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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 12:54 pm    Post subject: Sword Bubble?         Reply with quote

I was caught a bit off-guard by the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the changes in Albion's pricing and policies. I don't have a dog in that fight, personally, as I considered Albion's wares out of my reach even before the recent changes. But the discussion reminded me of a question I've been pondering lately, and I 'd rather start a new thread on the subject than hijack the Albion thread. Please bear with me because I'm not an Investor or otherwise knowledgeable about business matters.

My question is this: Can there be such a thing as a Sword Bubble? I mean, what happens if a movie or a web site such as this one supports a multiyear spike in new collectors entering the hobby, then new companies emerge or change to meet increased demand, prices go very, very high as collectors and manufacturers out-enthuse each other and test the limits of the market, then suddenly the people who were supporting those businesses and prices lose interest due to a sagging economy, hobby burnout, life changes, new Hollywood trends, etc? Or, getting back to the Albion discussion, what if lots of collectors suddenly decide that their personal price tipping point has been reached?. It's easy for an individual consumer to say, "that's too rich for me" and just fade away, but if lots of folks do that at the same time, I'd hate to be the manufacturer who's just invested lots of cash in new projects that won't mature for years.

To be perfectly honest, if the lights were to go out at myArmoury.com for whatever reason, I would expect my collecting to all but dry up. I depend that much upon the information, ideas and fellowship I get from others on this site. My interests wouldn't disappear, of course, but I wouldn't have this frequent reminder of all the great stuff out there to buy. If that's true of even half the collectors here, the sudden loss of this site could be very, very bad news for those riding a bubble. I'm not saying that I think there is a Sword Bubble or that I think myArmoury.com is going away anytime soon, but if I were a sword manufacturer, I'd always be wondering if these will be considered "the good old days".

I guess I've been thinking about this due to all the talk about the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble that some analysts predict is imminent. I don't want to debate that, especially when the dotcom bubble-burst provides evidence aplenty that such a thing can happen and catch lots of big players off-guard.

If the economy as a whole tanks due to, say, a bursting housing bubble, we might see that we've all been riding a Sword Bubble as well.

Just a few grim thoughts to liven up your Monday afternoon Worried

-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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Ryan A. C.





Joined: 22 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey someone else with to much time on their hands! j/p I have actually thought about this myself or played with it anyway. Perhaps the interest, which seems to me pretty high now, might go away given time. A lot of movies have been coming out in recent years, and by no means do movies show what swords really are or really can do, but they do garner more interest. Then sites like this one can take over and push you to want to learn more. It kind of happened that way with me. I did some reading up on the subject many years ago, forgot, then saw an old movie and hit the web. Now I am getting back into books, better books with more information! I pray the interest in this niche never goes away. The well might dry up and it could get hard to find a good product.

Sword bubble...I'm kind of scared now... thanks

Of course who in their right minds could ever kick the habit? Razz
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, if it's any consolation, these things tend to be cyclical. If it fades, it may come back, at which time our collections may be more valuable than if everything were to continue on the rapid upward climb (in terms of historical accuracy and overall quality) of recent years. That's no consolation for the serious manufacturers, though (those who will not simply shrug and say, "O.K., so it's back to stainless steel ninja swords for a decade or two").
-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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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,

I believe every business has to struggle with what you are talking about. So heres a bit of unsupported opinion.

Demand and how it moves is a much studied and talked about topic. Companies that understand it can become giants. Thing is, even some that don't really understand demand still manage to do ok when they find a niche. Also some companies can even move from niche to niche.

Several things make swords different than houses. For one thing, the capital involved. Perhaps more significantly, houses are stuck where they are. If the local economy tanks and nobody wants to move in, the housing market tanks. Swords are easy to transport and the nice thing about the Internet is that as a consumer, you can find alternate sources. Because the Internet makes the word smaller and the markets vendors can reach larger, I suspect that it will keep sword demand up somewhat as long as the general economy is healthy someplace. After all swords can go to the money.

*edit to clean up punctuation, spelling

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Mon 06 Mar, 2006 8:35 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good points, Joe.
When I think about where else I could be putting my hobby money (film photography, a technological backwater saddled with expensive consumables--film, chemicals, paper) collecting arms & armour still seems like a good deal.

-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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Geoff Wood




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean
Some bubbles (the classic ones) were down to investment for profit (tulips, south seas, stocks/shares in the twenties). Others, like the housing one in the UK at least, are partly down to that. For me, swords aren't an investment, so I don't care what happens to the price of items I already own. Concerns about the latter can be the thing that pricks a bubble. That said, your analysis of price tipping points and the like is interesting. In the UK, manufacturers may be hit differently, by legislation over sword sale and ownership. If I'm not allowed to import from the US, that could affect the likes of Albion too (although I'd guess that the bulk of their market is still CONUS so the effect would probably be small).
Regards
Geoff
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
...Several things make swords different than houses....

Joe, another point that you did not mention, and I think it is a significant point, is that everyone needs a home. One of the basic needs: food, clothing, shelter. Whether you own a mansion, or a basic condo, whether you rent, or live under a highway overpass, you must have a place to live. Swords and armor are only a hobby, at least for the vast majority of us who are not professionally involved. As such, these purchases are made only with disposable income. In the event of a significant economic downturn, that is the first thing to go.

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Mark Morris





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is an interesting article regarding economic bubbles in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (from yesterday).
There are records for a house built in the early 1600's (in the Netherlands, home of the tulip bubble!) that are complete to this day. There is an economist using them to examine housing bubbles. The article is very fascinating and easy to read!
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Douglas G.





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would hate for demand to push sword prices the way housing prices have gone. I think
there is some validity to the idea since there seem to be alot more sword fanciers then I
would have guessed before I started to collect. Further, I think that sites like myArmoury
will bring in more people since they allow access to such a broad field, people
who can read the reviews and post questions before moving on a blade. But remember
your Econ. 101, if demand pushes up price, then more suppliers move into the
market, and greater selection can't be a bad thing, nu? Also, as supply begins to catch
up with demand prices will react accordingly.
Like so many places, housing here in Portland, Ore. has gone ballistic. Prices like $300K
for "starter" houses are being tossed around as though this is readily affordable. Can
anyone tell me when $300K ceased to be huge money? To a young couple with kids?
I must have missed it.
In view of that last, maybe higher priced swords are still a bargain!

Cheers!
Doug Gentner
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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 10:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No economic theory from me, just the comment that most anytime things can go south very quickly. I'm certain the market could find itself in hard times and very quickly. But, just because it can doesn't mean it will... Also doesn't mean it won't, naturally.... I've been finding the sword market very interesting in the last few years. Lots of competition and new options popping up. I have no idea where it will end but I do know that there is a point where things begin to cost too much. For myself, as the years have progressed, I've come into less and less disposable income. So most of the things I might want from Albion (or any other company) have already been mostly beyond my reach.... So, I suppose I don't have any horse in the race either. But, I do still find it interesting.

Ofcourse, my sword buying dried up a lot more when I started making some of my own stuff. Not that I wouldn't like to buy more swords but I can hardly manage to fund my shop setup much less luxury items these days. Isn't that the joke, the bladesmith that can't afford his own swords.... lol
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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
Joe Fults wrote:
...Several things make swords different than houses....

Joe, another point that you did not mention, and I think it is a significant point, is that everyone needs a home. One of the basic needs: food, clothing, shelter. Whether you own a mansion, or a basic condo, whether you rent, or live under a highway overpass, you must have a place to live. Swords and armor are only a hobby, at least for the vast majority of us who are not professionally involved. As such, these purchases are made only with disposable income. In the event of a significant economic downturn, that is the first thing to go.

What do you mean that swords and armor are only a hobby? You mean it's not an necessity of survival: that food, clothing , shelter, and sword are not required for human survival? Razz

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Eric Nower




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I'm not sure about the whole sword bubble thing. I love my Albions, otherwise I wouldn't have joined the guild. I'll still buy from they....it'll just take more time. I do agree with Doug $300,000 for a "starter house" What kind on money do they think we make? My folks made less than $50,000 combined while me and my brother were little. I think thats a white colloar dollar amount . They one thing I want to remind everyone of is that costs increase. Gas, rent, shipping,STEEL......imaigne making a haywagon out of steel....Its not easy for anyone. The folks that have bought from Albion and know their products will come back, maybe not as often due to money, and the reviews will help people who aren't sure about the cost.
May God have mercy on my enemies, for I shall have none.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the subject of demand creating space for new manufacturers--I'm hoping that we'll see lots of new independent, part time craftsmen making custom/semi-custom pieces. I'm thinking of the likes of E.B. Erickson, Kyle Willyard (Old Dominion Forge), Insert Your Favorite Here, etc. There are some high flyers out there (Vince Evans comes to mind,) but the two folks I mentioned are doing beautiful, historically accurate work for much less than I'd expect to pay relatively large, full-time production companies. The downside of that for consumers is that these craftsmen tend to get buried in commissions as soon as their work is found to be of good qualilty.

Those with the skill and interest can now find much of the information/documentation they need to get working on a small scale. As my own skill and knowledge develop I think more and more about making my own simple weapons (with purchased blades). Maybe DIY is the Next Big Thing in collecting now that the necessary technical and historical information is readily available.

-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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B. Stark
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After pondering on this thread some more, I've come to a conclussion. For as large as a market as edged weaponry is all of the various contributors fall into a niche. Albion has it's own. A couple of you have said that it would a horrible day if Albion, for whatever reason, had to close it's doors. I strongly agree. The way I see it Albion's only direct competition is Arms and Armor. Even these two companies who supply the same niche are really very dissimiliar. The same fellows who require greater aesthetic and geometric accuracy from their pieces repeatedly find themselves returning to these two companies though.

No slights intended for other makers out there! Atrims have a niche. Swords that appeal, not only in price point, to actively cutting folks. They fullfill the duties required admirably. They're tough, useful, swords. That are available for customization in the more extreme sense. As a comparison, all of the Albions that I've handled or especially owned or own I'm reluctant to get out there and activily cut with them for fear of scuffing them up. It's silly but it's there.

Which brings me to my ultimate point. Why it isn't bad or wrong that Albion raised there prices. These swords are very well made, they contain an aesthetic you CAN'T get anywhere else, with the exception of A&A. Yet the focus of the respective lines are different. Albion has no rapiers as where A&A has many. Compound hilts are A&A's wonderful specialty. There is a level of frustration though when you have such a small range to choose from. You go and look at other makers. You know you won't be satisfied or at least suspect so if you choose to purchase somewhere else. Even though it may save you a few hundred dollars.

I sat down and figured out how many Nextgen swords are under $700. There are 16. 11 single handers and 5 H-n-H. 6 are not in production yet, but that's just a matter of time( don't forget PJ's one man with a life outside of edged weapons Big Grin ).That's still not all that bad. Sure sticker shock occurs when some of them go over $1000. Many were underpriced to begin with (that's at least how I feel). The Regent, Viceroy. The new compound hilt German swords. So forth.

Me personally, I'm still waffling what to buy. But I intend to buy.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hope everybody here understands that I'm not complaining about Albion prices or policies. I assume they know a great deal more than I do about business in general and their own business in particular. Moreover, I think they should charge what the market will allow. I'm just wondering in general about the relationships between companies, movies, sites like this one, cultural trends, the economy, etc. I think it's interesting to think about how these things drive demand, and the flipside of that is how they could also work to reduce demand. Forgive me--I'm in marketing/communications Big Grin
-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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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
I hope everybody here understands that I'm not complaining about Albion prices or policies. I assume they know a great deal more than I do about business in general and their own business in particular. Moreover, I think they should charge what the market will allow. I'm just wondering in general about the relationships between companies, movies, sites like this one, cultural trends, the economy, etc. I think it's interesting to think about how these things drive demand, and the flipside of that is how they could also work to reduce demand. Forgive me--I'm in marketing/communications Big Grin


Hi Sean

Mind a perspective from a small manufacturer who as sold in Renfaires, to the SCA, sparring stuff, swords to the WMA, to backyard cutters, and with CF, Erik, and Eljay, to collectors?

I've seen things really change in the market over the last seven years, and I suspect it'll continue to change. The Renfair scene "peaked" about 4 years ago for more expensive swords and goods, and hasn't recovered, but the WMA, backyard cutters, and collectors are still quite active....

No, I don't believe we're in a bubble, but I do believe that the market is maturing and becoming more educated. And that many of the more enthusiastic "veteran" buyers are either sated at the moment, or "tapped out" for the moment. Happens in any interest.......

At the level that A&A, Albion, the custom guys, and myself live in, its a relatively small number of buyers. And even though we're all in somewhat different niche' sometimes we wind up chasing the same dollar. Not always..... Taking two examples, Albion has very rabid fans, and so do I...... so some buyers don't look around......

Personally, I think that the "internet market" peaked about last summer. Its actually not the first time..... Active buyers are a bit tapped out, new buyers haven't really stepped into the breach yet, and some suppliers are a bit behind in certain things. This has a tendency to sort out though, as manufacturers sort out their problems and get caught up, and new stuff here and there generates new excitement, and some event {like a popular movie featuring swords} bring a new batch of potential buyers streaming into the market.....Eventually things will start bubbling along again, new faces show up, old faces improve and change and adapt, etc.........

Revisit this question in September.........

swords are fun
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for adding a manufacturer's perspective, Gus! Interesting observations....
-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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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is some potential for the bubble to shift as well.

I did not start out to get a "sword collection". I wanted a complete outfit. The enthusiasm over the first sword recieved has led to the purchase of 4 swords with entirely different character (war sword, single handed arming sword, and two dueling style longswords.)

While I intend to avoid purchase of another sword for several months, I am now browsing mail, helms, etc. I suspect others may start looking at "accessories" as well.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Mar, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
There is some potential for the bubble to shift as well.

I did not start out to get a "sword collection". I wanted a complete outfit. The enthusiasm over the first sword recieved has led to the purchase of 4 swords with entirely different character (war sword, single handed arming sword, and two dueling style longswords.)

While I intend to avoid purchase of another sword for several months, I am now browsing mail, helms, etc. I suspect others may start looking at "accessories" as well.


I have been considering accessories quite a bit lately.

Only so many palces to put swords.

"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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C. D. Jensen




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Mar, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another important consideration here is whether the various bubbles in the economy as a whole haven't created the current sword industry or at least sent them bad signals about their long-term prospects. If a man lives in a hot real estate market and his house doubles in value over four years, he starts to feel rich. He might save less, spend more, or even use home equity borrowing to buy more toys. Since this new "wealth" came out of thin air and can just as easily vanish when housing prices fall, any industries that sprang up to sell him stuff might also be hurt. The question is, Has all this easy money floating around caused the sword industry to expand too quickly? If a swordsmith spends thousands on capital equipment and the training of new workers, all contingent upon sales continuing at the current rate, he might find himself in a horrible bind if the wider economy tanks and people have to cut back on things other than mortgage payments and food.

This can't be normal. Never before in all of history have so many high-quality weapons been available to ordinary schmoes like us at such (relatively) low prices. I just hope it all lasts long enough for me to buy a few more beauties from Albion.
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