HOW TO DECIDE IF AN ARTEFACT IS GENUINE
When I was young, I went through a phase of buying old funny books. my mother regularly lectured that I was being foolish, since the seller probably just printed new copies of the vintage books! Now keep in mind that these were not high-ticket items. Reprinting an Action Comics number 1 and selling it for a few million dollars is one thing. Reprinting a coverless copy of Sun Girl and selling it for a buck and half is something else entirely. Duplicating signs of aging paper is not inexpensive…no matter what mama insisted…
This started my wariness about “authentic” old artefacts. After all, there are samples of
With the modern Interweb and with modern technology, it might seem that the fear of buying something that is incorrect is out of control. For the most part that is entirely true, since almost without exception, the reprints are clearly labeled as reprints, different sizes and changed in some vital manner. Easy to determine the invalid modern reproductions…and yet people seem to almost deliriously demand to be hornswoggled!
Today, sixty years later, I no longer buy old funny books. Instead, I have atendency to buy actual extant artefacts of the Viking Age. But what I learned from old funny books remains pertinent. And that is the subject of this post. As is appropriate, let us examine the situation more closely!
Use of Terminology
It is easy to find artefacts purporting to be “authentic.” Ads often use the terms “traditional,” “vintage,” “ancient,” “authentic” and the like are danger signals. An ad which uses such terms without defining them are probably trying to take advantage of you. This does not mean that there are fallacious or useless, just that you need to study the ad more closely. Do not take anything the ad says for granted, and regard it—investigate it—more closely. Ask questions, both about what you see, what you have seen and what the ad says, and carefully regard any answer the seller gives you!
If the price of an artefact is too good to be true the artefact probably isn’t true. This simple truism is valid in so many situations and can hardly be made more qualified or complicated.
Check the background of the seller. Read comments and regard how reliable the seller is, both in matters of reliability of fulfilling orders and in regard how reliable the seller is in its description of an object. There is always a chance that the seller himself might be stacking the deck, but repetition of phrases and such can often be a warning signal in itself.
Composition & Appearance
Coins made out of pewter, artefacts of aluminum, canteens of pleather and the like are all obviously incorrect, and you must carefully regard the artefacts before buying them, always a drawback to ordering over the Interweb. Always make certain that returns are allowed, and get that farb off you hands as soon as you determine it is farb. That includes matters of size—most period pendants are rather small and not WWF medals—and aging. Artefacts that have been aged are very different from what sellers often do to their products. Be certain to compare what is offered for sale with photographs of actual artefacts that have not been cleaned up!
Rarity of Artefacts
Almost every museum has more artefacts than it can display. For the most part—but not always—these are the mean, ordinary and common objects. Any rare or unique artefacts that are offered for sale are probably either illegally obtained or counterfeit. I concentrate on buying the mean and ordinary, by I know there are many who only want glittering and attractive bling and eagerly buy it and might eagerly buy what is offered and think it is a miracle that it is available and not kept out of my hands by an elite museum.
A Note on Replicas
After seeing so many ads for “authentic replicas” with no documentation, not showing the originals and being of dubious accuracy, I find it difficult to buy anything for what I cannot find its original inspiration and am hesitant to buy it when they do not show their inspirations. It is not that I want an exact duplicate of the original—in fact, I am rather repulsed by exact reproductions in a pre-industrial era—but I do not want something that is imagined out of the whole cloth either.
Hopefully, you have a method to determine the authenticity—and accuracy—of artefacts being offered for sale. Such methods might not have been included above, and I would love to hear what your method(s) are. Please share with your fellow reenactors!
The Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Salzburg, Archiv von St. Peter, Cod. A I. 0) is the smallest Psalter in the world. With pages measuring only 37 x 31 mm, Psalterium Sancti Ruperti from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg is a gem of bookbinding. Most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France, it resides today in the oldest library in Austria. Additionally, its early medieval binding is unique and consists of an open book spine of the codex, whereby the two trusses with booklet seams and also two headbands are left visible. The psalter was probably created for a royal of some kind.
A special book binding feature is the open book spine of the codex, whereby the two trusses with booklet seams and also two headbands are left visible. Up until now, no other early middle-age codex with the aforementioned presentation has been found—therefore this Psalter is an absolute unique specimen of early middle-age book production.
Fascinating by the psalter, I decided to make a copy—not an exact duplicate but a version inspired by the original and one that was much simpler because o my skill and abilities. And almost immediately understood that my effort would be somewhat less than thoroughly a complete and faithful copy. I just did not have the ability t do everything exactingly, though I would try to be as close as my physical abilities would allow, and I decided to
I downloaded a version of the psalter in the vulgate and made those changes, such as punctuation, that I tend to make for such efforts. I put the edited Vulgate in the dummy. For my purposes, I put a hard return at the end of each page and then rendered the last words or phrase as redline. I chose Beowulf 8 point, with 14 pt gutters on all sides in four columns and five rows
The original had 234 pages. I made a dummy specifying the page number, and I placed each page from the dummy on the appropriate page. I chose 20 pages for each signature. I cut the pages, collating the pages and folding them double into signatures. Make certain that the unnumbered pages are in the proper order. I used small rubber bands to secure them and keep them in the proper order. Be very careful: they are small and very slippery! A page from the dummy may be marked to be 5 cm long, and marks for four.
Place this folded dummy into the folded signature, and—using an awl—pierce the signature at the marks. To sew these signatures, use thread—linen or hemp. I use the Coptic binding method I use on Cuthbert Gospel style bindings. These signatures are then compressed for two or three days. I cut front and back covers into of approximately 5.75 x 7 cm rectangles of 3 centimeters thick of poplar, though oak or another hard wood would also be valid. Keep in mind in the age before mass production, most things were manually made and some minor variations are expected.
I made one using thicker cord; it sucked. With the later ones, I used 5ply waxed linen to connect the covers. Not entirely stable, and I stayed away from the trusses at the current time, but I came up with an acceptable variation which pleases me if not anyone wanting an exact duplicate.
A NEXT TO MODEST KIT
For beginning reenactors, the most necessary items of kit required to participate will be personal apparel. We have dealt with expounded on requirements before. Briefly put, the bare basic requirements are:
• A dress (for women)
• A tunic (for men)
Trousers and footware are often useful, as are fabric sashes used as belts.
However, as participation increases, one will often pieces of kit that you will want. A few examples follow:
Coming as wraps, as sewn bag types and naalbound socks (such as the famous sock displayed in York), generally made of wool or linen (flax, hemp or nettle).
Especially required for men. Samples of extant buckles (and slides and strap ends as well) are easy to find, and seem to have been made of cast metal (especially brass) or carved bone. The leather straps should be half an inch or so
Most often religious pendants such as a cross of a Mjollnir. They are both available in many different styles, often dependant on the age and location, so do research and decide what style you prefer!
Everyone, even slaves, had a utility seax of some sort. Small and simple knives are the most preferred, though larger and more complex blades were worn depending on wealth of the wearer. Keep in mind a more expensive and sophisticated knife should be worn only with higher-class, richer clothing.
Various accurate types are available. They were apparently not publicly displayed but were hidden beneath the wearer’s clothing. A script or the such was displayed.
Essential, not merely to keep neat but to comb out nits and fleas; most seemed to have ben made from antler, though they also were apparently made out of bone or wood. Runes—usually they seem to be a reminder of possession’ “Sven’s comb”—were often carved on the comb. Many combs came in a case that helped kep it safe during transit.
Strike-a-lights have been used for a long time, and the styles often did not change with time. Strike-a-lights from the eighteenth century were often little different from those of the Viking age. Be certain to make certain the strike-a-light you choose is based on one from the time you are reenacting. Flint is great to have, and while tinder can be made, having tinder with you of some sort is always convenient. Tinder fungus, tow and shavings of easily flammable wood are good; there is a controversy that char cloth was not used.
Actually not omnipresent, but teaching MoPs what coins of the time looked like is very good. A piece or few of slash silver would also be great, and a balance and weights is a good addition an necessary if you are doing a trader impression.
CONCERNING IMMERSIVE EVENTS
There has been a lot of talk lately about immersion events. What is an immersive (or immersion) event? Let’s take a look.
“An immersion event is like a street theater and is done to recreate a specific historical event, for example, a wedding or a trail that happened. These events are always acted.” and “Creating an immersive event starts with stripping everything back. To create a truly immersive event, you need to get the foundations right. What story are you trying to tell? How can you tell it in an engaging, relevant way? How can you make people feel something”
There are two thoughts. One is that an immersive event is something that is being done for an audience. The reenactors make certain that everything is accurate and are actors, usually but not always recreating a wedding, a battle or some other specific event. I find it difficult to think of this as an immersion event for the simple reason that for any serious reenactor, this is no different from any other event except for the use of rebated steel weapons.
The second thought is the immersive events must be kept totally private. Having persons around in modern dress—even if they are not properly part of the event—detracts from the central theme of the immersive event. In fact, there are those who say that kit must be broufgr into the event ara on participants backs or on the back of a pack animal or via cart. To a great extent, the immersion event becomes experimental archaeology.
Whichever method you choose, your activities should be governed by the tech that is available. This means that your garments should be period in cut and, of course, composition. But there are other matters you should carefully regard:
- No automobiles or any other mechanical conveyances of any kind.
- No eyeglasses, telescopes or binoculars of any sort. (since this is experimentl archaeology, contacts should be avoided too)
- No visible tattoos or piercings (except for some ear piercings on Norse women)
- No electricity should be available.
- Do not bring any historical kit, such as a candle lantern, that cannot be documented for this period.
- Do not bring any electric or butane lanmps or lanterns.
- Do not bring any matches or a modern lighter. Bring a strike-a-light, flint an tinder.
- Do not bring any tobacco. (You can bring marijuana if its use and possession is legal)
- Do not bring a phone or other camera, as well as any photographs.
- Do not bring any firearms.
- Do not bring any pre-recorded music (and of course video) and anything to play it on.
- Do not bring any paperbacks or, in fact, any books in moderen English.
- Do not bring any modern paper or cardboard.
- Period books should be on parchment.
- Do not bring any modern pens or pencils.
- Do not bring any umbrellas.
- In conversation, do not refer to anything post-period.
There are no period recipes, but we do know of foods that were and were not available. Avoid anything that was not available.
Can you think of anything else you should avoid?
An emergency packet—with phone, matches and other forbidden items—should be available but should not be opened unless absolutely needed!