Knockoffs are older than you think

1280px-Ufberht_gerade

About 1000 years before there was Fauxlex (Fake Rolex), there was the Ulfberht+.

The what?

Back in the age of viking world domination, wars were fought by hand, and a good sword was often the difference between life and death. But swords from 1000 years ago where pretty poor quality things. Blacksmiths would do their best, but almost no one could get their fires hot enough to blast out the impurities in steel. And impure steel made for impure swords.

But there was one sword that broke all the rules. The Ulfberht.

A Frankish name that might translate to something like “Wolf-Light”, no one really knows where the Ulfberht swords came from, nor why the secret to their creation was lost for almost 800 years. Somehow, someone stumbled across the secret for crucible steel. Basically, instead of putting your iron into an oven and letting it heat up, you build an oven around the iron and superheat the poop out of it. The result was an incredible pure steel that was both strong and flexible.

The swords made from this steel would have been legendary. And from legends, come knockoffs.

There have been 44 swords discovered to have the word “Ulfberht” inscribed along the blade. But of those 44, only 11 are made from crucible steel. The rest are made from the inferior steel that was common to that time.

Aside from the metallurgical differences between the two, there was a difference in spelling as well. Though the name and the origin of the inscription are a mystery, the 11 good swords spell Ulfberht as “VLFBERH+T”. The rest spell it as “VLFBERHT+”.

Can you imagine how angry you would be if you spent good money on an Ulfberht sword that turned out to be a knockoff? At least your anger would be short-lived, since you would also likely be short-lived.

If you are interested in seeing how the Ulfberht sword is made, check out the awesome video below.

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One response to “Knockoffs are older than you think

  1. I remember watching that special a couple years ago. A must see for fantasy fans and writers. Lost it when my DVR went belly-up. Glad to see it’s now on YouTube.

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