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Jim B Williams




Location: Virginia
Joined: 29 May 2013

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 9:48 am    Post subject: How many sub-par swords equal one good sword?         Reply with quote

I am a long-time lurker and lifetime weapons enthusiast. The question in the subject is obviously subjective, and more rhetorical than inquisitive. But I have been thinking about this lately. In my opinion, I could have all the crappy wall hangers in the world and it wouldn't amount to a single functional weapon. Moreover, at one point I had a collection of "functional" Windlass-type weapons that I started collecting as a teenager and in time I realized I would rather have one high quality sword than a bunch of junky or even decent ones.

Others opinions may right well differ, as everyone has different interests. For me, historicity, aesthetics, and functionality are all equally important. I recently parted with the following items in order to purchase ONE Albion and a period correct scabbard: Windlass broadsword, rapier and main gauche, a windlass dagger, two 18th century knives I used when starting out in living history and before I realized they were not of correct form, a production flintlock rifle, a Windlass kettle hat, two sword belts, and a couple other modern items to make up the difference.

I have in the past done similar to purchase items or materials to make items for 18th century living history. Now maybe one day I'll trade a car (or my house) for a tailored mail suit for 13th century living history. My wife already thinks I'm crazy.

Anyone else out there do something similar?

Jim
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
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Posts: 355

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jim -

I have not specifically done (yet) what you did in terms of selling lower end items in order to finance the purchase of something high end, but I feel like I am going in that direction.

When I started out collecting swords I did what a lot of folks do and purchased a lot of Windlass and Hanwei etc. So my collection is 70% those. Then I bought my first ATrim, then Albion and then A&A. Now that I have those (the Albion and the A&A in particular, although I really like the Atrim as well)...I feel my mindset on my collection shifting quite a bit. The swords that get the most love from me, that I go to and admire the most ARE the higher end ones. Its all the seemingly subtle things about these pieces, all added up that I just love, and I just don't find the same thing in some of my lower end items. I am not degrading the lower end items mind you, I still like them as well, just not quite as much anymore.

I will probably like you, sell some of them off in the future to indeed go after some other models most likely from Albion and A&A. I originally thought having 3-4 swords for the price of 1 made more sense for me as I was quite convinced that the difference could not possibly be that great, now I am not so sure. I am heading in the quality vs quantity direction as those items in my collection I connect with far more.


Last edited by Bryan Heff on Tue 18 Jun, 2013 10:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lewis Ballard




Location: Houston, TX
Joined: 27 Dec 2009

Posts: 66

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Something similar, yes.

I have ended up as kind of an oddball here, in that my greatest interest in terms of swords lies in the realm of sabers. Or sabres, or szabli. Snuggling right up behind sabers is an interest in 17th and 18th century cut and thrust swords with complex hilts; essentially contemporaries of the saber.

My first saber, the one that really set the hook, was a Windlass American Revolutionary War saber.

I feel conflicted about Windlass. On the one hand, it was a pretty well put together saber. The assembly was tight, there were no rattles, and the blade had a good temper to it. When sharpened, it would certainly cut water bottles, pool noodles and canteloupe. On the other hand . . . it just wasn't quite right. The grip was short, the distal taper of the blade was de minimis,and it didn't really feel right in the hand. I thought all those things were true, but I only "knew" them to be true when I got my hands on a for real and for true vintage saber.

Recently I won an auction for a somewhat beat up French 1822 Legere saber. Even making allowances for variations in saber types, the 1822 is, in every way, a vastly better artifact. The grip and guard have plenty of room for the hand, the grip is recurved against the line of the blade, and the blade displays considerable distal taper.

It's obvious that the guys who designed the 1822 didn't just fall off the truffle truck, and that considerable thought went into designing it.

It's going to be hard to go back to Windlass. I suspect that I'll be experimenting, in the future, with some of the Eastern European manufacturers, when it comes time to think about more sabers.
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William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
Joined: 23 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I currently have quite a few expensive production swords and customs. I started out with the usual Windlass, Hanwei and others. Funny thing is I have kept some of the lower cost swords in my collection as I still like them. They are not as nice or well made as the more expensive swords, but are still good swords to me.

Maybe in the future, I will pass them on. I really have too many swords.
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Allen W





Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 285

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It really depends. True wallhangers are of no value at all unless you can cannibalize some useful furniture. By this I mean rat-tail tanged wallhangers that will break as soon as you do anything with them. Del Tin, Hanwei and Windlass (even stainless Marto/Art Gladius katanas) are a different category as these are generally functional and handle accurately within a certain range (Though Windlass pieces should be hand selected). From these latter I have learned far more than from more expensive pieces due to greater variety, greater willingness to experiment with (use and abuse) and of course earlier access.
I think this is where most people should start and get to know themselves, their tastes/talents and the sword world in general before committing to high end pieces. At roughly twenty-five years into this subject I get far more out of my Ravens and Albion. But that wouldn't be the case just two or three years into it.
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First off, sell your wife. Chances are the funds will buy a coupla' real nice custom pieces
( unless, of course, she makes a to-die-for apple strudel, then you might want to rethink
things ) ... Barring that ? sell an organ. I've found kidneys are a good place to start ... B-)

But seriously now ...

I might be somewhat surprised if many of us haven't started along the same route, sir.
My very first sword was a Hanwei Practical Ninja, probably about $ 250 worth of not-so-
great work that looked like Excaliber to me ...

I moved on to a Hanwei Japanese-style swords, kept learning as I went, kinda regretted
spending the $$$, but I DID keep my priorities in order, kept moving up in the " production-
level evolutionary scale " if you will.

By the way, there are very nice swords at these levels. I wish I'd kept my Musashi Daisho,
for instance. It was what it was, but I liked it. The same with a Kris Cutlery Gladius, and
an Atrim or two ... from there I learned about Bugei and Albion ( of which I bought, sold,
and traded many; a bunch I wished I'd kept ) ... and onward and upward I went.

Now you might think, like some here, I've a home full of swords. On the contrary. I'm at
a point where I need to keep a manageable number, both for room's sake, and wallet's
sake. Gone are the days I was curious about an item and COULD buy it. Now I trade or
sell one to pay for another, or sell a couple of less expensive items to pay for something
of greater quality ... This lead me to the custom swords I own today, and I've only a few.

I question myself all the time now when I see an item I think I would like to own. Mainly,
whether or not something is a passing fancy, or a valuable item I'd enjoy looking at every
day I own it ...
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Jim B Williams




Location: Virginia
Joined: 29 May 2013

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My wife is a babe and the mother of my boy, so no way am I selling her.. A kidney, though? It's tempting. Maybe I'll start with the blood plasma... less expensive and dangerous but also legal.

I still have some Windlass, etc. items that are great. I don't diss them. I mean, who amongst us would have been able to buy that first sword if it had been priced like a custom piece (okay, I suppose I could have saved, saved, saved, and then bought one rather than buying a bunch of cheap stuff). And they really do make for an excellent starting point for customization.

It's those often subtle details that really make the difference and that really may not be that big of a deal to many folks.

Jim
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Obviously the high end swords/daggers/polearms are the stars of my collection, and even more so those I had custom made, but I still find some really inexpensive pieces worth buying to add variety and be able to experience some weapons it would be too expensive to insist on they all being high end.

If one is selective and knows what they are looking for there are some really good handling and reasonably good looking pieces available at a lower quality/price point.

I like the look of many of the Del Tins and some of the Windlass and Hanwei are decent pieces.

I recently bought a Generation 2 Dagger for $100 that I like a great deal in handling ( pics attached ) that I recently wrote a short review about. ( Extremely good steel and heat treat as I easily got a shaving sharp edge on it with minimal work, it was very sharp even out of the box ).

But I also just bought the Köln messer/dagger from A&A at 4X the price of the Gen 2 dagger after I added a sheath to the purchase.

I also recently purchased a seax by Kris cutlery that will make a fine DIY upgrade project.

Now, if one is selective, the less expensive pieces can still be a good idea, but it's still a good thing to save some money for a higher end piece and buy a few less of the cheaper stuff: Just a question of balance and what attract my fancy.



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You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Michael Pikula
Industry Professional



Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 07 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can have an infinite amount of sub-par swords, and they will not equal one good sword. Any collector has to start somewhere, and your path is your own, but to really understand what a sword is all about you need to get your hands on a real sword, period. If you can't afford one, than at the very least find an owner of one and see if you can spend some time talking about and handling one and you will understand.
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Joel Chesser




Location: Oklahoma
Joined: 23 Oct 2003

Posts: 714

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's funny you should mention this as I have very recently been considering selling off all but a few of my swords toward higher end pieces.

I started out collecting when I was 14 with a $50 rat tail tang wall hanger. As the years have progressed I have built up my collection. I know own an assortment of Windlass, Hanwei, Kris cutlery, Valient and cold steel pieces. over the years I have easily spent enough to afford an Albion or other, but I do not not regret the years and money spent on lower end items. Through them I have been ale to get a very basic idea of different sword types. Now I have an idea of what I truly like and want and am okay with putting more money into higher end swords that fit those parameters.

..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It depends on your definition of sub-par and good.

For a sub par sword costing approximately $300.00 +/- $100.00 --

IMO 2 to 3 sub-par swords equals 1 good sword

4 to 6 sub-par swords equals 1 first class sword.
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Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMHO, no amount of sub-par swords equals even one good high-end sword. I am more impressed by a collection of one single custom than a house full of Windlass and Hanwei. That is why for me, my collection now is only customs and a couple of Albions. Life is too short for sub-par swords...
A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 5:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I cannot give an opinion - I never get rid of anything, I just get more....
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
Joined: 06 Sep 2011

Posts: 184

PostPosted: Tue 18 Jun, 2013 6:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, its easier these days. When I started collecting, there were, for all practical purposes, only rat-tailed wall hangers really available. And, it was much harder to know better in first place. And none of those was worth a spit at our Albions, or even the Hanwei-Tinker.

Now though, there's a lot of decent lower price stuff out there. And information to sort it from the dross. And of course, not being entirely reliant on catalogs that you can't often trust and knife sellers that really don't know jack about swords really helps too.

Wall hangers are still worse than useless in my opinion (too many think they are real and distort what people think swords should be like), but the sub-par stuff is about a six to one ratio to my Albions, and maybe 3 to one to the Tinker, from my handling. I personally don't think they are "worth" it anymore, as my Agincourt is a dream to handle, but people starting out are at least able to get decent stuff now with a little investment.
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Jim B Williams




Location: Virginia
Joined: 29 May 2013

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed 19 Jun, 2013 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When it comes down to it, I would love to keep everything I've owned, but I would only be playing to my tendency to horde things and then no one would get any enjoyment out of the things that I haven't even touched in years. I've got boxes and drawers of knives that I never even look at, for example. It just makes sense to me thin out those ranks and it becomes a win win for everyone. For me, I now have capital to get something that I will actually use and enjoy without spending a nickle of new money. The other person is receiving something they will use and appreciate, and finally, my wife is happy there's more room in the house.
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Lewis Ballard




Location: Houston, TX
Joined: 27 Dec 2009

Posts: 66

PostPosted: Wed 19 Jun, 2013 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
(snip)

If one is selective and knows what they are looking for there are some really good handling and reasonably good looking pieces available at a lower quality/price point.

I like the look of many of the Del Tins and some of the Windlass and Hanwei are decent pieces.

(snip)

Now, if one is selective, the less expensive pieces can still be a good idea, but it's still a good thing to save some money for a higher end piece and buy a few less of the cheaper stuff: Just a question of balance and what attract my fancy.


I absolutely agree with Jean here. My impression of Windlass is that the "shorter pieces" are better than the longer swords, and some of my favorite threads here at myArmoury.com have involved reworking and enhancing Windlass blades---Sean Flynt's proto-mortuary built on a Scottish backsword, and Kirk Lee Spencer's claidheamh crom.
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Jim B Williams




Location: Virginia
Joined: 29 May 2013

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed 19 Jun, 2013 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Coomer wrote:

Wall hangers are still worse than useless in my opinion (too many think they are real and distort what people think swords should be like), but the sub-par stuff is about a six to one ratio to my Albions, and maybe 3 to one to the Tinker, from my handling. I personally don't think they are "worth" it anymore, as my Agincourt is a dream to handle, but people starting out are at least able to get decent stuff now with a little investment.


This is true. I've known many a lad who pissed away a fortune on cruddy wallhangers thinking they were the real deal and were then disappointed at how poor they performed at cutting- though some folks think sword are supposed to act like chain saws, axes, and crowbars. I remember one guy in college (circa 2004 or so) who spent a small fortune on pattern welded Katana that he bragged about quite a bit when he ordered it. When it showed up, he took it in the woods (with a group of about for or five guys looking on) and proceeded to hack away at a rotten tree, trying to split it in two. After a couple swings he started yelling about being ripped off because the blade was bent (it was also butter knife sharp, but that didn't register with him). I tried to tell him that chopping at a tree would certainly not be covered under the warranty of a sword but he ignored me.

Anyways, all that to say- cheap crap ruins people's perspectives on how a weapon should look, feel, and perform. My first swords ever were heavy, stainless steel wall hangers. I'm glad Windlass and Hanwei were available to me later on or I would have been sorely disappointed.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jun, 2013 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have seen some sage advice and interesting philosophy on what might determine a sub par sword but (to me) it seems like qualifying sub par may mean different things to different care takers.

As I concentrate on antiques of the modern period back to the 17th century, sub par to me means condition of a specific genre. The two fer math almost works at times, in that two lesser may sell for what a nicer one might be had for.

There are a lot of variables though and I could sell half a dozen or more of a specific genre to reach the epitome of that class. I think that would be true also in the case of how many Hanwei or Windlass might equal the monetary worth of an Albion. Personal value of the same might be entirely different. This would be not unlike someone buying/owning only custom or high end production swords.

In my own case and specifically addressing modern made swords, I reached the point where (indeed) life is too short and prioritized my spending on original swords. It would be very easy to do the math and say I spent as much last year on 1840 pattern US Militia swords as I might have on a good premium eagle pommel sword but at the same time I now have a fairly diverse assembly of that particular genre covering a couple of decades in the 19th century. Then there have been the oddities and had to haves targets of opportunity. Buyer's remorse now, as I dug enough of a hole last year as to not allow more for the time being. I fall back on pictures of swords I'll never own. One beauty staring me down right now for only $600 or so. That's six militia swords I should/could sell to cover it but, no, then I wouldn't have a fairly well rounded group of those.

The old semi maxim of buy the best sword you can afford works only if you don't spend your budget without considering what you want to end up with. Why have I supplemented modern swords with modern knives? Well, some have been Cashen and Evans and other classics that may hold value. Why have I bought Hanwei and Windlass swords on the cheap? Well, I still like what I did buy, even the Sleepy Hollow sword sleeping in its box as I write and despite its being a sixth of why I shouldn't buy a sword today. Bargaining chips? Maybe but in all these years on various boards, I have sold nothing except in person. I have shopped on the boards and thank you each and every one (you know who you are).

So really, I think we might go back to another maxim of "it depends".

Cheers

GC

yay, a rebate from my last HMO. I can justify ordering that new power board for the spare monitor
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jun, 2013 11:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just my two cents here:

I own a fairly large number of Hanwei and Windlass, with only one real sword, a old German Artillery Saber. I can tell you that none of the cheapies really compare to the saber, except in the obvious sense that the saber is not good at being a longsword and many of my Windlass/Hanwei pieces are superior in that regard.

Can I name a dollar amount or tell you how many of my Windlass/Hanwei pieces equal that saber? No, I don't think I can. Each piece in my little collection has a certain meaning to me, they are mine now, and you'd be hard pressed to get me to exchange any one of those pieces for a brand new one of the same model. I consider the saber worth more and that's the one I would pick if you told me I had to give up all but one, but I would have a hard time deciding if say any three of my swords would be worth more than the saber. Retail value of course says pretty much any three are, but to me it's not the same thing.

What I'm getting at here and what others have already mentioned, is that you can't get a hard and fast answer to this question. Some people consider cheap swords to be pretty much worthless, while to others they have no small amount of meaning. You can't point to a nice convenient thing like the retail value and say Sword X is worth Sword Y and Sword Z because the real value is subjective. If you don't care for Sword Y and Sword Z, then there is no way you would buy that equation, etc, etc.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Peteris R.




Location: Latvia
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jun, 2013 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kinda off topic here, but do you guys think it's a sound choice to start with lower end products? I am just aspiring as a reenactor, and I really don't have much of an idea what I'm getting into - hence why I am not too willing to spend too much outright.
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