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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 2:27 am    Post subject: Swords for less than a day of work?         Reply with quote

I was going through Randall Storey's thesis (Link to list here

I recall from some other source that a unskilled worker earns c 3d a day (though, where these workers are and who pays them is a mystery to me...)

Sword
Average Price: 41d
Lowest: 2d
Highest: 120d

So, at some point in time between 1294-1339 a sword managed to go for LESS than a days wage. Now, the sample size was 15 records, and I don't know which of the 15 was recorded as going for 2d.

The list also says it records price of manufacture OR value of purchase (making this a useless, useless list). What could cause such a price plunge? The HYW had just started by the end of it, and I don't recall what conflicts where going on involving England (other than the Crusades) that would cause a surplus of swords to drive the prices down so low. Could this just be the manufacturing price of some fairly poor ones?

M.

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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I imagine those are not very good swords at said price. Swords that were 'used up' and only had one more fight left in them, had critical gouges in the blade, and might break at any given time.

Indeed, it's not entirely impossible they were rusty old roman gladius!

But hopefully someone who knows more then I will post, as I'm also interisted.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe some not so good swords taken as loot from Scottish wars.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah. I can imagine a wagonload of looted weapons going for an average of 2d each or even less if you bought the whole lot.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would expect that at the conclusion of a major campaign, there could have been surplus (worn or slightly damaged) for sale. What is puzzling is who would have been purchasing these? Were there collectors back then? Or, would surplus weapons have been sold off to small town garrisons?
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Storey's data includes things like assessments of the property value of dead peasants as well as the king's latest gold-hilted sword and Milan hauberk. So the 2d sword could have been a small, chipped, rusty weapon which was hanging over someone's fireplace for 20 years. Or it could be a shipment of loot like Dan suggests. Its a pity that Storey doesn't give us his data, just the summary.

I don't know how large consignments of captured arms were sold either!
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Storey's data includes things like assessments of the property value of dead peasants as well as the king's latest gold-hilted sword and Milan hauberk. So the 2d sword could have been a small, chipped, rusty weapon which was hanging over someone's fireplace for 20 years. Or it could be a shipment of loot like Dan suggests. Its a pity that Storey doesn't give us his data, just the summary.

I don't know how large consignments of captured arms were sold either!


While I do not know if it was the fellow referrenced above, I did speak with someone once who was using similiar data.

His source was court records where rather then descripe the object, they would name it and put a value.

There didn't seem to be much in the way of descriptions, just "A quarterstaff worth 1d." or the like.

I imagine this is much the same, though I'd very much like to be mistaken and see a good description of what such a sword would be like.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 2:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

personally I would think that the metal in a sword would be worth a bit on its own, let alone if it were serviceable to any extent. Imagine, even a bad sword could easily make 10 eating knives, each worth a couple of pence at worst.

I suspect that a sword for 2 pence is a typo or a mistake, entered either then or now.

Tod

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