Why do people buy swords?

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Why do people buy swords?

Postby Bryce » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:54 pm

G'day Guys,

I was driving the tractor this morning with too much time to think and it got me wondering why some people buy swords. What I mean is, everyday there are a lot of swords sold and very few of them are bought by people who frequent this forum. I can't imagine collecting swords, without wanting to talk to people about them and learn more about them. I know there are a lot of people out there who probably look at the forum, but never join or post. I was the same, but eventually there came a point where I wanted to ask questions and contribute to the discussion. Maybe if you live in a city you have access to other like minded people thru societies and clubs, so you don't need to join a forum like this one?

Who buys the really high end swords? I don't think it is anyone here is it? Where do they learn about swords and who do they talk to about them? Even if I was rich and could afford swords like those, I would still be a member of this forum to learn more?

Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Will Mathieson » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:44 pm

I find some long time collectors frequent militaria shows. They tend not to want others to know what they have for security reasons. They share with a tight knit group of friends.
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby sword335 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:24 am

Who buys the really high end swords? I don't think it is anyone here is it? Where do they learn about swords and who do they talk to about them? Even if I was rich and could afford swords like those, I would still be a member of this forum to learn more?

Oh, sometimes it is. Some people want lots of different swords and some just want a few fine examples. I’ve heard Japanese sword collectors say the ultimate collection is one sword- the very best they can find !
Some people do like to keep their collections private, possibly for security reasons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t study the subject. Then there are the “investors” and the “accumulators” who buy anything regardless.
We all have different reasons to collect and collect different things but the serious collector will always want to learn and is happy also teach.

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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Richard » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:12 pm

What do we consider ‘high end swords’? Is it a value thing? over £10K? Over £20K? Over £50K. Over £100K?
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Richard » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:20 pm

So which of the two swords below do people prefer? The battered sword of Lt Chatteron, 12LD carried at Waterloo but now with all B&G long gone, or the one with a perfect B&G blade but anonymous?
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Bryce » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:36 pm

G'day Richard,

Chatterton's of course. As to what is a high end sword, I was thinking along the lines of LLoyd's Patriotic Fund swords.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Richard » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:13 pm

Hi Bryce,
Well I, like you, would choose Chatterton’s sword every time but I know several collectors who would choose the B&G sword first. That says to me that the reason you buy swords is history but the reason others buy is maybe because they are works of art .... There can be many reasons why people buy.

Also, I agree that lloyds swords should obviously be ‘high end’ based on commercial value but surely they are the ‘high end’ of ‘high end’? Surely there are many other swords that might be considered ‘high end’? Again, it is subjective - I have a few that I consider high end but others might not think so. To a collector of Indian army swords, Scinde Horse might be considered high end.

In the end, does it all really matter? Enjoy the swords you have for whatever reason

Richard
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Gordons Horse » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:10 pm

Gentlemen,

I'm guessing I'd be fairly safe in saying that not many, if any of you would own a sword with very heavy corrosion on the blade; such corrosion to the extent that you can see light through the rust hole in the blade.

A troopers sword so no officers name, no associated family history, and no scabbard however, it is the only troopers sword I have ever seen that bears the engraved regimental marking of 3 over SH which is indicative of being issued to a troopers the 3rd Scinde Horse which was raised in 1857 during the Mutiny, and disbanded in 1882: the same sword subsequently re-issued to the Poona Horse, and accordingly with later style marking PH over 156 punched on the rear of the quillon

Bought some years ago in a Lot along with a few bayonets for the princely sum of fifty pounds, and once I sold the bayonets, the sword owed m nothing, but with the Scinde Horse marking on the hilt, for me with my interest, a sword which is priceless.

Then there's Wilkinson sword which I payed a fair sum for over thirty years ago, no name, no provenance other than EIC crest however, I've not seen another special pattern sword the same during a period which is now approaching four decades.

Should one pass by a sword of considerable rarity just because we can't give it a name, or the condition might be down.

Having said that, there is no doubt that provenance is a paramount factor, and can obviously contribute to the ultimate value of a piece, however mint condition doesn't always cut the cake for histories sake.

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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Bryce » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:53 am

G'day Guys,

I can absolutely see why Gordon would want a sword with great provenence, even though it is in very rough condition. To me the best swords are the ones with provenance, because they are the key to a great story, but I also like swords with variant blades, hilts etc, because I can appreciate how the sword's designer was trying to make it a better tool. Blue and Gilt 1796 light cavalry swords in great condition are fabulous, but I only need to own one, because to me, with out any provenance they are basically all the same.

What I was really trying to get at with this thread was the question " Why do most people buy swords and not participate in forums such as this one?"

I think I have a better understanding now. Most people, (unlike me) live in cities and have access to societies, clubs, militaria shows etc, so can connect with like minded people, without going on an internet forum. I have chosen a poor place to live from a sword collecting perspective, but perhaps it has other benefits.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:16 am

I guess I'm a little different in that part of my income is to teach historical fencing, following Georgian and Victorian manuals and methods. A parade/dress or piquet sword usually has little interest to me - I lust after the real fighting swords, whether they be for troopers or good quality functional officers' swords. That means that my collection is an odd mixture of non-regulation or special order officer's swords, Indian Army swords, good quality regulation swords and basically anything that is a proper weapon, including Indo-Persian weapons. Because I'm interested in the fighting styles and contrasting advantages of different weapons, I am often drawn to swords simply because they are different to the norm or show variety in handling. I always prefer if a sword is service sharpened.
Then there are the swords that I want because of their provenance, relating to my primary interests in the Sikh Wars, Crimea, Mutiny, China, New Zealand, Sudan and NW Frontier/Afghanistan - this relates back to my interests above, because swords got used more in those campaigns and there are more descriptive accounts of close combat from them.
For me condition is nice to have, but not my primary goal - the nature of the weapon and its provenance are definitely the priorities.
In terms of what people buy for, I think all the reasons under the sun, from just wanting one cool sword to have on the wall to financial investment. What often surprises me is that at least in the circles I mix in, sword and gun collectors are usually different people. Personally I also shoot and have a particular love of Victorian revolvers, but most of the people I shoot black powder guns with have absolutely no interest in swords, while most of the people I fence with have no interest in guns. To me that's strange, but that seems to be 'normal'.
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Will Mathieson » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:40 pm

My interests include swords, bayonets, modern and antique firearms. From modern AR carbines to 1800's muskets, modern pistols to BP pistols. Trooper swords and officers swords with provenance. I do not collect swords just for their pattern or pristine condition but I do collect them more than anything else.
Most collectors I know collect both sword,firearm and bayonet.
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Brian Wolfe » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:27 pm

Recently I decided to concentrate solely on British swords having completed a “type collection” of British Military black powder firearms along with other themes; however I have been “blade obsessed” for many decades. There is something about handling real edged weapons and studying their use that goes beyond the simple acquiring of yet another specimen. I have studied Toyama style Japanese swordsmanship as well as competition fencing. I am too old to get involved in HEMA but do follow Matt Easton’s You Tube channel with great interest.
Finding someone, anyone, to discuss edged weapons is almost impossible here in the backwaters of Ontario Canada but thanks to a fellow member here, Cathey, I found this site. I write about British swords, under “Let’s Talk British Swords” on another forum with, from what I can see, one member showing any interest! No matter I like to research and write anyway, even if there are only few interested.
Thanks for a great forum and I hope to be a member for a long time Deo volente.
Regards
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Gordons Horse » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:04 am

Purely for interest sake regards Matt's comment on piquet weight swords, I make mention of one particular Wilkinson sword which on the surface may seem rather insignificant however, appearances can be deceiving.

The sword in question is piquet weight as mentioned but only "Spring Proof", that is it doesn't have an inset proof slug however it is fully sharpened, and on that account one might ask why was it sharpened and why is it of any significance.

Provenance is the word! It's the service history of the Gilbert Nicholetts who originally purchased the sword from Wilkinson in July 1870 that holds the key.

[i]Served with the 1st Scind Irregular Horse with the Persian Expeditionary Force in 1857, at the bombardment and capture of the fort of Mohumra. (Medal with Clasp).

[i]Served in the campaign of 1857-58 in the North-West Provinces with the Punjaub Movable Column, and served against the Futteyghur rebels, including the action of Gungeree on 14th December 1857, and the advance on and occupation of the enemy's position at Khas Gunge; in the action with the Rohilcund rebels at Anopsur, in the skirmish at Dinapore and destruction. of the enemy's boats and in other minor affairs on the banks of the Ganges; served in the campaign for the subjugation of Oude in 1858, in the attack on the enemy's fortified position at Rampore Kussia by Brigadier *Wetheralls Force, and employed with a detachment in support of the storming party on that occasion, and throughout the remainder of the campaign; present at the surrender and occupation of the fort of Amethee, and subsequently with Lord Clyde's Column at the occupation of Sunkerpore, the action with Beni Madho at Dhoondia Keria, and with a movable column detached after the action to drive the enemy across the Goomtee; rejoined the force with the Commander in Chief at Lucknow, and served throughout the operations across the Gogra, including the advance on and occupation of Baraitch; action with the Nana's Force at Brijiclia and occupation of the fort, capture of the-fort of Mujeediah, and defeat of the Nana at Banki, and final expulsion of the rebels from Oude across the River Raptee 31st December 1858. (Medal).[/i][/i]

He had briefly held the position of 2nd in Command, of the 2nd Regiment Jacob's Rifles, and further in his career was appointed Commandant of the Bombay 29th Native Infantry, or 2nd Belooch Regiment, 12th February 1867.

...when, in October, 1877, the regiment was ordered up to the frontier, the high state of discipline and efficiency in which it left Karachi, was sufficient to show that Sir Robert Napier’s confidence had not been misplaced.

In October, 1878, Colonel Nicholetts proceeded, in command of the regiment from Dera Ghazi Khan to Quetta, to join the force under General Biddulph which was in course of concentration, in view of the impending hostilities with Afghanistan. He took part with the regiment in the advance into the enemy’s country in November, and was present at the action at Takht-i-pul and the subsequent entry into Kandahar on the 8th January, 1879; and afterwards between January and July, in the expeditions to Girishk, Har Kalabist, and the Khakrez Valley.
His distinguished career was now drawing to a close. In the second week of July, while in command of the regiment at Kokaran, he was seized with cholera, to the ravages of which disease he succumbed on the 18th of the month.
Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholetts was a thorough soldier, distinguished for the great love he bore for his profession. Though he was strict in maintaining discipline in the regiment which he had raised to such a high state of efficiency, his genial manner and kindness of heart rendered him deservedly beloved by all ranks. By his untimely death the Indian Army sustained a heavy loss.
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Jerry Cottrell » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:46 am

Interesting question Bryce, and one which I guess got people thinking, as you can see from the number of replies.

For my part it started with a fascination for history, military in particular. Many years ago out of curiosity I went to an arms and armour viewing at a major London auction house and was lost from there on. Interest concentrated around French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, collecting both flintlocks and swords from the major protagonists.

Provenance is important but I dont get particularly hung up on particular individuals or knowing a piece was at Waterloo. Good honest pieces in decent condition interest are what I look for, with makers names if possible. In recent years I have collected French swords, and these are well served by a wealth of information on the control marks and stamps which allow good authentification and dating.

Your post also also asked about contributing to forums such as this, and why more people don't use them more. For my French pieces I have joined a French language forum which has been excellent, both in stretching my school French and providing a rich source of expertise. It has been well worth the effort. I am also resolved to post and comment more regularly on this and other forums, so well done for giving me a nudge! :D

Regards,
Jerry
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Lee F. McGee » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:52 pm

I’m probably a good example of someone who collects but doesn’t post much. I haven’t been collecting long, only a few years. I have some security concerns, but that’s more related to who I talk about my hobby with in my day to day life.

The main reason I don’t post is that I just don’t know much yet, and I’ve had experience in other forums (non-antique and non-historical) where people post a lot just to drive their post count up, or, just as bad, that they like to hear themselves talk.

So unless I really think I have something to offer, I won’t post.

Regarding the side question about why we collect- for me, it’s the experience of holding history in your hand. It’s one thing to read about what these guys did. It’s a completely different experience holding that blade thinking about what the experience of life or death with the blade in hand was like.

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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Brian Wolfe » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:29 pm

Why more sword collectors don’t belong to forums like this one is not only a good question but one that has no single answer. True, the older collectors may not be computer savvy and of my generation (born in the 1940’s) I am probably on that cusp. However it may be a matter of comfort level for them as they are used to face to face discussions and “typing” on the keyboard is akin to writing a letter. Also, in the same manner as letter writing, the response is seldom immediate. Unless you accidently insult someone and then they seem as though they can’t wait to offer a rebuttal. The other aspect of older collectors is the feeling that they have heard it all and what could some kid know that they don’t already know; those darn smart aleky sixty year olds. Many older collectors are very guarded about letting others know about their collections. It goes beyond security and many times it is a matter of having grown up in leaner times and spending money on non-essentials brings with it a small feeling of guilt. It’s a “hard wired” thing.

There is also a question as to the type of collector we are talking about. Those who collect purely for financial gain probably care less for the history of swords and swordsmanship than those on forums. Their interest may be with current market values even though the return on the dollar even over several decades is probably one of the poorest returns or all investment possibilities. It’s a great story to tell your spouse, “It’s an investment for the future, dear”. A little advice Sunshine; she is not rolling her eyes because she believes you.

Other collectors are accumulators or even hoarders; organized and item specific perhaps, but hoarders all the same. They approach collecting much like many of us, when we were kids and had coin collections. We would get our hands on a “coin collection book” that had thick pages with blind holes drilled in them to hold the different sized coins. You would look through change and” plug the holes” with any penny or other coin of the correct date. There were Edward VII and even Victorian coins still in circulation at that time. I didn’t matter as to the condition a “new” date for the collection was all that mattered.

There are also the “mine’s bigger than yours” collectors; numbers count, not condition, quantity over quality. The obsession to fill a room overshadows the history behind the collectables and the sole driving force is to impress others. You can just imagine visitors on their way to the home of such a collector having a conversation like, “Whatever you do don’t mention swords we’ll be there for days”.

I think the other “problem” with any forum and the membership numbers worry is that younger collectors just don’t have the time, even if they have the cash to collect. Family, careers, bills and other obligations get in the way leaving little time for forums.

Those who wake up in the middle of the night and say, “That’s the wrong sword”, after seeing the painting of the 28th at Quatre Bras (1815) the evening before, “that’s the Pattern 1822 the officer is using to direct that sergeant’s fire”. When I see that part of the painting I can’t help but think, “There’s a French cuirassier with three seconds to live.” Then I see the sergeant has his Brown Bess at full cock and cut that back to two seconds. As long as there are those who have a need to know and share what they know there will always be a place for forums such as this one. We can’t expect all of the different types of collectors for be on forums and just need to be glad for the ones who are.

Regards
Brian
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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby sword335 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:26 pm

I think the main reason that this forum is small is that we don’t encourage the one post wonders who just want to know what the old sword in the junk shop is worth and are too lazy to try and find out for themselves. Also,overall, our field of interest is very small - mainly British swords from the late 18th Centuary to early 20th Centuary.
One point that I think has been overlooked in answer to the original question is that swords can also be works of art. When women had less of a say in how a man might spend his money and before there were fast cars, yachts and private jets men showed off their wealth with fine armour and weapons. A sword or gun could be considered as male jewelery and the finest craftsmen were involved in their manufacture. This can be seen in Georgian times when people like Morrisett or Rundell, Bridge and Rundell who were the greatest goldsmiths of their day made sword hilts.
O.K. these are “high end “ swords but there are plenty of other makers who produced works of art that are available at much more modest prices. What about Prosser, Osborn and Gunby or Salter ? Isn’t the etching on a top class Wilkinson blade a work of art ?
I collect Georgian swords because I’m interested in the history of the period, I love swords with provenance but I also appreciate the workmanship. If I buy a standard troopers sword I want it to be in as near perfect condition as possibles as it is unlikely to have any definite pronvenance. The more interesting the history or finer the quality the more I will make a concession to condition.
We all collect for different reason but it is the overlapping interest and knowledge that makes this forum and we all owe a debt of gratitude to Richard for setting it up.

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Re: Why do people buy swords?

Postby Gordons Horse » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:40 am

Sword 335,

Excellent analysis and in terms of your comment regarding works of art, one of my favourite books is on the subject of 17th and 18th century metalwork, that is decorative work that was largely associated with the aristocratic, and regal homes and palaces, and also churches.

Such work that includes grand balustrades, gates, park fences and railings etc., all of which was executed by the master smiths of the period. Whilst the subject matter of the book does not include swords, a study of architectural trends and fashions of the respective periods, certainly shows that the decorative features, engraving and etching patterns associated with swords, was very much influenced by architectural and fashion trends of the day. Just like gentlemen showing their wealth through the acquisition of a fine sword, the homes they lived in also made a statement, and decorative metalwork took a prime place.

Having been involved in decorative metalwork (say wrought ironwork) for the majority of my working life, I have an enormous appreciation for the early (high end ) swords that form the basis of your interest, in particular the skills of the people who executed the work; many skills long lost as time has progressed to our now very modern world (by comparison).

My own area or period of interest is 19th Century, roughly speaking from William IV (but largely Victorian) through to the end of the century; having said that, I will always hold the product of the earlier sword smiths in highest regard, such as Richard's most beautiful 1796 Light Cavalry officers sword, plus the many exotic and wonderful swords that were the produced during the period George III, George IV and William IV,; many such swords which are certainly works of art.
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