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If it was possible to make a sword out of authentic bloomery iron, for the same price as one made of modern spring steel, would you buy it?
Yes
60%
 60%  [ 57 ]
No
13%
 13%  [ 13 ]
Maybe I'd buy one
25%
 25%  [ 24 ]
Total Votes : 94

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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 8:15 am    Post subject: Historicality vs. performance         Reply with quote

Although I realise that generalisations are generally incorrect, I would like to ask this question, and it requires some generalisations.

Regarding blade steels for (let's say) a medieval sword, I think that it is reasonable to say that a modern blade made of springsteel hardened in a modern manner, as done by most of the reputable modern swordmakers, is superior to the average quality blade of say 1100-1200 A.D. I know that some medieval sword blades were actually quite good, but I think that it is fair to call most of them "servicable" from a modern standpoint. And given the advances made in metallurgy the last few centuries, I think it's only logical.

But I don't want to start a discussion about the quality of medieval steels, however interesting.

The question I want to ask the general sword-buying public is:

"If it was possible to make a sword out of authentic bloomery iron, for the same price as one made of modern spring steel, would you buy it?"

In my opinion, the trade-off here is historical authenticity, which in this case is even very difficult or impossible to see, vs. performance. So, what do you think?
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Certainly I would!

I have interest primarily in authenticity and my interest in performance flows only as it relates to the original weapons. I appreciate the organic feel and dynamic effect of the historical specimen and really don't care much for swords designed to be "cutters".

Of course this scenario is absolutely unrealistic but an interesting question nevertheless.

Jeremy
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Michael Eging




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Absolutely. I would really enjoy exploring performance, handling, etc. in a weapon made with period materials.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the exact same price? Yes, I absolutely would. I want my swords to be as close to the originals as humanly possible, as my main purpose in collecting is gaining a better understanding of historical weapons, not of modern ones. I just have to content myself with modern ones because antiques are so expensive. Happy
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have 70 kg of siderite waiting to be roasted and a museum has granted me a place to have our bloomery built.

I would make a sword out of this new iron but i wouldn't use it if not for experiments.

I do not think it could be sold at teh same price. To make bloomery iron the ancient way one has to work a real lot.
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David E. Farrell




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one of my biggest gripes about some modern sword makers is that it seems like they believe they can design and make a better sword than the folks who made them for people who used them when their lives were on the line. I would much rather have a piece made with quality period-like materials and design than one with the latest and greatest alloys designed by someone who has little to no knowledge of the use of a sword beyond test cutting.

but that is because my goal isn't to cut tatami today (though I do)... it is historical combat, equipment and culture.

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Justin King
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would perhaps have one or two in my collection but would not necessarily prefer it over swords made from modern steel with good heat treatment. The material itself is not the whole picture for me, though, if one is going to this extent for authenticity. Should one who is having such a blade made insist that it be forged using a medieval-style forge and hammer and anvil, or perhaps more properly a water-powered tilt-hammer? With the temperatures judged by eyeball for the heat-treating?
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Considering I've already paid more for tamahagane-made nihonto than for modern steel Japanese-style swords... I guess the answer is yes.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At that price, it'd be worth getting at least two - one with "authentic" fittings, as a wallhanger, and one perhaps skimping on the fittings, scabbard, etc to do some potentially destructive playing around with. Just how bendy are "bendy Celtic swords"? Is an iron sword "better" than a bronze one? How well does it play with armour? While these would be worthwhile questions to answer in a serious controlled way, they would also be fun questions to explore in a less serious and fun way [1]. After all, who hasn't hit old computer cases or whitegoods with swords and polearms of various types, just to see what happens?

[1] And it doesn't matter if the question has already been seriously answered well already (e.g., iron vs bronze), it can still be fun and educational.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I vote maybe because a tremendous amount depends upon what ores, impurities, alloying elements are present, and how the bloom is worked after the initial smelting. Historically, superior sources of cakes and bars of tool grade ores were recognized and sought for international export. Equipped with modern chemistry and knowledge of how to refine it, someone like Patrick Barta can make acceptable blade steel themselves. (Some nice photos of smelting his own are on the Temple web site actually.)
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 5:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, if it looks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck then, its a duck. My gut feeling is that most of the swords discussed on this forum are probably wildly better than the ones they're patterned upon. Steel and metallurgy is so much better than it was even a couple of hundred years ago that there is really no comparison. If the guys who lived and died by their swords were around today what do you think they'd choose? As long as it looks and feels right for the appropriate time period it only makes sense to get the best and most reliable sword you can.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second what Ken just said...

The reason that the alloys used in historical blades got better and better as time went on is because the warriors and smiths of the time were always trying to IMPROVE what they had. Make it better. Further the technology.

Look at the difference between the swords used 2000, 1000, 500 years ago, and then at a late-19th Century Saber...

We even have awesome man-made materials to make practice weapons out of in the early 21st. Near shatter-proof, flexible, light, awesome... Armour can even stop bullets these days! And bullets move faster than they used to! "Stab-proof Vest" - Speaks for itself...

OK... Ability to take punishment is one of the biggest challenges to a swords used in combat. Does everyone agree?

Now, does everyone agree that modern materials are better at this than those used 1,000 years ago?

We shouldn't let the fact that a sword is now no longer a primary combat weapon and dueling is banned force us to stop developing improvements in design and materials, I think. As long as they really ARE improvements... Imagine what the materials will be like in the future. And I'm pretty sure the overall best design for each job a sword does hasn't been found yet, despite the millions of attempts.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bennison N wrote:


Look at the difference between the swords used 2000, 1000, 500 years ago, and then at a late-19th Century Saber...

And I'm pretty sure the overall best design for each job a sword does hasn't been found yet, despite the millions of attempts.


If we look at the tremendous difference (I truly believe some of the reasons arose directly from this forum) in awareness of quality in reproductions that has developed just in the last 10 years...... Well, I figure makers may soon also make further improvements on economy, pattern welding, blade alloy specific metallurgy, etc. Actually, good quality pattern welding (powder metallurgy and other modern fabrication approaches) has gotten much cheaper over the same period. It will not surprise me if 10 to 20 years from now, steel alloyed specifically for this small industry is being utilized.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 7:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What the initial hypothetical fails to address is the quality of the finished bloomery blade. In fact it tends to imply a merely "servicable" blade from bloomery iron. At the end of the day I'm not sure I'm willing to pay for that novelty if there is a significant quality gap in the final products. If the end result of ALL things are equal, sure, why not. However, this hypothetical does not seem to imply equal outcomes which can alter the equation in my eyes.
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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
It will not surprise me if 10 to 20 years from now, steel alloyed specifically for this small industry is being utilized.


That would be wonderful, however there are alloys that are very useful to blade smiths that are getting phased out of production since there isn't enough of a demand for them in industry. There are a few smiths that get custom smelts of steel made to spec. that get used for blades, but then the burden of paying for several tons of steel falls upon them and they usually try to sell it off to other smiths to be able to break even.

On a side note, working with traditional, home smelted steel is vastly different then working with modern steels. I think that with the metallurgical knowledge and testing that we have today, one can use home smelted steel and not sacrifice performance.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Pikula wrote:
then the burden of paying for several tons of steel falls upon them and they usually try to sell it off to other smiths to be able to break even.

On a side note, working with traditional, home smelted steel is vastly different then working with modern steels. I think that with the metallurgical knowledge and testing that we have today, one can use home smelted steel and not sacrifice performance.


I have only small experience with this. But, pattern welding often bonds materials that are dissimilar chemically (as long as thermal expansion and heat treat are not too far apart.) These projects would not be as economical to weld without the inherent annealing that occurs within the forge used for fabrication. Similarly, I have had some fairly exotic materials welded with custom ordered TIG rod (not appropriate to discuss specifics here) which can be ordered if one is willing to purchase a couple of tons of the custom blended material. In a scale of manufacturing where roughly 3 lb reproduction swords are planned in editions of 100 to 1000 swords, (some varying models likely using the same sized blanks), roughly 30% waste if CNC rough shaped, a one of a kind blended alloy is economically viable right now. If our reproduction sword market grows, I expect the technology already prevalent in aerospace materials will eventually cater to us as well.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Oct, 2009 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally it would depend on what I wanted the sword for. If I wanted to see how the weapon would perform when struck against shields, armour, etc., then I would need the sword to be made from bloomery iron and forged in a traditional manner. If I wanted a sword that closely resembled period equivalents in appearance then bloomery iron would be needed. If I just wanted a sword that handled like "period" equivalents (right weight, balance, etc) then I wouldn't really care what it was made from. If I wanted a sword to train and practice in a martial art then I think I would prefer modern steel and modern heat treatments.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Oct, 2009 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Personally it would depend on what I wanted the sword for. If I wanted to see how the weapon would perform when struck against shields, armour, etc., then I would need the sword to be made from bloomery iron and forged in a traditional manner. If I wanted a sword that closely resembled period equivalents in appearance then bloomery iron would be needed. If I just wanted a sword that handled like "period" equivalents (right weight, balance, etc) then I wouldn't really care what it was made from. If I wanted a sword to train and practice in a martial art then I think I would prefer modern steel and modern heat treatments.


I agree here that the specific reason for owning a specific sword would influence my decision also.

As a " Tour de Force " or maximum effort at authenticity bloomery Iron matching the level of carbon variability of period steel would be interesting but I doubt that one could have this level of work at the same price as with a modern steel.

1) The " ART OBJECT " using period steel.

2) Period steel for destructive testing purposes where the aesthetics wouldn't matter but handling characteristics also being important. ( Saving money on finish since it's going to be abused and possibly destroyed testing it against hard target such as armour ! Oh, the armour would also have to match period armour to tell us anything useful about period performance of either the sword or the armour ).

3) For a high end collectable but wanting the best sword one could make then using modern steel of similar carbon content but being modern steel much more homogeneous and free of inclusions.

4) Using sword, test cutting or blunt training sword: Best possible steel and heat treat

Oh, as to would a period sword be inferior or superior to a modern steel in a dimensionally identical sword with the same aimed for hardness and resistance to breaking, I think that the very best period swords made by a master swordmaker who also got lucky eyeballing his heat treat might be superior to a modern sword in part because of the superior knowledge in creating a very good handling sword. ( Probably the best period swords being just as good as the best we could make today ?)

The average period sword would probably be very much inferior in material qualities to a good modern plain carbon steel and some modern alloy steel would have more shock resistance, edge holding, hardness.

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Oct, 2009 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my mind, performance and quality has always vastly outweighed "historicality," so I'm going to have to say no to this.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Thu 08 Oct, 2009 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going with yes, YES and OH GOD YES Happy . Even without the same cost, I still plan on getting one so at the same cost...yeah sign me up hehe.
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