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Karl Akkerman




Location: Michigan
Joined: 12 Aug 2010

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject: How can I examine a sword before deciding to purchase?         Reply with quote

I am very new to the whole act of buying swords. Three months ago, although finding the idea interesting I probably would have thought I was ludicrous that I would seriously consider it. Now however given a renewed interest in the subject to a level that I have not had in five to ten years I am seriously considering making a purchase. I am focused on Albion products although some the the Arms and Armor items also look interesting for at a later date.

Now I have read the reviews here on the swords by those makers as well as reviews of the producers and vendors themselves on some other sites. The issue that is keeping me from committing to making a first purchase is quite simple. No matter how many reviews I read or pictures I look at I still have not held an example of the item I want to purchase in my hand. I am not going to spend $800-$1500 on an item sight unseen, I have been burned a number of times by products that looked good in print or photograph that I have found to be not what I thought I was getting and as such was ether disappointed by or that I actively hated and would have returned for a full refund if it had been possible. In those cases it what $100 or less, this I an order of magnitude difference.

As such how would I go about getting my hands on examples of swords by these manufactures for me to personality examine. Are there list of all the events that vendors plan to attend over the next year? If a major gun and knife show were held in my area could I expect to find company's like Albion and Arms & Armor in attendance? These question I hope exemplify the is the kind of info I am hopeing members here could provide me with.

As an FYI, I Map-quested it and driving to visit Albion in Wisconsin is out of the question. It is a 1000 mile round trip by road from where I am at. As for a general location, I am on the Lake Huron side of Michigan north of the Detroit Metro area approximately 100 miles from Detroit and 70 miles from Saginaw.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you order a sword from Kult of Athena, you can send the sword back in 45 days and replace it for another one if you don't like it.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If your near detroit, albion will be at the ISMAC til the 6th...which gives you a couple days to try and make it out there.
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Addison C. de Lisle




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 05 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could try seeing if anyone owns Albion swords near you and is willing to show them to you.

In terms of quality and craftsmanship, I think just about everyone on the forum (including myself) will vouch for Albion and Arms and Armor. Where you will run into debate is whether the quality is worth the price, diminishing returns, etc, which has been discussed several times here. Personally I think they are worth it, but that's just my opinion.

www.addisondelisle.com
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
If you order a sword from Kult of Athena, you can send the sword back in 45 days and replace it for another one if you don't like it.


That's a good point since even the best makers might have a non typical " lemon " and being able to send it back to get your money back or another as a replacement is certainly useful when you are too far away to go and see it yourself in person.

Also if it's in stock at Kult of Athena you can get it in days instead of waiting weeks or months to get it because when Kult of Athena says it's in stock it really is in stock.

The thing is you shouldn't have any problems with a top maker like Albion or A & A as they stand behind their product ( as long as they haven't been abused ) and Kult of Athena is certainly one of the top vendors as far as reliability and reputation for AAA+ customer service.

Now if you have no experience with a top end sword it's hard to know if you will like a specific one before you handle it or what you expect from it as far as performance ? Some people think based on movies that one can cut a cement pillar in half and not even see a scratch on their sword ? But if your expectations are realistic the Albion or A & A are the best out there except for very high end custom makers. One can add OlliN and Michael Pikula in the makers I would trust for great quality.

Tinker is certainly custom and also very high quality.

( Not an exhaustive list of good makers, just my favourite ones that I have had personal experience with ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,438

PostPosted: Sat 04 Sep, 2010 10:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Best bet...plan a vacation to Chicago next summer while the Bristol Faire is running. Spend a day at the faire and another day at the Kult of Athena showroom. Won't be very darn much you can't get your hands on in that interval, and to my knowing, its really about the only way to avoid a crapshoot for selection.
"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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Sean O Stevens




Location: Grovetown, GA
Joined: 22 Oct 2008

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Sun 05 Sep, 2010 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In terms of quality of construction... you are HIGHLY unlikely to get a bad sword from Albion or A&A.

However... that aside, if you are talking about not knowing if a sword will 'click' with you... thats a different story and a very real concern. The numbers... PoB and CoP and weight and distal taper and all that... they only tell part of the story. Unitl you have a sword in hand, you can never be sure if it will feel 'right'.

Short of visiting Albion or KoA directly, or catching Albion or A&A at an event where you can handle many of the weapons... its always a risk buying something via the internet... you might not like it.

As was mentioned, KoA does offer a 45 day exchange so if you find you don't like the sword, you can try another... assuming you don't mess the weapon up while you have it. Razz

I myself over the past few years have bought/sold/tradded over 150 swords... this has allowed me to handle many types and many makers and start to get a sense of what I like. I buy it... play with it for awhile... if I fall in love with it it stays, if not I sell or trade it and try something else. The Marketplace here has been great for that... I have bought, sold and tradded with the fine folks here many times over and am thankful for the resource. Its been invaluable to me in learning what my tastes in blades are.
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Karl Akkerman




Location: Michigan
Joined: 12 Aug 2010

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun 05 Sep, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean O Stevens wrote:
In terms of quality of construction... you are HIGHLY unlikely to get a bad sword from Albion or A&A.

However... that aside, if you are talking about not knowing if a sword will 'click' with you... thats a different story and a very real concern. The numbers... PoB and CoP and weight and distal taper and all that... they only tell part of the story. Unitl you have a sword in hand, you can never be sure if it will feel 'right'.


Sean, you put it into words better than I did. That is exactly the issue I am having.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Sep, 2010 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Karl Akkerman wrote:
Sean O Stevens wrote:
In terms of quality of construction... you are HIGHLY unlikely to get a bad sword from Albion or A&A.

However... that aside, if you are talking about not knowing if a sword will 'click' with you... that's a different story and a very real concern. The numbers... PoB and CoP and weight and distal taper and all that... they only tell part of the story. Unitl you have a sword in hand, you can never be sure if it will feel 'right'.


Sean, you put it into words better than I did. That is exactly the issue I am having.


If you have little or no experience handling even badly handling swords it would be sort of difficult evaluating even an Albion having no points of comparison: Many who started collecting who first bought some very badly or just so-so handling swords have been pleasantly surprised the first time they handled an Albion or an A & A sword.

No way to tell if you would like the handling of a specific Albion sword but at least from a learning experience way of looking at it you would be handling a sword that handles very well for it's type.

One way to choose what sword to buy is first to decide what appeals to you at the gut/aesthetic level/period level. Then sword type that fits the period you are most interested in and then the handling of the type you choose to buy will be represented well by the Albion you choose.

If you like a big cutting type XIII sword with a lot of blade presence but purchase a type XV expecting the handling of a type XIII or the reverse buy a type XIII expecting the agile handling of a type XV you will probably be disappointed or confused.

The only other suggestion is if you can find an Albion or A & A sword owner living close to you who would be willing to show you his sword(s) ! At some point you may just have to take a chance and buy a sword but at least with the high end makers you will know in advance that the sword will be a good handling one for it's type and well made and returnable if bought from Kult of Athena or another highly regarded seller.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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David Spencer




Location: Australia
Joined: 29 May 2010
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Posts: 43

PostPosted: Mon 06 Sep, 2010 1:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Karl
I have currently two Albions, both where bought on there visual appearance only as I live in Australia. The feel of each sword once it was in my hands, not only confirmed what the reviews I had read on these forums said, but surpassed them in terms of quality, attention to detail and handling. I am no sword expert but I know what feels right to me, so much so that I have ordered two more. hope this helps your decision a bit, it took me months of reading reviews before I bought my first Albion.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Sep, 2010 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not knowing what you'll get is a very valid concern and can only be remedied by the suggestions already given.

On the other hand, if you were to commission a custom made sword, you'll have no idea how it looks, let alone handles, until you get it... Wink

And there are also swords that you have to spend some time with before you start to appreciate them, perhaps especially if you do not have a lot of experience handling swords. All in all, I don't think the makers mentioned in this thread make bad products, so if you have realistic expectations, not only in terms of quality but also in terms of handling like Jean mentioned, I think it's not possible to make a really bad choice.
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Karl Akkerman




Location: Michigan
Joined: 12 Aug 2010

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 06 Sep, 2010 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought I would mention that I am interested in longswords that were designed to both deliver a strong cut but at the same time have quick point control and can thrust well. As such I have been looking at Type XVIa, Type XVIIIa-XVIIIc, and Type XXa swords. Type XIIa and Type XVII are also of some interest as, from what I read, though the Type XIIa being cutting and Type XVII a thrusting types they each had some ability to do the others action.

At an aesthetic level I like swords that don't have a lot of fancy decoration or engraving on them but appear to be made for battlefield practicality. I think that is why I latched on to Albion's Next Generation line as soon as I first saw it. I also like the appearance of a more continuous or steadily changing taper to the blade. For example I don't like the appearance of the the Yeoman or Castellan due to the extremely short width to length ratio of the former and the near triangular shape of the later. However the Crécy, Munich, Earl, and Viceroy really draw my attention. The Sempach and Baron however also have qualities I enjoy on a visual level.

Karl
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Sep, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The personal feel (which is an evolving thing, also depending on training and experience) and falling-in-love (or not) factors are definitely important. I'm not sure if I'll ever find the perfect sword (that's one reason why we keep collecting) but some swords seem great at the start but then the thrill is gone a few months later. Others I could never part with, and it doesn't seem to correlate very well with the price I paid, as long as it was properly constructed.

One way to go is to look at the classified section here. Most of the ones you are interested in are periodically available (at least one is available right now) and often in brand new shape. You can save some money, and then if you find its not quite what you were looking for after a few months, and you don't want to keep it and add a second one, you can likely sell it again for the same price or trade it while only loosing shipping costs.
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Addison C. de Lisle




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 05 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Sep, 2010 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Karl Akkerman wrote:
I also like the appearance of a more continuous or steadily changing taper to the blade. For example I don't like the appearance of the the Yeoman or Castellan due to the extremely short width to length ratio of the former and the near triangular shape of the later. However the Crécy, Munich, Earl, and Viceroy really draw my attention. The Sempach and Baron however also have qualities I enjoy on a visual level.


The Crecy was the first sword I bought (I got it on sale from Albion for $480 Cool), and while I don't really know anything about swordsmanship I do really like how it feels in the hand, and it is the one sword that is basically guaranteed not to leave my collection. I do remember that I used to think the same way as you about the Yeoman and the Castellan/Mercenary, but they really have grown on me and I really like both now. I personally find myself leaning towards wider-bladed swords more than narrower ones, and I especially enjoy really wide blades like the one on the Principe (still speaking visually). Although I do really like the Munich as well; there is something about the proportions of that sword that really gets me.

As for "test driving" and reselling; I have had good luck with reselling my Albions to get new ones. I tend to buy them when they are on sale, so I can afford to resell them for less than the regular price and not lose out too much. That is the nice thing about buying from an established and reputable maker - people have a good idea of what to expect.

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Harry J. Fletcher




Location: Lost in Texas
Joined: 19 Aug 2009
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Posts: 260

PostPosted: Tue 07 Sep, 2010 1:33 pm    Post subject: Not being burned         Reply with quote

Hello Karl,

Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about since I experienced this situation myself. My first two swords were two clunky, dead feeling objects yet they were ok for the money. There is an old adage, "...you get what you pay for..." If you buy cheap and don't get what you want then you have lost the purchase price, but if you pay more and do get what you want then you have only paid the extra money. Firms like Albion do not get good reputations by providing shoddy products, even if the cost is somewhat high you get a very high quality sword that handles well, is lively and very functional, i.e. a "live blade" by all accounts of people who own them. There are other makers outthere too but my experience has only been with Albion for the top quality swords. For middle of the road swords, Hanwei is the way to go IMHO but they sometimes have their lemons although you can send the sword back to the seller. Again, choose a seller with a good reputation and well known business record. Members here can give you some good direction.

Look at the Collections of members on this site and see who made their swords for other top grade sword mfgs. For the sword you want personally to fit you there is no substitute for handling, and you are correct in that concern. When one commissions a sword to be made that is somewhat impossible until the sword is completed. I recommend that you form an idea of the period and type of sword you really want, and yes visit Albion if you can. Handle their sample swords and select the one that seems right for you and they will make it. I bought several swords as I mentioned above before I bought the Albion Reeve which is what I really wanted in a medieval sword and I was satisfied very much with it. I could have a few hundred dollars if I had done so in the first place as my wife has pointed out to me again and again. I also recently purchased an Albion Baron as a companion to the Reeve and am very satisfiend with it too.

Regards,

Harry

To Study The Edge of History
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 07 Sep, 2010 10:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Karl Akkerman wrote:
I thought I would mention that I am interested in longswords that were designed to both deliver a strong cut but at the same time have quick point control and can thrust well. As such I have been looking at Type XVIa, Type XVIIIa-XVIIIc, and Type XXa swords. Type XIIa and Type XVII are also of some interest as, from what I read, though the Type XIIa being cutting and Type XVII a thrusting types they each had some ability to do the others action.

At an aesthetic level I like swords that don't have a lot of fancy decoration or engraving on them but appear to be made for battlefield practicality. I think that is why I latched on to Albion's Next Generation line as soon as I first saw it. I also like the appearance of a more continuous or steadily changing taper to the blade. For example I don't like the appearance of the the Yeoman or Castellan due to the extremely short width to length ratio of the former and the near triangular shape of the later. However the Crécy, Munich, Earl, and Viceroy really draw my attention. The Sempach and Baron however also have qualities I enjoy on a visual level.

Karl


Karl,

I own both the Sempach and the Crecy, and I've handled the Munich, the Baron, and the Earl. The Sempach is an agile sword, although its blade feels like it has a touch more mass than say an XVa type blade, these latter probably being the most agile type of longsword I've handled. But we're talking subtle differences here. The Sempach has a really cruel point, not so much in the sense that it's needle sharp- which will bend and deform anyways- but more that the tip is extremely robust and well-suited for penetrating articulations in armour. The Sempach can also deliver nasty cuts, although being a Type XVII, which is really about as specialized for thrusting as medieval swords get, it won't cleave and hew the way a broader blade will. I find the Sempach highly visually appealing, with it's gorgeous pommel, the curvaceous lines of the grip and guard, and its hexagonal cross-section, which is quite unique amongst swords.

The Crecy is probably the best balance between cutting and thrusting. It comes to a pretty acute point, and yet the much broader blade means that it hews broadly and deeply like a dedicated cutting sword, although the Duke or the Baron would outperform it in cutting. The Crecy feels good in hand- the blade has presence, and yet the mass of the sword still feels like it's more concentrated in the hilt. It also feels surprisingly good in one hand. Of the swords that I own, if I had to fight to the death, I'd probably choose the Crecy, mostly because the cutting capacity is better than the Sempach.

The Baron feels robust in hand. It's not clumsy, yet there's definitely more to it than a Type XVa or XVIa. If you want a sword that delivers cruel, powerful cuts, this sword is the one you want, although personally, I liked the Duke's handling a bit better. It felt like there was subtly less mass near the Duke's point, where you would strike with it, and I preferred it in hand to the Baron.

As for the Earl and the Munich, I've found that type XVIIIb blades tend to be quite lively. The blade of the Munich seems surprisingly light; it almost feels like one of the skinny XVa blades (such as the Agincourt, Talhoffer, Ringeck or Fiore) but with a different cross section. The Munich is a good sword if you like agile, lighter feeling blades- I have little doubt that it can thrust particularly well, although it probably cuts on part with XVa and XVII blades, which is to say well, but not like a cutting sword. The hollow grind on the Earl is particularly nice, though I prefer the Regent, and it has a bit more blade presence and increased cutting capacity compared with the Munich.

You'll still want to handle these swords, of course, but I hope this helps. Happy
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