Wednesday, March 30, 2011

15th and 16th Century Textiles in the Philadelphia University Design Center

Elizabeth Ives writes:

I’ve been holding my class at the Design Center of Philadelphia University this semester. This is the fashion and textile schools study collection for their students and scholars. Recently I found a box of textiles (while looking for something else entirely) that was simply labeled 15th century. Upon inspection Sarah and I found (Sarah is the head of the Design Center) a box with approximately a dozen or so samples of textiles from the 15th and 16th century (there are a few 17th century in there too). Most were brocades, some were silk velvets and they ranged in scale from clothing use to full on wall hangings.

In any case some are in need of a lot of care, which costs money the Center does not have. So here is the deal, as a fund raiser they have agreed to host a small hands on exhibition of these textiles. This means that those who go can examine them up close, in detail for a long duration (maybe two hours total for the tour). The whole box will be pulled (I think). And yes, photos, sketches, magnifying glasses are all welcome. Go ahead and count the threads per inch, its fine.

The tour will be approximately 10-20 folks and since its a fund raiser it will be somewhere between $50-100 a person. The money will go directly to helping these textiles get better housing in larger boxes and for some flat preservation. They are not in a position to pay for or do restoration of them at this time.

Interested? Follow the link above.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Commonplace Adventures

I've opened another CafePress shop, Commonplace Advenures.. This one features art related to fantasy role playing games. Most is from the Wizardry 1 manual published in 1981.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CV: My Illustrations

Daily Life in Chaucer’s England 2nd edition 2009
Peter Collinson and the Eighteenth-Century Natural History Exchange 2008
Deeds of Arms; Medieval Accounts of Challenges, Jousts, & Tournaments: Compleat Anachronist #94 1997
Daily Life in Chaucer’s England, Greenwood Publishing, 1995, illustrator.
The Chaucerian Handbook, 1993
King René's Tournament Book, 1992
Tournaments Illuminated Magazine 1991-1993
Star Saga: Two - The Clathran Menace 1989. Several of the illustrations from the Star Saga manuals are here and here.
Star Saga: One - Beyond The Boundary 1988
Known World Handbook Twentieth Year Edition 1985. Some of the illustrations are here and here.
Wizardry 1: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord 1981. Some of the illustrations are here and here.
Freelance illustration 1980-1990. Clients included the Philadelphia Daily News, Science82, Learning and Office Systems magazines, McAdams & Ong advertising, and FMC corporation.
Gryphon Magazine: 1980
Space Gamer Magazine: 1980-1981
Known World Handbook 1st edition 1979
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeon Masters Guide 1979
The Dragon Magazine August 1978-September 1981
Space Marines 1977
Some illustrations not published elsewhere are here and here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reenactor Daily

Photos of reenactors, often excellent. Daily.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Locating Eyelets on Full Length Hose

Locating eyelets at the right height on full length hose can be a tricky problem. Until the hose is suspended from the doublet it's difficult to correctly estimate how much the hose will stretch, so it's very easy to locate the eyelets far too high, a time consuming mistake to correct. To avoid this problem, make a strip of folded and reinforced fabric with holes for the points. This can use machine stitched eyelets, or a strip of leather between two layers of fabric and holes opened with a hole punch. Stitch this to the hose temporarily, much lower than you think you'll need it.

You can now lace the hose temporarily to the doublet, allowing you to mark where eyelets should be sewn in the hose.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guilt Free Books

Through the generosity of Doug Strong, Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship, In Service of the Duke, and De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi are available through Guilt Free Books

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Having recently made my eyes bleed reading a particularly bad modern example of faux-medieval typography, I turned for relief to an actual example of good 15th century typography and book design, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

If you've neve seen this, take a look. If you have, renew your acquaintance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Commentary on the Infamy of Chivalry Bookshelf

Absolute Write

Solely Fictional, including a poem on the Matter of Brian. Be forewarned that it rhymes "stolen" with "golem".


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Infamy of Chivalry Bookshelf Is Reported... Sweden and Germany

Google Translate has probably missed some nuance in the report on the German site of an "incredible robber pistol", but the phrases "please remember that the money goes only to a notorious swindler", "criminal machinations", "I will henceforth boycott the footpad " (literally, someone that emerges from the underbrush to rob you) and "'finally knocking the dog on the finger." also occur.

The Gernan reference to the "Monster-Thread" requires no translation to those that have followed the story on the Armour Archive.

Monday, March 07, 2011

More Shock and Awe from Improv Everywhere

A man who looks a lot like Philip IV signs autographs beside his Valesquez portrait. Joy.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Book of the Tournament

Full disclosure: several of my friends have been injured by Brian Price's failure to pay the royalties he owes them for years. Still, I have tried to give this book the cruel but fair review it deserves.

His Book of the Tournament, Chivalry Bookshelf, 2nd Edition, 2002, is a bad book on many levels. The faux-medieval typography is tiring to read. Don't take my word for it: look at the sample pages on the Chivalry Bookshelf site. Note the misuse of overly elaborate capital letters that would be used far more sparingly in an actual medieval book. This is a common error of bad designers using typefaces based on medieval fonts.

The discussion of tournament recreation is outdated: there has been a great deal of work done on new and better formats and rules for recreating medieval tournaments since the book was last revised in 2002. Too much space is devoted to formats that are modern inventions, and Price does too little to distinguish between modern and medieval formats. He also fails to be clear about what changes have been made to the medieval formats to adapt them to modern use. He misuses the medieval terminology of outrance and plaisance, and claims that "Courboille or boiled leather was the primary armour of the behourd" although I have seen no evidence that this was true.

He says that some period references exist for fighting with two swords at once, while omitting the important point that none of the references are relevant to medieval tournament combat.

His discussion of armor fails to emphasize the value of an arming doublet in supporting 14th century and later armor, and how to achieve the good fit essential for it to function well. He uses the term gambeson to describe quilted garments worn under other armor, although medieval sources often describe brightly colored gambesons worn as an outer layer. and he describes the pourpoint as a sleeveless garment, although pourpoints often had sleeves. He says nothing about the importance creating a harness of chronologically consistent components, or the importance of greaves in the accurate portrayal of a 14th or 15th man-at-arms armed for foot combat.

Finally, there is the discussion of chivalric ethics and ideals. As an example of writing on a subject on which the author is spectacularly ill qualified to give advice, this ranks with Lady Macbeth's On Hospitality and Richard III's Book of Nurture of Nephews: How to Be a Good and Faithful Guardian to Minor Relatives.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

More on the Ironically Named Chivalry Bookshelf

For those who don't have time to wade through the long thread on the Armour Archive, here are the key points:

Along with a number of self-serving statements that have been disputed by others, Brian R. Price has admitted that he has not paid royalties to the authors of Chivalry Bookshelf books since 2007, and in some cases 2006.

The authors assert that royalties have gone unpaid for much longer, in some cases as much as seven years. But even the minimum figure of three years admitted by Mr. Price would seem to be a material breach of contract.

Since 2006, Price has been spending money that should have gone to the authors on things like tropical fish and their tanks, armies of Lord of the Rings and Ral Partha Ogre/GEV miniatures, and political contributions.


I need to correct an allegation I repeated in an earlier version of this post that Price's Ramon Lull’s Book of Knighthood and Chivalry and the anonymous Ordene [sic] de Chevalerie, according to the University of Iowa's Morris Online Edition, plagiarized the William Morris translation of L’Ordène de Chevalerie

A friend informs me that the following appears on the back of the dust jacket of the first hardback edition of Ramon Lull's Book of knighthood and the anonymous Ordene de Chevalerie:
As a bonus, the editors have included the anonymous "Ordene de Chevalerie," translated into English by William Morris.
Others tell me that the same notice appears on the back cover of the first paperback edition.

Morris is not credited anywhere within the book, which is unconventional and bad practice. The authorship information is not where catalogers would look for it, and books often eventually lose their dust jacket. However, a charge of deliberate plagiarism does not seem sustainable in this case.

Another digital edition of William Morris' Order of Chivalry which I find more readable than the Morris Online Edition is online here.

In Chronique Issue #10, Brian R. Price reprinted my copyrighted illustrations from Elizabeth Bennett's translation of King Rene's Tournament Book without attribution or my permission, on pages 37, 43, and 60. You can see the illustrations here:

In the same issue, he reprinted illustrations from Claude Blair's European Armour without attribution on pages 46 and 49. I mention Chronique #10 not because it's anywhere near the worst thing he's done, but because it's easy to verify the plagiarism if you have a copy.

There are many additional allegations of financial malfeasance on the Armour Archive thread, but I hope the above is enough to convince you that buying from Chivalry Bookshelf is putting money in the pocket of a man who is diverting the money he owes others, and none of it is going to any of the authors other than Mr. Price.

This is doubly unfortunate, since many of the Chivalry Bookshelf books by other authors are excellent.

What can you do if you want to read one without abetting what I consider theft? You can look for a reasonably priced used copy, or for a retailer that has a new copy and doesn't intend to restock when it is sold.

If you buy from a retailer that continues to have an ongoing relationship Mr. Price, you will still be putting money in his pocket when the retailer restocks. This is at least better than dealing with Chivalry Bookshelf directly, since Price will only get the wholesale price rather than the full retail price, but it still puts money in the pocket of a man I believe to be a thief.

You can look for them at a library near you or through inter-library loan. Here are WorldCat listings for some of my favorites:

The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: A Facsimile & Translation of Europe's Oldest Personal Combat Treatise, Royal Armouries MS I.33 (Royal Armouries Monograph) by Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng (Jan 1, 2010)
Jousts and Tournaments: Charny and Chivalric Sport in 14th Century France by Geoffroi De Charny and Steven Muhlberger (Mar 1, 2003)
Deeds of Arms by Steven Muhlberger (Jun 30, 2005)
Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship: Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries on Liechtenauer by Christian Henry Tobler (Feb 15, 2009)
Fighting with the German Longsword by Christian Henry Tobler(Feb 28, 2005)
Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Fillipo Vadi by Fillipo Vadi, Luca Porzio and Gregory Mele (Mar 1, 2002)

Here is the WorldCat home page.


On the evening of March 10th, Greg Mele, writing on behalf of seven authors, informed Chivalry Bookshelf that the deadline for an acceptable settlement had passed and that:

Since you have chosen to let the deadline to surrender our rights and property lapse, please note that, our offer is hereby rescinded. We will now pursue any and all civil and criminal avenues that are open to us.

Please note we hereby deny you any rights, assignations or access to our intellectual property, and will post that affect on all public forums. Should you sell any of our property at the upcoming SCA's "Gulf Wars" event, we will consider this be the sale and distribution of stolen goods and we will contact the authorities immediately. You should be aware that I am forwarding this and prior correspondence and the link to the Armour Archive discussion thread to the Gulf Wars event coordinator ("autocrat") and merchant liaison, so that they are aware that you have lost any legal title to our property.

The books are:

Jousts and Tournaments
Deeds of Arms
Fighting with the German Longsword
Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship
In Service of the Duke
Arte Gladiatoria: 15th century swordsmanship of Filippo Vadi
The Art of Dueling
The Art of Medieval Swordsmanship
The Swordsman’s Companion
The Duelist’s Companion

Greg Mele adds here:

Those are the titles related to the authors who have banded together to file a lawsuit. I can tell you from direct correspondence that Mark Rector claims that he was paid $150 for his work on "Highland Swordsmanship" and "Highland Broadsword", and his co-author, Paul Wagner, received nothing. Stephen Hand states that he was never paid for "English Swordsmanship", and that Brian is in arrears for "Medieval Sword and Shield", which was again co-authored with Paul Wagner. is the producer of the two DVDs and asked us (Freelance Academy Press) to become their distributor because they state that they had never been paid by Mr. Price.

This is what I can attest to from direct correspondence with the creators of the above works. I cannot speak to David Lindholm, Luis Preto or Antonio Preto's books, nor Bill Wilson's "Arte of Defense", as I have not spoken to any of these gentlemen about the matter.

Read more commentary here and here.


Several works formerly published by Chivalry Bookshelf can now be purchased from the authors exclusively through Freelance Academy Press.

Conference Papers on Formal Deeds of Arms

Steve Muhlberger has posted several of his conference papers on formal deeds of arms.