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Miles Duffield




Location: Winston Salem NC
Joined: 29 Jul 2012

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 7:44 pm    Post subject: Why do we buy swords?         Reply with quote

I just finished three weeks at the SAFD annual summer conference, and I have decided that I need a sword to continue my practice in this art that I'm really falling in love with. At the conference I met Lewis Shaw, and several other blade makers, and started to get a sense of this world that you all have loved and lived in.

One piece still eludes me completely. I am wondering how and why you all can justify spending $800 to $1000 on a sword? How many of you do it on an actor's pay check, and why do I go out and buy a John Lundemo or a Christian Fletcher, or a Lewis Shaw for that matter, rather than going and buying a Hanwei practical for 300, or a BKS broadsword for around the same?

I guess what I want to know is: Why do you guys collect swords, and how much should I spend on mine.

Cheers.

--MBD--
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Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
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Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess its different for everyone. For me it a connection to the past that I can hold in my hand... Which is exactly why a Hanwei won't work, for me atleast. Too many small details are wrong.

How much you are willing to spend is also a personal decision. A few years back I sold off the bulk of my collection. Recently, as i have reentered the hobby, I have been reacquiring a collection. However, this time around I have decided to limit myself to only top quality pieces. Quality over quantity. My collection this time will be only Albions and customs, and every sword needs to have a proper scabbard. With those limitations, i have to accept that I'm going to have spend quite a bit per piece and also my collection will be small in number.

Thats just how it works for me. What works for you is something you have to decide.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Cincinnati, OH
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a ton of threads that cover why people collect as well as what people consider to be worth buying. We'd be better off adding to one of the existing threads rather than creating another one.

The Search button should help. Here is some of what I found on collecting, to give you a place to begin:

a few fun questions for the forum Happy
Your Sword Habit
Your Sword Habits (Note the S on the end; it's different than the one above)
why do we buy this stuff?
What do you do with your swords?

Some threads that cover value:
Practicality of Books & the Point of Knowledge? (Despite the name, this one gets into some discussion about the financial realities of collecting)
Pricing the best, and worst?

How much you should pay depends on what your situation is and what your goals are. Those are very subjective and specific to you.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/


Last edited by Chad Arnow on Sun 29 Jul, 2012 8:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When you buy a piece of art you aren't paying for the paint and canvas, you are paying for the time spent by the artist making mistakes, learning from them, possibly going to art school, turning down more lucrative jobs to persue their artistic career, and all the emotional pain of being turned down for shows, and being told their art is no good.

Similarly when you buy a premium sword you aren't paying for the steel, but all the years of study, sacrifice, and hardships that that person went through. Ha! Imagine telling your mom that you're going to be a blade smith as a career choice!

In addition, to make a functional weapon you must have studied actual historic weapons, art is far less specific than a weapon. A functional weapon needs to be the right weight, balance, taper, and harmonically balanced to be suitable for use. The better the weapon performs (the closer to historic examples) then the closer your swordsmanship will be to the intent of the authors of the original treatises.

The hanwei weapons are great for backyard cutting, and stage sword play, but they lack the nuance of a premium blade. Some get very close, I really like the hanwei Tinker collaborations for example, but they are still mass produced to a price point. If you can handle the two grades of weapons and simulators side by side the differences are readily apparent.

Check out this video by Peter Johnsson, he can explain it better than I can.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=26327

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,440

PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How much you should spend on a first sword...I say $300.

Reason is that no matter what you buy, if you're going to get into swords, it won't be the *last* *best* thing that you buy. For that amount you should be able to get something to play with and if you decide you want better you'll get it (which you'll do even if you spend 5x that much on your first sword if swords are your thing).

On the other hand if you get the $300 sword and go "meh...not really my thing after all" you're not out $1000 or more just to discover that you were not really that interested in swords to begin with.

"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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D. S. Smith




Location: Central CA
Joined: 02 Oct 2011

Posts: 221

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
How much you should spend on a first sword...I say $300.

Reason is that no matter what you buy, if you're going to get into swords, it won't be the *last* *best* thing that you buy. For that amount you should be able to get something to play with and if you decide you want better you'll get it (which you'll do even if you spend 5x that much on your first sword if swords are your thing).

On the other hand if you get the $300 sword and go "meh...not really my thing after all" you're not out $1000 or more just to discover that you were not really that interested in swords to begin with.


Joe's logic is sound. But that wasn't the way I did it. I'd never been interested in swords or collecting swords precisely because the only one's I'd actually seen were the cheap ones. For most of my life I didn't know there was anything better than cheap swords, but even without knowing how good they COULD be, I was still able to recognize that cheap held no appeal.

When I actually came across Albion and Arms and Armor's websites for the first time I had my first taste of being interested in a sword. I've bought countless firearms (handguns, rifles, shotguns) over the years, and one thing I've learned for absolute certain is that when I settle on something because it is less expensive, I will invariably sell it later on because it is not what I really wanted.

When I decided that I was going to collect swords (two to be exact), I decided that $800-$1000 was not too much to spend on a quality item that I would enjoy. I bought an Albion Crecy for my first sword, and a Laird is going to be my second (and final). I never see myself selling either of them. The Crecy is exactly what I hoped it would be and more. It's almost rare these days to spend $800 on something and not have that feeling in the back of your mind that you wasted some money. I don't get that feeling. The Crecy is absolutely worth what I payed for it, and I have every reason to believe that the Laird will be as well.

Just my .02.

Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
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Miles Duffield




Location: Winston Salem NC
Joined: 29 Jul 2012

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all so much for your replies, this is really helpful.

I hadn't considered these swords as art yet. Some part of that idea had not clicked into my head yet. I still think of a sword as a tool still, and while the beauty of a good tool cannot be denied, and is often art, I am more interested in the functionality of these items, than their artistic or historical qualities.

Though, I still really want a pretty sword.

So here's the question, how does the experience of these craftsmen change the functionality of these weapons?

I'm also curious to know how much all of you use your swords, and if any of you use them for reenactment or stage combat?

Thanks again.

----MBD----
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D. S. Smith




Location: Central CA
Joined: 02 Oct 2011

Posts: 221

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Miles Duffield wrote:

So here's the question, how does the experience of these craftsmen change the functionality of these weapons?


----MBD----


If you watch the Peter Johnnson interviews in the link that Matthew provided you, this question will be answered in spades. Here's the short version; when a craftsman has taken the time to become an expert on examining the originals and incorporating their properties into his designs, then the sword he makes will actually be useable as a sword, and will not handle like a heavy crowbar. That is functionality.

As for your last question, about how much do guys here use their swords, I'd suggest you check out this thread:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13319

It's 62 pages long, but will answer your question. Happy

I don't want to come across as a jerk, but like Chad said, if you read even just a few threads on this forum, every question you've asked so far will be answered.

Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll chime in on that last question too. I've come to this site from the martial artists side of things, so while there is definitely an artistic component to swords, I see their beauty as stemming from their functionality.

My collection, such as it is, includes two synthetic Zugadore wasters, two Purpleheart Armory greatsword wasters, a Hanwei Practical Bastard, a custom Purpleheart Spadone synthetic waster, and a Hanwei Tinker Longsword blunt. None of these are sharp. I use them in the Schola Saint George, for practicing with friends whose safety is very important to me.

All weapon simulators will distort technique some how. Wood bounces, and it can be hard to get the weight and balance right. Plastic bounces less, but is lighter, and plastic has a tendency to not return to true. And it's plastic, while very safe and inexpensive, and easier to care for than wood, it's still kind of icky. There is no romance to plastic.

Rebated steel weapons (blunts) are a good option, but require either expensive armor or LOTS of control, and trust. And a blunt steel sword still isn't an actual sword. They flex differently and tend to be blade heavy because of the thicker edges. Feders balance better, but tend towards whippyness because they are designed for safe thrusting.

So a sharp, a good sharp, is really the only thing that behaves like a sword. Can you fence with one? Not safely, but when drilling with an actual sword sword, the techniques open up. It's also important to practice cutting. You need the feedback to make sure you have good edge alignment and power.

Also, and for me the most important, having a legitamit sharp sword is a reminder that these are weapons, and what I practice is intended to save my life from someone trying to cause me serious bodily harm. Historic fencing is one of the most fun things I do with my time, or I would be out surfing instead, but part of the fun comes from the serious intent behind attacking and defending. Drilling, and even holding a sword that is light, tuned, and sharp, brings the reality that one could easily remove the head of another in a visceral way that nothing else does. If your martial practice isn't martial, then you are missing the entire point of studying. For me, having a well made sword is a reminder of the reality of the lethal intent of the historic masters I study from, and is an invaluable part of training.

I have three sharps, the sharp version of the Hanwei Tinker Longsord, the Hanwei Lowlander, and most recently a customized AT1592. The Hanwei Tinker was the first sword I bought, and the reason I got into HEMA, was to find out how someone used a two edged straight sword. It handles very well, and is the lowest cost sword I would consider to handle like a sword should. But it is definitely built to a budget. The handle is rudimentally shaped, the fittings spartan, and the leather cheap, but the nodes and pivot points are in the right places, and it's a historic weight.

The Lowlander is a beast I purchased very specifically to teach me how to move with a dedicated two hander. It outweighs the Spadone waster by two or three pounds, and if you aren't using correct form, believe me you'll feel it.

Now the AT1592 is a Gus Trim. It is a performance blade. It's 52" long and weighs in just a touch over three pounds. I mean, there is no fat on this sword, when you pick it up it almost feels like you could perform surgery with it, it's that good, puts the Hanwei Tinker to shame, and I wish I had gotten it sooner. It sails through cutting media.

I also have a Fiore in the mail, I should see it sometime next week. I opted for the wire wrap too, I mean it wasn't cheap. But I will for sure be cutting with it, that's what they were made for. The blade will get scratched, I will sharpen it myself, it's possible (I hope not!) that the edge may be nicked at some point in its life, and if and when it does, I will file out that nick. I bought it as a way to improve my fencing, not to look pretty.

I do think it's a beautiful piece, and I see that it could be collected and hung as art, but I made the purchase for its function.

Some collect vintage motorcycles to display, that always makes me sad, like a crated greyhound, they were made to run.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

to justify spending in the 1,000 or over that, well, that's a hard one for myself as well. with so many other bills piling up and never getting a raise out of my previous job for 4 years, i felt that it is really hard to justify to someone else spending 1,000 on a blade vs car payments house payment, food, getting the g/f a ring with a rock in it Wink

truth is, all hobbies are expensive, think of how much money you may spend on a fishing hobbie, or archery, firearms, collecting anything that's considered to have some value. your probably going to spend over 1,000 on that hobby anyway, you just don't notice it as much because you made maybe several purchases.

you can look at it in the way i did when i went after my last sword, i won't have a my car forever, i may even have to sell my house and move on day, but my sword, that i may always have. and something like a high end sword, retains its value.
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Marko Susimetsa




Location: Finland
Joined: 24 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Miles Duffield wrote:
I still think of a sword as a tool still, and while the beauty of a good tool cannot be denied, and is often art, I am more interested in the functionality of these items, than their artistic or historical qualities.

In the world of swords, functionality and historicity really go hand-in-hand. A maker who does not understand and know the history of the weapon will not be able to make a sword that is functional, simply because they don't know _how_ swords were used and what the swordsmen expected of their weapons.

A simple crowbar with an edge hammered into it may look like a sword, but it will not actually be functional (nor artistic).
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Miles Duffield




Location: Winston Salem NC
Joined: 29 Jul 2012

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Some collect vintage motorcycles to display, that always makes me sad, like a crated greyhound, they were made to run.


That's going all over my wall Matthew. I'm also going to think about what you said about sharp weapons for a long time. Thank you so much, that was such a useful thought. It's so important for me to remember what I'm creating the illusion of. That danger has to be so present for me. I need to get a sharp sword now.
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,440

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
and something like a high end sword, retains its value.


The only swords that hold value are antiques or high dollar custom jobs by a very select group of well known smiths. Otherwise, forget it, you're going to take a bath on retained value. Even for an A&A or an Albion. Virtually everything production goes down in value as soon as the post man leaves your house because you can buy a new one direct!

"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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Brian K.
Industry Professional



Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Initial 'retail' value doesn't hold, but usually comes within 10% to 30% of it. I've seen hundreds of swords sell here that come within that range of the retail value. Even more interesting, if purchased used, you can usually get your money back by posting it back up for sale for the same value you purchased said sword.

Pretty good if you ask me.

Brian Kunz
www.dbkcustomswords.com
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,440

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Losing 10-30% each time you turn stuff over will decimate a toy fund pretty fast! Worried

Although I will admit that's a less worse rate of loss than quite a few hobbies, its still loss. That said I do agree that used swords can be a different story if you can find what you want at sufficient discount. I just think its risky to look at collecting modern swords as a way to preserve or grow money when you're starting out. I've come out even or ahead very few times and only then on pieces that were somehow unique (although upgrading my photo equipment has helped). Actually I've done best at swapping to grow value. Of course its also possible that I just suck at selling swords. WTF?!

"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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D. S. Smith




Location: Central CA
Joined: 02 Oct 2011

Posts: 221

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:

Virtually everything production goes down in value as soon as the post man leaves your house because you can buy a new one direct!


They don't have to make it that way, but I'm glad they do. (I'm speaking of Albion and Arms and Armor)
In other words, there are companies out there (non-custom) that make production runs of products, and the product gains resale value from the moment it arrives at your house. They accomplish this in a couple ways. A company like Busse (a fitting example since they are blade manufacturers as well) only offers a production run once, and never again. It would be like Albion making 100 "Earl" swords, and then never making another one. Every Earl would then increase in value the moment it got to your door because it was instantly a "collectors item". I've sold Busse knives used for more than I paid for them new, after only a month or two. Albion makes an attempt at this, but when you limit a production run to say, 1,000 swords, and you'll only ever sell 250 of them (numbers are fictional of course), you haven't increased the demand.

To use another blade manufacturer as an example, you can increase demand for your product simply by not keeping up with demand, ie: Randall Knives. They'll continue to manufacture any model you ask for, but they have such a long wait time for their product (4 years+), that a newly purchased Randall will easily sell for more than you paid for it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the same concept that makes Albion and Arms and Armor swords lose their value is the same thing that makes them easier to obtain. I'm glad I don't have to wait 4 years for an Albion. I'm also glad that their production runs are big enough that I can still buy a new model of most any sword in their line-up.

Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Aug, 2012 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gents - its not just swords. I intended to buy one sword every year, but have only made it to the second cheap sword. The next one will be a step up in quality, but that next one is being challenged by the desire to add to my guitar collection. And then you could also consider firearms. It seems to have no end. The reasons for collecting these things are related, I believe. A well made thing that performs its intended function well carries a measure of beauty simply by that virtue, and a well made thing that excels in its intended function excels at least equally in its beauty, at least to those of us who collect them. But I'm not the sort who buys a Colt still in the box and never fires it. I fire my guns, play my guitars, and cut things with swords. I can also enoys simple admiration of these things for their beauty. I'm certain many members here have a similar approach.
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Brian Mitchell





Joined: 18 Feb 2012

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2012 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me....well...a childhood desire was reawaken a couple years ago by a chance meeting with a sword & sworcery fan who is also neck deep in authentic European martial arts...

Now, as an adult, with an income, I can endulge that childhood desire...with no regrets.

Endulge your desires, reasonably. No need to justify it.
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Herbert Schmidt




Location: Austria / Europe
Joined: 21 Mar 2004

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Posts: 161

PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2012 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why I buy swords? Because I like them, use them, study them.

It is no difference to put up a painting or a sculpture in your living room than to put up a handmade sword. Purely industrially made swords have about the same value to me as prints of paintings - none. I still might hang one on the wall if I like it though.

A sword is more than just a weapon. It is a piece of history, it is a piece of art or at least craft, it is something that I train with, it is a symbol.

Basically, if you strip all the fancy explanation then it is simple.
Put eloquently: because it strikes a chord within us.
Put bluntly: because I like it.

I spend so much money on things that I am quite indifferent to so it is a welcome change to spend money on something I care for. There is no intrinsic value in swords as there is none in any other object. It depends on how much value we give it.

Herbert

www.arsgladii.at
Historical European Martial Arts
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