Spada Press is delighted to announce that we have released the first of our National Fencing Museum collection treatises free into the world. Philibert De La Touche’s seminal work Traité de Vrais Principes d’espee seule (Treatise on the true principles of the sword alone), is now ready, thanks to the tireless work of Jim Alvarez, who cropped, rotated, ordered and exported the images. You can see the book here.
Some time ago we spent three full days at the National Fencing Museum with a decent camera and a book-photography rig, taking hi-res images of the cream of their amazing collection of treatises, with the kind assistant of James Hester, and Malcolm Fare (whose collection this is).
I have 122 gigabytes of raw images, that will in due course be processed into a more web-friendly format, and put online for free into the public domain to be used by anyone as they please.
We have Hope: New Method (1707), Fencing Master (1687), and Advice to his Scholar (1729).
We have McBane (1728), Viggiani (1575), Sainct-Didier 1573), De La Touche (1670), Senese (1660).
And we have goddam Thibault (1628).
Plus eighteen other treatises, dating between 1540 and 1838. The ones I am most excited about are Senese, Viggiani, and Alfieri. But having both the 1610 AND the 1629 editions of Capoferro is pretty cool too. Not to mention the marginalia, like this detail from this copy of De La Touche:
And this is only about 10% of the museum’s collection.
There is a huge amount of work to do to crop, order, rotate, enhance, and otherwise process these files, and if anyone with the necessary skills would like to help, please do volunteer.
Most of these are in Italian, English, and French. But Spanish? We got Spanish: Narvaez, 1672. Russian? We got Russian. Ficher, 1796. And this is an especially good week for German-reading historical fencers, because we have Schmidt from 1713:
This work includes fencing:
And even gymnastics, back when gym horses had heads and tails!
Note that these photos here have been heavily reduced in resolution to be transportable. The originals are breathtaking. I can’t do them justice in this format, but this close-up might give you an idea. Each photo is about 25mb in the raw format.
We have the 1600 Meyer.
And we will be uploading all of these for you to download free as soon as we can get them all edited and ready.
One of the many wonderful things about the treatises we publish is that when we show them to the general public, they can see how beautiful the artwork is. It blows them away. Part of what we are trying to do here is preserve and distribute great works of art.
I came up with the concept for this logo many years ago, but it is well known that I can’t draw for toffee. So the first version of our logo that the world saw was this:
Then a mutual friend on Facebook put Nora Kirkeby in touch with me, as she was working on a translation of Fabris using my photos of my copy of Fabris’ Scienza d’Arme (which we will produce a facsimile of, just as soon as I can find a place to do it at the correct size). I saw on her Facebook wall that she was producing some amazing art in the style of medieval manuscripts, so I asked her to produce a version of the Spada logo. And this is what she did:
It’s quite different to what I expected: the colours. The white gold leaf (yes, real white gold leaf, just like the swords in the Morgan and Getty mss, only better as it won’t tarnish like they did). The wings canted over at an angle. The goddamn TEETH! It is so much better than what I would have got if I’d given her an exact brief.
And it is so exactly right for this venture. It’s hand made by an artist, following the forms of long ago, using traditional techniques. Perfect.
This lovely facsimile went live today, and you can get it from Amazon US, Amazon UK, or order it from any bookshop with the ISBN: 978-9527157091 Not every online store stocks it, probably because it’s in Italian.
This is a pure and beautiful facsimile, with no translation, transcription, commentary or introduction; just you and the book. I’m rewriting Veni Vadi Vici at the moment, including a massively improved translation, but until that’s ready you must content yourself with this free copy of my first translation attempt.
And as if that wasn’t enough: I’m planning a reproduction of Meyer’s lovely 1560 manuscript, but am running into trouble with the print options. The trouble is caused by the format of the book- it’s landscape (wider than it is tall) rather than the more usual portrait (taller than it is wide). I’ve put together a summary of the options in this handy form— if you have an opinion, please share it with me there!
Sat in the nerve-centre of Spada Press, perusing the print proof of De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi.
Yes! you read that right. Vadi is in the works, and will be released on February 28th. This is a glorious little book, and we hope you love it!
You can find it on Amazon US here.
And on Amazon UK here.
And you can find it on any other book site by searching with the isbn: 9789527157091
Fiore dei Liberi wrote one of the best martial arts books in history: Il Fior di Battaglia. And when we released our facsimile, it seems the world agreed: it hit #1 on Amazon (US and UK) in the categories “Martial Arts Hot New Releases”, and “Fencing”. Great work, Maestro!
And in any other Amazon store; just search for the ISBN: 9789527157114
Don’t like Amazon? We haven’t yet figured out how to sell these lovely books directly from this website, but you can find the book in any online bookstore, or get your local store to order it in, using the ISBN: 9789527157114