From the back of the Flier for the event (typos/spelling issues by The Red Baron):
FROM: The Red Baron, Seneschal to His Majesty, the King in the West,
Chronicler and Steward to the Society for Creative Anchronism, Inc.
TO: All and Sundry.
BE IT KNOWN by these presents that on the day of the 2nd of September, 1968, there shall be a TOURNEY, sponsored by the Baycon (26th World Science Fiction Convention) and conducted by, and by the rules of, The Society for Creative Anachronism.
Said Tourney shall not be for the winning of the crown, but, being sponsored by the noble lords of teh Baycon, shall offer as prize and trophy an engraved drinking stein of prescious pewter, to be graved also with the winner's name.
AS THIS BE a special event, and not part of the Society's regular season, there shall be allowed persons upon the field who are not in dress of the period, but who wear their own barbaric and outlandish costumes (such as those of the Twentieth Century). MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY should, however, wear the beautiful and servicable things they most normally wear; those of the period before 1650. The arrangements are that persons wearing pre-17th Century dress will be assumed to be members of the Society, and that persons who are not so dressed will possibly be asked to show their convention badge to gain entrance.
IF YOU HAVE a pavillion or tent, its presence would be appreciated, to help set the atmosphere of the day for those who have never seen or attended a tourney. If you plan to bring a pavillion, however, arrive in plenty of time to set it up, as the Tourney will begin promptly with
A CONCERT BY our friends, the Consortium Antiquum, who will perform the sort of concert they perform in concert halls and other places of entertainment.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER FOUGHT BEFORE, please arrive very early for a qualification match. Better still, contact the Society well ahead of the day itself (during the convention will be sufficient time) so that you can be qualified to fight, and so that YOUR CHALLANGES CAN BE REGISTERED! If you challange is not registered, it won't be called.
AFTER THE TOURNEY, the Baycon will provide the Churchill Room of the Claremont for a REVELRY with FREE BEER, etc.
For further information, contact the Society.
-- The Red Baron.
From the History (by Wilhelm):
Held in the Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, California. The Worldcon committee sponsored a tournament. Earl of Morris won. King Richard knighted him on the spot. At Baycon the first Handbook of the Current Ages was distributed. A medieval fashion show had occurred three days previous. Revels followed indoors.
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See photos of this event
Photo Album (more photos ...)
Photos on WorldCon/BayCon website -- We only have permission to link to these, not to copy them ...
There are photos of various SCA folk, some in garb, in some cases the credits use SCA names,
in others, they use mundane ... These are thumbnails, so clicking on them will take you to
A Handbook of the (Current) Middle Ages, provided by Drusticc inigena Eddarrnonn (Ynys Fawr, Lochac).
“Time's arrow is still well before my entrance on the scene, but this post brought a couple of things to mind anyway ...
“The book released at Baycon was titled "A Handbook of the (Current) Middle Ages." It includes such useful tips as that it's a good idea to use darts in garb because things don't look right to a modern eye without them, plus directions for making the various scary weapons described in recent correspondence. The SCA admin looked at a reissue somewhere around 1990, but the thought of what would happen if people read it as official rather than historical made too many people's blood run cold.” – Hilary of Serendip
“I’ll have to find a copy to be sure, but I thought the weapons were rattan swords – broad sword and great sword and an axe consisting of a store bought axe handle with a made made of 2 pieces of belt weight leather (about 1/8" thick) sewn at the perimeter and filled with stuffing – no flails, no plywood weapons (shields maybe). There may have been a mace included but I don’t think so. So except for the hardwood axe handle, what’s scary?” – Henrik of Havn“Er, well, there's this:
“* In addition to the hardwood handle, the axes have leather heads with striking edges the thickness of two pieces of heavy leather sewn together. One is a stuffed bag of the type Henrik describes, the other has three additional layers of leather tapering back from the first (which has the edge all to itself) and just a bit of filling near the haft. The stuffed bag is narrower than the haft for most of its breadth, with a nice apple-seed edge on the main striking surface and (at least in the picture) a needle-sharp spike in the back.
“* Although the book does mention that flails are not allowed in tournaments, it says they are OK in melees and demonstration fights and gives a sketchy description of the difference in construction between a mace and a flail. ("The head of a flail is fastened on with a chain or swivel.")
“* The head of a mace "should be built up with cloth, rubber, or leather so that it will land a solid impact, but have some slight amount of 'give' to it." (Rattan is "very satisfactory" for the haft... but there's no mention of its being required.)
“* Duct tape seems not to have been invented. Rattan swords should be planed and sanded, then painted silver and varithaned.
“* Although rattan sword points are described as rounded, all the ones in the drawings look quite realistically sharp.
“* A good thrusting tip for a shortsword consists of a layer (of unspecified thickness but barely visible on the illo) of foam rubber covered with electrician's tape.
“* Spears (8') and javelins (5') are made of rattan, with a crutch foot "providing some protection" for a head.”
“Youse guys was tough....” – Hilary of Serendip“Yeah, maybe – but the speed and power of today wasn’t generally used then and maybe too – we were just Lucky!” – Henrik of Havn“And that sort of construction continued for quite a while. I recall making a mace a couple of years after that (1971, to be exact) which consisted of a rattan haft, a wrapping of heavy solder starting 1" from the end and running about four inches along the haft (to add "proper weight", and "padding"consisting of many layers of socks to give a thickness of about an inch and a half. Plus a couple layers of duct tape, and a leather grip.
“Then we "softened it up" by pounding on a telephone pole for a while. After that it still hit with authority, but never injured anybody that I can recall.
“I think the last time I used it was in the mid-80s. Maybe I should see if I can find it and bring it back into use? Volunteers to face it should queue to the left ...” – William the Lucky ... mostly that we didn't all do each other really serious injuries!“I still have my old mace, named "A Feather". It was built on a 2 and 1/2 foot sledge hammer handle. The head was of carpet about 6 inches thick and a foot long, covered with an old denim pant leg. I attached a pound and a half lead weight as a pommel to help balance it. It never did any injury, to my knowledge, but it did hit HARD.” – Jon FitzRolf“I haven’t checked my copy of the Handbook, but my memory matches Henrik’s, Hillary’s et al. Robert of Dunharrow had a pair of axes when I became his squire that were part of the SCA loaner gear that he schlepped around. They had stuffed leather heads mounted on store-bought axe helves (I recall being told that the split portion had been sawn off before the heads were attached.) I didn’t get a concussion but did get one heck of a neck strain when Alandale the Red whacked me over the head half a dozen times in rapid succession to show some visiting mundanes how ‘harmless’ our weapons were at one join Chaos/Dunharrow practice at Lake Merrit.
“If not in the handbook, then in a contemporary T.I. were instructions for constructing a mace using a pants leg (tied at one end and turned inside-out) as a cover for the layers of padding. This was long before Henrik’s lab stopper mace head and my rattan splinted gator hide cure.” – Kevin Peregrynne“And on the comment about how tough we were, I remember at Island War II when folks were discussing whether Zweihanders were too nasty and someone (Fulk?) wanted to introduce maces with hard rubber heads (some kind of drain plugs, I believe). I remember Fulk standing there and taking full out blows from both the mace and the zweihander and declaring the latter much more damaging...” – Stefan de Lorraine“No. 15 black rubber laboratory stoppers – about 1 1/2" thick and 4" in dia. Weighing 12 oz. I made a mace – the one Steve recalls, using 4 stoppers – core drilled and slid onto a eucalyptus haft.” – Henrik of Havn“Yes, Hilary, us guys WAS tough ... and young and foolish, and banged up a lot. One evening in Oct.II, my first week in the SCA, having been enrolled as a standby pawn when I joined 6 days before the live chess game, and wanting to be in the game, I practiced attacking Caradoc (a bishop with 5' maul) with my 24" shortsword & 12" buckler. I dove at his gut with my point and he whomped me on the side of my sabermask with his haft (I got inside the head). Despite the fact that I was knocked down, rolled over & dazed, and he was still standing there, he was dead and I was fine, since haft blows didn't count. We did this a second time, as well. He chose to use mace & round in the game, and I got promoted to Queen's Bishop's Pawn.
“I got pretty familiar with the early weapons, since I lived with them in a small apartment, hauled them around, repaired them a lot, and made some of them. It was hard to get a blow that would be counted with the stuffed leather axe heads. They got rather soft, including the spike on the back, which was mostly for looks. Of course the hickory handle could hurt, but it didn't count, so you tried not to hit with it. Shortswords were 23" of rattan with 1" of foam padding taped on the end, so you could thrust. (Thrusting not allowed with anything else, I think, until Sir Jon FitzRolf invented "Red Ruin", his maul-pike, at May IV.) Sword points were mostly rounded, I'm sure, and flail "chains" were made of rope or leather, not metal. Most maces were carpet or other stuff with some "give", although Henrik had a mace of heavy hard-rubber stoppers (but he only used it with opponents who agreed to the experiment.) It hit hard, but it slowed him up compared to sword, so if you could block it or duck it you had an advantage. Richard had a longsword named, "Scatterbrain", made of 3 parallel poles of rattan glued together. It was very heavy & hit hard enough that he limited its use to head blows, since only our heads had 16 ga. steel & foam padding, while a layer or 2 of mattress padding did for all the rest.” – Robert of Dunharrow
“The Steward's files included the correspondence folder assembled during the run-up to the Baycon tourney. What sticks in memory is a letter from the organizer of the tourney to someone in charge of the convention, saying that a trip to the Claremont to view the grounds had not been encouraging. "You promised me a greensward," railed the letter writer. "I have seen this greensward, and verily it is no greensward at all; it is a Green Stamp...." Details like names are long gone from mind and the words may have mutated a bit, but that's the Higher Truth.” – Hilary of Serendip
“Baycon: I won a fight with Sir Bela (always much too generous in counting his opponents' blows), then lost fights with both Richard & Henrik (as I almost always did). But the most significant part for me was the revel afterward. I danced with Geraldine a lot, then mentioned I was hungry, so she took me home with her & fed me and before long we were heading an SCA household that grew to 70 people.” – Robert of Dunharrow
“Baycon was my first event. I met Sylvanus Andere' earlier that summer, and
he had told me about the SCA - I did not necessarily believe him. But there
he was, and he introduced me to his friends. I tried out fighting, but
got hit twice in a sensitive area (this was BC - Before Cups ...) and sat
the tourney out - just as well. I watched Earl of Morris win, and saw
him get knighted that evening - saw my first Belly dancer as well -
Louise - the costumes and fighting were cool, but there were
(most importantly) Intelligent (and cute) females of mostly my age.
“There were a large number of young fighters - Sir Robert has mentioned this - all about 16 or 17. Earl, Kevin, Tom Conroy (Sir Thumas na Leabar o Conaire), Willy the Green, Sir Argo, Kerry the Roc, Dai of the Tulips and many others - All of them now inactive, except for Kevin and myself. I have seen some of these men around Berkeley now and then - Willy was working at Whole Earth until a few years ago - I saw Tom walking on MLK Way - he looked almost the same as he had 30 years ago.
“I remember the Baycon tourney as having been watched by many, many people - hundreds. The area that it was fought on is now Tennis courts. I have a jumbled impression of all of it - probably something to do with it all being new, and it was the '60's ... I have a much clearer memory of the revel, and of Richard on the Thorne, etc. - all of the first event kind of stuff.” – James Greyhelm
“By the Way, I'll use this point to bring up some things I should have about
the BayCon description.
“ 1) The earlier Medieval Fashion Show (Phantasie of Fashion) was put on by Luise of the Phoenix and yours truly (Luise doing most of the gathering of costume and design). It featured a reverse striptease of putting Henrik in to his armor. Unfortunately, the people chosen to act as his arming squires were completely unfamiliar with Henrik and his armor, so it took about three times as long as it should have. Luise and I wore our wedding outfits (which she had designed and made) for the finale.” – Stefan de Lorraine
“I would have been better able to help them get it right more quickly, but my left hand was in a half cast because of my broken knuckle bone received a few weeks or so earlier at a fighting practice in Earl’s back yard. Richard was my opponent then. I did fight at BayCon using a light weight kite shield which I strapped to my left forearm with my hand free and a 2" think rubber pad between my hand and the shield. The broken hand was the impetus for me to act on a suggestion and invent the first SCA basket hilts. T.I. #7 I think is the issue where I published my “How to Make Basket Hilts” article.” – Henrik of Havn“ 2) As I recall, this was the first time Jon the Lean's freon gas tank helms made an appearance. I believe mine didn't quite fit (I have a very large head and he was trying to fit it around my glasses, as well) for the event.
“Ummm.... Actually, Toad Hall is in *Oakland* (by about a block). I lived there (rented it from Bob & Geri) for a few years. When we moved out, Clint & Janet moved in.” – Hal Ravn
“I have fond memories of the Baycon Tourney, It was combined with the Baycon World Science Fiction Convention which only increased the parties in the evening hours. This was where I met my future wife, who had come as an "ift from the planet Janus" and had dyed herself green. Randall Garrett commented for years about her sticking her arm out of the bathroom and being told that it was still green. (It was still green for six months thereafter. So much for using food coloring instead of theatrical paint.) This event gained a lot of science fiction fans as converts to the SCA.” – David of Illwheirlane
“Ah, yes, Baycon was my first exposure to the SCA, too, though I didn't
actually join for several more years, by then living in L.A.
(And I, too, was staying with someone on the edges of the Berkeley
riots – my first whiff of tear gas. I'd all but forgotten about that.)
“It was also my first exposure to fandom. And the medieval fashion show inspired me sufficiently to go out scouring local thrift shops with two fellow fans, where we bought some bits and pieces and put together a group costume presentation that actually won a prize. Little did I dream ...” – Bevin Fraser of Sterling
“You remind me of my first experience with tear gas. The lovely lady I had met at Baycon (who later became my wife) was staying at the Durant Hotel only a block or so from the scene where the tear gas was used. We got quite a dose of it taking her back to her room.
“Baycon has many fabulous memories for us. For example, I remember Astrid being approached in the bar by an amorous male and telling him that he would have to ask her father for permission to take her out as she was only 15. Poul and Karen were sitting nearby. Astrid was a real flirt, but loved and protected by SCA knights.” – David of Illwheirlane
The following cartoon is a “Little Green Dragon” cartoon, provided by Earl of Morris, from this event – the ‘kid’ with the sword is Earl:
The Caption reads "Be kind to him, Dave ...", where "Dave" refers to Siegfried von Hoflichskeit.
Earl adds (later -- this isn't in the AHP document on that part of the website):
"I was scared shitless of Siegfried (he WAS Siegfried, after all) and as high as a kite on a serious adrenaline rush. I knew that if I didn't get in the first shot I was a goner, so the instant he came within range I just swung the zweihander as quickly as I could for the side of his head, pinning all my hopes on the fastest blow I could deliver. I guess he wasn't expecting me to move so quickly, but the blow connected, although I couldn't tell, since he got his shield up, and I thought he had blocked it. It was just a nanosecond too late, apparently, but to be sure, I struck him again in the chest realizing as I did so that he was in the process of dying. But it was too late to stop the blow.
"Anyway, he went down, I raised my arms in triumph, and before I knew it I was being carried off the field on the shoulders of a huge crowd of people, who, in a shocking example of disrespect, trampled Siegfried in the process.
"It is truly amazing what fear and a case of nerves can do." -- Earl of Morris
Description of this event,
© Copyright 1980 by William R. Keyes (Wilhelm von Schlüssel)
This is from The History of the West Kingdom, Volume 1 (the only volume produced). When reading this text, please keep in mind the following disclaimer:
Disclaimer: This history may have errors in it, as much of the detail is “remembered” history, or as one of the cover pages of the original type-written manuscript states “The material within is derived from the information printed in The Crown Prints and in The Page, and from the memories of the participants.” The original document was typed on onion-skin paper, with hand-written notes (often in the margins). All attempts have been made to reconcile the notes with the original document.
Annotations, when they are added, are from The Annotated History of the West, Volume 1, which is the same text as Master Wilhelm's mentioned above, with commentary from members of the SCA who were active at the time of the event, and are added to help clarify questions and expand on what happened and why. This volume is copyright © Ken Mayer (Hirsch von Henford).
The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).