sword sharpness

by Tyson

QUESTION: When you are a sword collector, does the said sword have to be sharp. Because in my opinion, if it is not sharp, then you are collecting something else other than a sword, because, a sword is sharp, and if it's not, then it is just a hunk of slabed metal.

ANSWER: Interesting question, and the answer is - it depends on what you want it for.

Obviously a sword that is only going to be used for display doesn't need to be sharp. And a sword that will be used for re-enactemnt or steel on steel sparring cannot be sharp for safety reasons.

On the other side of the coin, some swords that are sharp are not suitable for cutting because everything else about them is wrong (i.e. wrong steel, no tempering, bad tang, etc).

Historically, not all swords were sharp either. Many sabers were sharpened only so far, and yet could still deal a fatal blow or sever a limb. A sword can also be TOO sharp, in that it will chip when it strikes a hard surface, or wear away too quickly after a few cuts.

So as you can see, the question is a rather complicated one! ;-)


- Paul

Comments for sword sharpness

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Your operative word was "collector"
by: Caleb

I love forums: you NEVER know what the person on the other side really means so you get so much fun looking at the questions from as many angles as possible and thus reach a (hopefully) comprehensive answer.

So do swords have to be sharp?

NO if you are a conservator of ~some~ types of museums (eg European, Chinese)
YES if you are a FORMAL martial arts practioner and your instructor has given you the AUTHORATIVE go-ahead for a shin-ken
YES if you are a conservator of Japanese sword museums because their national standard seems to REQUIRE displayed swords be polished, which makes them very sharp
NO if you are Weta Workshop working on swords for Lord of the Rings

But you say, for a "collector", and that ultimately boils down to what kind of a collection? If it's like a ~performance~ collection, similar to how some kitchen-knife fanatics have $1000USD & up collections of knives not for their cooking but for appreciating their "performance" or "craftsmanship", then of course it has to be sharp! If it is a "celebration of swords as a technology" collection, in which you showcase how each sword of each era would have been like "in their prime", then of course it would be sharp. But if it is a "i want a sword from each of the major periods" collection, then it does not have to be sharp. A one-handed Chinese pre-Ming Dynasty sword (I don't know...the ones that look like Viking swords and are noticibly heavier than the European short sword) is best represented by its slightly-dulled form, because, historically, they just ended up being much more often dull than sharp. As for a Japanese in NON-Meiji era, like when they were actually fighting, just sharp enough, but not razor-sharp from mirror-polish

a sharp strip of metal douse not a sword make
by: Adam Pendragon

I have to agree with Paul on this one.
Just because it's sharp dosen't make it a good sword, or even a sword at all. I have been a Medieval Historian and sword collector for more than 30 years (longer than many of you have been alive) and very few swords I've had were ever shapened, mainly because I've never had the need to. Years ago I and some of my friends used to spar with live steel (sharp weapons)and I have the scars all over to prove it. But for the most part they've always been un-sharpened.
A couple of years ago I had a one-off sword made for me by a man in Solingen Germany (he's a spanard) who made a sword for the king of Spain for 60,000 euros. My sword only cost 1,000 euros ($13,000 at the time). It is made of hand-forged steel smelted from bog-iron (what real medieval swords were made of)and meteorite. The sword grinder's family (the man who did just the finnish grinding) has been in the sword grinding business in Germany for 600 years. Every thing about this sword is made in exactly the same way a sword was made in the middle-ages. This sword is one of the last in Germany to be registered as a military edged weapon (something most Germans are not even allowed to own); and before I payed for it, I shoved it through a 1969 Ford LTD car door. Compaired to this sword, and Albion is just a sad wanna-be. Oh, and did I mention that it's un-sharpened?
The point being: a "real" sword is much, much more than just sharp. Besides, the vast majority of medieval antique swords are not sharp--at least not any more. Are these not real swords?

the edge is the point
by: Locky

It's not if it's sharp or not but if it can take and hold an edge or a point.

by: Astyanaz

If you own an automobile museum, do the cars have to run?

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