A French Crusader and A Chinese Sword?

Little is known of Jean d’Alluye’s life. He belonged to the nobility of central France and he traveled to the Holy Land as a crusader in 1241 coming home three years later, 1244. Given that it will have taken him many months to get to Outremer and many months to return this was a relatively brief sojourn: certainly he wasn’t among the grizzled Norman psychos who went native.  c. 1248 he died and was buried at La Clarte-Dieu were he was put under a beautiful limestone giant. These fragments of biography have not particularly excited historians and his gravestone did not particularly excite the French: after the revolution his tomb was sacked and the gravestone was eventually thrown across a river as an improvised bridge. It was though rescued and in 1910 sold to an American – in remarkably good form – and was brought to the United States and now resides in the Cloisters Collection. And it was there that Jean finally became something more than just another sculpture. Helmut Nickel, a stalwart of the Met and a fine medieval historian noticed something strange. Jean’s sculpted sword looked wrong.

The problem was the pommel. European swords of this era and, indeed, Arab swords (whose rate of survival is, incidentally far slighter) had a round bulb at the top (see below). The pommel, instead, looks tripartite, even flowering. Nickel was intrigued and, in a short article, in 1991 suggested that this was a Chinese sword! W-wh-what?! But how could a Chinese sword have made it all the way to central France? Well, the connection is not absolutely incredible. The Silk Road continued to bring goods backwards and forwards and Jean had, after all, got a quarter of the way to China when he crossed the Mediterranean to Christian Palestine. Perhaps it was the spoil of battle, ripped from the dying hands of a Syrian warrior, or perhaps it was traded with a Chinese visitor in the merchant quarter in Jerusalem.

Or perhaps it wasn’t Chinese at all and we can recover some historical sanity. There are two points that have to be brought up against Nickel’s theory. First, this is not the sword but a representation of a sword. Is it possible that the artist rendered the sword in a curious fashion for his own reasons: perhaps even correcting a mistake in attempting to sculpt a conventional pommel? Second, there are other possible sources. Some early medieval European swords have non-round pommels: we show a selection of Viking swords below.

Is it possible that Alluye’s family had an heirloom that, though not used in battle, was carried through the generations in a ceremonial fashion? Memories of a long lived Viking sword from the north…Nickel was a WANW expert though so I would be very wary before going against his considered judgement. Any oriental specialists who can contribute. Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com And just to round things off… Medieval Chinese swords don’t survive apparently, but there are many images available.

 Feb 2014: JH and MC both make the case, in almost identical words, that this is the fleur de lys: the symbol of France. If so it would be unprecedented but then Chinese swords weren’t that common on the Loire either…. Thanks guys!

Dan FitzEdward from Normannis writes in ‘Just been linked by a friend to your article, and there’s a few things that may interest you.
Firstly, your article refers to medieval pommels as uniformly a single round design. Whilst this was the predominant fashion in the 12th-13th centuries, there are many pictorial and extant examples of different designs- interestingly this example, on the Trinity Apocalypse (which is contemporary to the funery effigy) shows a three-lobed sword pommel in roughly the same style- .

We might, however, assume a possible foreign origin- the sword has an uncharacteristically short and curved cross, with lobed endings- which in overall form seems quite rare for the West. If we do assume a foreign origin, we don’t need to look as far a field as China, however.

The supposedly ‘oriental’ design would match images of swords from Byzantium–  (look at the last two examples on the right).

Given the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Byzantium by ‘Latin’ (French and Italian) forces in 1204, with loot taken wholesale back to the West, it is not a huge leap of belief to believe that a Byzantine sword could have been taken as a trophy and depicted on a tomb.

Thanks a million Dan!18 Jun 2017 Chris R writes. The crux of the observation — whether its Chinese, Viking or French — was to look at the sword’s pommel then try to argue whose style is that.This really isn’t were you need to be looking at. Instead, it should be at the hand guard. No European sword has this kind of hand guard.  Not ever. Take a look at this replica Chinese Jian.

European handguards tend to be a straight line, while Chinese handguards have this V shape. European handguards tend to extend much longer on both sides of the sword blade’s width.  In contrast, a Chinese Jian, the ends of the handguard tends to end closely to the width of the blade itself, making the sword look less of a cross.

Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm model TT525P Rifle Telescope Review

Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm Illuminated Rifle Scopes 34mm 28mrad .1 mrad adj. Gen 2 XR reticle 800100-0001.

The Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm model TT525P
Rifle Telescope is an extreme-range precision
sighting instrument for professional marksmen.
Designed for heavy field use, Tangent Theta’s industry-leading development
team has used their extensive experience to optimize and refine it for unfailing
ruggedness, mechanical precision and unsurpassed image quality. Elevation
and windage mechanisms exhibit precise tactile response and feature a truly
TOOL-LESS RE-ZERO® procedure.
Tangent Theta rifle telescopes are built in Canada and are specifically
designed and function-tested for long lifecycles in the harshest of
environmental conditions

This scope is the best that money can buy. The turrets on this scope are phenomenal and the standard which other scopes should be judged by. Perfectly tactile clicks, and tracking that is as perfect as it gets. You can crank on these turrets literally all day before setting them back to zero and your rifle will still be perfectly zeroed. The re-zeroing of this scope is also as easy as it gets: no tools required, just loosen the center of the cap, lift the turret, set it to zero, then tighten back down the center cap. The zero stop on these turrets in .6 MRAD below your zero, which I actually like a lot because it means you can zero at 200 yards and then dial back to 100 if you do a lot of long range shooting and want to twist your knobs just a bit less compared to if you had a 100 yard zero.

The optical clarity is as good as it gets. No tunneling, no chromatic aberration, just a crisp and clear image. The 56mm aperture means that even indoors where there is generally low light (I’ve shot this at a 100 yard indoor range that usually gives scopes with magnification above 10 trouble due to low light) you can still see just fine.

My only gripe about the scope is that the parallax knob doesn’t have any distances marked on it. It does, however, adjust through the full range in only 180* of knob turn rather than the standard 360*, so it’s quick and easy to adjust and the parallax is very forgiving (a quarter turn is 100 yards, and then for everything 300 and out you can set it at the full half turn and forget about it without any issues).

The long and short of it is, if you want the best tactical scope money can buy this is the one you’re going to purchase. Schmidt and Bender, Nightforce, Kahles, and Vortex optics are all inferior in their own ways to this scope (though they are all excellent scopes and the difference is minimal). If money is no object, just buy the Tangent Theta.

The Classic 1968 Corvette Specs

“Corvette ’68… all different all over”. 1968 was a year of bold new design changes for the Corvette. The ’68 vette underwent a complete body redesign, shifting towards that almost convertible feel with removable T-tops and a removable back window.

Go hardtop

In 15 years of Corvettes, the car had not only driven into prominence in the sports car field, but had also been a forerunner of some exciting and practical automobile innovation. For 1968, the mechanics of the Stingray were improved and refined; this year was an inspiring year in terms of design. This Corvette boasted uncommon, removable sections over pilot and navigator, that lift out for open air moving. A nearly vertical glass rear window tucks out of the way into a compartment in the luggage area. The effect is a flow-through roof that had never been seen on an American sports car before. Long, low profile with blunt styling brings up the rear per the continental GT tradition. The aerodynamic design features a spoiler in the back. Behind front wheels, functional louvers help to keep the horses cool. Wraparound front and rear bumpers plus line-smoothing hideaway features help make Corvette a trim one style-side. On the nose end, vacuum operated headlights glide open automatically when lights are turned on. Windshield wipers are hidden under a power operated panel which activates when the wipers are turned on or off, so that they aren’t around when they shouldn’t be. Below belt-line, wheel trim rings and center caps cover big 7-inch-wide wheels. Special tuck in treatment goes to the bright metal body sill between the wheels. Front and rear marker lights add a special touch to the Corvette from the sidelines.

Uncap it

The Corvette Convertible takes the same basic stingray idea with the lid off and turns in top-down driving for two. Drivers of the ’68 Corvettes had three options of how to put the top on. Soft top (in black, white, or beige) or removable hardtop- pick either one as standard or order them both together. There is a big story in glass for the ’68 Corvette Convertible. Like the Coupe, and like all previous Corvettes since ’53, a rustless fiber glass body is basic. Full door glass styling aids in visibility as well as appearance and the Convertible’s removable hardtop has a glass rear window for the first time. Both the Coupe and Corvette Convertible start off with a 300-hp Turbo-Fire 327 V8 standard along with a fully synchronized 3-speed box. Four other engines are available, and with 427 V8’s there is a special high-domed hood. Additional transmission choices are 4-speed, close ratio 4 speed and Turbo Hydra-Matic- which broke into the Corvette power team lineup in 1968. For comfort, air flows through Corvette with full door windows closed, thanks to the new Astro Ventilation system with vent ports in the driver and passenger sides of the instrument panel.

Settle Down

The 1968 Corvette cockpit is designed with the traveling duo in mind. Thin tapered and contoured buckets are very comfortably high-backed. Supple all-vinyl upholstery is standard, and there was an option to order genuine leather. Between the seats the center console houses the parking brake lever, gear shift, cigarette lighter and ashtray, thumb-wheel heater controls, air vent controls, and light monitoring system indicators. The console also stows seat belt buckle straps- twin sets with push button buckles. The option to order AM/ FM radio was available with or without FM Stereo multiplex. New features like the seat belt reminder light and door ajar flashers were introduced. A new ignition alarm system to remind you to take the key when you leave the car was also introduced.

Take Control

The mechanical part of Frame, chassis and power team members give the enthusiast precise handling of a smooth-but-hustling road car.
Body- A network of steel integrated with body panels for increased rigidity and strength. The fiber glass body parts are bonded directly to the steel frame rather than to riveted bonding strips as in the past. Both the Sting Ray Coupe and Convertible bodies are given extra strength through increased supports and support reinforcements.
Frame- All-welded, full-length, ladder-constructed with five crossmembers. Side rails and intermediate crossmembers box section; front crossmember box girder section. Eight body mounting points plus two radiator mounts.
Suspension- In front, independent type with coil springs and concentric shock absorbers. Spherically jointed steering knuckles for each wheel. Reinforced stamped steel control arms with pre-loaded steel-encased rubber bushings at pivots. Double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers with 1″ piston diameter. Link-type stabilizer bar of steel with rubber bushings. Anti-dive control is achieved through the angle of front upper control arm. Rear suspension is fully independent with frame-anchored differential. Locus of each wheel is established by three links: universal jointed axle shaft, adjacent strut, and a torque control arm pivoted at frame side rail. Vertical suspension loads taken by shock absorbers and transversely positioned nine-leaf spring.
Rear Axle- Semi-floating straddle mounted hypoid gear with 3.7 pint capacity. MPH is final drive with various rear axle ratios per 1000 rpm; 2.73-28.6; 3.08-25.4; 3.36-23.3; 3.55-22.0; 3.70-21.1; and 4.11-19.0 (these are calculated for new F70-15 wide oval tires without allowance for tire slippage or expansion).
Steering- Semi-reversible, recirculating ball-nut steering gear with GM-developed energy absorbing column. Steering damper between frame and relay rod mounted on the tie rod. Dual-mounted steering arm tie rod connection permits a choice between street or fast ratio. Turning diameter curb to curb- 39.9 ft. Number of turns lock to lock with street steering- 3.4 fast- 2.92, Power steering is a pump-powered hydraulic cylinder assisting the parallelogram linkage. Number of turns lock to lock with power-steering- 2.92.
Brakes- First American production car to use disc brakes at all four wheels. Dual circuit master cylinder with warning light. Braking effort is distributed 65% to front and 35% to rear. Construction is cast iron caliper type with radial cavities for heat dissipation. Sweep area is 461.2 square inches. Linings are woven asbestos; gross lining area is 81.7 square inches. Parking brake is mechanically operated on rear wheels separate from service brake system. Drum diameter of parking brake is 6.5″. Linings consist of two shoes per rear wheel with gross lining area of 33.9 square inches. Power brakes with new tandem diaphragm vacuum unit could be specified to lessen the required amount of pedal pressure.
Engines- All corvette engines used cast iron alloy cylinder blocks. Full-lengthwater jackets surround each cylinder for optimum cooling. Cylinder heads are high chrome cast iron alloy. Total combustion chamber volumes, piston top center, are: 300-hp-4.69-cu-in; 350-hp-4.17-cu-in; 390- and 400-hp- 5.90- cu- in; and 435-hp-4.92-cu.-in. Inlet manifold on 300- and 350-hp engines is of cast iron alloy. With 390- 400- and 435-hp, inlet manifold is of cast aluminum alloy. Exhaust manifolds on all engines are cast iron alloy. The 327 engines utilize dual 4-port exhaust flow to a  single outlet runner at the center; 427s use dual 4-port extended runners from each port converging to a rear outlet. Rugged alloy steel crankshaft with five main bearings in all engines. Crank arm length: 327-1.625;427-1.8. There are 6 counterweights on all cranks. Rubber mounted inertia torsional damper. Steel sprocket and chain timing gear. Camshaft in all engines is cast iron alloy with 5 steel-backed Babbitt bearings. Valve train in each engine includes stamped individually mounted overhead rocker arms. Push rods actuated with hydraulic lifters (except the 435-hp which has solid lifters). Intake valves are steel alloy. Overall head diameter of intake valves in 300-hp engine is 1.935-1.945; 350-hp-2.017-2.023; 390 and 400-hp mills- 2.060-2.070 and 2.185-2.195 in the 435-hp. Exhaust valves are of steel alloy. Head diameters: 300-hp-1.495 -1.505; 350-hp – 1.595-1.605 and 1.715-1.725 in all the 427 engines. Rochester 4-barrel downdraft carburetors are used in the 300-,350- and 390-hp engines while the 400- and 435-hp power plants utilize a Holley triple 2-barrel downdraft system. All Corvette engines in ’68 feature Air Injection Reactor equipment to control exhaust emission.
Transmissions- The standard 3-Speed transmission available only with the 300-hp engine has these gear ratios: first- 2.54:1; second- 1.50:1; third 1.00:1 and reverse- 2.63:1. 4-Speed ratios are: first- 2.52:1; second- 1.88:1; third- 1.47:1; fourth- 1.00:1; reverse-2.59:1. The special 4-Speed close-ratio transmission goes: first- 2.20:1; second- 1.64:1; third- 1.27:1; fourth-1.00: 1; and reverse- 2.26:1. All forward gears in manual transmissions are fully synchronized. A single dry disc centrifugal clutch is used with all manual transmissions. Turbo Hydra-Matic gear ratios: first- 2.48:1; second-1.48:1; third-1.00:1; and reverse-2.08:1.
Dimensions- Wheelbase-98.0″. Width overall-69.2″. Length overall- 182.1″. Tread-front: 58.3″; rear: 59.0″. Height (loaded) overall- Coupe: 47.8″; Convertible: 47.9″. Curb weight- Coupe: 3210; Convertible, 3220.
Fuel Tank: For the first time in Corvette, a 20-gallon plastic fuel tank. Weighs less than conventional tank and eliminates chances of rust and corrosion.

Engine Specifications

FeatureBase RPO L75RPO L79RPO L36RPO L71RPO L88
TypeV-8, Overhead valve
BlockCast iron block
Displacement327 cid427 cid
Bore & Stroke4.00 x 3.25″4.251 x 3.76″
Compression ratio10.25:111.0:110.25:111.0:112.5:1
Brake horsepower300 @ 5000350 @ 5800390 @ 5400435 @ 5800560 @ 6400
Torque360 lb-ft @ 3400360 lb-ft @ 3600460 lb-ft @ 3600460 lb-ft @ 4000
Main bearingFive
Valve liftersHydraulicMechanical valve lifters
CamshaftHigh-performance camshaftSpecial-performance camshaftSpecial ultra-high-performance camshaft with .5365-inch intakes
Fuel supplyRochester Type 4MV four-barrel Model 7028207Holley four-barrelThree Holley two-barrelsSingle Holley 850CFM four-barrel


  • Tuxedo Black
  • Polar White
  • Rally Red
  • Lemans Blue
  • International Blue
  • British Green
  • Safari Yellow
  • Silverstone Silver
  • Cordovan Maroon
  • Corvette Bronze

Interior colorS:

  • Black
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Medium Blue
  • Orange
  • Tobacco
  • Gunmetal

Production Options and Build Statistics

  • Total 1968 Corvettes Built – 28,566
  • Convertibles – 18,630
  • Coupes – 9,936

Mechanical Dimensions 

Wheelbase98 inches (2.489 m)98 inches (2.489 m)
Overall length182.1 inches (4.625 m)182.1 inches (4.625 m)
Overall width69.2 inches (1.758 m)69.2 inches (1.758 m)
Overall height48.6 inches (1.234 m)
Front tread58.3 inches (1.481 m)58.3 inches (1.481 m)
Rear tread59.0 inches (1.499 m)59.0 inches (1.499 m)
FrameFull-length ladder type with five cross members. Steel box sections, welded.
Front suspensionIndependent, unequal-length A-arms, coil springs; tubular shocks and stabilizer bar
Rear suspensionIndependent, trailing arms, toe links, transverse chromium-carbon steel leaf spring, tube shocks, and anti-roll bar
SteeringSaginaw recirculating ball, 17.6:1 ratio, 2.9 turns to lock, 39.9 turning circle
Rear axle typeSprung differential, Hypoid gear
BrakesHydraulic, vented four wheel discs; 11.8-inch diameter, single calipers
Total swept area259 sq. in. per ton, 461.2 sq. in. total
Wheels6″ wide slotted steel 15″ 5-lug disc
Standard rear axle ratio3.36:1
Optional rear axle ratio3.08:1, 3.36:1, 3.55:1, 3.70:1, 4.11:1, 4.56:1

Fast Fact:1968 was also the year that Zora Arkus-Duntov was named Chief Engineer of the Corvette.

The Castle of Levizzano

The Castle of Levizzano is located in a dominant position on the wonderful hills of the homonymous village in the municipality of Castelvetro. Its structure consists of a city wall in the center of which there is the so-called Torre Matildica – Matildic Tower.

Starting from the 12th century, the fortified complex was restored and enlarged. In particular, next to the tower that was placed to protect the entrance to the Castle, a part of the feudal palace was erected and an underground tunnel was built, which still joins the Palace to the Tower.

Around the 16th century the buildings underwent important transformations: dating back to this period is the so-called “Stanza dei Vescovi”  or Bishops’ Room, which has a ceiling with ancient wooden structures and a cycle of Renaissance frescoes. On the main floor, you can enter the charming loggia overlooking the hills dotted with vineyards from the main hall. Campo San Rocco and the ancient former Napoleonic cemetery stand in the immediate vicinity of the Castle.

TCG London

Gold Panning at Gold Daughters

Experience real Alaska gold panning, be a part of the living history of Fairbanks and make memories that will last a lifetime. At Gold Daughters, you will learn how to pan for gold using real Alaskan “paydirt”. We play by the rule “finders keepers”, so you get to take home everything you find!

Your day starts with a bag of paydirt from Fairbanks Gold Co. You can then pan all day from piles of paydirt that we’ve hauled in from a local operating gold mine.

There’s more than guaranteed gold… you also have the chance to uncover ice age fossils and cool minerals. It is not uncommon to find pyrite, quartz crystals and garnets. We’ve even had people walk away with woolly mammoth ivory!

A very nice Damascus 256 layer Woolly Mammoth Ivory Folding Knife.

The Magical Midnight of the SS Warrimoo

The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought Captain John DS. Phillips, the result. The Warrimoo’s position was LAT 0º 31′ N and LONG 179 30′ W. The date was 31 December 1899. “Know what this means?First Mate Payton broke in, “We’re only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line”. Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ship’s position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather & clear night worked in his favor. At mid-night the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line! The consequences of this bizarre position were many:
The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & in the middle of summer.
The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.
The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.
In the bow (forward) part it was 1 January 1900.
This ship was therefore not only in:
Two different days,
Two different months,
Two different years,
Two different seasons
But in two different centuries – all at the same time! 

What is John Wayne aiming at?

Tom Selleck Magnum and John Hillerman Higgins with Zeus and Apollo.

Spectacular C1-C3 Classic Corvettes….

A very nice 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, photographed at Mile End, South Australia.

A very nice 1961 Bentley S2 Continental ‘Flying Spur’ ……

John Wayne with Harry Carey Jr. and Pedro Arm

John Wayne with Harry Carey Jr. and Pedro Armendariz in film ‘3 Godfathers’

Actor John Wayne (center) as Robert Hightower with Harry Carey Jr. as The Abilene Kid and Pedro Armendariz as Pedro “Pete” Fuerte in film ‘3 Godfathers’. John Wayne (nicknamed Duke), was an American actor, filmmaker, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.