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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 8:46 am    Post subject: What's Your Personal Experience with Production Swords?         Reply with quote

Something I've been curious about for a while...

I'm relatively new to the swording scene, and as such I benefit from the ways that modern production swords have improved. For example, Hanwei offers the Tinker line now as opposed to their old CAS Iberia line-- more historically correct, better crafted weapons.

In a sense, however, I'm curious about what the world of production swords was like 'back in the day'. What was it like when the best you could expect was an imported Del Tin, and the alternative was United Cutlery wall-hangers ordered out of a magazine, or crappy cheap swords imported from Pakistan?

I guess what I want are your personal stories-- how you met swords for the first time (Ren Faire? Store in a mall? Visited a bladesmith?), what they were like 'back in the day', how things changed...

I look forward to hearing your experiences! Thanks for sharing!
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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was 2003 and I was at BayCon in San Jose, CA attending the SciFi convention. I saw a guy selling swords in the dealer room. Up until that time I had only handled wall hangers, swords with bad weight and dynamics that were just sword-like objects. I picked up a Hanwei functional longsword at the booth and was astounded at the balance and dynamics of the blade. I bought it used at $300 and was quite happy with it till I moved on up to better quality blades. That first grip has gotten me hooked for life.

The same day I found an instructor outside who teaches longsword and I've been studying ever since (going on close to twelve years now).

My advice, get the best sword from the best company you can afford. Get with people who have these swords and try them out in the hand. That way you'll save money on the long run and can be happy that your first entry sword is the best you could get for your budget.

Best of luck and happiness,

Bryce
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Sean O Stevens




Location: Grovetown, GA
Joined: 22 Oct 2008

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Things have come a LONG way!

Swords 10 years ago were VERY had to find in any sort of quality... even 5 years ago your choices were very limited. We as collectors have it pretty good right now on a whole.

My first collection was of a bunch of Stainless steel crap... the stuff you find in China-town or cutlery shops... poor quality and WAY overpriced for what it was. I ended up selling or giving it all away after a few years... that was 20 years ago... and only in the past 3 years did I start collecting again... when I saw how much better my options were now.
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Eric G.




Location: Arizona
Joined: 08 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryce Felperin wrote:

My advice, get the best sword from the best company you can afford. Get with people who have these swords and try them out in the hand. That way you'll save money on the long run and can be happy that your first entry sword is the best you could get for your budget.
Bryce


I have to just second Bryce on this one. Get the best you can afford. If you don't you'll always wonder what one of those better swords would be like. I spent over a grand on so-so quality stuff before I decided to get the best. Now I regret not doing so sooner. After all, I could have one or two more high quality swords for what I spent on all that junk!

Eric Gregersen
www.EricGregersen.com
Knowledge applied is power.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, how things have changed... Happy I started collecting in 1997. This was before the internet changed everything. I used to occasionally buy fantasy-oriented magazines because some sword retailers/makers advertised in the back. If you sent them a few bucks, they'd mail you a catalogue. I remember my old dog-eared A&A catalogue with great affection. Happy

Back then, you had junky stainless wall-hangers, Depeeka stuff, Philippine-made CAS Iberia stuff, MRL, Del Tin, and A&A. MRL was still a Del Tin dealer, as well as occasional dealer of items made my Chris Poor and others at A&A. Soon after I got into things, MRL punted Del Tin and started copying their designs (poorly). It was the beginning of MRL's dark days. A&A was expensive compared to the others and was very much the luxury brand.

My first swords weren't stainless, but they were 3rd world made junk that was overbuilt plus some CASI and Rittersteel daggers. I then upgraded to 2 Del Tin swords bought through MRL (2142 and 2150). I then kept moving up with more Del Tins, A&A, and Albion. I now have A&A, Albion, and Armour Class swords. Love them all. Happy

I know I'm getting old because I find myself thinking how some people don't appreciate how good the market is compared to what it used to be. Sure, prices have risen, but quality and choice have sky-rocketed. It's a good time to be a collector. Happy

Happy

ChadA

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 10 May, 2011 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Gregersen wrote:
Bryce Felperin wrote:

My advice, get the best sword from the best company you can afford. Get with people who have these swords and try them out in the hand. That way you'll save money on the long run and can be happy that your first entry sword is the best you could get for your budget.
Bryce


I have to just second Bryce on this one. Get the best you can afford. If you don't you'll always wonder what one of those better swords would be like. I spent over a grand on so-so quality stuff before I decided to get the best. Now I regret not doing so sooner. After all, I could have one or two more high quality swords for what I spent on all that junk!


I don't know if I agree. There is a lot to learn by starting cheaply. You may decide you don't like swords after all. You may decide you're more of a rapier guy than Viking guy. It's also easier to appreciate an Albion or A&A sword when you've handled lesser quality stuff. Do you really appreciate your Ferrari if you've never driven anything else? Happy

I don't want people to waste money like I did on lesser stuff, but I did learn from every purchase. I used to own rapiers, sideswords, Viking swords, etc. and found I preferred to focus my limited space and money on other things. It was also much easier on my wallet to buy and resell my DT Viking sword than if it was an Albion...

There's much to learn from seeing items from multiple price groups. I both envy and pity people who have only bought really good stuff since I firmly believe I'm a better collector and more knowledgable because I bought and sold lesser quality items as I worked my way up the foodchain. Happy

Happy

ChadA

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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Wed 11 May, 2011 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It wasn't all bad in the "old days" though. The custom market seemed much better and more affordable. In fact, I remember Albion having a Peter Johnsson longsword for sale for $1500 on their site for quite a while. I still kick myself for not snapping it up. I did buy a Kevin Cashen sword for less than $1400 in 2002 though.
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Eric G.




Location: Arizona
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PostPosted: Wed 11 May, 2011 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

I don't know if I agree. There is a lot to learn by starting cheaply. You may decide you don't like swords after all. You may decide you're more of a rapier guy than Viking guy. It's also easier to appreciate an Albion or A&A sword when you've handled lesser quality stuff.


Well, I suppose you have a point about working your way up, depending on your interests and how well you know yourself. I have loved medieval weapons since I was old enough to walk, so there's no way I'll stop liking swords! Seriously, my parents were afraid that I would refuse to go to kindergarden if I couldn't take my little wooden sword...
I have bought a few cheap ones since I became an adult and have given most of it away. I regret spending money on those. I currently have 3 swords which I will likely keep long term (all sub $400) and several other misc weapons. I have learned a lot from them, but I still wish that I would have spent that money on better stuff.

Thanks to this site and the knowledgeable and persuasive people here I am now almost exclusively interested in the higher priced stuff. I have an Albion Crecy on it's way (any day now... pant... and day now...) and just placed a custom order with John Ludemo for what I expect will be a very nice piece. The nice ones.

Chad Arnow wrote:

Do you really appreciate your Ferrari if you've never driven anything else? Happy


Very funny, Chad. If you saw my car you would think I was crazy for spending money on swords!

Eric Gregersen
www.EricGregersen.com
Knowledge applied is power.
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2011 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: What's Your Personal Experience with Production Swords?         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
... I guess what I want are your personal stories-- how you met swords for the first time (Ren Faire? Store in a mall? Visited a bladesmith?), what they were like 'back in the day', how things changed...


Good morning Jeffrey,

You posed an interesting question that brought back many fond memories and sent me scrambling to the basement archives. I thank you for that. Happy

I played RPGs throughout my teen years. Pencils, paper, Dad's crown royal bag filled with dice, manuals, manuals and more manuals served me through the 80's. By the end of the 80's I knew everything there was to know about swords and armour without having to bother seeing and touching a real example. Wink

In 1991 my college buddy was performing as a roving beggar at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and he invited me along. There were many booths selling sword-like objects that confirmed my deep and unshakable knowledge of medieval weaponry. Later in the afternoon I chanced upon yet another booth selling swords. They were neither heavy nor chunky; in fact they were sleek, beautiful and nimble. I'm surprised Mr. Poor and Mr. Johnson put up with me as long as they did and answered my 50,000 questions politely. They must have known I was a poor college student and couldn't afford their wares, but their patience and kindness towards a "know it all" D&D kid had a profound impact. That was the day I figured out "the more I know, the less I know". Laughing Out Loud

I did have $2.00 to spend on their catalog. (Remember paper catalogs?) To this day it is one of my prized possessions. I've attached a scan of the cover for Chad's amusement. Happy

Thank you Jeffery.



 Attachment: 85.05 KB
A&A number 6.jpg
Arms & Armor #6 - 1991

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Jack W. Englund




Location: WA State
Joined: 17 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2011 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting subject. As happens, I too have/am going through this.
My "story" may or may not the same as others, but here goes -

Although I have always liked swords, I, until a few years ago, I never "saw a reason to own." Then I "added the Kilt to my BP/ML persona,.& IMO, needed a "Basket Hilt Sword" . A Friend/adviser (who has a "fair collection of " Basket hilts", incld a # of "originals.) sold me (@ a great $$) a Wndlass. Then the "Journey began. Big Grin
My next acquisition was a "Cold Steel."
Then 2 CAS Hanwei's ( for specific "looks"/needs")

In my case, I am not a "collector" or a "swordsman" ( have enough basic training to be safe.) . I carry a Sword as a "part of my "persona" &/or Historical Presentation."
Therefore Good "production Swords" fill the role. ( BTW, all are Sharp ) .

As to "stepping up to "higher end swords" = Yes ( 2 in the works ) These WILL not become "Safe Queens" but worn for Special Occasions.

IMHO, ??? to answer -
Why Want ??
What are Your $$

BTW, This Forum has "assisted Me & others ( recommend often) in choosing & DREAMS Big Grin

Jack
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2011 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, things have also changed quite a bit in my collection in both quality and price!

My first sword was a "barbarian" sword designed to be "strapped on the back and used for hewing of limbs" according to the catalogue description. I got it from some sort of gun and swords, or fantasy magazine in about 1993. I was in the 11th grade. Upon receiving it, I promptly went outside, struck a tree and bent the sword to a 90 degree angle. Everything started to rattle around in the hilt (we'll call it a hilt) and I was SO disappointed. Laughing Out Loud

Next, in 1995, at a Renn faire in VA, I bought a starfire dagger which was quite immense and bulky. I thought it was pretty cool.

The following year at the renn. faire I bought a Medici stelleto from A&A. Later on I got a renaissance mace from A&A. Then I got an Irish sword from them in about 97. I also fondly remember the old black and white A&A catalogue. Happy

In 1999 my future wife had a type XIIa custom made for me by A&A which, when compared to swords now, shows how much makers have have learned about handling characteristics, proportion, and finish since then. I would like to have this sword somehow refurbished to improve it as much as can be as it holds sentimental value for me.

Also in 99' I took a trip through Europe and visited Fluvio Del Tin and bought a 12 c. sword from him, don't remember the number. I have found memories of carting this sword through Europe and finally back to the US.

From there in 2003 I found myArmoury and got into albion, purchased a few more A&A pieces, a few Tod's Stuff, and now am awaiting a Barta to arrive.

If I have more energy/initiative I would sell an Albion or 2 and maybe an A&A to fund the hobby.

So I do believe that it is possible for folks to learn something from lower quality pieces, but at the same time, I do like to steer folks towards the nicer stuff, depending on what they have to spend and what they want in a purchase.
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David Wilson




Location: In a van down by the river
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 773

PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2011 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My first sword was my dad's war trophy German dress saber....

I got into collecting back in the late '80's (!!!!).... as alluded to earlier, this time was a veritable wasteland of options. Cutlery shops, Gift shops, antique (and junque) shops, martial arts supply shops. All carried swords of some kind. Well, they were only actually swords in the academic sense -- they were shiny and made of metal. That was good enough for me in those days. I was given one of those shiny metal things -- a short stainless Spanish-made sword, a shrunken version of a more regular-sized sword -- as a gift when I was like 15 or 16. I thought it was pretty cool.

I accumulated a few more sword-like objects over the years from various sources. Then came the catalogs: MRL, A&A, and CASI. I was awakened to a new world of shiny steel goodness -- REAL swords! That looked and handled like originals! And were (almost -- I didn't make much money in those days) affordable! I remember drooling over a early Museum Replicas Limited catalog, its pages lined with swords by an Italian swordmaker named Del Tin. My first Del Tin was a revelation -- quick and relatively light, well-balanced, and it didn't disassemble itself when you swung it. So THAT'S what a real sword is supposed to be like!

And then I discovered the Internet. First came commercial sites -- often selling the same sword-like objects I knew previously from the various shops and some catalogs -- but then came the various online fora. And I started really educating myself, and networking with people, people who knew people who made some really good swords, swords that were superior even to that first Del Tin (as if I didn't know that was even possible, once long ago). And a whole world was born.

Things are incredibly different these days. [curmudgeon mode]You youngsters, you just don't know how good you got it these days. Why, in my day, we had these stainless-steel sticks that were grossly overweight, handled like rocks, and were as soft as butter due to lousy heat-treatment. And we liked it that way!!! [/curmudgeon mode]. Anyway, the availability of qualitative swords is far beyond what it was back then, but we've had the benefit of exposure and education over the years.

It's a long way from a shrunk-down Marto to Vince Evans, like an entire world of difference. But it was an interesting, educational, and yes, a fun journey!

*Appendix 1: I actually still have that shrunken Marto, and that first Del Tin (the falcata). I still enjoy the DT and swing it around on occasion. The Marto hangs on a wall. Like it was meant to.
*Appendix 2: Some people equate "cheap" with "bad". This is not the case with myself and I still enjoy some less-expensive swords along side my customs and top-end production pieces.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

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