances. During the years of the union between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, many battles were waged and towns and strongholds burned. The seat of power wavered between the Danish court and strong noble families in Sweden who preferred a Swedish regent on the throne in opposition to the union. Svante Nilsson Sture became a major player in this struggle and fought on both sides of the conflict, sometimes supporting sometimes opposing the Danish claim of the Swedish throne. Being a member of the high council from 1482 he was finally elected Regent of Sweden at the death of his old adversary, the powerful and dynamic Sten Sture the Elder in the year 1504. Svante Nilsson Sture is enigmatic and fascinating: shrewd politician, bold warrior and struggling diplomat. From him we have a legacy of one of the finest late medieval fighting swords in existance in Sweden today. The original rests in the museum of Västerås Cathedral, where Svante Nilsson Sture was buried in January, 1512. The sword of the viceroy is unique. When Svante Sture's grave was opened in 1958, during a restoration of the cathedral, this sword was discovered with his body. It is one of very few swords that have been found in Swedish medieval graves, let alone that of a prominent historical person. It is also an important find from an international perspective, in particular because of the unusual shape of its blade. Even though the sword is now in part badly corroded, it is clearly a high-quality weapon of war. It has a total length of 117.5 cm and weighs around 1.8 kg. The grip is long, giving ample space for both hands. However, with a point of balance some 9 cm from the cross, it handles well with one hand only. Though the Svante sword looks almost delicate in photographs, it is actually a very large and imposing sword, carrying a lot of authority -- a true warrior's sword of the period, made for fighting, not display. The sword has an unusually powerful blade, and yet is surprisingly maneuverable and quick for its size Stylistically-related swords are most frequently depicted in art from the 1490s to the mid-1520s. One close parallel might be the sword of St. George in a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder, from 1506. In The Disputation of Saints Erasmus and Maurice by Matthias Grünewald from around 1520, a crossbowman in the background is girded with a hand-and-a-half sword, which shows interesting similarities with the sword of Svante Nilsson. A woodcut by Altdorfer from the first decade of the 16th century shows Emperor Maximilian I girded with a very similar sword. A few preserved weapons in various collections display similar features, making a dating of the sword to the years around 1500 probable. (paraphrased from the article in Warrior Magazine -- for full on-line text go to Svante Article ) Specifications Blade : 33.5 in Grip : 10 in of leather Pommel : 2in Weight : 4 lbs .02 oz. Width at cross : 1 5/8 in. Width past ricasso: 2 in Width at COP : 1.5 in Width 2 in from tip: 1 in Ricasso : 2 in Thickness : .4 in COP : @ 21 in POB : 3.4 in Albion and I disgree on some of the specs. Lacking calipers, I defer to them on thickness but stand by the rest of my specs to a tolerance of 1/8 of an inch or so. I did find a review by Russ Ellis with specs closer to mine than Albion's. Aesthetics , Fit & Finish The 33.5 inch blade is milled from 1075 steel in the XVIIIb fashion, and is deeply hollowground and polished to a high satin. The blade has a mid-rib thickness of .5 in at the base and exhibits a nice dfistal taper. The blade measures 1 5/8 in wide at the ricasso, flaring to 2 in after the ricasso, then tapers in profile to 1 inch, just before the point... The blade exhibits rather complex geometry, considering the taper, the ricasso, the deep hollow-grind... and is executed very cleanly. The edges are formed with a primary bevel, rather than the secondary bevel as on the Regent. This puzzles me a bit, as I hear that a hollow-ground sword should have a secondary bevel, yet neither the Earl, nor Svante do. The edge is as sharp as I have ever seen on a Euro sword, and the blade cuts through paper under its own weight. The tapered handle is wrapped with 10 inches of leather over particularly heavy cord. The leather is dyed to a nice oxblood, and the rain guards top off a very nice hilt treatment. The fittings are investment cast from Peter Johnsson's wax originals, and fitted to the sword prior to the handle being fitted. The cross is a style 12 and its octagonal quillions bend into a pronounced "S" shape. The fluted pommel is a tpye T variant , and is 2 inches long as well as having an eneding diameter of 2 inches. On what would be the "public" side on a Japanese sword, the front three facets have hollows, probably originall intended to hold carved totems of faith... or perhaps not... The entire thing is finsihed off with a permanent peen , that is lobed in a floral design. The assembly is tight and solid and the level of fit & finish is impeccable. Handling Characteristics At 4 pounds and a fraction of an ounce, the Svante is by no means a light sword. In fact, for the length of the blade it is a very heavy sword.The handling , however, definitely belies this fact. The long grip, and large pommel , together with the taper make this a sword that when swung with both hands, handles like a dream. When I say handles like a dream, I mean starts , stops and changes direrction like an iaito . The balance has been pulled back to just under 3.5 inches, and this fact makes this heavy sword capable of even one-handed use , with decent control. In fact, the only time this sword seems to feel its weight is when held one-handed, tip downward. The long handle gives plenty of room to grip, and the heavy cord wrap under the leather provides plenty of grip. Cutting Despite the insistence of Fillipo, I did not try cutting bamboo , or any heavier target with the Svante. I have no doubt it would have performed markedly, however it isn't mine to risk. As such, I cut a few milk jugs and bottles. The sword is just stupid sharp, and despite its extreme thickness performs great on these light targets. I have a video, however on many swings my shirt pulled up over my firm, perfectly rounded belly. To save you folks the trauma , and me the embarassment, youre going to have to wait until tonight after work, so I can edit the offending partial nudity from the video. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Hmmm, it is hard to get critical when there is really nothing to criticise. Albion's usual high level of fit & finish is taken to the next step on the Svante. Nowhere does the geometry waver, nor anywhere is the finish marred, nor can I find any asymmetries. There are a couple of minor casting inclusions , but nothing to complain about. This sword is pretty near perfectly done. The only thing that I can really think to mention is that the seam on the handle wrap meanders a bit, but its really not an issue... the issue is that I've been spoiled by John Lundemo's perfect seams. All in all its safe to say on the Svante, its all good. Conclusion The Albion Mark PeterJohnsson Museum Collection Hallmark Series Limited Edition Svante Nilsson Sture Sword (wow that is a LOT of names) is a well designed ,well executed , well built sword. It is sharp as hell, cuts well, handles terrific , looks great and is pretty unique. So does it justify its pricetag?. Well that depends what kind of buyer you are, to my mind. To me , The Svante is a beautiful, unique sword that is a cut above the other Albions I've owned and handled. To me , I would say the fit and finish and quality easily justifies a price of $2k to $2.5k. Of course the Svante costs more... over a thousand more. This is where the buyer comes into play. The cost (and worth) of the Svante also includes many hours of painstaking research and documentation of the museum original by the master Peter Johnsson. Then those hours of research and documentation are put to work creating a replica of exhausting detail, and exacting historical standards. Is that worth the extra scratch? Well , yeah ... I think it is , to the right buyer. You see , I'm not so much concerned with histrocity myself, but even I think it is pretty damn cool that the Svante is such an exacting replica of a single exemplary historic original... damn cool. Holding this sword , the feeling is pretty darn close to what the sword felt like in the hands of the Viceroy of Sweden, centuries ago. That is definitely worth paying the extra bit for research and development, if you are in that position. Myself, I just don't have the disposable income to be able to drop $3700 on a sword no matter how cool it is and how true to the original... but if I had the means too, I would in a heartbeat. As it is, I guess I'll keep an eye out for another , like this one, on the secondary market. Well done Albion . Thanks to Fillipo for the chance to handle this great sword.