The Genesis of this project was over 20 years ago when I was still in college. I think my earliest concept drawings probably date to c. 1989-1990, as I based them in part on the cover of the Middle Earth Role Playing module Lost Realm of Cardolan, which was released in late 1987, and I remember buying at a game store near my dorm at the U of MN campus (which I did not transfer to until that year). I have always been a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, and related works, and an early offering from Museum Replicas, Limited (back in the day when they had quality offerings from Arms & Armor, Johann Schmidberger, Del Tin, etc.) was a "Glamdring" sword. Though very plain, it had a beautiful leaf blade that I admired, even if I didn't care for the cross and blocky pommel so much. The craftsmanship and quality were superb, though, being made by Del Tin Antiche of Italy from a good grade of spring steel and well tempered.
Initially I thought of making my own blade, but didn't quite have all the tools and skills to do that, at the time, anyway. When MRL released the Orcrist sword (also by Del Tin, with a different blade and hilt style), I really liked the pommel, much more so than the one on Glamdring. So much so that I contacted MRL to see if they could do a custom job for me by swapping pommels. This is the reply from Hank Reinhardt:
For reference, here is the Orcrist sword I was thinking of swapping parts with. In retrospect, I think I might have preferred the whole hilt be swapped, instead of just the pommel.
So apart from a few doodles little happened. Make that quite a few doodles - I have some two or three dozen sketches of different ideas, at least. A few years later though, perhaps about the time MRL was bought out by Windlass, some bare Glamdring style blades became available for sale (by this point, though, because of Tolkien Enterprises they had to make up a different hilt and generic fantasy name for the sword - the "Sword of Chaos"). Needless to say I snatched one right up.
The next step was to come up with an inscription for the blade, which I naturally did in J.R.R. Tolkien's invented language of Quenya and his Tengwar writing system. This will be detailed in Part 2 of this series.