Info Favorites Register Log in Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > How Important is Quality in Arms? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Matt J.

Joined: 26 May 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 2:55 am    Post subject: How Important is Quality in Arms?         Reply with quote

Obviously, quality goods are important. But I ask you: How important is it for armour and weapons?

Is a sword of the best damascus steel worth paying the fortune for, when you can get two swords of common-quality steel? Will the second-best armour get you killed, while the best would've saved your life?
View user's profile Send private message
Tom King

Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 429

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 3:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a point where quality is obtained but without the glitz. A Greenwich harness would be just as protective if left black from the forge. Many examples of armor were probably a lot less shiny back in the day than we believe (and a few gauges heavier). The Victorians made sure that we would never find out due to their incessant polishing.
View user's profile Send private message
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team

myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 6:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How important is quality nowadays or hundreds of years ago? Today, we have access to raw materials of vastly superior quality to what our ancestors had. Ironically, though, our swords, weapons, and armour today will almost certainly never see the life-or-death struggles our ancestors faced. For me personally, it's important to collect items that represent the best quality I can afford, with characteristics that imitate period pieces as well as the modern materials allow, keeping in mind that modern steels and heat treat can create a product vastly better than a period piece in toughness and edge retention.

I'd bet our ancestors went with the best quality they could afford, too. Why do anything else? Happy

You may also need to define quality if you want to talk about it. It's a subjective concept. As an example, you seemed to indicate damascus steel is a top-of-the-line material (though there are different definitions of "damascus steel"). I'd disagree. It's actually not appropriate for the vast majority of medieval, European swords or their modern replicas. So damascus or pattern-welded steel holds little value for me, as the swords I prefer to collect were made of materials best replicated today with monosteel, not composite folded steel.

The very best suit of armour vs. the second best suit? Subjective and hard to define of course. Best at what? Best looking, most protective, most flexible/mobile, best able to be used in multiple scenarios, etc.? All those had differing values to differing people at differing times. The best looking armour might keep you alive in battle as it would encourage people to take you hostage instead of killing you. The most protective armour might stop weapons/bullets but might make you too slow or heavy. If it's cumbersome and makes you drown in the mud like the Duke of York at Agincourt (which may have have nothing to do with his armour's weight; this is just an example), or if it makes you too slow to evade capture it's of no use. The most flexible/mobile armour may not be protective enough. You need a balance of qualities that fit your needs and budget.

Also, if you put an unskilled warrior in the best suit, and a skilled one in the second best, I'd put my money on the skilled guy every time.

I think I get what you're asking about, but it's subjective, vague, and leaves out the skill of the warrior as a factor and I doubt you'll ever find a concrete answer. Today, I encourage people to get the best quality they can afford, especially since these items will almost certainly never be put to use in a life or death struggle.


View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Matt J.

Joined: 26 May 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If one guy is far more skilled than the other, it doesn't matter what armour or weapons are involved--the more skilled guy will win. What I'm wondering is, how much difference does the quality of your gear make, when dealing with similarly skilled warriors.

With best and second best, for example: A breast plate of tempered steel, and a breast plate of non-tempered steel. I've heard that the practice was often to try and reduce weight of armour, while keeping the same level of defence (I suppose that's the case).
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt

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

Posts: 1,457

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, my specialty is the ancient eras, particularly Rome. And when someone asks me where they can get the BEST and MOST AUTHENTIC helmet, for instance, I ask if they want the best OR the most authentic? Because all too often, the originals were sloppy, cranked-out, government-issue junk! Oh, they'd work just fine, darn well-designed as a matter of fact, but modern craftsmen generally do a neater job overall. They never get the neckgards asymmetrical or crooked, or bang the rivets into place with 2 or 3 heavy and inaccurate hammer-blows. Mike Bishop, one of the world's authorities on Roman lorica segmentata armor, says it consistently looks like it was made by "physically challenged monkeys on a bad day." At the same time, the plates themselves were generally hardened on the outside while softer on the inside, with a consistency of thickness that has archeologists wondering if the plates were *rolled* rather than hammered. And even Roman craftsmen were capable of absolutely exquisite work, and were constantly adding needless "bling" to cranked-out government-issue gear.

And as far as we know, it all worked well enough!

Now, for your aristocrats, and for the warrior cultures of various ancient eras, it was all about the bling. Shining like a god with plenty of polished bronze and steel and silver and gold, with plumes and crests and bright colors. You had to show up on the battlefield so everyone would see your courage and prowess. Trying to blend in or hide in the back could literally get you killed for cowardice by your own wife. Rank-and-file Roman legionaries emulated this with silvered belts and scabbards, and brightly painted shields. Greek hoplites had polished bronze with helmet crests, and personalized emblems on their shields.

What's interesting is that even with the highest-quality armor, we find what many modern customers would consider unacceptable flaws. On gorgeous bronze cuirasses and helmets from the Bronze Age, a close look shows that what looked like an impossibly crisp raised line in a photo turns out to be a lumpy succession of chisel marks! "Oh, heck, *I* can do that", says I. (And I proceeded to do so!) And you know what? Folks love it. Buff it up like a bar of gold, and jaws drop. A perfect crisp line would be LESS accurate, so could you call it "better"? Hmmmm....

View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > How Important is Quality in Arms?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

All contents © Copyright 2003-2024 — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum