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Sword Buyers Digest - June 2008
June 01, 2008
We’ve got a heck of a lot to get through this issue.
Not only do we have some great articles, new product releases (and a new home-grown sword manufacturer), a truly amazing offer - and the usual mix of fun and mayhem...
But we also have a revolutionary announcement that will allow a core group of SBG members such as yourself the opportunity to effectively get themselves a continual and steady stream of FREE SWORDS!
Sound interesting? You better believe it! This issue is going to be a lot of fun indeed - so let’s get straight on into it!
1. SBG SITE NEWS AND UPDATES
Well, as promised in last issue – May was REVIEW MONTH – with an average of 1 new review added to the site every 3 days (click to see the list).
Of course most of them weren’t mine (the only one that I added myself was the Chikara Katana review by Global gear, though what a sword it was!). But instead were rather contributed by unofficial members of the SBG Sword Review team...
But this got me to thinking, it was time to really find a way to encourage all of you – the members of the Sword Buying Community – to contribute your own warts and all reviews to further the knowledge available to your fellow enthusiasts and collectors. Which brings me neatly around to the big announcement...
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as much as I would like to, there is no way that I will be able to review every single sword that shows a bit of promise or that grabs my attention. And while we have something of an unofficial sword review team, the time has come to formalize it – and to offer anyone who is interested a chance to join the exclusive inner circle - and get a steady stream of FREE SWORDS for the trouble...!
Here is the basic outline of the plan...
From this day forward, any full length review that follows the guidelines and is submitted to the SBG Sword Forum will have a chance to earn themselves review points again. But unlike last time, when the goal was to spend them - this time, the you want to accumulate them until you have 100 points...
Once 100 points have been reached, each member will be added to the QUALIFYING SHORTLIST. Once they make it to the shortlist, and as soon as a new spot becomes available in the team, I will look over the works of those in the shortlist and personally select one of the applicants for that slot.
New team members will be selected on the merit of the quality of their reviews and photography skills – the more interesting, informative and entertaining your review the better chance you stand, and it is entirely possible to get a place on the team with only 3-4 reviews under your belt...
Once you become a member of the review team, I’ll contact you with either a small selection of swords to choose from based on your own particular area of interest and expertise or offer you one that I feel really is deserving of closer examination. All you need to do is to review it in your own personal style, post the review on SBG and once your done – it’s yours!
But even better, a few months later I’ll offer you some more - for as long as the programme is in effect and you continue to write quality reviews!
To get the ball rolling, the following members have been selected to join the inner circle of SBG reviewers:
‘Shooter’ Mike Harris (USA)
There are several others who are not far off, and many more who I think would stand a good chance of making the grade.
New members will be announced with each edition of the digest, so its time to get creative! I hope to see you on the team soon!
Many of you have been waiting quite some time to see these new designs, but Canadian based sword makers Darksword Armory have finally released several new swords to their line up – and they are looking pretty darned good..!
Unfortunately though, the cost of production of this new batch of swords combined with a weak US dollar means that both wholesale and retail prices on the old model swords have increased...
I haven’t raised the prices on these swords at the SBG Sword Store just yet, but it is only a matter of days before I am forced to. So if you are interested in picking up anything from the current batch in stock at the old prices, you’ll need to get in quick...
Regulars of the SBG Sword Forum have watched Western Australian member Brenno go from being dissatisfied with the shortcomings in the kinds of swords he could afford, to making his first super durable sword step by step on the forum – and he has never looked back.
But now, he has decided to put his considerable skills out there for anyone who is looking for an incredibly durable Fantasy or Medieval style 9260 Spring Steel custom made sword limited only by their imagination (and the laws of physics!)...
His site, Fableblades.com only has a few items in stock, but they are all hand crafted originals. Prices are not sub US$300, but they aren’t prohibitively expensive like most custom smiths. Plus the value for money is outstanding as Brenno is something of a perfectionist – and as each sword is an original (not to mention his services will be in huge demand), you’ll want to get some before he gets booked out for the next few years!
Keep up the good work Brenno!
To stay on top of developments in the sword industry as they happen, be sure to check the SMG Newsfeed often - or better yet, use the RSS feed to get announcements in your RSS reader.
“That’s a Mighty Sharp Crowbar you Have There: On Historical Accuracy”
One of the first arguments that I ever saw on a sword collector’s forum was about historical accuracy – and I have to be honest, I really didn’t get what the big deal was about. The sword in question looked sword-ish enough, surely – it had a blade and a handle, and seemed to look to be of the “pointy end goes in the other man” variety. What wasn’t there to like?
I don’t even remember what exact detail the argument was about, to be totally honest with you, or which sword it was about. But it was a really heated fight! On one side sat the group that I’ll call the “Scholars” – this was the bunch that were lauding the importance of historical accuracy above all else. On the other side were the “Free Spirits,” or the collectors who felt that historical accuracy should take a back seat to sheer cutting power (and, to be totally frank, cost).
The Scholars stated firmly that the sword was not historical; it was constructed with complete disregard to ancient designs. The Free Spirits said that it didn’t matter, the sword in question could cut rice mats and the carcasses of dead cows in half – no problems there! The Scholars came back with facts, figures, and dates to back up their position that such a sword never existed in history. The Free Spirits figured that, if historical smiths had seen this sword, they would have dropped what they were doing and started to copy this design. The Scholars retorted that the sword was overly heavy and (though this was mostly only alluded to), it was ugly. The Free Spirits made similar allegations about the Scholars’ mothers, and it went on from there.
It reminded me, to be honest, of some of the wild debates we used to have back in college. My dorm buddies and I would stay up late into the night, arguing viciously about philosophy, theology, politics, and who still owed money for the pizza run. Yet at the end of the day, we all managed set aside our differences as we dressed in drag, snuck into the women’s dorm, and superglued dead rats to the furniture. Has life changed so much that these issues can’t be resolved in a similar way?
I think that the biggest problem in these debates comes, as usual with internet conversations, with miscommunication. What does historical accuracy even mean? Does it mean that the sword is exact in every detail to the original, down to the scuff marks? Does it mean that the sword must be made in the same manner as it would have been in the past, with the same materials and tools? P> An Albion is (as I understand) made by stock removal, which would have been difficult to do in, say, the 12th century, due to the crippling shortage of CNC machines. Or does something like historical accuracy even matter when we have access to modern materials and machines, and should the designs of old be abandoned or even ridiculed?
Here are some of my thoughts on this – and remember, this is just one collector’s opinion.
First – historical smiths didn’t just slap sharp pieces of metal together and call it a day. In many, many cultures worldwide they found, through a process of trial and error, the laws of nature that governed levers and wedges (which is what a sword is, in its essential components), as well as the laws that dealt with metal stress/fatigue, balance, and the limits of the human body. The didn’t invent these, they went out like the early scientists they were and found them in the world around them. They were natural laws, just like the ones the Wright brothers discovered when they began to construct airplanes. They also managed to create some beautiful designs that flowed from their imaginations and characters, designs that still inspire us today.
Second – modern materials, methods and machines allow us to circumvent some of these laws. This goes for sword-related science as well as in other areas, such as flight. Increased thrust and force allows for further deviations from the traditional wing design – allowing even the space shuttle to fly, even though it is approximately as aerodynamic as a brick. The same goes with swords – modern heat treating, alloys, and methods of construction allow for sword shapes and designs that would simply not work if they were made from ancient steels. This allows modern smiths to be creative with their own designs, creating blades that would have been impossible or at least highly impractical if made in the past. Neither method should be considered the “right” method – one is more “advanced”, for sure, but when the space shuttle loses thrust it drops out of the sky like a – well, you get the idea. That happens much less often with, say, a glider or a biplane, have you noticed?
Lastly – Defining historical accuracy must be done with an eye towards the intent of the smith. A smith who strives to create a sword that resembles in every way its historical counterpart, down to the method of construction, has a much different goal than a smith who tries (as accurately as possible) to make a sword using modern efforts that looks and handles much like the original. And both of them have a different goal than the fantasy sword maker, whose works may only vaguely resemble historical swords. Adjectives such as “bad” or “good” should not, I think, be applied in this area, or if they are it should be done so rarely. Historical accuracy is a continuum, a sliding scale, and all modern replicas should be fairly judged along that scale – knowing that being farther from the “totally historically accurate” side does not necessarily mean the sword is bad. After all, no replica no matter how well constructed is as accurate as the real thing lying in a museum somewhere. Everything less than an artifact is just an attempt to reach that ideal.
I mentioned before that in college, I saw differing opinions set aside in order to achieve a common goal. Could this not happen among sword collectors? We do, after all, share a common interest. It is a noble interest, one that evokes heroism and valor. One that we should hopefully be able to pursue without dead rats having to be glued to anything.
When I was in my early teens in the 1980s, my personal hero was the legendary modern day sword master and founder of Shinkendo, Toshishiro Obata.
Many years later, not much as changed except we are both older...
But here is the video of the man himself when he was in his prime. I think you’ll see why I was (and still am) such a fan...
A selection of hot product discounts and clearouts from our affiliated vendors. Grab a bargain and support SBG at the same time!
This one is an AMAZING BARGAIN. As a Hanwei dealer, every now and again they offer some incredible wholesale pricing arrangements on a select number of items that they are slightly overstocked on and wish to liquidate...
But this particular offer was soon amazing I just had to pass on the savings and offer it to my subscribers...!
You have probably heard of the Meijin Iaito before – a folded, differentially hardened Shinken designed primarily for iaido and kenjutsu training, but unlike most iaito – it comes razor sharp (though while it can cut, it is better for forms and delegated as a light cutter).
You’ll also probably know that this sword has a price tag that makes many people faint, with a recommended retial price of $1259 – and almost NEVER available below the US$1,000 price point...
So when I saw the special wholesale clearance price they are offering it for, well, let’s just say that my jaw hit the ground...! And I am able to offer it to you for LESS THAN HALF PRICE at only US$599.99 with FREE SHIPPING in THE USA!
The only catch is, shipping is limited to US addresses only and this offer is only open at the wholesale end for the next 5 DAYS ONLY (after that, I’d lose a fortune as it is well below normal wholesale cost as you can imagine) So if you want to grab this incredible bargain, don’t mess about - there is no way on earth that I will be able to repeat it...
Hope you enjoyed this edition of the Digest, it sure was a big one! Until next month, stay safe and have fun!
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