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Pricing the best, and worst?
I was curious about the most overpriced, worst deal, you have seen out there in terms of arms and armor reproductions. As I discussed the acceptability of a topic like this with Nathan Robinson I was intrigued by the larger question at hand. Pricing of reproductions. This topic Why are Albion swords so expensive? touches on this to a degree, but is focused more on Albion.

I wanted to extend this question but in regards to reproduction arms and armor as a whole. And more specifically what are the worst sword deals out there? To contrast what are the best deals (not counting used/second-hand swords)?

I was hoping to keep in mind price balanced with quality. A company like Arms&Armor or Albion both have high prices, but also create a high quality product. A contrast might be BudK that creates a low end product but also charges low prices. A bad deal would be someone that creates a low end product but charges high prices.


Last edited by Zach Gordon on Mon 08 Nov, 2010 11:11 am; edited 1 time in total
At times it's not the maker but some vendor who charges a wildly excessive price to people who don't know any better: I remember seeing a " Lord of the Rings " sword priced at something like $3500 at a local ( Now out of business ) Medieval Renfair type store.

Now unless this was " The original Hero sword " used in making the film or " The Prototype Sword " the price was highly out of line.

Even a limited edition made to higher standards shouldn't be this expensive.

I've also seen the price of the same sword or armour priced very differently with some places charging twice the best prices I could find: So apart from the suggested asking price from the maker some vendor charge a great deal more.

On the other hand some makers sell directly at a price higher than some vendors and it's always better to buy from someone else than directly from that maker./production company :confused: :wtf:

As to makers, high overhead and all sorts of reasons can be used to justify a higher price, and it certainly helps if the quality also justifies the higher price: It is a problem when others can equal the quality but at a lower price to the customers .

With the challenging business climate charging more for the same quality can be a problem if one prices oneself out of the price range most of their customers can afford.
Before I was knowledgeable of swords, armour, etc, I saw Angel swords at a ren faire and was shocked at the prices. Are their blades of a resoundingly quality, similar to Albion perhaps, to even come close to justifying the price tag?

From my experience, Hanwei seems, at least as so far as their Japanese line goes, to be of great quality for such a low price point.
I don't know about quality, but a quick look at the Angel Swords website suggests few if any of their swords are historical. At that price range I would want a bit of historical accuracy in my sword/swords.

On the other hand, they do custom work. So maybe they could make something with historical appearance and proportions.
Your question is very, very broad and a bit hard to answer. This is primarily because the issue of price v. quality is such a nebulous thing, ask ten people and you're likely to get ten different answers.

Angel Sword has been mentioned and I've had exposure to Daniel Watson and his product many times over the years, never in a positive sense. To be fair, the work shouldn't be judged historically as it isn't based on historic principles. That being said, in this particular case I find the product to in no way justify the price tag. The companies product has always lacked any sense of aesthetic refinement or style, in my opinion. However, Angel Sword has been in business for many years so someone must like the work, it just isn't my cup of tea. In the spirit of this topic, In terms of quality and cost I can't think of a maker off-hand where that ratio seems so far out of whack.

Fifteen or twenty years ago we considered Del TIn to be something of a benchmark in the industry. While Fulvios work has fallen from that pedestal the product is still solid, but the pricing has increased to a point where I question the quality v. cost ratio. Strangely enough, I think some of the best quality v. cost ratios are to actually be found in the lower tiers of the functional sword category. Windlass Steelcrafts have improved to the point where many of their weapons are decent buys for the listed price. Hanwei has steadily improved their quality over the last decade and their weapons often represent good purchases for the money, especially when found at sale prices. None of them are outstanding but as prices on quality work continue to climb into the stratosphere, they quite often represent a better buy for the dollar spent.

Rather than best v. worst a better question might be, "When does the price exceed your personal comfort level?"
Some makers, like Del Tin, set a price for their product, and require vendors to follow that rule. Others (as I interpret it) seem to set a much-more-than- its-worth maximum price, and vendors can sell it at that level or at much less. Thus, for a particular model you can find a wide spectrum of prices thoughout the internet. I have seen swords being advertised for double the price that you can find for the same thing at Kult of Athena.
The worst offenders are probabaly in the japanese sword market where you have e-bay makers who try and sell a sword worth maybe 100 bucks for 10 grand. And this is before you account for nihonto fraud that you may run into.

For the best...well the Hanwei tinker line of swords and VA Atrim line of swords are pretty much benchmark of value for the dollar.
IMHO, the worst value can be top-end name-brand "collectable" swords. Potentially an Albion or A&A price for a wallhanger. Poor value to be found from multiple manufacturers, and in the form of movie swords, (pseudo-)historical replicas, and fantasy pieces.

For example, the Charlemagne sword is a popular one for this kind of thing, the straight double-edged beast-head cross one. Marto does one or two, Franklin Mint has done it. These are generally non-functional, zinc-aluminium alloy grips and cross. I haven't seen one with a blade I like - they look like they're just stainless steels slabs with bevelled edges. Except for the blades, they might be very nice wallhangers. But the prices! $800 for the fancy deluxe models! Maybe $300-$400 for the basic ones! I saw an ad for a no-name Charlemagne, under $100. Supposedly a bronze pommel and cross (well, might be "bronze", as in the colour), and except for an unfortunate wire-wrapped grip, this fine product of Toledo would do equally good service as a replica.

Anyway, compare such things to the Del Tin Charlemagne, or that other Charlemagne sword, the sabre, and the price one can have the Hanwei replica for. Both better replicas, as in being truer to the originals, and functional swords, too.
Interesting question and so subjective. As Patrick said, as ten people and you'll get 10 (or more) answers. People have brought up Angel Sword, though I don't think this thread should focus on any one brand. For many members of a forum like this one (dedicated to historical arms and armour lovers), Angel Sword doesn't deliver historical enough forms to justify the price. But Angel Sword has been in business a a long time and Daniel Watson enjoys a very extreme amount of loyalty from so many of his customers as well (I expect to hear from some of them soon). For those people, Angel Sword is exactly what they want and they undoubtedly find the value ratio in their favor. So, it's all very relative and contextual.

For me, as a consumer, I think some Windlass offerings are great values. I like what I see in the Hanwei Tinker line and think it's helping push up the quality up in that range. Valiant's offerings are visually attractive and competitively priced, but leave a little to be desired for me in terms of historical aesthetics.
for the finest example of pricing rip-off, can strongly reccommend the Royal Mile castle gift shop, Edinburgh...

I've seen hanwei's practical basket hilt sword, as you can buy in shops for 95... for sale in there for 400

incredible, absurd, and obscene.

then again, that does cater to the sort of market who say things like "oh, is'nt it incredible? and they built the castle so close to the railway station, that's so convenient"...
yes, actual quote heard once on the Mile.
For most items, like swords, if you try to sell it way over priced it won't sell. A company will either figure out how much they can reasonably sell their products for or go out of business. Besides that if you want the worst deal go to your local Ren. Fair. They are able to jack up the price because they are marketing to an uneducated, as far as swords go, clientele.

Angle swords has been mentioned and I must say I have never dealt with them before so I don't know the quality of product first hand. They are stylistically on the opposite side of my interest. What frustrates me is that they perpetuate untruths and are arrogant and almost demeaning in their rhetoric. To understand what I mean read through their "What is a Sword?" section under the site map. This type of rhetoric does all of us a disservice.

But that is just my humble option on the matter.
Thing with some of the vendors products mentioned in this thread, is that they are great values to the people who buy them, and far be it from me to second guess that. Myself, I'm honestly at the point where I question the value of any reproduction sword that goes for more than about $600.

But guess what, even though I won't buy one, I can understand the value of a $10,000 Pinarello racing bike.

Really...I can (today...but two years ago, no way).

My point is that interests ebb and flow and value is so very individual. Its about whatever need you're trying to meet, and sometimes those needs are more emotional (fantasy), than real. In fact, in many instances (perhaps in most) I think you're buying an experience, as much as you're buying a thing. Especially when you're talking about hobbies and collections. Some people want the experience of a $10,000 sword, others the experience of a $10,000 road bike, for others its the experience of something else like a $100,000 sports car (or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader). Maybe its even more than one thing? I sure can't afford $100K of car, but if I got a burr and decided I wanted to, I could probably find a way to swing the experience of $10K of sword, or bike, or maybe even both someday (but thankfully I don't anticipate needing to scratch that itch).

Unfortunately I don't think they do $10K professional cheerleaders, so I probably can't find a way to swing that one! :p

Anyway, why focus on what one is better or more valuable in general. The real question, the only question that really matters and needs answered...is what one is more valuable to you?

Last edited by Joe Fults on Wed 10 Nov, 2010 5:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
thoughts on Albion and Hanwei
I would like to say that I like Hanwei katanas though not at the catalog prices and find them excellent cutters. Bargains can be found if one looks. I especially like the Tinker Pearce Viking by Hanwei and find it a match for the Albion Reeve on the practical side of things. Additionally, I like the Sword of War and by experience know it is an an excellent cutter as well as a very good handling sword. I also have a couple of Cheness katanas which are excellent cutters and though lacking the frills they are good buys.

Now for Albion. I purchased an Albion Reeve for my first European medieval sword of any quality simply because Albion was the best in the opinion of many on this site and its swords hold their value. The Reeve I received handled very well and was light as a feather in my hand as well as being true to historical swords of the era. The main reason Albion can charge so much besides manufacturing quality is the research put into each of its swords by Peter Johnsson and other authorities. Albion delivers quality and the historical accuracy without distorting the harmonic quality of the swords it produces. This is what I feel I paid for and received. I went on to purchase the Albion Baron which is an excellent handler and cutter as well. Although expensive to my pocket book I feel I got what I paid for and did not overpay. As I am not really into reenacting but more interested in the practical use of a sword a weapon, the closer a sword is to the original specifications and handling the better weapon it will be. I am interested in the sword's function first and foremost. First to get the historical feeling of what the sword was capable of doing to the human body and secondly to try to understand the mindset of those who used the sword. For me Albion swords come closest to originals that I can afford.
Excellent post Joe, and very well stated. The whole experience side of the issue is often overlooked, but I really think that's what most people are going for. Tonight I competed in my Monday night shooting league. My neighbor shot his brand new $2500.00 pistol, yet I came in first with my well used handgun that cost me $450.00. Did he feel slighted? I don't think he gave it a second thought since he had the pleasure of everyone pawing over his new toy, consequently he was the center of attention and enjoyed every second of the "experience".

I've been collecting and studying swords for over thirty years now and I can honestly say that I rarely feel the need to shell out four figures for a purchase anymore. It isn't about whether the product is worth it, but rather my personal priorities. I have walls full of swords so how many more do I need? With the state of things life has larger concerns and the thought of shelling out four figures for a sword makes me think, "Really, is this smart?" I love seeing new work and handling new designs, but it's been a long time since I saw one I just "had" to have. For me the issue has come full circle back to where it started: the simple joy of learning new things, rather than accumulating stuff.

For $10,000 I bet you could find an attractive professional to dress up like a cheerleader. ;)
Yes I agree the experience is what we actually buy and what we keep even if we sell it later and no longer have it in our hands.

But then we can all find examples of " overpriced swords " sold to the " under-informed " buyers who didn't do their homework or comparison shop on the net: Yup the Renfair experience is always fun when somebody quote a price 2X to 5X the price you know you can get from one of the better vendors and listening to the guy or gal insisting that they have the best prices around. ;) :eek: :lol:

But this is not discussing the value of the thing to you but rather the " buyer beware " thing. ;)
JG Elmslie wrote:
for the finest example of pricing rip-off, can strongly reccommend the Royal Mile castle gift shop, Edinburgh...

I've seen hanwei's practical basket hilt sword, as you can buy in shops for 95... for sale in there for 400

incredible, absurd, and obscene.

Saw it myself while visiting Edinburgh last summer. Incredible.

I got my Hanwei Tinker sharp longsword some time ago and after I re-glued the leather on the handle, with a riser in the middle and a cord wrap I have been very happy with it. In fact, If the similar blunt was of better quality I would buy it, the handling of the sharp modell is so good. Money well spent.

One thing I recommend not to buy is the Nashwille Plow works saber by Windlass. The handling is bad and even if I haven't yet struck anything forcefully with it, the hilt is allready shifting.
in a free-market economy, it all comes down to what the consumer is willing to pay, right? .I feel sorry for people who spend 100s of dollars on a wall-hanger at some tourist trap, but if they are happy and never know better, was it worth it to them? It really is subjective, isn't it.

I think its easier to set a value on a sword to be used for actual fencing, re-enactment etc, because then it needs to meet certain objective functional requirements. If we're talking about collecting swords, then what's the criterion?

To me, a sword is worth whatever I'm willing to pay for it and I don't really care what other people think its worth. I personally find Albion's to be a little pricy for what they offer (by about 25%) but I think they can get away with that because their quality is so consistent that they have established an excellent reputation. The oppositie is Windlass, which occassionally makes a sword every bit as good as A&A, but ruins their reptuation by making lots of poor or variable swords, so they cannot charge higher when by luck or skill they make a good one. On the other hand again, I'm willing to pay more than the price of an Albion for a custom sword that has personal touches meaningful to me. One persons bargain might be another person's rip-off.
I'm joining the camp that says that it is totally subjective.

I'm always a bit envious of folks who can afford top end Albion and A+A swords or similar, but the fact is that if I bought one, it would be a wall hanger. I don't have much interest in backyard cutting, and I can't train or freebout with a partner with a sharp. So any sharp sword would have to be put in a locked display case (I have kids). The hours of use x value of use / money spent would be terrible.

On the other hand, stuff like the Hanwei/tinker line has more value for me. My personal favourite value for cost practice weapon is the Alchem line, especially their dirt cheap 'scarf sword,' which I use several times per week, and share loaners of on a regular basis. I actually prefer the alchem swords over the Tinker/Hanwei, but the fact that I can get a cheap interchangeable blade makes it appealing. I'd like to do a little test-cutting, but not enough to invest in a whole sword.

I also think that Albion and A+A do produce good value for money training swords. I have one of each. I use them for public demos, sometimes for my own use (I don't loan them to novices), and also to give students a better feel for what a sword's weight and balance should really be like. These are higher cost, but it's worth it for me to have one of each (as opposed to the 6 Alchem swords I own and use frequently).

One small place where I think that Albion fails on value for money is with their shipping to Canadian customers. They will only use UPS, who charge a "brokerage fee" on everything they deliver form the US to Canada. That was an extra $150 or so on the cost of my only Albion which provided no additional value to me or them. Note that this is not duty or tax, which I would expect to pay. This is a fee for submitting the paperwork that Albion filled out to customs, as far as I can tell. If I ever get another Albion, it will be at an event I am visiting, or I will order it from KoA. Unfortunately KoA don't seem to regularly carry the maestro line. Actually, that's probably lucky for me!

I recently discovered a crazy good value on a practice weapon. I needed some practice messers. I took two Hanwei "Hutton sabers" (which I've seen from $65-100), removed the guards, and added T-shaped support braces (~$2) with a hole cut to match the tang as a replacement guard. They are too light, but I like the balance and blade quality, plus they have a clear front and back edge. Actually, the Hutton saber is an overlooked gem, especially for teaching students who don't have a lot of upper-body strength. While it would be great to get them to build that strength up, they learn more if they can do the drill without straining too much, and they learn more if they can train longer. In the past I've used them for training with George Silver's stuff, and they worked fine.

Anyways, my main point is that for me the biggest indicators of value are how often I will use them, and how good they are for what I'm using them for (and the latter also affects the former). When I could buy 5 useful trainers for the same price as one beautiful cutter that I might use once a year, there is no contest.
Craig Shackleton wrote:

One small place where I think that Albion fails on value for money is with their shipping to Canadian customers. They will only use UPS, who charge a "brokerage fee" on everything they deliver form the US to Canada. That was an extra $150 or so on the cost of my only Albion which provided no additional value to me or them. Note that this is not duty or tax, which I would expect to pay. This is a fee for submitting the paperwork that Albion filled out to customs, as far as I can tell. If I ever get another Albion, it will be at an event I am visiting, or I will order it from KoA.

Unfortunately KoA don't seem to regularly carry the maestro line. Actually, that's probably lucky for me!

On that last KoA can at times do a special order for something they don't stock: E-mail Ryan and ask, the worse that can happen is that he has a reason he can't do it or get it in a timely fashion he might say no, but I'm sure he would if he can and he answers his e-mail usually within a day or two.

The UPS brokerage charges are excessive since they really don't have to do more than present the paperwork that Albion taped to the outside of the package. :wtf: Now if the imported item is " problematic " and they have to file some paperwork or sweet talk the Customs people to get it through for you , them $150 would be justifiable.

USPS/Canada Post charges something like $5 for the same work. :eek: :wtf:

Albion should really ship USPS if the Canadian customer wants it shipped this way and an extra $150 is just a No-Go !

But then I would suggest again asking Ryan to get one of the Albions they don't currently stock and the advantage is that with KoA's buying power and volume of purchases the odds are good that you will get an Albion quicker than ordering directly, and for Canadians it the way to get an Albion shipped by USPS.

Oh, and my sharps are " walhangers " in the sense that I rarely do test cutting but I still want my swords to be theoretically functional just for the principle of it. ;)
Oh, and my sharps are " walhangers " in the sense that I rarely do test cutting but I still want my swords to be theoretically functional just for the principle of it.

Most of my swords are "wallhangers" too. If they made $20 wallhangers that looked and handled like a historical sword, then I'd buy them. But they dont.

I was more interested in the pricing selected by various manufacturers. Every museum gift shop, ren-fair, and such charges an arm and a leg.

One pricing set I think is odd are the Hanwei Katana's. They charge $3,000 for some of them. From what I have heard from most katana collecters though, is that the quality of a Hanwei katana is to a good katana, what a hanwei medieval sword is to an Albion/A&A. If they charged based on the work of the welding of the different metals and stuff I would understand it, but they charge only $300 for something like the pattern welded Hanwei Saxon Sword.

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