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Harlan Hastings
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Location: Finger Lakes, NY
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 5:43 pm    Post subject: Armour vs swords ... a collector's view         Reply with quote

I had a really interesting conversation with Amy Christensen-Waddell from Albion the other day. In the conversation we realized that there are a great number of people who will buy a sword (at whatever price point you want) with no other intention than admiring it and putting it on display.

Armour, on the other hand, does not seem to have the same wide appeal.

What is it about swords that makes them so much more "collectible" than armour? They both developed in concert with each other. They're both iconic symbols of the same age and value system.

Any ideas?
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can get more sword for less money and if I make a buying mistake the pain to undo it is not so great.

Also a sword by itself can seem complete. Once I start down the armour avenue, I WILL have to get everything. A seemingly much more daunting finincial outlay.

Also space. A sword is immenantly more storable than a full suit of armour (note I said full suit).

Finally a sword will always fit, regardless how much my waistline fluctuates. I'm not sure armour allows as much flexibility, and if you have it you have to wear it...right?!

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Andrew Winston




Location: Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some random thoughts:

Richard Burton said it best, I think: "The history of the sword is the history of mankind."

Swords are transcendant and iconic. They evoke all kinds of powerful imagery from phallic to cruciform.

Armor is defensive.

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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James Sharpe





Joined: 25 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have often wondered the same question in regards to the collecting of swords versus other medieval weapons such as halberds, axes, hammers, etc. I suppose that there the answer to my question is that there is more variety in swords. As far as Armor goes I would have to agree with the points that Joe brought up.
Happy
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Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 7:22 pm    Post subject: Re: armour vs swords ... a collector's view         Reply with quote

Harlan Hastings wrote:

Armour, on the other hand, does not seem to have the same wide appeal.


Are you sure that there are not just as many people buying helms, at least, as buy swords? There certainly seem to be a lot of them for sale on the net. Mostly junk, though.

I started collecting helms at the same time I started collecting swords, but have focused more on swords because the styles that I like are easier to find than my favorite armor pieces. Perhaps that is just the chicken and egg phenomenon of greater interest in swords producing greater diversity of product from more sources, compared to armor.

I am just about to take the plunge by buying a basic suit of transitional armor from Valentine Armoury, at a cost that is just over twice the cost of the most expensive Albion Next Gen. I would have choked on the price of this suit just a year ago, but my appreciation of the value of quality work has really changed since I bought my first Albion sword. The suit will almost certainly wind up on a mannequin in my office, though it will be built to fit me if I get the urge to dress up.
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Apr, 2004 11:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A real, tailored suit of armor would be much more expensive than an authentic (ie Albion, AA, Atrim) reproduction sword, require far more time to produce, possibly require you to go to the armorer in person to be measured and test-fit, and require some committment to stay in shape.
Of course, this doesn't really apply to "wallhanger armor" or single pieces of armor like helms, shields, etc.

Still, I think the primary reason is the extremely powerful imagery and social connotations associated with the sword -- in the West the cruciform sword in particular. No style or piece of armor can really approach it -- though the "heater" shield and the great helm are probably the closest that "armor" can come. In the West, these pieces are instantly recognizable even today and are really integrated into our social fabric. For example, the "heater" shield outline is still in everyday use for advertising, national heraldry, etc and the great helm is likewise seen in logos.

Brian M
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Douglas Peters




Location: Baton Rouge,LA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've actually been thinking lately of maybe sometime getting a zischagge, great helm, or barbute and stand. Only thing is the price might make me want to just save to buy a sword. I guess one good thing about a single piece of armor like a helmet or maybe shield is it could be displayed near a sword(or most any other medieval weapon) and probably complement it nicely.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience with the couple of reenactment/medevial festivals I'we been to, the "stash™" scale goes about as follows, from most common to most rare/die hard reenactor


Sword: Crappy swords are bought an carried in great quantity. Everybody has them, but quality varies widely
Chain mail: Ditto, but less common than swords. Many dedicated dabblers have them.
Helmets: Some "dablers" get helmets, but it is not a must, in the same way as the sword.
Shields: Easy to make, but not often sold in quantity, and no fantasy heroes use shields anyway...
Plate armour: More expensive than chain, and thus less common.
Pole arms: Spears, glaives, helbards....Only reenactors have these.
Cloth Armour: Gambesons and the like. These are not commonly sold, and are generaly handmade by the user (or his next of kin). Thus quite rare. (diletantes that make their own armour make Xena-style leather armours instead...)

Consequently, if you want to be spotted as a reenactor in a crowd of enthusiasts, dress up in your gambeson, hang your shield on your back, lean on your spear and look desillusioned...

Yours
Elling
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Kenneth Enroth




Location: Finland
Joined: 04 Dec 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 11:12 am    Post subject: Re: armour vs swords ... a collector's view         Reply with quote

Harlan Hastings wrote:
What is it about swords that makes them so much more "collectible" than armour? They both developed in concert with each other. They're both iconic symbols of the same age and value system.

Any ideas?


A sword is a weapon. A symbol of personal power. As such it is more evocative of the imagination than armor.
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Jeff Johnson





Joined: 05 Jan 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
I can get more sword for less money and if I make a buying mistake the pain to undo it is not so great.

Also a sword by itself can seem complete. Once I start down the armour avenue, I WILL have to get everything. A seemingly much more daunting finincial outlay.

Also space. A sword is immenantly more storable than a full suit of armour (note I said full suit).

Finally a sword will always fit, regardless how much my waistline fluctuates. I'm not sure armour allows as much flexibility, and if you have it you have to wear it...right?!


Ya, if you're going to buy a set of Plate, you have to get a whole one. And if you want one that's historical & actually going to fit - expect to lay down $20-30 Grand. For a similar-quality sword, you'd pay $500-1,000. The sword, you can often buy retail and it can be re-sold - neither of which are as likely for armor.

On the other hand, once you have a set of plate, you have a tremendous incentive to control that waistline!
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Gary Venable




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal view would agree with the above statements. I have looked at getting a set of armor, and I agree there is little point in just getting part of it you need the whole suit, the money issue is the big one. For me I was looking at spending $4-$5500 on the armor. But for that same amount the swords / weapons I could buy make the choice a hard one. From the Albion perspective I could get a suit of armor or the entire Peter Johnsson museum line... Confused

Ahh to win the lottery.....

But it really is money that is the hold up for me. Even if I had not bought the last 5 swords I added to my collection I still would not have enough for the armor I have looked at.

Gary
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Amy Christensen-Waddell
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Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is all very interesting. As I was telling Harlan, when we started Albion, we were all about armor. Well, helms to start anyway. We did research and invested a lot of money into prototypes (more failed than successful), and wanted to offer things that you couldn't find anywhere else. The helms sold well, but the Roman stuff outsold anything medieval by a good 5 to 1 margin. Then when the Albion Mark line was born, the swords took over the company... It's as if they have a life of their own.

Now I admit, swords on display are... well... riveting. I love them, and want them covering the walls of every room. We have swords that make me salivate they're so perfect (admittedly I'm biased, but hey... I can't help that). But you know what most people notice when they come into the office? The armor. Any piece of armor - be it a helm, a chestplate, or the full suit in the lobby... *That* is what they see, comment on, touch, ask questions about. The people I'm referring to are various business people who have to visit - contractors, insurance people, sales reps... Customers notice the swords first. The "general public" first notices the armor, every time. And they're in awe of it. That's why it surprises me that more armor (good stuff, not the $98 helm you can get at armor-r-us.com) doesn't go flying from the shelves. It makes such a stunning display.

So it seems that folks here want to buy armor they can wear - even if they don't plan to wear it. I suppose it's just like buying a sword that can and will cut, even if you have no plans to do so. Very interesting...

Amy Waddell
President/CEO
Albion Swords Limited, LLC

I wrote to the FBI to see if they had a file on me. They wrote back, "we do now..."
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amy..I find your observations equally interesting.

Perhaps something to remember when decorating a business space.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Dan Tucker




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love swords,but the cool thing about armor is that you can wear it places. if i had armor, even just a kettle hat, I would wear it everywhere I could, although I'd probably get sick of wearing full plate very quickly I'll probably never have the money for a good suit of full plate, but I would be quite satisfied with a 15th century infantryman's costume anyways.
if had such a costume I would wear it to every sort of occasion imaginable, even just to go shopping. imagine strolling down the canned goods aisle, pushing a cart, bedecked in brigandine, mail, gambeson, and kettle hat...
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I luv armour ..... but we Hielanders never did seem to wear it all that much !

But if we had ..... lookout , Mac would be one full metal jacket *g*

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
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Harlan Hastings
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 4:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, a couple more points for my clarification and if I'm mischaracterizing I apologize.

Why do people buy a sword with no scabbard or belt but only consider an armour purchase if it is an entire suit?

Why will people buy a sword they have no intention of using (finish is too nice to mess up, etc.) but balk at buying armour if they won't be able to wear it? (They'll use the sword as art but not the armour.)

Why will people buy what is essentially a generic sword (i.e. production piece) regardless of the level of quality yet feel their armour needs to be custom made?
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Harlan Hastings
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That did not come out sounding like I wanted it to. I'm really trying to understand what drives people perceptions of swords and armour and why there seems to be a difference between them.

Please help educate a confused mind!!! Worried
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James Byrnes




Location: Denver
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 5:46 pm    Post subject: Further         Reply with quote

Having an armor commission nearing it's end, I have some observations.

1 Price. A historically accurate, raised and spring tempered helm starts at $2,000 and goes up from there. True, it should outlast several generations of your descendants if properly taken care of, but that is still quite an investment. You can get a quality, tempered harness for around $10-12k. Jeff has champagne tastes (but Mac's stuff by all accounts is the standard for modern armorers) and the werewithal to afford them. Wink

2 Fit. For my armor comission I actually took a family trip down to the workshop of the armourer, Patrick Thaden, and had time allowed, would have preferred a second trip to make sure the fittings were correct. On the other hand, find a sword that fits your needs/wants, and you are good to go.

3 Usability. For the average sword collector, a sword is easy to mount on the wall or on a desk stand, and even easier to take out and enjoy (be it test cutting, dry handling, or just wearing it around the local ren fest). Armor, on the other hand, generally needs a reason to be worn. Living history, extreme commitment to realistic portayal in the SCA (as opposed to the many, many monstrosities of harness I have witnessed) tournament jousting, or WMA (again victim of far too many "monstrosities") are activities that can drive people to make the commitment to a quality reproduction harness. However, these groups have far lower memberships than the people who have a sword and no further involvement in any of the above mentioned communities/activities.

The last point I would like to make is a possible comparison to the Germanic fighting brotherhoods of the 14-15th century.
Many of the woodcut's I have seen, admittedly the evidence that I am making this observation about, show middle class people as members of the fencing guilds of the time, but none of them show people wearing armor. Then as now, armor was an expensive proposition, swords markedly less so. Perhaps it is not so strange that people don't collect armor?

Anyways, these are my rambling thoughts, take them for what they are worth .

"Farewell sweet friend, I was a thousand times more evil than thou. "

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harlan Hastings wrote:
That did not come out sounding like I wanted it to. I'm really trying to understand what drives people perceptions of swords and armour and why there seems to be a difference between them.

Please help educate a confused mind!!! Worried


Ahh but they do get used.

At least by me.

Sometimes anyway.

Some of my hesitation involves learning curve. I've probably had between 15 and 20 swords to date and each one has helped me better learn what I like as a collector. I have only kept 4 and I will probably eventually sell one of them again to try something new. On average I find I lose perhaps 20%-40% of value to move them (more for quick sale, less for patient sale) when I don't want them anymore if I take good photos. So if I sell a sword every six months at an average price of $500 I end up losing perhaps $400 a year. Not a big deal at this point in life and I justify it as cost of education. WTF?!

I'm not sure what would happen if I did this with armour but I expect my loss would jump by a factor of 4 or 5 or 20 (or more now that I've read James' post) which is much more painful at this stage of life. Eek!

Maybe this is false perception but it is a perception I have and it make armour a hard meal to chew. For now! Surprised

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2004 6:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In "The Medieval Armour From Rhodes " by Walter Karcheski JR and Thom Richardson of the 20 pieces examined microscopically only 5 or 25% were tempered leaving 75% either wrought iron ( 1/3 of the remainder ) or left annealed .
If Historical accuracy is a factor in if/wheatehr to buy armour who's going to be the chiefs(25%) and whose going to be
the braves (75%) ?
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