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David Stokes





Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 9:05 am    Post subject: Competition and comparison         Reply with quote

This is a subject I have had strong feelings toward for a while, but have yet to be able to put down in words exactly how I feel about it. Until now.
In any business where you have multiple manufacturers turning out similar products, there will arise a bit of competition, this is to be expected. Healthy competition , where each manufacturer increases quality to “one up” the other can be very beneficial for the consumer, resulting in a wider range of goods to choose from that are all of a very high quality.
But what are the negative connotations?
Let me get a bit more specific and bring this topic directly to our hobby of sword collecting.
The topic has arisen elsewhere about variety in ones collection. When I started collecting I wanted to have an example of every major sword type I could get a hold of, but as you start purchasing pieces you find yourself get a bit too focused in one area and you look up and your whole collection is just multiples of the same thing. Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it can apply to manufacturers of swords. Examples are there may be collectors who ONLY collect wares from a particular custom maker, or semi custom.
Now the question was, what is the negative in this? What if someone who collects a few pieces from a maker, and due to competition feels someone obligated NOT to buy pieces from that makers competitor? In that sense, market competition which can broaden the market, just limited the market for that particular collector.
Understandably makers like to see repeat customers, it produces a great environment where everybody knows everybody, but does this knowledge hinder collecors from shopping elsewhere?
Say Johnny Sordbuyer purchases a sword from maker A, and really likes and buys a second sword from maker A. By this point, Maker A sees Johnny as a repeat customer, and thusly the sword community sees that Johnny really likes Maker A’s swords.
Then Johnny buys a sword from Maker B.
Has Johnny somehow betrayed Maker A by buying from Maker B? on a more personal level, has Johnny offended Maker A?
The sword community is a very small one compared to other hobbies and things have a tendency to become fairly personal, and people become friends and not-friends quickly.
But why is there this polarity in our hobby?

I have rambled long enough…….. just a few questions……….. got any answers?
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Steve Maly




Location: OKC, OK
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 23 books

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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good questions. The majority of my collection has been made by A&A. I have enjoyed their products and have been extremely satisfied with the attention I have received as a customer. Craig Johnson is very knowledgable as well a really nice guy! I also have a couple of ATrim swords (and Redeemer on the way), an ArmArt (and more on the way--not holding my breath), a Del Tin, a Vince Evans, and a few wallhangers. Through my postings, Craig knows that I also collect from other makers and was interested in seeing my VE when I was in Minneapolis to visit. With Albion's new offerings, I will probably add a couple (or more) of the types that I lack in my collection. Do I feel like I am betraying A&A? Not at all. As I get the bug for one of their swords, I'll be very willing to buy from them but I'm not going to get one of their swords just for the sake of giving them my money. The emotional attachment one has to a particular maker is personal to that collector. If one can collect all of their swords from VE, Kevin Cashen, Peter Johnsson, etc., then great! There are definite VE, KC, and PJ groupies on this forum--and good for them! However, with the wait times, as well as the cost involved and the fact that most of the time they are not taking new orders, I am not patient enough to wait for something that may never come. In the mean time, I continue to collect. With all of the eye candy around here, I tend to buy what I want regardless of the maker. The experiences of other forumites can also have a big role in my willingness to try a particular maker.

You'll probably have to hear from the makers that frequent this forum to get an answer as to their perceptions. But from my viewpoint, with the high $$ swords they make I think it would egotistic to expect a particular collector to spend all of their money with them. If they are offended, then get over it. It is a business, and they have to give the consumer what they want. If not, they'll find it somewhere else. However, once I become embarrassingly rich, I'd be willing to commission someone to become my personal swordmaker!! Any takers? Wink

"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail." ~A. Maslow
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Stephen S. Han




Location: Westminster, CA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 211

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 10:05 am    Post subject: Betrayal???         Reply with quote

It's an interesting choice of a word.

David,

Those are some intriguing questions you pose. I'll take a shot at it.

My collection (in the "upper end" anyway) does lean quite a bit toward a single maker whose swords I really, really like. In fact, the only reasons why I would purchase from another maker would be a) my "primary" swordguy (let's call him Maker E) does not make a certain style I want, or b) the I'm getting such a screaming deal that I would start worrying about being charged with theft. Happy

Jokes aside, though, I think there's something to what you say. While "betrayal" may be too strong a word, I do feel somewhat uneasy about "breaking ranks." Let's face it, Maker E has become more than just a seller to me. I consider him a friend. Thus far, I avoided facing this because whenever I buy someone else's stuff, it's because that particular piece fits a different niche than Maker E's stuff in some way.

Happily, at this point in my life, I have settled in rather comfortably at the kind of swords I like enough to lay down the money. And guess what? Maker E can make certain styles better than anyone else, or so close to it that I don't particularly hear the "siren's song" from some other maker. If I ever get a call to purchase say a high end Katana, Maker E doesn't make this style so I can venture out relatively guilt free.

Another point I have to consider is the limitation of funds. I only allot myself a certain limited amount of money for sharp pointies every year (okay so I usually exceed the original budget, but we won't get into that), enough for maybe 1 or 2 "high end" pieces. That being the case, Maker E always get the first crack at my money, and he always seems to be working on something I can't live without.

Still another is spacial limitation. My collection is starting to outgrow my safe. Now I have to be even more selective in my future purchases. So in the end, the potential conflict usually don't arise for me.

Don't know if any of this makes sense, or whether I answered your question, but that's my personal take on that.

Hope all's well with you.
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David Stokes





Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

betrayal was a harsh word choice, but it best described the point i was getting at.

these are excellant thoughts so far guys!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sometimes the choice is made for you. I love the custom scabbards I have from Art Elwell. His prices are great, and he's a helluva a nice guy. I enjoy giving him my business.

But... I want a scabbard for my ArmArt with integral belt. Art doesn't do that kind of leather sewing, so I didn't feel bad at all going elsewhere for that scabbard project. BTW, I should have that scabbard back in a few weeks; I'll let you know how it is.

Even though we interact much more personally with the craftspeople in this industry, through venues like this forum, than customers in many others industries, it's still a buyer's market.

I'd never feel bad about going elsewhere for swords, etc. if it got me the style I wanted at the price I wanted.

Any business person should understand. If they have a problem with it, they should look at the type of product that you purchased elsewhere, try to figure out why you purchased elsewhere, produce something similar, or improve their closest matching product to try to lure customers like you back.

Just my 2 cents...

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This issue really has nothing to do with sword makers, but rather with sword collectors. If Maker A becomes offended because you've done business with Maker B I'd highly advise that you send your money elsewhere. Maker A obviously has a serious attitude problem.

Most makers know how the game is played.

Since Vince Evans has already been mentioned I'll use him as an example. One of the most prized swords in my collection was made by Vince. Would Vince be offended if I sold it? Probably not. He might want to know if I was dissatisfied, just for future reference, but that's about it. Vince has been in the business for a long time, and has made a lot of swords. He knows that it's just natural that his swords should occasionally change hands. When Vince learned that I was buying a sword from Peter Johnsson was he offended? Not at all. In fact, we discussed the sword at length, because he's a sword lover like the rest of us. The same goes for Peter J. I sent Peter photos of my VE sword so that we could discuss it. Why? Because Peter is a sword lover like the rest of us, and loves to see quality work by other makers.

The rub lies with we collectors. We tend to invest our hobby with far too much emotionalism. The purchase of a new sword becomes a very personal experience, not because it really is significant, but because we *want* it to be. When I took possesion of my "Big Johnson" from PJ it was a very personal moment for me. There isn't any tangible reason for it. In the end it wasn't any different than receiving the sword in the mail. After all the end result was the same. In spite of this the fact was that it just felt special because the sword was passing directly from the hands of the maker, and into mine. I believe at heart all sword lovers are romantics and idealists. For us buying a new sword isn't like buying a new car or refrigerator. We simply put a lot of emotional investment into the process, sometimes too much so and it can get the better of us.

Every once in awhile I think we need to take a step back, and look at what we're doing and why.

It's all about perspective and maturity, or a lack thereof.

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




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I collect both antiques and modern-made weapons. With regard to antiques, there is a limited pool of weapons available, and it is not unusual in my experience for me to find myself at auction bidding against an arms dealer from whom I regularly buy. In that context, loyalty is a non-issue.

With regard to modern weapons, I do understand David's question. I don't look at this as a black/white issue. In my experience, the designing, ordering, manufacturing and delivery process of a custom sword is different than simply ordering and recieving a production weapon. With a custom, I, usually, communicate alot with the smith. Over a long period of time. I do become emotionally invested in the process, as well as the product. A certain loyalty adheres to the experience, if it is a good one.

Does all that mean I won't try someone else? Absolutely not. Let's not diminish the personal significance a custom sword can have for both the maker and buyer. However, the maker will have that relationship with others, and the buyer should, as well.

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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David Stokes





Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i know there have only been a handful or responses so far, but some excellant opinions have been voiced. This is just an interesting topic that came up a while back between some friends and I, and I was interested how it affected the sword world and what the general consensus was.
Excellent! keep um coming!
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

". Let's not diminish the personal significance a custom sword can have for both the maker and buyer."

I'm not trying to do that at all. It can, and should be a great experience far the parties involved. It is apparent, however, that many of us put far too much emphasis and emotional investment in an inanimate object. The facts are these: We're aren't rescuing babies from burning buildings or curing cancer. We're simply engaging in an esoteric and somewhat eccentric hobby. The fact that these questions are even raised is proof that we can take this business far too seriously.

It's important to put these things in their place, and maintain the proper perspective.

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




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
". Let's not diminish the personal significance a custom sword can have for both the maker and buyer."

I'm not trying to do that at all. It can, and should be a great experience far the parties involved. It is apparent, however, that many of us put far too much emphasis and emotional investment in an inanimate object. The facts are these: We're aren't rescuing babies from burning buildings or curing cancer. We're simply engaging in an esoteric and somewhat eccentric hobby. The fact that these questions are even raised is proof that we can take this business far too seriously.

It's important to put these things in their place, and maintain the proper perspective.


Of course not, Patrick. I was speaking in the abstract, and I was not directing my comment at you, particularly. I agree it is important to maintain proper perspective in all things, certainly not just swords. However I think that maintaining that perspective necessarily requires one to consider all factors. Custom swords can be expensive. Fiscally and emotionally.

One man's anachronistic hobby can be another's passion. Frankly, it is what it is to me, and I'm not concerned with what it is to others. That's their business.

I don't, however, think it unreasonable for someone to become "invested" in a project, including a relationship with the smith.

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 9:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"I don't, however, think it unreasonable for someone to become "invested" in a project, including a relationship with the smith. "

I completely agree. If we didn't form some kind of relationship during the process it wouldn't be any more satisfying than ordering a hamburger at the local drive-through. On the other hand, I feel that it's important to take care as to how much we "invest" in the process. If we don't we may find ourselves "bankrupt".

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




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
"I don't, however, think it unreasonable for someone to become "invested" in a project, including a relationship with the smith. "

I completely agree. If we didn't form some kind of relationship during the process it wouldn't be any more satisfying than ordering a hamburger at the local drive-through. On the other hand, I feel that it's important to take care as to how much we "invest" in the process. If we don't we may find ourselves "bankrupt".


Agreed. This is, after all, what most of us do for fun.

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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Jim Lindsey




Location: Arlington, Texas
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 101

PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 11:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I have a few swords in my collection (19 to be exact) and have been collecting them for many years, I consider myself a novice sword collector because it has only been within the last three years that I've discovered and purchased any of the really high end stuff.

I've been intrigued by the comments in this thread and, as usual when reading the posts here, I continue to learn more of the fascinating aspects of this great shared passion ... the love of swords and sword collecting.

Many of my swords are lower end wall-hangers that look very nice and decorative, a few of my swords are some that I bought on the spur of the moment and lived to regret the purchase after the fact, and there are a few in my collection that are top end items that I'm very proud of. Speaking from my own feelings in sword buying experiences, I generally try to always let my desire for the sword itself dictate what manufacturer I will buy a particular sword from. For example, provided I had the cash on hand to go on a sword shopping spree, if I saw a beautiful sword that I loved and bought from one manufacturer, I would be just as quick to turn around and purchase a sword from another manufacturer as well if I saw another sword that I really liked and wanted.

I have also built a rapport and business relationship with a manufacturer. I completely agree with Patrick when he says "If we didn't form some kind of relationship during the process it wouldn't be any more satisfying than ordering a hamburger at the local drive-through." Throughout the process of the recreation project for my ancestral sword, I have worked closely with and enjoyed a wonderful and working relationship with the manufacturer ... they have not only become my close friends, but I feel a sense of family toward them as well. It's a very satisfying and personal thing for me and I feel a tremendous and great sense of loyalty toward them.

However, this would not prevent me at all from purchasing a sword from a different maker if I saw one that really tripped my trigger (and that I could afford). My personal outlook may hold a sense of child-like innocence to it, but I definitely like to think of sword makers as being members of an elite brotherhood who ultimately respect and revere one another's work and who would never regard a customer with any form of negativity because they'd purchased a sword from a different maker. Happy

"And so it shall be that in the days of peace, one sword shall keep another in its scabbard."

Have a great day ! Best Regards,
Jim
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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 20 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2003 11:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
". Let's not diminish the personal significance a custom sword can have for both the maker and buyer."

I'm not trying to do that at all. It can, and should be a great experience far the parties involved. It is apparent, however, that many of us put far too much emphasis and emotional investment in an inanimate object. The facts are these: We're aren't rescuing babies from burning buildings or curing cancer. We're simply engaging in an esoteric and somewhat eccentric hobby. The fact that these questions are even raised is proof that we can take this business far too seriously.

It's important to put these things in their place, and maintain the proper perspective.


LOL.... Patrick, you made my day here... I hear an near exact echo of something I mentioned to someone else not a month back.

I love swords as much as anyone does, maybe more than most if truth were to be told. Yet I find I have to stand back and apply some perspective to that interest now and then.

As to the original question, I have found on occasion that I felt a little bit odd in going from one smith to another to get work done. But, I figured that they repsective smiths were professionals and understand. And then there is always the problem that not every smith or craftsperson does exactly what you as the consumer is after and sometimes you *have* to look elsewhere or else not get the item you want.

In the end, I usually just end up wishing I had more money to spread around a bit to all the makers who interest me... then, at least theoretically, we'd all have something to be happy about. Big Grin
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2003 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The issue of personal tastes vs. product lines has been sorta touched on, and I believe it is relevant. For example, take my personal tastes vs. A&A's product line. I know that they make great swords, but most of their line just does not jibe with my personal tastes. Is this a complaint against A&A? Absolutely not. Now, Albion has a line which does generally appeal to my tastes and I respond by purchasing their product. One could call that "brand loyalty," since I do appreciate their efforts and fork over hard-earned cash. However, I will not feel guilty if I call up A&A for a Claymore sometime in the future.
Perhaps there is more loyalty between a customer and the custom smith, simply because of the process of communicating the customer's desires and their realization by the smith. That's entirely understandable. However, if a smith were unwilling or unable to take on a particular project, I would not feel guilty about taking it elsewhere.
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,439

PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2003 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I might be mildly offended as a collector if somebody told me he felt betrayed because I bought something from another business. In fact years ago I had a local ski shop do that to me after I purchased some equipment at one of their competitors, and I have never bought from them since.

Trying various makers is an important part of the learning process in my experience. Its still an important part of my learning process anyway. If a maker is confident in the quality of his work, he has nothing to fear when customers try other options.

"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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David Stokes





Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2003 8:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I said it like this in another post; choose the sword you like and dont worry about whos names on it.
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