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Bill Wargo

Location: Dallas
Joined: 26 Apr 2018

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2018 5:10 am    Post subject: Sword Collection         Reply with quote

Is collecting replicas better or originals better when you just started this hobby?
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Matthew Amt

Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,410

PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2018 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

REPLICAS, definitely, assuming there is a choice! Replicas are not only vastly cheaper, typically, but the antiquities market is a minefield of fakes, ripoff artists, illegal imports, or just poorly identified items. It can take years of study to make safe purchases of antique swords.

Mind you, even with replicas there are more ways to get ripped off than to get a decent product for a decent price! Shop around, ask a lot of questions, and think hard about what you want and what you plan to do with it. Asian-made "wall-hangers" are easy to find, and rarely bear any close resemblence to actual historical swords (though some aren't bad for budget pieces), and of course the fantasy sword market is vastly huger than that for swords which even claim to be historical.

So talk to us! Give us an idea of what your starting or ultimate goal may be, and we can start giving better guidance, if you want.

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Mark Moore

Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,294

PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2018 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm with Matthew....replicas. Wink When I first started out---yeeeears ago----I was collecting cheap stainless steel wall hangers from China/ India/Pakistan. Waste of money. Do your homework before you turn over a dime. Now, I still collect China-made swords--AKA Hanwei. Big Grin .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mark Moore

Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,294

PostPosted: Thu 10 May, 2018 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh...And welcome to the Armoury! Glad to have another Texan here! Big Grin ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Adam Simmonds

Location: UK
Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2018 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a personal interest people's tastes and priorities will naturally differ. In my view originals are far more interesting for a number of reasons. Whether more suitable than replicas however is dependant on where one's interests lie, what one is collecting for and one's budget. If for example you want to collect European pieces from the 17th - 19th centuries and are able to access reputable dealers and auctions these can be acquired for very good prices, often cheaper and always more varied than imitations of a similar quality (where such even exist). This may not apply if, for example, one's interests are in earlier pieces which will generally cost more and will often simply not be available, at least not in decent condition. It really comes down to what one is after. In my opinion, low quality modern items are never a good idea.

Last edited by Adam Simmonds on Sat 12 May, 2018 11:08 am; edited 2 times in total
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2018 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When you just start this hobby, the most important thing to do is develop awareness and discernment. Find books with high quality photographs of the kinds of swords you are interested in. Very closely study the images, as though you were a connoisseur studying art. Try to notice details that the average person would not notice. Pay very close attention to the taper, the proportions of the blade, the proportions of the hilt. Notice the pairing of blade and hilt furniture. If the swords you like are from a period where there is more artistic decor, pay close attention to this, particularly the artwork's particular "flavour" and style.

Even better, see if you can have an opportunity to handle antique swords. Being able to carefully study them in person will provide insights that cannot be gleaned from photographs alone. Failing this, even carefully inspecting swords in a museum will still have value beyond merely looking at images online.

As Matthew warned, beware searching even for images of antiques online for the purpose of reference. There are lots of fraudulent items out there, and they can be and are sold even at auction houses purporting to be experts in the field. You are much better off sticking either to books and museum catalogues, or else online images from various museums.

Discernment is crucial, because the more you are aware of how genuine swords look, the more carefully and wisely you can appraise reproductions and antiques. The better your eyes become at noticing what is authentic, and what is not, the more you will appreciate replicas that exhibit these qualities. As for antiques, they require significantly more skill, especially if you are interested in swords pre-1500. If you are looking to start collecting antiques, it is probably best to get the advice of a neutral third party whom you know has the requisite experience and knowledge to advise you well. Otherwise, you need to be highly knowledgeable indeed to have better odds at spotting fakes.
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Hadrian Coffin
Industry Professional

Location: Oxford, England
Joined: 03 Apr 2008

Posts: 400

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2018 7:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I would advocate for originals, but that is up to individual taste. It depends on what you want to do with the item. For me, the sword(s)/weapon(s) are for display on my wall, and the inspiration/feeling that you get when holding them. It is far more interesting to look at, or hold, an item that might have participated in Waterloo, or Hastings, or even something far more modern like Dunkirk, than it is to consider an item made three weeks ago in India or the United States.

This does, however, depend on purpose. If you want to cut with an item, or practice handling it, than a replica will suit you far better. I keep both, but I have noticed that over the years I have sold off most of the replicas I own in favour of more (and more diverse) originals.

Originals do not have to be expensive. A sword bayonet from WWI/II can be had for 50-80. A 19th century sabre for not much more. It depends where and what you are interested in, and the sky is the limit. One can still pick up lovely early medieval pieces at auction, which, while expensive, are not necessarily as considerable as one might think. Its still a cheaper hobby than racehorses or vintage cars.


Historia magistra vitae est
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Ian Hutchison

Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Tue 15 May, 2018 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would echo what others have said. Don't get into the antique market unless you know absolutely what to look for, or have so much money that budget and the occasional misstep are not a factor. I have only owned two originals, both are 19th century swords, a period for which the originals can still be had in good condition at a price lower than the cost of a reproduction.

My period of interest is largely late medieval these days. I started with middle of the road replicas (Hanwei/Windlass), and have since moved on toward custom/semi-custom pieces. New made swords are both cheaper and can be used. Anything 19th century and onward is a different story, as I have mentioned.

I have always avoided low-end wall-hangers, I would advise the same unless one really speaks to you as a decorative object. The mass-produced swords can cut well (though handling remains an issue at times), but frequently lack authenticity in form and construction.

I think the semi-custom/custom new made market is just right for someone like me. I have a more than passing interest in swords, and like to use them as well. I want to look and touch (and swing!). The custom/semi-custom market encompasses a wide range of purposes and price-points, from decorative to functional, ~$500 and up. It is absolutely possible to get authentically made, and handling pieces, that won't necessarily break the bank. There is especially good work and good value for money in Poland and the Czech Republic. I own several pieces from makers in these countries, and one each from US/UK makers. I find that the Eastern European makers can do just as nice (sometimes nicer) work at a much better value for money.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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