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Thread: Tips For The Sword Collector

  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    sell off the bottem two thirds of your collection to improve the top third.

    If a couple of hundred is what seperateds you from what you like and what you love, save a couple of extra months. i.e do not settle for less
    I agree. Buy the best examples you can afford.
    That way you have swords that hold their value and when a better example comes along you can partially offset the cost of the better example by selling your current one.

  2. #27
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    Good tips, guys. My area of collecting has fluctuated from time to time. However, it works for me. I get to see a wide variety of swords.

    I also agree on selling off the lesser quality to support the upper.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  3. #28
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    How many of you have friends, relatives or just visitor's to their house that want to handle their sword collection? Do you allow them to handle the collection? Do you you make them wear gloves?

    To me, whether or not someone besides myself handles one of my swords depends upon the condition of the sword. If the condition is sound, then I have not problem with anyone, including children, holding one of my swords. I believe that part of collecting antique swords is educational. I believe in educating others about swords. I think it is enjoyable to see how children react. Of course, the most common reaction is suprise at the weight.

    As a father of two small children, it is important to me that I educate my daughters about my collection. Not just that these are daddy's and do not touch them, but also what they are and their significance. One day my eldest (at age 5) asked me to tell her about the swords. We had a lecture about the various parts -- blade, pommel, grip, etc. Recently, when one of her school friend's was over and asked if the swords hanging on the wall are real, my daughter said proudly "Yes they are. That's my daddy's sword collection."

    Of course, I don't alllow anyone to do as they please with my collection. Any handling is done under my supervision. Also, I wipe down each sword after being handled.

    Others my differ. That's just my approach.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  4. #29
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    handeling

    I have very light white cotton gloves for my antiques. the new swords I simply say 'dont touch the blades, hey are sharp and the sweat and oils on your hands are corrosive and bad for the steel.

    Last week a friend of mine son had a report on Vikings for his class, he is 12. My friend asked if i had some things he could use for show and tell so i got out my maile shirt, two helms and some of my 'picture' books. when they came over and picked up the stuff I had my swords out for him to inspect. Now granted my friend is a fine man and a good father but even so the respect his son showed for the blades was charming, but not half as charming as the look on his face when with great care i handed him a Clontarf and slid the sheath off leaving him holding a live blade. I really had a good time explaining weapons and armour to him. I always do though.

    For demos I have some of Paul Ches practical swords, nice and dull because one never knows with a large group off people.

    Its young adults say 15ish and up 40 or so to say I find are the ones that if they are going to do something stupid or silly.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    Its young adults say 15ish and up 40 or so to say I find are the ones that if they are going to do something stupid or silly.

    Thanks for your comments, David. I've not thought about having reproductions for demos. Also, reproductions would allow people to see and feel the different between the real sword and the reproduction.

    You are right about the silly and the foolish. On more than one occasion I have accidently lowered a blade into a piece of furniture. Hard to explain those nicks in the wood.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  6. #31
    Good tip, Andre. Not many visitors come through my house that are interested in swords, so it is usually just me handling them. I am a little obsessive compulsive about my swords. Here are my rules for myself, feel free to laugh at me:

    If handling swords without touching the blade:
    1. If the sword has a brass hilt, no gloves are needed.
    2. If the sword has a steel or iron hilt, wear gloves.

    If handling swords an blades will be touched:
    1. Use gloves, Jonathan!

    These rules apply only to me because I am generally lazy and don't want to wipe down a sword if I can avoid the extra work!

    In September I enjoyed my first experience in sharing my collection with the general public. I let people handle the swords and shelved my anxieties about skin oils. As far as who I allowed to handle my swords, I usually sized-up the individual. If a visitor to our tables asked permission to handle a sword, that indicated to me that they would be careful and respectful, so I would acquiesce. If someone (usually teenage boys) just started to grab at a sword I would ask that they just look.

    Jonathan

  7. #32
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    My own collection is located in a bonded area, outside the normal access or line of sight for any visitors to my house, so handling concerns are rarely an issue.
    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post
    Thanks for your comments, David. I've not thought about having reproductions for demos. Also, reproductions would allow people to see and feel the different between the real sword and the reproduction.

    You are right about the silly and the foolish. On more than one occasion I have accidently lowered a blade into a piece of furniture. Hard to explain those nicks in the wood.

    Andre
    I realize that the bulk of your collection are military swords and getting a reproduction of those may be a bit difficult. I use Albion for Viking demos, and a Kris Cutlery 'viking' sword. I have a very good Polish Hussar saber that a unnamed reproduction but i have no idea where or who made it. My grandfather was Polish and I would like to get some more Polish stuff. Unfortunetly the last show i went to the Polish swords i saw were pushing 4000 to 5000 USD so out of my range.

    The Paul Chen practicals are not 'good' representations of a historical blade, but they are good dull swords that a child with close supervision in a audience can handle with out fear of cuts. My Persian stuff stays in the house, well old and unhandled. most of those blades are sound, but they are old and were in a pristine environment for preservation (the desert) and now they are in North Carolina, it is very humid and I am very careful in their handleing. (Frankly it is not lazyness about cleaning and oiling, I dont want Manachur scolding me.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I realize that the bulk of your collection are military swords and getting a reproduction of those may be a bit difficult.
    Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. It appears that new reproductions are coming on the market all the time. I say unfortunately, because its only a matter of time before the experienced fakers get hold of them, artificially age them and put them for sale as originals.

    Actually, I bought a reproduction sword just for the very purpose of seeing first hand how good the quality is. The one I bought is not very good and would not fool anyone who has studied originals the least bit. However, with artificial aging, I could see some novices wasting their money on one.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  10. #35
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    Andre, I was thinking that 'high end' repos would be hard to get.

    It would be a wonderful addtion to this thread if people would post tips to spotting fakes.

    One is when you find one, doing a search (ebay) and see how many more pop up looking exactly alike

    Or one seller having LOTs of swords, this is not a hard and fast rule though.

    I got stuck with a waring states sword early on in my collecting

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    Andre, I was thinking that 'high end' repos would be hard to get.

    It would be a wonderful addtion to this thread if people would post tips to spotting fakes.

    One is when you find one, doing a search (ebay) and see how many more pop up looking exactly alike

    Or one seller having LOTs of swords, this is not a hard and fast rule though.

    I got stuck with a waring states sword early on in my collecting
    David,

    in a tip above I posted some info on spotting fake Confederate swords -- or rather, how to tell if one is real. I think that you will see some more pointers from different folks over time.

    There are many of us who have purchased the "Rodwell" p1853, mistakingly believing it to be a true mid 19th century sword. While that sword is not a fake per se, it is mismarketed.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  12. #37
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    Searching SFI

    One bit of a challenge can sometimes be making the most use of what our onboard search engine has to offer. Dates and names are two very powerful keywords and when combined with a username can bring up some pretty succint dialog and information. Searching by username only can be frustrated as a search for all posts by a given user is limited to 500 results but add a keyword or date and things narrow quite well. play around with the options in the advanced search function and you'll find there are ways it can be coaxed to bring up a great deal thought unobtainable.

    Another limitation is that we can't find a word with this engine if less than four letters. A good tool is Google, I don't know if other engines will work in similar fashion. Got to www.google.com start your search string with site:forums.swordforum.com and then your search term(s). This enables inquiry and results that are often frustrated by the VB search feature onboard here.

    Be creative if using the onboard VB engine. There are times when thinking about parts of conversation or reference that a companion keyword to the primary focus may yield the specific thread or post you are looking for. Again, combining with a username can achieve some remarkable hits.

    I find search engines quite useful, to the point where I have a Wikipedia widget via my Opera browser and often use Google as a primary vault for many bookmarks. it is often easier for me to find some of my favorites through a search engine than plowing through some of my indexes and folders.

    Happy hunting and if I can ever be of help finding something here, don't hesitate to ask.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; I'm sure there are more tips to follow and even more thought on search engines, these have been but a few
    Last edited by Glen C.; 11-05-2007 at 09:06 AM.

  13. #38
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    Lot O' Links

    This could be considered part two of my post last week. I had initially included similar thought and lost the post to the ether. Lost on the internet? No way!

    From cuff modems to broadband I still dream of, the internet is quite a site and has changed enormously since the 1980s. Well, actually, lots of sites. Stated towards the end of last weeks post was an admission from an internet junky that uses Google as much as bookmarks. As much semblence of order as I might try to maintain, it can still devolve to madness.


    When first mainlining the internet, more than a dedcade ago, I found things like internet jumpstations quite useful. What I have found even more useful is to always check out link pages of sites I might visit. it can cut down on clutter but (as the previous link shows) never eliminate it. The first page actually reflects what was in my unsorted inbox for links at the time.

    Some do incredible jobs assembling links and sorting their own folders. I try to be good but I'll never reach the pinnacle one of my heros has.
    www.sirclisto.com Believe it or not, Sir Clisto was an early favorite and largely responsible for what a mess I make of my links. Many sites are quite a bit more orderly and I never pass up a chance to bookmark another

    What is useful for collectors in viewing link pages is that one soon sees common denominators and link sharing. While not always an indication of "goodness" it means someone else found a site useful and it often can also be an indication of trustworthy/networked information.

    Ok, this is supposed to be about tips for the collector. Well, I collect links If your bookmark folders are many, a folder marked, or remembered as your inbox can be quite helpful. Save all that pesky sorting for later. Put it right at the top and never have to srcoll through or open other folders first. My problem now is folders within folders

    Do categorize and subcategorize. Was that general reference, sword reference, dealer pages with sword references, sword references with dealer links, genealogy pages with sword references? Oh my gawwwd! it never ends.

    Neither does the internet and that joke is as old as cuff modems.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; my old inbox started with the letter A and the first book mark was a folder starting with the letter Z. Z had all my folders in it and the first bookmark in that folder was the A folder (I had y yy yyy yyyy yyyyy prefixes back then too)
    Last edited by Glen C.; 11-23-2007 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Removed inactive link and associated rambling

  14. #39
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    Tip for the week of November 19th

    To clean or not to clean, that is the question? We see these questions on the forum all the time. "How should I clean this antique sword that I just obtained?" To me, the first question really is "should I clean this antique sword that I just obtained?"

    There is some division among collectors on the subject. Some say leave it alone. Others say its okay to clean if its "conservation." Still others think make it look like new. Personally, I fall somewhere in between leave it alone and conservation. I only clean away things that may cause further damage. That is, I typically only clean active rust, grease, oil and the like. I do not clean to remove any patination. After that, its "conservation" for me. A good wax (I use Renaissance) on all metal surfaces and a moisturizer (I use Pecard's) on leather grips and scabbards. Periodic inspection and dusting with reapplication of the Reinaissance and Pecard's if need be.

    That's where I sit. How about the rest of you?

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  15. #40
    I fall in line with your thinking, Andre. I will address anything that will cause further damage/deterioration, and then use a gun and reel cloth (impregnated with silicone) to wipe down all metal surfaces. I have not ventured into treating leather, but now that you mention Pecard's, I will have to get some and try it out on a dried-out leather grip.

    Jonathan

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post
    That's where I sit. How about the rest of you?
    My (gradually evolving) philosophy came from owning one or two swords of which I would say things like "It's a good blade, but the grip lets it down". These were always the swords that I felt dissatisfied with, and therefore usually the ones I decided to sell off first. My approach now is only to bring the whole sword up to approximately the condition of its best part: that is, if a sword has a good grip but a stained blade, then I'll try to clean the blade so it complements the grip. If a sword hilt is good but the scabbard looks tired, then I work on the scabbard. I see no point in trying to restore beyond these levels unless you intend to carry the sword on parade.

    If all the different components of the sword are in roughly the same state of preservation, then cleaning to remove dirt and anything actively harmful (such as rust) is all that's needed. I'd make a slight exception for leather parts, since these will inevitably dry out over time, especially in modern centrally-heated homes, so occasional moisturising is probably a good thing.

    John
    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  17. #42
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    It is an interesting problem/situation at times. Indeed, it can be a difficult decision for some (like me). I feel there is a real difference between loose dirt and patina, active rust and hard oxidation.

    My last piece in had a very attractive look in the dealer photos.
    Even in hand, what seemed like a nice warm old brass look. The blade was another story and almost felt tacky, definitely thick with whatever had coated it. Actually, it's hard to say if it was more than years of chimney soot and "attic" clime. There were red sections of rust going on and I feel I have at least stabilized those. Knowing dark spots are there forever, unless removing some metal, turned my attention to the hilt. What a very little bit of light cleaning revealed was most of its oriiginal gilt. The entire hilt with good coverage, underneath a layer of what was atrractive in its own right but smothering what turns out to be gilt, quite richly applied. I may do some more gentle cleaning yet but have reached a point that shows old wear, down to the base metal, so that is about as far as I'll go.

    My favorite tool for soft scrubbing intricate metal detail is a Braun oscillating toothbrush and (don't laugh) foaming aerosal Windex. Gentle cleaning solutions are easy to control. I did use this on this reeded bone grip as well. Not to the point of bleaching white but a lot cleaner. What I found there was two hairline cracks I would never have known about.

    Below are pictures of some cleaning I did on a piece quite some time ago.
    The detail was worth revealing through gentle cleaning. What I hate to do, or see done, is remove detail of any kind, or impose new marks. i do get myself in trouble by going to far at times but the work on this piece was worth revealing. Individual leaves on idividual stems. The rest of the piece saw no more than some gentle cleaning of the bone and some light oil (early on) to the blade. I now do no more than dust it off a couple of times a year.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; Before and after of the other mentioned, another time
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  18. #43
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    There certainly are times when cleaning can reveal the unexpected. Once I took a gamble on a 1796 LC sabre on ebay. When I received it, I was glad that I hadn't paid much for it because the sword and scabbard were both heavily coated in active rust. I started the long process of cleaning. To my suprised, cleaning revealed that the sword and scabbard were both regimentally marked.

    Sometimes, things work out.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  19. #44
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    A good discussion point. I will carefully clean swords when they come into my hands and then I tend to leave them alone to patina. I start out with the idea of conservation prior to any restoration attempt. Removing active rust, verdigris, grime, etc is almost always on the agenda.

    This usually includes treatment of leather grips, scabbards, etc and this is always a fine line but I believe it is conservation unless you use color in the leather treatment which then slides over the line into restoration of course. Doing nothing simply allows the sword to degrade by rot and I don't want that to happen on my watch. We are all just the current owners of these artifacts of material culture.

    I will almost always clean blades unless the only other option is to stabilize the rust by sealing the blade from the air. Active rust must be removed (IMHO) while black rust can be left alone as it has already sealed itself off from the air. I justify this by asking what would the original owner of this sword have done... would he have left it rusty or would he have removed the grime and active rust? I was factory trained as an armorer and I use only approved armorer techniques or more often only what the soldier who was issued the sword would have used. That is to say, 0000 fine steel wool held in the hand instead of an electric polishing wheel on an unplated blade. Some will disagree and that is perfectly OK.

    My rule of thumb on brass, nickel, etc fittings is 51% of the original finish or patina. If there is 51% left I will typically leave it alone. Under that, I will consider more agressive cleaning. If there is 59% of the original gilt over brown brass on the hilt, I may clean it with sudsy amonia and then leave it alone. If there is 41% of old gold GAR lead paint on on a US Civil War sword I may leave it alone as this coating goes to the history of the sword, even though it did not come with paint on it from the factory. I have no problem removing 99% of later silver paint applied by some interior decorator who may have hung the sword on his wall as a fashion statement.

    In short, every sword must be evaluated before doing anything. I have some swords that I have never cleaned that have a really interesting plum patina of attic grunge. But they are not deteriorating. Cleaned swords will usually patina down nicely after a year or so but you then know they are stable.

    A good discussion.

    George
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  20. #45
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    I have to second Mr Ducote's statement. In Afghanistan a friend asked me to find a shamshir for her as artwork for her home. She bought a small shamshir something i said, 'probably made some little boy very happy on his 12th birthday'. She asked if it was ok to clean some of the dirt of and I told her I would do it for her. Using military CLP and a worn out tooth brush I gently cleaned out the dish of the pommel that had perhaps a 1/16th to a 1/8th of an inch of greasy dirt/soot built up in it. Under this I discovered a very well preserved floral pattern on gold. Both she and I were very pleased with the find. If I had not cleaned it we would never have known. Of course if the seller had cleaned it she never would have been able to afford that sword

  21. #46
    Actually one would be quite mad to buy ANY Confederate sword unless you knew what you are doing or had truly expert advice. First rate fakes are passed often by the biggest dealers in CS blades and many more are dumped into the major auction houses. A condition report is pretty much worthless as these are truly excellent forgeries incorporating genunine components , with nearly perfectly faked inscriptions. Many of the auction houses will not take anything back for any reason if you read the fine print. Confederate swords are only for the real experts, the brave and the foolish.

    In addition fake presentation inscriptions on Union officer's are also rampant, several expensive ones being sold recently in major sales. New collectors are buying them at what seem to be reasonable prices , because the savy collectors are not bidding. Be particularly fearful of fast talking dealers from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don T View Post
    Actually one would be quite mad to buy ANY Confederate sword unless you knew what you are doing or had truly expert advice. First rate fakes are passed often by the biggest dealers in CS blades and many more are dumped into the major auction houses. A condition report is pretty much worthless as these are truly excellent forgeries incorporating genunine components , with nearly perfectly faked inscriptions. Many of the auction houses will not take anything back for any reason if you read the fine print. Confederate swords are only for the real experts, the brave and the foolish.

    In addition fake presentation inscriptions on Union officer's are also rampant, several expensive ones being sold recently in major sales. New collectors are buying them at what seem to be reasonable prices , because the savy collectors are not bidding. Be particularly fearful of fast talking dealers from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

    Yes, Don, Confederate sword collecting is quite dangerous because of the risk and the high price of the swords. However, there are very few areas of militaria collecting that the risk is not there. IMO, collecting Confederate swords is akin to collecting Scottish baskethilts and fine French Napoleonic swords. The prices are as high as are the numbers of quality fakes.

    I think that to collect anything without knowledge and an understanding of the risk involved is foolish. However, I disagree with your assessment that poeple who collect Confederate swords are foolish.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  23. #48
    I did not mean that people who collect Confederate swords were foolish. I meant that foolish people buy them without knowing what they are doing. Didn't phrase that too well.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don T View Post
    I did not mean that people who collect Confederate swords were foolish. I meant that foolish people buy them without knowing what they are doing. Didn't phrase that too well.
    Don,

    I am in complete agreement with you. As i said before, collecing any type of antique sword without knowing what you are doing is foolish.

    Andre
    Andre F. Ducote
    Mississippi

  25. #50
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    Great Idea

    Here is a tip i learned from a far more senior collector on SFI, but I'd like to post it anyway:

    "If in doubt - leave without".

    If some gut feeling tells you that there is something wrong with that sword, that sword is most likely not a "rare specimen, as only 10 of that pattern were made with that feature" - but chances are good (say 99.99 %) that the sword is wrong.
    I can remember three ocassions where listening to my gut feeling would have saved me some decent money.

    Some people learn fast - some slow
    As lo, the boy looked upon the beauty of the forward curved blade, and beauty stayed his hands
    and from that day forward, he was financially doomed.

    King Kukri, 2005

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