Event Report: The Atlanta Blade Show 2006
An article by Jason Elrod

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Vince Evans silver-
inlaid basket-hilt

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The Count sword
by Albion Armorers

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Tinker Viking Age sword

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A tomahawk by Raymond Richards

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Carved dirk grip by Vince and Grace Evans

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Vince Evans
dudgeon dagger

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A bowie by
Mitch Edwards

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Albion's St. Maurice of Turin sword

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Knife and carving by William Lloyd

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"Wave" basket-hilt by Vince Evans

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The work of
Anthony DiCristofano

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More blades from
Albion's table

The aptly named "Blade Show" is one of the largest venues for vendors and artists to share, sell, and display their wares. Held in Atlanta, Georgia and hosted by the Cobb Convention Center, it is a three-day event. The show also has numerous seminars and lectures which can run from the amusingly manly "Straight Razor Shaving Demo" and "How to Throw Knives & Tomahawks" to the more serious and informative "How to Forge Knives" and "All About CPM M-4 Blade Steel" seminars to everything in-between. There was something for everyone at the show. The 2006 convention was my first "Blade Show" and I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed. After a ten hour drive, I arrived in Atlanta Friday night during rush hour. The last fifteen miles to the Cobb Convention Center took almost 45 minutes. With only two hours left Friday night and with hundreds of vendors and artists to see, I basically ran around in circles, smirking and grinning at all of the bowie knives, katana, daggers, pattern-welded blade blanks, antlers, engravers, displays and anything and everything else that you could imagine that would be associated with edged weapons. However I did make a concerted effort to meet Angus "Gus" Trim, see the swords by Albion Armorers, and meet Vince Evans.

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Vince and Grace Evans at their booth

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Albion Sherriff and Sovereign swords

What can be said about Vince Evans? It was very nice to talk with him and all of his items were already sold by the time that I arrived. He had two Scottish basket-hilts, a khukri, two Scottish dirks, a dudgeon dagger, and a khanjar. Here is a man who has the talent to marry form and function into a completely harmonious whole. His pieces appear to be works of art; however, he is still able to capture the handling and essence of a fully functional weapon. His pieces reminded me of the best antiques hanging in a museum. Pictures really don't do his work justice and I would suggest that anyone who has a chance needs to take the time to see Vince's pieces in person. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed.

While I didn't get to see or handle all of Albion's swords the first night, I made sure that I was able to spend a lot of time at their booth the next day. In many ways, Albion was the only game in town when it came to production western style swords. While katana makers flourished, the only other venues for production swords came from CAS Iberia / Hanwei, Cold Steel (who didn't have anything new), and Angus Trim Swords. Luckily there were a few individual artists in attendance such as Vince Evans, , Kevin Cashen, and William Lloyd of The Chiseler's Art.

Mike Sigman and Harlan Hastings of Albion really let their enthusiasm for the products show. There were times I almost wished that they would simply stop handing me swords with which to play. It was nice to see almost the entire lineup of swords including the blade blanks for the Meister, Knecht, and the Vassal. With a bit of luck the first Next Generation Meister should be available at the end of July or the beginning of August.

This was also the first time that I was able to see and handle Albion's Peter Johnsson Museum Collection and Hallmark Series lines. Unfortunately there was no Svante model to be found. The quality, handling, fit and finish are equal to, though not better, than the standards set by Albion's Next Generation line; in fact, the Solingen had a large casting flaw in the center of its pommel, which was a shame because this sword looked much better in person and has, in my humble opinion, fantastic handling characteristics. Both the Tritonia and the Saint Maurice of Turin sword were beasts to handle and I actually laughed the first time I picked up the Saint Maurice because its 9" Point of Balance made the sword feel much heavier than it actually was. It is definitely a sword meant to be used on horseback.

One of the appeals of Albion's lineup is the number and variety of swords that they offer, from the Roman Age to the Renaissance. Two of the Albion swords really appealed to me and they weren't two that I would have thought that I would have liked. They include the Next Generation Aquilifier and the Poitiers. These are swords that I never gave a second look at on Albion's Web site but could appreciate their subtle lines and handling in person. Having the ability to actually handle and see the items that you might have only seen on the internet or through pictures is one of the best reasons to go to the Blade Show. Another great reason to go is to get acquainted with the people.

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Angus Trim
holding a longsword

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Detail shot of a
Rick Barrett katana

I have known Angus Trim for over four years now, so it was a pleasure to finally meet him in person. Gus had a wide variety of his wares including the AT1508, AT1404, AT1429, AT1433, the "Phatter Bastard" and some new items including a longsword with a 38-inch long blade, three different falchions, and the AT1403 War Sword. The AT1403 Type XVa was definitely my favorite-handling sword at the event: lightning fast while still feeling powerful. Its stiff blade would be excellent for half-swording. Unfortunately a lack of funds conspired against me and instead I walked off with one of Gus's new falchions. Messer-lovers beware. Gus's falchions are fun to handle, can be bought with a clipped point, and are offered in single- and two-handed varieties.

Gus is also expanding his line considerably. The AT1508, AT1404, and the AT1403 are all made from thicker .36" 5160 stock and many of his swords are now three pounds and over. While he made a name for himself by creating ultra-light swords, he has not neglected the other end of the weight and handling spectrum. Gus always surprises me with something new.

Next to Gus was Patrick Jones, who was selling RSW's (Realistic Sparring Weapons). These training swords have a metal-reinforced plastic core, a foam layer to absorb the shock, and a fabric layer to hold it all together. One of them handled very similar to Gus's AT1211, and I believe was actually based off of it. I know a few people who use them for sparring and like them but I had never handled them before.

Amusingly enough to me especially since he didn't bring one of his own katana, Gus was seated right next to Bugei Trading Company's table. Let me apologize to the katana lovers out there. I know absolutely nothing about the katana or eastern martial arts so I'm not really able to provide much information since I didn't pay much attention to these makers. The least I can do is give a list of companies and artists. In attendance were CAS Iberia / Hanwei; Bugei; Dynasty Forge; Wally Hayes; Martial Art Swords; Cold Steel; Rick Barrett, Bladesmith and Anthony DiCristofano of Namahage Sword. While I might not know a lot about the traditional katana, I do know a lot about quality workmanship and Rick Barrett's and Anthony DiCristofano's work is fantastic. Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to Rick, but I had fun talking and listening to Anthony. He's a very intense man and, for what it's worth, made my favorite looking katana at the show.

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Cromwell Mortuary sword by CAS Iberia

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Detail of Kevin Cashen hunting sword

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William Lloyd's carving
While Cold Steel didn't have anything new in their eastern or western lines, CAS Iberia / Hanwei has made some improvements on their eastern line of swords, though I'm not sure what those improvements would be. According to the representative they have really been focusing on improving their katana this year. Next year they are going to focus more on improving their western swords. The only thing that caught my eye in their booth was the new Cromwell Mortuary sword with which they did a pretty good job, given the price point. The Turkish knots leave something to be desired and the basket was somewhat oversized but the sword handled much better than I thought it would.

While the bigger vendors get a lot of attention, the show consisted mostly of individual artisans selling their handmade wares. This for me is the heart of the show: where all of the interesting people and creations are to be found. Two people that stood out in the crowd were Kevin Cashen and William Lloyd.

I wasn't able to talk to Kevin as he was running about trying to buy supplies for new projects. I was, however, able to handle one of his pattern-welded hangers and some of his bowies. The finish on all pieces was excellent and the pattern-welding was fantastic: definitely works of art.

William Lloyd is a gifted artist. While his pieces are definitely fantasy-oriented, he assured me that they all have full tangs and are truly functional. I really enjoyed talking to him. A chatty fellow, he talked to everyone around him and anyone who walked by. William specializes in antler carving and, considering the amount of detail that goes into his work, I found his prices to be extremely reasonable.

And who can forget the jovial "Tinker" Pearce? He had some really crazy folders (how many edges can one man put on a blade?) including my favorite one which he calls the tactical sax folder. He also had three swords present, including one with a hollow-ground blade.

While myArmoury.com focuses mainly on historical edged weapons, I would be remiss to not mention a few of the wonderful knife makers who made up most of the show. Strangely enough, I know more about swords than I do knives, so I'm simply going to list a few of the artists who's work caught my eye: Lynn Dawson & Dennis Cook, Mitch Edwards, Anders Hogstrom, Raymond Richard Knives.

There were so many great artists at the Blade Show that it was impossible to meet them all or even remember all of their work. Luckily most of the people at the show have their own cards so you can contact them later if you aren't an impulse buyer. This is especially important to remember since some of these craftspeople don't have a Web presence.

If you get a chance to go, by all means know that it's worth the drive and the price of admission. Take it from someone who drove ten hours just to see the show for a day and a half. Next year I will most certainly be going and I'll be hitting as many seminars as possible. Perhaps I'll grow a beard and learn how to use a straight razor to shave without cutting myself.

About the Author
Jason Elrod is a retail manager with Borders Books in Dulles, VA. His sword obsession is tempered only by the knowledge that no matter how large his collection becomes, he still will not be able to use it to send his son to college.

Additional Information
Additional photos can be viewed in our Atlanta Blade Show 2006 Photo Album.

Photographers: Jason Elrod and Bill Duncan


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