The figure above, with the strange hair and the tree growing out of his head, is your humble servant. In my hand is a genuine, authentic 1,100-year-old Viking sword, from the Ewart Oakeshott collection.
As I announced, I was at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis on Sunday, as part of a Viking “encampment” in connection with their “The Vikings Begin” exhibition. Among the exhibitors was The Oakeshott Institute, also located in Minneapolis. They offered the unrefusable opportunity to actually hold a Viking sword — if you wore cotton gloves.
(Only the blade is original, by the way. Some collector in the 19th Century added the guard, hilt, and pommel. Which is why they don’t mind people picking it up. With proper protections.)
I talked to the Oakeshott representative, who told me that Oakeshott himself, an Englishman, gifted his entire collection to his friend Chris Poor, a noted swordsmith here in Minneapolis — mostly to spite the British Antiquities nazis. I need to learn more about this organization. Oakeshott was The Man when it came to medieval swords. (I’ve read his book.)
It was a good day, though a wintry rain kept us indoors. Sold a good number of books — and book sales are no longer gravy for me. They’re part of my bottom line.
But the sword is what I’ll remember.
*Obscure reference to a novel written by a forgotten author.