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Do you feel that Albion swords are priced higher than they should be?
Yes, they should be cheaper.
 36%  [ 66 ]
No, they are priced accordingly.
 63%  [ 114 ]
Total Votes : 180

Why are Albion swords so expensive?
I will start by saying that I am not flaming Albion or naysaying their products. I am seriously curious. Now, I am sure this has been asked before, but I could not find a post specifically for it. So, pardon my ignorance, but why are Albion swords so expensive?

I have been collecting medieval swords since I was 15 years old. I am 38 now and I have learned alot of the last 23 years or so. Here was how my collecting pattern went...

1. Junk wallhangers - once I began learning about swords, I gave all of these away.
2. Windlass Steelcrafts - my first 'real swords', however, I discovered Del Tin a few years later.
3. Del Tin - I thought that these were the world's perfect sword until I found out about A&A when I lived in Minnesota.
4. Arms and Armor - I still feel that these are the best made swords today.
5. Genuine antiques - Investments that I have picked up for my personal collection, these are never used, only collected.

I have been considering an Albion for a few years now. I heard alot about them from fellow sword collectors and have held and even cut with a few. They are really beautiful, well-made quality swords. They peaked my interest so to speak, but cost turned me off a little. I have two heirloom estate swords I paid less for.

Then I saw the video recently on how they are made. Christ, they are CNCed, cast, and machined. I really legitimately do not understand why the price is so high. My A&As were handforged by a master blacksmith blessed by Mr. Oakeshott himself and they were hundreds of dollars less. With the use of this modern equipment, even with perfect fit and function insured, these swords simply should not cost so much in my reckoning.

Like I said, I am not flaming here. I am actually in the market for an Albion currently (looking at the Yeoman and custom scabbard). I am simply seeking to understand before I invest.
Re: Why are Albion swords so expensive?
JE Sarge wrote:
Then I saw the video recently on how they are made. Christ, they are CNCed, cast, and machined. I really legitimately do not understand why the price is so high. My A&As were handforged by a master blacksmith blessed by Mr. Oakeshott himself and they were hundreds of dollars less. With the use of this modern equipment, even with perfect fit and function insured, these swords simply should not cost so much in my reckoning.

For the record A&A casts most of their hilt components, too. Their blades are cut out of bar stock (by machine, I believe) and then shaped mostly by grinding (stock removal) by hand. They don't hand-forge every last piece (ie. heat and beat); in fact, most aren't forged at all.

Albion casts their hilt components and cuts their blades out of bar stock and grinds them by machine, then finish-grinds them by hand. There is still a lot of manual work involved, though A&A may have more manual work in their swords.

So there are some similarities between the two companies.

But Albion has (I believe) a bigger staff. And their machinery can't be cheap either.

That said, their swords are basically out of my price range with the last round or two of price increases.

Del Tin casts and grinds. GusTrim grinds and mills. All the more expensive production swords are generally not hand-forged.
ok - taking you at your word for not trolling, here are some thoughts besides those mentioned already, all related to their stock lines (ignoring custom aspects):

research and development costs - if they have someone (or a team of someones) actively seeking out ways to make new or more accurate recreations or methods to make them, then this would not immediately lead to profits. Thus, other lines have to 'pick up the slack'.

if swords are anything like armour, it is possible that the folks at Albion are actually pricing things so they get a decent wage (i.e. more than minimum).

For the record, I have handled some of their products, and they are high-quality. I personally haven't purchased one new because of the price point. Though, I may end up going for something from the Maestro line... those things are well-handling tanks.
Re: Why are Albion swords so expensive?
My A&As were handforged by a master blacksmith blessed by Mr. Oakeshott himself and they were hundreds of dollars less. With the use of this modern equipment, even with perfect fit and function insured, these swords simply should not cost so much in my reckoning

Well actually your A&A's, unless custom ordered, are milled and assembled much like an Albion. And as for cost, An Albion XVa runs about $90 more on average then a Similar A&A. The price gap is more on certain models but I'd say $100 on average across the board is about right. That cost I believe has more to do with overhead then anything else. As an owner of both I can tell you the Albions exhibit more of an individual character then the A&A's, but I happen to thing Craig's finish work is better. As for performance they both make great handling swords so it all comes down to personal opinion, which much of this post is anyway on my part. For myself I tend to lean more towards Albion swords and A&A pole weapons, axes, and daggers.
Albion swords...
Nope, I am not trolling. I really just wanted to know. I've not been a member here long, and after doing alot of reading and hearing all the hype, I seriously had to ask. Especially since I am actively considering comissioning one. Before I drop nearly 2k for a completed sword, scabbard, and belt, I'd like to be educated.

For the record, I respect anyone trying to make a historically-accurate representation of a sword that is better than your average sword-like object. This is not intended as disrespect for Albion, its intended to find out why they cost so much more than other sword manufacturers and exactly what, if any, the differences are between them and other manufacturers.

As for my A&As, two were custom ordered while I still lived in Minnesota and these, unless I was lied to, are hand-forged. The other three are standard production runs, one of which I bought secondhand - so I never thought about these. I was under the impression that my older Del Tins were hand-forged (early 1990s), I knew the newer stuff was not. I know that A Trim and Darksword are CNCed as well, but I don't own any of their products yet.

Off topic, I am a member of a firearms board as well. I hope that that anything asked about Albion will not result in a Glock vs. M1911 type argument. Definately not my intent here. It's about learning, not arguing.

Last edited by JE Sarge on Tue 28 Oct, 2008 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
You don't have an option for my vote as I think both of your options are what I'd choose:

Yes they should be cheaper, but they are priced accordingly.

I want them to be less money. They're prohibitively expensive (to me). However, any cheaper and the doors at Albion close. I imagine the margins on these things are very low.

I'd wager that the hourly shop wage that both Albion and A&A bills from their work is embarrassingly low when compared to other machine shops.

There just isn't a lot of profit in that market. To those interested in making some money, it's likely a bad market to enter. :)

There are a TON of topics and discussions about WHY these things are priced as they are. It's strewn throughout the forum, actually. Taking some time to read some of the past topics will allow you to assemble the whole picture. It's kind of a process, unfortunately. It's a complex question, but a good one.
Hard to say - the Albions are probably the most closely researched of all the swords out there, either mass produced or individually custom made. In terms of being true to the original blades, I do not think anyone can match Albion and the attention to detail provided by Peter Johnsson's exacting research.

In that sense, I do believe that they are worth it. However, there is one problem I have, and I don't know how widespread it is. Namely this: It is not so much so the price that deters me, but getting what I want. To illustrate I have precisely two (well, three, if you count my older La Tene sword) Albions in my collection, a Crecy and a Valkyrie. Both of these are, to my mind, perfect. They are exactly what I wanted down to the last jot. But apart from these, I may not get any other Albions. Why? It is not price, per se, but rather can I justify spending ~$1,000+ on something that is not precisely what I want? And as beautiful as the Albion line up is, only the two above mentioned swords really "grabbed" me. The others, while many come close (the Count sword comes to mind) are just a little "too twisty, too twirley" and I really can't justify shelling out the money for them.

Contrast this with A&A - their stuff is of comparable quality (though I do feel the Albion swords are in fact superiour) but less expensive. But far more important is this: they are willing to customize to a large extent and give you *exactly* what you want. Earlier this year I got a Gustav Vasa parrying dagger hilt paired with an Elector of Saxony blade. They swapped components for me at no extra charge (N.B. that may not be true for all such customizations, but that was how it worked out here). In this case, they gave me exactly what I wanted. Albion would never do the equivalent, to my knowledge, which is why A&A tends to end up with a lot of my business.

To sum up, if a given Albion sword is exactly what I want, then I will not hesitate to plunk down the money for it. It is to my mind well worth it. But if it isn't, then I am more likely to turn to A&A and have them get me something closer to what I want. For example, I am probably going to approach A&A in the next few months to make a custom piece based on their 12th century sword with modifications inspired by Johann Schmidberger's old European Hand and a Half sword. Now, the aforementioned Albion Count would also be a close match in some respects to what I want, but since Albion likely would not do the mods that I would want, such as a wirewrapped grip, drilling out a recess in the center of the pommel, etc., it'll end up an A&A job.

I certainly hope this doesn't come across as a flame, for it is not intended that way at all! Merely a personal observation, which may apply to no one else but me.
I have generally been of the opinion that they are worth the price, although the two most recent Albions I have aquired have exhibited some minor flaws in the grinding and finishing that offset this view somewhat. The first two I got (Laird and Regent) were absolutely flawless in both fit and finish.

Of all the swords I have handled, including A&A, Albion's components are the most tightly and consistently fitted. Their hilt components also capture details and subtle shapes and proportions better than any other production swords I have seen. Their hollow-ground blades are perhaps the best in the business and I believe were the only ones offered on production pieces for a while after their introduction. They also offer a few sword types which are relatively unique, the Doge being a good example.
I don't know much about swords despite having had a life-long fascination with them. I'm only now starting to actually research and learn about them on a "real," historical level. My sword-ignorance freely admitted, I suspect the price difference between Albion and A&A (and other, less and more pricey makers) is a phenomenon that is similar to many other products. That is: As you get into the higher echelons of quality, craftsmanship, etc. you end up paying much, much more for smaller and smaller steps up in quality and craftsmanship.

For instance, one may drop $200 and get very nice, well balanced sword that holds a decent edge. Drop $500 and you may get a beautiful sword with impeccable balance, an edge that verily cleaves through bricks (yeah, I know...), and is a reasonably accurate copy of an antique weapon or blade type. But one will have to drop nigh $2k if one wants something that is a perfectly accurate recreation of an historical weapon, perfectly balanced, tapered and "harmonized," sexy ground curves, un-scratchable finish, hard-as-nails edge, etc.

Practically speaking one is not getting that much more sword for the dollar. But for those with an expert eye, love for swords, and are intimately acquainted with the minutiae of the history and art of them, it's a world of difference and easy money.

This, of course, ties in with what others have said about overhead, quality tools, and second-to-none researchers and craftsmen - none of which come at minimum wage.

I'm probably wrong, though. :wtf:
I would say with Albions (particularly the museum line) you are paying for the firsthand research of the originals not just the cost of CNCing the replicas. I'll pay extra to have an accurate replica of an original--particularly the hidden part under the grip where many makers cut corners.
The rule of "diminishing returns" is true for most consumer items.

In Home Theater, for example, one can buy an Audio/Video receiver and pay $500 or one might decide to get something better and spend $2500 on it. Is the more expensive one 5 times better than the first? No. It is not 500% better. In fact, it might only be 50% better. Will a $5000 A/V Receiver create sound and video 5 times better than a $1000 A/V receiver? No. It won't.

Fact is: when items get closer to achieving an excellent level of quality, it's those final incremental improvements that are most costly. Only a small group of consumers will appreciate these improvements and be able to justify their expensive.

It is the rule of diminishing returns.


Getting back to swords, we must also realize that the cost of these items is not based solely on the materials and labor required to create and assemble them. There are many other expenses not the least of which is the conceptual/development time that goes into the product. This is not to be underestimated. In non-sword items, this expense is often going to be larger than than per-item hard costs. Let's also not forget that product pricing also includes a means to offset the costs of the business: payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, etc, etc, etc -- all the things that go into making a business.

Questions like, "Hey, this is a comprised of $90 worth of steel, two hours of machining, and four hours of labor. Why am I paying $900 for it?" aren't really considering the whole picture.
Just as the reviews here fall back upon subjective qualitative impressions, I think the relative value of minute finishing touches and handling differences are also going to be subjective at the individual level. Some may perceive multiple fine detail improvements as being worth a few hundred dollars. Others may not.

Just for grins, one can compare roughly similar models. A&A model 089 "12th century sword", and the Albion Count models looked similar to me. (They may be an atypical match.. I don't know. These were just the first two I could identify an obvious visual and similarity in proportions and dimensions...) Although roughly similar in terms of style and rough dimensions, weight and point of balance are actually nearly 20% different. Minor but noticeable things like the grip wrap and sculptural characteristics of the guard are also different. The differences took some extra hours of hand finishing work, even if the overall production schemes were pretty similar. If offered either as "free gift..., choose either,...price unknown", I personally would prefer the Albion Count. But, I am sure that there are others who would perceive the A&A model as more durable and prefer it as a work horse test cutter. I would say they are different objects with different design priorities.
I think the challenge for most of us when considering the price of swords is that they don't command the same importance in our lives that they did for our ancestors, yet we are beginning to demand the same, or better, standards of design, perfomance, and quality of workmanship that our ancestors did. If my life depended on something, would I pay $700 for it? Yes. $1400? Yes. More? Likely. I'd probably spend $30,000 on it, which is what I did for my last car, and that was mass produced with a million other cars, not 100. Outside of one road rage incident last spring, I haven't really been called into battle with it either. If the world turned upside down and I had to take a sword into battle tommorrow, what would I take? An Albion.

I own 2 swords, both of which are Albions, one of which is a maestro line training sword. It gets used hard, and looks as pristine as it did when I first took it out of the box, even after some brutal attacks on 80 year old firs and hemlocks. If you read some of Peter Johnsson's posts, you realize what it takes to design an NG Albion sword to historically accurate detail and put it into production. If you talk to Mike at Albion, you realize what Albion is doing over there. Their product line is inspiring. I have a lot of respect for the philosophy and the delivery at Albion, and the attention and commitment to the final product. Yes, this is 2008, and we can cut our swords on machines. If we didn't, a middle income professional like myself would probably never get to own a real sword, let alone two. Even then, when I did look at a hand forged sword I couldn't bring myself to pay what I had to pay to get a pommel that screwed on. Now, if something does go wrong with my sword, and it was the fault of the armourer, Albion would fix it, free of charge. Personally, I sleep better knowing that a company like Albion exists and that they make the products they make. Every time I look at another maker, I keep coming back to Albion. My money's on the Albion team.

Great post topic by the way, because it really gets a person thinking about whats important, why we do what we do, and why we buy what we buy.
I have yet to decide whether or not to vote on this one, and also, which way I'd vote if I did.

On one hand, some products certainly cost more than comparable products from other makers, and I wouldn't complain if they drastically reduced the prices, but on the other hand, I get the feeling that the lower priced companies, who still make well researched and well executed products, could be underselling themselves. If there really is such a difference between Albion prices and A&A prices, my question would not be "Why does Albion charge so much", but rather, "Why doesn't A&A charge more?"

Let's ignore for the minute the rent, tool costs and other overheads, and look solely at wages for time spent researching, designing and crafting a sword. These days it's an awful lot easier to learn to be a good bricklayer or an accountant than it is to be a swordsmith. Personally, I've never spent money on bricklaying or accountancy and, (no offence intended to bricklayers or accountants) have more respect for the skills of a swordsmith than either of these professions. Why then, would I expect a specialised artisan, creating something no-one else in my street is interested in buying, to charge less for his time than either of the aforementioned people? Perhaps because he enjoys the work? Perhaps because the market won't stand higher prices? Iím not too sure.

I'd probably expect a hand forged piece to cost more than a CNC milled one but then again, it could be made in a backyard shop with very little overheads. If it was still a top quality piece, the smith should then charge extra for his expertise should he not? Basically, as much as I hate to admit it, I think swords should realistically cost more than they do.

Without wanting to get too deeply into wage discrepancy's between developed and developing nations, I've yet to find a production sword (ignoring SLOs), which is priced higher than I think is warranted. I once bought a Chinese made sword and was amazed at the quality I got for such a low price. It made me feel a little guilty, imagining that the wages paid to those who made it must be quite low, but perhaps it's better to be spending my money in countries which are in greater need than others? Again, I donít know.

I guess that, as in any market, you charge what you must to stay afloat, and above that, whatever you think you can get away with. If the customers donít like it they can go elsewhere. Iím not saying that Albion is inflating their prices just because they can, but it is certainly not unheard of in other industries and I would not expect this to be any different in this industry.
Nathan Keysor wrote:
I would say with Albions (particularly the museum line) you are paying for the firsthand research of the originals not just the cost of CNCing the replicas. I'll pay extra to have an accurate replica of an original--particularly the hidden part under the grip where many makers cut corners.

I was wondering when someone should mension that! Albion has Peter on their payroll and he has done an extreem amount of hands on research of swords around the globe.
Thanks for all the great responses and input in this thread. I am learning more daily.

As I said, I will eventually obtain an Albion, sooner than later. I just needed a little padding behind me so that when I did make the decision I could have some honest opinions about their swords being worth the expense. I've not dropped such an amount on a modern sword replica before (if you include the scabbard/belt), so naturally, I am a little pensive because I lack experience as far as Albion goes.

Just seeking understanding and to learn more, which I am doing quite nicely here.

Thanks again for your input.
I guess it is basically a bad idea to participate in a thread that discuss the pricing and philosophy of a product you are involved in, but I could not stop myself from providing a perspective. Take it for what it is worth and donīt let it stop your own discussion and speculations.

The only other way to buy a sword that I have had my hand in making/developing is by buying one directly from me.
I make my living as a sword smith in a western industrialized country that is known for high taxes, VAT and social insurance costs.
That puts me apart from other professionals who work in other areas of the world.
Also take into account that many sword smiths on the market are actually not making their living on their craft, but do it on the side of a regular job. even if they do generate some income from their craft, they do not depend on it. This creates an expectation among consumers of what a decent price for a sword should be.
The only way for me to be able to survive on sword making is to provide swords that are appreciated by my customers enough for me to be able to carve a living from the small overhead that is included in the price. Believe me, I do not make the same wage as your regular plumber or construction worker. And my swords cost many times the price of a comparable Albion made sword.

The income I get from doing design work for Albion does help. It is in form of royalty on swords sold, but it does not amount to a full time wage, when taxes and social fees are payed. My involvement with albion is an attempt to provide first hand research of originals in a semi production setting. The price the swords demand is largely due to the costs of running a company and paying some sort of wage to those employed. It is a fine balance and not a paved road to fortune and wealth.

In my smithy I can produce less than ten swords in a year. My income has to be supported in great part on those ten swords. You may calculate what you yourselves would like to charge for such work, and be able to survive on it. remember that taxes and social insurance has to be payed as well plus rent for the workshop, materials and tools.

When Albion introduced the Next generation line of swords we entered the market not by undercutting our colleagues and competitors. The price level was the same or higher than any comparable product. In many or most cases the swords we developed did not have a comparable alternative on the market, but rather expanded the field of available production or semi production swords.
In fact, I had a hope that other makers would follow suit and have the courage to ask more for qualified work so that a heathy business could develop. If semi custom work had this price level, it would seem logical that custom work would be at least double the price or more. The sad truth is that most makers are stuck with expectations on their pricing which in fact prohibits a development of skills and a ralistic basis for living. With such a market, it is very difficult for skilled artisans to persue their craft, and instead invites compromises and "nearly good enoughs" to flourish.
The pricing was not just a marketing idea, but a result of the cost in the process of making these swords demanded this price for us to be able to support ourselves doing it. It is true what has been said before on this thread: with a certain level of attention to detail, a lot of work has to be spent getting it right. It is true that the blade blanks are milled and that the hilt components are cast. That does not mean it is just a metter to throw a sword together from these parts. It takes hand work by skilled and trained artisans to do it. The sum of it all is that my research and design is the basis that allows for parts to be made on a tight level of tolerance, so that gifted craftsmen can focus on getting the fine details right. Nothing in the way of edge geometry is fixed in the blade, but has to be shaped by hand. This is on the same level that I do in my smithy, starting from a forged blade blank. The milled blade blank is actually design to share the same characteristics as the forged blank must have to react properly in heat treat and result in a good blade after grinding. The grinding is nothing automatic, but very much attention demanding. Anyone who has not done this will have problem visualizing the scope of the task.
Developing these swords over these last eight years has meant that everything I do and Albion produces is compared to cheaper products. I have also made an effort to be approachable on this forum to be able to meet customers and their questions. In the end, there is not way to show what you mean by the idea "Sword" but by making it. Nothing else will convey the complexity, presence and impact of these objects. I firmly believe there i something to learn by making and studying swords. The making of swords is about learning about swords.

I am very grateful that I have a group of customers who has shown me great patience and support over the years. I would not be in this line of work if it was not for them. Making swords in this age is not like putting together just any kind of product, but you still have to function in a setting and system that is constructed around regular business. It can be a challenge to get ends to meet.
It is also the most exiting and interesting task I can imagine. That is why I do it.
Nathan Robinson wrote:
Yes they should be cheaper, but they are priced accordingly.

I want them to be less money. They're prohibitively expensive (to me).

Nathan summed it up for me. I have one Albion sword and I love it. I wish I could pre-order a Dane (again). But even with the holiday sale it is beyond me financially to do so.

One point I will make in regards to Albion is that when you order a sword, they actually deliver it to you within the time specified. That in itself is worth a bit of $ to me.
I have mixed feelings about Albion now-a-days. I still think Albion does some of the finest work out there, and you pay for quality. And I understand that times are tough and businesses have to raise prices to keep up with their costs. However, I have a problem with the price on their NG swords not yet in production for YEARS now increasing along with all the rest. Take for instance the Dane. There has been to my knowledge at least two price increases since the design for the Dane was released in late 2004, and the sword is still not in hand. Yet the price on preorder of the Dane has increased on each overall price increase. The research is done on it and all the extant designs, so that is not the reason. The waxes are carved or not, but the Dane looks to me much simpler in design than the Valkryja's complex pommel and cross carvings, yet costs $600 more. I'm sure that the sketch does not do the planned finished product of the Dane justice, but still it languishes in development hell, along with nine other unfortunate designs, for four years. Still the prices go up. I've seen the price on the Crecy go from the $580 I paid for it two years ago to the $800 that it is now: a 37% increase. Even the "lowly" Squire Line has gone from $300 for the two single handers to $430 over that same time frame, a 30% price increase. And development of that line is totally stagnant.

On another note, I have a sword in queue with Albion now that I will pay off in August of 2009, which means I'll get it sometime around October 2009 if they start it after the sword is paid off and an approximate two month wait exists at that time. And that doesn't take into account the time it will take to have someone craft a scabbard for it. Is that acceptable? To me it is, since I have arranged this, but just oh so very barely so. Why do I have to go this route? Because twenty-six swords of Albion's NG line are now more than one of my home's monthly mortgage payments. Another six more are within $20 of my mortgage payment. I don't have that much disposable income; I've never had. So I am stuck with a $100 service charge on a year long payment plan that I put in just before the last price increase. One thing is sure: regardless of my admiration of Albion's fine work, the Sherriff I have on order will be my last Albion unless I become fabulously wealthy.
Nathan Robinson wrote:
The rule of "diminishing returns" is true for most consumer items.

Glad you brought this up. This rule also applies if you buy more of a certain kind of goods, and in this way, it's probably going to keep me from buying another Albion this year.

Or, to put it this way: I can spend my christmas money on either a new TV or a nice, sharp sword.
Right now I have two nice sharp mid-price ( 500 to 700Ä - for me that's a lot of money ) swords and one crappy TV. Having a third good & expensive sword is not going to give me as much, as having one really good TV. Diminishing returns as well.

As for Albion's pricing in general: I understand their pricing from the supply point of view, but sadly, the proposed 11% increase in prices for Albion Europe will put their swords in a price range where I will not be willing to buy a new, full-price next gen. Supply, demand and my income will simply not find any common ground.
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