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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 4:14 pm    Post subject: Albion's Principe         Reply with quote

My newest acquisition arrived Thursday afternoon. Now that I've spent a little time with it I'm able to give an opinion.


First, it's a very cool sword. This is a totally subjective statement but true in a nutshell. Albion makes a very cool product overall, but many of their recent developments tend to stand out from the crowd even further. Their initial entries in the Next Generation line were groundbreaking in their own right. In fact, today I think many people fail to realize how Albion totally reset the bar in the production field over a decade ago, with the introduction of the Next Gen. Line. During our first trip to the Albion shop, Nathan Robinson and I watched the first prototype Next Gen. sword being assembled. I knew then it was obvious the market was about to be shaken up and I wasn't mistaken. However, while Albion has always offered an excellent product I think they've raised the bar yet further with the introduction of some of their latest models. The two other Albion swords I've purchased in the last several years have been the Vigil and the Maximilian. Both are excellent examples of their type and just enough outside the norm to place high on my must-have list.

My sword buying has tapered off dramatically over the last few years. Perhaps my priorities have shifted, or maybe I've become a bit jaded, but I no longer feel the need to accumulate a boat load of stuff or possess one of everything. A room full of Type Xs by several different makers really doesn't interest me anymore. For me to make a purchase a piece has to pique my interest, either from an artistic or a mechanical standpoint. It's shape, proportion and adornment have to speak to me, or its mechanics have to feature something a bit outside the box. The Principe achieves both of these, more on the latter and enough on the former to be interesting.

When Albion first introduced the Alexandria/Principe models I was immediately interested. However, My experience of waiting over six years after placing my order for the Maximilian convinced me to wait until Albion actually introduces a model, then order. That experience was simply too frustrating to repeat. So when the swords finally became a three dimensional reality I debated on which one to choose. The overall style of the Alexandria appealed to me, but in the end I found I preferred the overall line and proportion of the Principe. Lately my interest seems to be gravitating more to the designs of the late medieval and early renaissance periods, where the combination of artistic form and mechanical function came to full bloom. In this sense the flow of the Principes blade and hilt designs really appeal to me. So I placed my order and the sword arrived safely five months later, well within Albions stated three to six month wait, so kudos to them on that point. One of the foam inserts had broken loose during transport so I was lucky the sword hadn't shifted inside the box to any great degree. I had been working at my computer and had checked the shipping status when I sat down and saw "Out for delivery". Twenty minutes later I checked the FedEx site again and saw "delivered". A ding-dong on the doorbell would have been appreciated FedEx. But in the end the sword arrived intact so all was well.

By now I think it's common knowledge that I like big swords. Those that make a bold statement, and the Principe certainly does that. The very broad blade gives the sword a striking character visually and it communicates that same bold character in its handling. Outwardly it might seem to share some attributes with Albions Brescia Spadona, but whereas the Brescia has the nimble feel of a civilian weapon, the Principe is decidedly a military design. The sword has a lively feel, but at nearly four pounds you know there's mass at play during movement. The overall size, in terms of blade length comparative to grip length, etc., is similar to Albions Svante, which I have owned for several years. Their weight is quite close as well, but the Svante actually has a slightly more nimble feel. This may have something to do with more of the Svantes blade weight being centralized around its thick central ridge, whereas the Principes broad blade places more of its mass towards the blades edges. The Svantes s-shaped guard may also achieve the same thing in relation to the Principes straight guard, which places yet more of the swords weight out on its fringe. I'll have to spend more time handling the Principe before I reach a conclusion on that, but these are the kind of intriguing attributes that attract me to any given design.

This is not to say the Principe isn't a fine handling sword, because it is. However, there's a definite feel of purpose and authority when the sword is put into motion. For those of a fantasy bent: the sword feels like it's made to slay a dragon. In spite of its acute point this is a very efficient cutting design. For those who prefer cutting swords, don't let the pointy end fool you, this is a cutter. Concerning the point: even though the blade is very broad, flat, and thin, it's also more rigid than I'd expected. Upon viewing a photo, one might assume the Principes very broad and flat blade would have a high degree of flex, thereby making thrusting quite secondary to cutting movements. This was my initial impression and one that was proven wrong when I had the sword in hand. I suspect the design is a more capable thruster than one would assume from initial impressions. The sword handles quite well, tracking from one ward to another and delivering strikes quickly and easily. The Principe also follows its point exceptionally well. Keeping the point on target, thereby threatening an opponent as one moves from one guard to another, is effortlessly achieved. Now that I've had some years of experience with longswords like this, with blades of moderate length combined with longer hilts, I find myself a big fan of them. In fact, if I lived in a hypothetical universe where I needed a sword for everyday use it might be one of these.



The swords hilt components are very well finished, without a pit or casting flaw to be seen. The hilt also features more complexity in its shape than photos convey. The guards central ridge is quite pronounced and overall the guard is quite a bit more substantial than its photographic impression conveys. The pommel is quite a bit more complex too. Its primary flats are slightly concave and the pommel is octagonal in cross section, with a flaring, in thickness, from the grip towards the top of the pommel. The result is a pommel that is quite attractive in its shape, yet very comfortable while handling. The pommel may be one of my favorite design features of the Principe. The peening of the tang is very well done. in fact, it's invisible.

Now, unfortunately, I come to my only negative comments. As you can see, Albion has changed the grip from the one pictured on their website, with a larger cord binding under the leather, to their standard grip covering. I find this to be a small disappointment, as I felt the original grip style gave the swords appearance an additional bit of texture. A similar grip is used on the Vigil, as well as the Svante. Considering the comments I've seen on-line I'm apparently one of the few who actually likes this grip treatment, so perhaps this is the reason for the change. I sent Mike Sigman an e-mail asking about this, but haven't heard from his as yet. It's a small point and wouldn't have changed my choice between the Principe or the Alexandria, but I would have liked to have known about it. It would have given me the option of asking for the original grip covering. On the other hand, this grip is one of the best I've seen from Albion. The seam in the leather covering is nowhere to be found, very nicely done. My last point concerns the blades finish. The sword arrived with a finish on the blade that was a bit below what I've come to expect from Albion. There were no serious grinding marks and the central ridge is nice and straight, but there were quite a few lengthwise striations in the blades final finish. I know Albion has recently been advertising for new blade grinders so perhaps there are a few new employees on the back end of the learning curve. This wasn't a serious defect and nothing fifteen or twenty minutes with a piece of grey scotchbrite and oil didn't cure. Still, with a sword at this price point where in the process should that have occurred, on my end or Albions? I think we all know the answer there.

In the end these are fairly small quibbles rather than serious criticisms. The sword itself is quite a piece of work. While there are a few examples of this type in the production market none of them approach the level of quality and accuracy of the latest Albion offerings. In this sense the Alexandria and Principe stand alone as examples of a sword design that is mechanically intriguing and aesthetically pleasing.

Highly recommended.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Sun 15 Dec, 2013 1:15 am; edited 4 times in total
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Peter Messent




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, me and my H/T Great Sword of War are just gonna turn around and go home now... Big Grin

Beautiful sword - it has an imposing look to it. You guys look very intimidating together!
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
Well, me and my H/T Great Sword of War are just gonna turn around and go home now... Big Grin

Beautiful sword - it has an imposing look to it. You guys look very intimidating together!


That's my, "Don't park in my driveway." pose. Big Grin

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Peter Messent




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reckon I'd ditch the car and run at that point Big Grin
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The "sword in hand" photographs really help me visualize the true presence of a weapon. Thanks for providing a comprehensive, detailed review.

Patrick's a big dude, Albion's Principe is a big sword! Happy

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got an Alexandria a little while back, and have been in love with the design since I first handled the rough blade blank. These wide, thin swords feel amazing in hand, and cut like a dream. Oddly enough, I've always thought of it as my 'adventure sword' a la Peter Jackson LOTR--sort of a go anywhere, do everything sword. It feels quite versatile in hand.

Once you get one, there's no going back

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats just... something I need.

I need to find less expensive hobbies. Between my albion lust and the burgeoning WWII bolt action collection...

I'll second the importance of the "sword in hand" photo. I'd just figured it was like the typical albion reagent or H/T longsword, but dang is that thing wicked looking. Definitely a weapon of War.
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Christopher B Lellis




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Dec, 2013 11:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great review, thanks for putting in the time to make it.
That certainly is a mighty looking sword, I think I might be tempted to add that to my growing collection eventually.

Who needs a poleaxe when you have a sword like that!
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick,
I am glad to learn that the Principe has found a home with you: knew it would speak to you ;-)

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write this thoughtful and detailed review. For me as designer it is really valuable feedback and I think it is very helpful for those who has not experienced the sword first hand.
The Principe and the Alexandria are both a bit of special cases I think as there really are no other swords of this type on the market. Very few will have personal experience of swords of this type and because of this few know what to expect.

Thanks Patrick!
:-)
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Holy crap....The 'in-hand' shot says it all. That's one big, nasty mother. Again, I say,....Holy crap!.... Eek! ...McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 12:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
I got an Alexandria a little while back, and have been in love with the design since I first handled the rough blade blank. These wide, thin swords feel amazing in hand, and cut like a dream. Oddly enough, I've always thought of it as my 'adventure sword' a la Peter Jackson LOTR--sort of a go anywhere, do everything sword. It feels quite versatile in hand.

Once you get one, there's no going back


I was forming the same kind of impression while handling this sword, just the thing for slaying Dragons, or a Jabberwocky. Big Grin This really seems to be quite a versatile sword.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Patrick,
I am glad to learn that the Principe has found a home with you: knew it would speak to you ;-)

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write this thoughtful and detailed review. For me as designer it is really valuable feedback and I think it is very helpful for those who has not experienced the sword first hand.
The Principe and the Alexandria are both a bit of special cases I think as there really are no other swords of this type on the market. Very few will have personal experience of swords of this type and because of this few know what to expect.

Thanks Patrick!
:-)


I think you know my tastes fairly well. Wink

You're quite welcome Peter, and thank you for providing the research and design necessary to make this sword a reality. I agree, these really are unique to the market. Any other attempted replica of this type seems like a sad attempt that fails to capture the real spirit of the design. It's always nice to pick up a new sword and experience surprise, as well as having preconceptions altered. Photos alone do not do the design justice. One has to have it in hand to grasp its full character. Upon taking the Principe out of its box I felt that same "ah ha!" feeling I had when you handed me my Type X in Eric McHughs living room years ago. I knew I was about to learn something new, which is my main motivation for studying this subject. Always a thrilling feeling.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 1:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the review Patrick. Stunning sword and congratulations.
Non Timebo Mala
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Dec, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Hrouda wrote:
The "sword in hand" photographs really help me visualize the true presence of a weapon. Thanks for providing a comprehensive, detailed review.

Patrick's a big dude, Albion's Principe is a big sword! Happy


Thanks Scott. I find in hand photos to be very helpful, I'm glad others feel the same way. We often get a false sense of proportion one way or the other when looking at photos of a sword by itself. To add further scale: I stand at an even six feet, weigh about 260 pounds, with a 55 inch chest and twenty inch biceps. (no, swimming is not my friend). If it looks pretty imposing in my hands imagine what it looks like in the hands of someone less asymmetrical than myself. Eek!

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the review Patrick!

I love reading these and that's a very noble looking sword you've got there.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you gentlemen,

I've just heard back from Mike Sigman at Albion. Apparently there was a glitch in the shop. The corded grip pictured on the company website is still the standard grip. This one appears to have been a mistake. Mike offered to have the sword returned at their cost for a do over. In the end, it isn't a big enough issue for me to go through the hassle and risk of shipping it back so we'll just leave it as is. I'm sure the issue will be addressed on how the sword made it through the process without someone catching it.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Thank you gentlemen,

I've just heard back from Mike Sigman at Albion. Apparently there was a glitch in the shop. The corded grip pictured on the company website is still the standard grip. This one appears to have been a mistake. Mike offered to have the sword returned at their cost for a do over. In the end, it isn't a big enough issue for me to go through the hassle and risk of shipping it back so we'll just leave it as is. I'm sure the issue will be addressed on how the sword made it through the process without someone catching it.


You're more accommodating than I would be. I'd ask for another sword to be made and shipped to me. Upon receipt, I'd ship the one I already owned back to them for them to do with as they please.

That would alleviate some of the hassles and all of the risk involved.

The grip is a big focal point and differentiator to me.

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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great review, Patrick!

I passed through New Glarus circa 2010, and the fine folks at Albion were nice enough to show me around. One of the things they had was an unmounted Alexandria prototype. The dimensions of the thing surprised me, even after having seen the pictures. I was on the waiting list for the Principe for a while, but, like you, my priorities have drifted away from acquiring new toys, of which I have more than enough.

If I wake up tomorrow with a burning urge to buy just one more, though, that will definitely be the one. Happy

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had the pleasure of handling the Principe and also the Doge at an event in September. What an excellent design for such a massive looking blade. I quite liked the Doge too but more for its nimble character. Both are lovely products.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Dec, 2013 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
You're more accommodating than I would be.


True, but I think we can say that about most things. Wink


Quote:
I'd ask for another sword to be made and shipped to me. Upon receipt, I'd ship the one I already owned back to them for them to do with as they please.

That would alleviate some of the hassles and all of the risk involved.

The grip is a big focal point and differentiator to me.


Truthfully, this was an option I hadn't considered as I find it a bit unreasonable. I really never thought of it. On the other hand, that's exactly what's going to happen, so kudos to you for the idea. Mike was adamant about having the sword returned. I tried to emphasize that it wasn't a deal breaker for me. This is an extremely interesting piece and the overall details outweigh the grip change. I only mentioned it to him so the guys in the shop could use it as a learning experience. It made it through the process without anyone catching it, so it is a point of embarrassment for everyone. I also consider it a stroke of luck when an item arrives undamaged by one of our commercial carriers, so I'm loath to have an item making multiple trips. Too much like poking the bear with a stick in my mind. I suggested Albion knock the price down a bit so all parties involved could feel as if it had been taken care of in some fashion, but Mike stated they don't want an "oddball" sword floating around. I can understand that. So a new one is being made with the correct grip and I'll send this one back when it arrives.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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