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R. Kolick





Joined: 04 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 8:06 pm    Post subject: price of a custom sword         Reply with quote

like many people here i want a beautiful custom sword but lack the funds to buy one at this moment so im saving up to buy one and i would like to know how much a custom sword would cost so that i have an idea of how much and how long i need to save for a personal peice
the type of swords im looking for is either a folded steel leaf shaped long sword with a hand-and-a-half grip or a two handed sword with a type X style blade with a cross between a double fuller and the standard broad fuller of type X swords
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 8:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends on the maker, how intricate the design, size, ground into shape versus forged and pattern welding would probably make it more expensive.

In the past my customs swords have cost me no less than $1000, but $1500 to $2000 is more probable.

From there a top maker in high demand the price can go steeply up but I did get a couple of custom swords at the bottom range of $1000/$1300 because the maker was seriously underpricing his high quality work.

Custom can be your design you commission, the maker's design or a collaboration with the maker in figuring out the design.

Custom can also be work already made by the maker that is in stock for immediate purchase that you happen to like and have the funds at the time to buy.

There are also high end production shops like Albion or A & A that can be close or equal to good custom work. ( I say good because it is possible to find expensive to buy but not so good custom swords ).

A & A has their regular production models but also takes custom commissions or semi-custom work where one of their standard models can be changed to some degree.

Price needs to be negotiated with the maker during and after the design process and set before sealing the deal.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 10:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For good work, 1500 USD for a custom made sword is seriously undercharging.
2000 USD is dirt cheap.
Double that is beginning to reach a reasonable sum.
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

what you might not notice is you'll have an idea in mind, submit it to a smith, and they have to put the real pieces of the puzzle together.

when attempting to have something custom i believe it's best to take from history - or like Jean stated modify something that's already in existence.

for instance you submit a photo to a maker saying i want this. there's only so much that a photo can tell - measurements tell the true story of the sword. you can get most of the measurements by blowing up a picture to the correct proportion, but it still lacks a particular part in the construction - distal taper. this has been my problem when attempting to get information on montante swords - and with two handed swords i believe distal taper is pretty important.

time, is one thing for a custom sword or knife, but you also have to take in consideration the tools of the trade as well as the knowledge the smith employs on the build. some smith tools you don't just find at any swap meet, their rare because of the dying trade and their usually not too cheep. i once saw a 75lb anvil that an antique dealer wanted over $500 nuts when you think there's some farmer out there that has one and just wants its gone and someone will pick it up and scrap it for a fraction of that amount.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
For good work, 1500 USD for a custom made sword is seriously undercharging.
2000 USD is dirt cheap.
Double that is beginning to reach a reasonable sum.


Yes I agree that for a custom sword by an in demand very good maker one should be expecting double the prices I quoted: I was giving the really " bottom " of the price range " Expectations " that in my case(s) was because the maker(s) where relatively unknown, quoted a price they probably later realized was much too low after making my sword, and also in another case someone who is very focused on the art of the thing and was trying to keep his prices affordable. ( Not charging their true value for first class work ).

Also with the difficult economy this last maker priced his in stock work to get some very much needed cash-flow and reduced the prices on two swords below his already much too low prices.

Oh, and one Custom sword cost me $2000 but that was in 1980 dollars ! ( Would be $4000 or $5000 today ).

So maybe my experience was mostly luck rather than what one should expect to pay. Wink

Thanks Peter for the more realistic and probable numbers. Big Grin Cool

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are so many variables...

I've commissioned 2-3 weapons, and in each case I had a budget in mind based on the preferred maker's reputation, previous work, demonstrated skill/knowledge and my realistic assessment of how much I would be able to save/raise during the course of the project and what compromises, if any, I was comfortable making.

Some considerations:

Are you satisfied with an artistically original idea of a sword whose quality can't be objectively determined because it's not really informed by historical examples? That's one sort of smith or cutler. Art swords often have prices far north of the very best historical pieces. It's hard to argue that they're not worth it because the criteria for such judgement vary from person to person.

Do you want historical fidelity? That might be another sort of smith or cutler, though not necessarily. This is easier to judge objectively, assuming data for analogous originals is available. Are the dimensions and other statistics within historical specification? Is the finish as documented? Whatever the objective answers, you still have to hang a dollar value on them, and then you're back in a very personal realm. I would say that the combined knowledge and skill required to meet this challenge is at a premium. All of us together would probably come up with a pretty short list if asked to name the most skilled and best-informed historical European sword makers in the world. I think immediately of P. Barta, P. Johnsson and E.B. Erickson, and there's a broad range of historical specialty and pricing represented in that short list. From what I understand of Vince Evans, he splits the difference between that level of historical attention and the pure art sword, and can do either to extremely high standards.

Can you do any work yourself? Some craftsmen are willing to work only up to a specified point--making just the hilt, for example, leaving the piece unpolished, sending it to you without a grip, etc. If you can develop the skills to do some of the work yourself at an appropriate quality level you might be able to save money without gouging the craftsman. I personally would not make that request unless I was confident that I could approach the quality offered by the craftsman, and I'd be pretty conservative in making that judgement. I recently commissioned a polearm head--head only--because I now have successful experience creating historically appropriate hafts. This gives me a chance for a more personal investment in the piece, gives me more practice in the work and saves on shipping while keeping the spotlight on the commissioned part of the project. I have a commissioned sword on the way as well, and I really wanted that to be entirely the work of that craftsman because I so admire his experience and aesthetic sensibility.

Approaching a craftsman can be awkward, especially if you plan to a offer dollar amount or range in your inquiry. But we can speculate forever and never make an inch of progress toward the goal. Just ask. If they think your budget is unrealistic they'll probably just let you know a more reasonable range. If that breaks your budget, then change your expectations, timeline, etc.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Michael Pikula
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Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
For good work, 1500 USD for a custom made sword is seriously undercharging.
2000 USD is dirt cheap.
Double that is beginning to reach a reasonable sum.


When I fully came to realize this, not logically but in my heart, I decided to drop everything that I have been doing and seriously rethink every aspect of what I'm doing. I like to think of it as a necessary step in evolution of ones work Happy
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 5:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Pikula wrote:
Peter Johnsson wrote:
For good work, 1500 USD for a custom made sword is seriously undercharging.
2000 USD is dirt cheap.
Double that is beginning to reach a reasonable sum.


When I fully came to realize this, not logically but in my heart, I decided to drop everything that I have been doing and seriously rethink every aspect of what I'm doing. I like to think of it as a necessary step in evolution of ones work Happy


Yeah, I really feel lucky and privileged that I could commission and buy some of your pieces at prices I could afford, but I fully realize the incredible bargains I got at an early stage of your evolution: I could compare it to getting a Picasso before he was well known and appreciated.

Michael, I think a few of us told you that your prices where not in proportion to the high quality of your work even if it wasn't in our best interest to say so. Wink Big Grin Cool

But to get back on Topic: There is a grey zone between custom work and high end production swords that can be custom modified ...... or simply look at Albion, A&A and a few other high end production makers and you can end up with a really good quality sword. Oh, and as Sean mentioned a lot depends on what you want made and what are you personal criteria or priorities and who you approach as a maker who is a Top Maker with a long waiting list in addition to being expensive.

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





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PostPosted: Thu 03 May, 2012 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thanks for all your responses you've given me a lot to think about and a good pirce range to shoot for. im glad that both people who make and have ordered custom swords have both responded so that i can get views from both sides of this. once again thank you all for the advice
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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Sat 05 May, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not to harp on this topic too much since I know that it doesn't apply to a everyone, but asking a maker for a quote on a commission is not as easy as the maker taking a look at a price sheet and popping out a number. A lot of times significant work can go into coming up with a figure. It is only polite to respond is some way, it is poor form and disrespectful to not respond and ignore the work that went into a response. Just something to keep in mind Happy
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to respectfully disagree with the prices given.

Depending on what one wants, a custom sword from a lesser known Eastern European maker may start as low as E300 or $400.

In this price range, there may be some concessions necessary regarding either fit and finish or historical accuracy. On the other hand, you will get a custom sword made to your specifications.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think this was meant to be a simple question, but I suspect this is an uncomfortable topic for people in the custom sword business. If you're working in the lower end of the range you'd feel undervalued, if your working in the higher end of the range you'd feel worried about being undercut.

It's a bit like asking 'what should I pay for a piece of art'? It's going to depend on a variety of factors, including quality and complexity of the piece, how much research and preparation goes into it, how much time is spent on communication, documentation and paperwork, methods used, price of materials, other costs of work and living for the Artist, how fast does that particular Artist work relative to other people using similar methods and styles, is he/she working alone or with assistance, and perhaps most importantly in a free-market economy, how famous is the Artist.

But it also depends ultimately on what you want and what you are willing to pay.

So I don't think people should get too tense about particular figures. The figures quoted above just hit a few points on various dimensions of a multi-dimensional function that depends on both the customer and vender. The whole thing only works if the customer and vender can find a meeting point that works for both of them at that point in time.
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Sean O Stevens




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PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2012 10:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Pikula wrote:
Not to harp on this topic too much since I know that it doesn't apply to a everyone, but asking a maker for a quote on a commission is not as easy as the maker taking a look at a price sheet and popping out a number. A lot of times significant work can go into coming up with a figure. It is only polite to respond is some way, it is poor form and disrespectful to not respond and ignore the work that went into a response. Just something to keep in mind Happy


I could not agree with this more if I tried...

I know some people who willy-nilly throw ideas and requests for prices at custom blade makers... knowing full well they will not be buying that sword... they are just curious, and excited...

...and they give no thought or consideration to the makers time. It is beyond rude to trouble a maker with questions and requests for price quotes if you are not, in fact, VERY serous about having the sword made. It takes time for them to read the e-mails/take the phone calls... try to figure out the details, costs, materials, time, respond... and their time is money.

So yes, please, be considerate when talking about such things with them.
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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2012 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the economy for US smiths is also a large factor. I have been fortunate to have had a few commissions made that were at least half the price of the going rate from a few years ago. This is not ideal for the smiths involved but it allowed me to purchase a few customs swords that would have been too expensive for me to purchase a few years ago and it enabled the smiths to keep working without going under.
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Bernard Delor




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PostPosted: Sun 27 May, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Depending on what one wants, a custom sword from a lesser known Eastern European maker may start as low as E300 or $400

Hello Paul,
the main question is whether we are talking of smith or just any sword maker.
For that price you will not get a hand forged sword, but more probably a machine-made one (which might be quite good as well).
On the other hand, for that price you can find good mechanically forged blade, but only standard models, not custom ones.
Regards,
Bernard
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J. Hargis




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PostPosted: Sun 27 May, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My experience has shown me that the price can be lower than the norm from some makers if they are enthusiastic about what you are commissioning.

Perhaps what you want is something they have made few of, or have not done in a while. Or perhaps the maker has never done what you are requesting. It may represent an opportunity for them to build a particular style, form, or classification that for one reason or another they just haven't done much with. An interesting commission may represent new challenges that they would be eager to take on.

Jon

A poorly maintained weapon is likely to belong to an unsafe and careless fighter.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Sun 27 May, 2012 11:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bernard Delor wrote:
Paul Hansen wrote:
Depending on what one wants, a custom sword from a lesser known Eastern European maker may start as low as E300 or $400

Hello Paul,
the main question is whether we are talking of smith or just any sword maker.
For that price you will not get a hand forged sword, but more probably a machine-made one (which might be quite good as well).
On the other hand, for that price you can find good mechanically forged blade, but only standard models, not custom ones.
Regards,
Bernard


There may be some corners being cut in the production process, that's for sure.
One way of doing it for instance is forging the blank with a power hammer and then finishing with angle grinder.
But there are quite a lot of high-end makers that use stock removal techniques, rather than forging.
And when you start talking about manufacturing methods and historical authenticity, I can tell you that there are very few makers (if there are at all) who do not use power tools or modern materials in some parts of the process.

When you are ordering from a maker that makes swords individually anyway, there may not be a large difference to commissioning a repeat of a previous sword or asking for something else, be it a variation of a sword he already made or a completely new design.

But in all cases it depends on the maker of course, and it's hard to compare different makers, even at a comparable price level.
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