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  Antique medieval swords - too dangerous to buy?

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Author Topic:   Antique medieval swords - too dangerous to buy?
Lee Jones
posted 03-02-2000 16:58     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 17th Park Lane Arms Fair in London the weekend before last. There were, that I know of, five antique medieval swords in the room. Four were there behind a table held low, representing three owners and not for sale; brought along only to be shown to fellow enthusiasts, and the fifth was under a table, but for discrete sale (15,000 British Pounds - gasp).

There was also a pair of modern at least partially forged (as opposed to ground) replicas, one accompanying Ewart Oakeshott and the other belonging to a friend of his and these scared me. Not because anyone was waving them around, but because the forms were very good, the brass inlay convincing and the small forging inclusion flaws all too 14th century in appearance.

Bright, shiny and new now, but put a little convincing accelerated age on these and I doubt I'd be able to pick them out of a pile as distressed replicas younger than myself.

This discomfort was compounded by hushed rumors of medieval swords recently on the market which had sold for big money but which were privately regarded as highly suspect by some highly respected experts.

So now, not unexpectedly, I have arrived at the same juncture for medieval swords as I arrived at for armour about five years ago, when I saw aged reproduction helmets at the same show honestly offered as such, but clearly too good for me to pick out of a pile as a copy.

Considering what (gasp) these things cost today I would only consider buying a documented example that I have known the whereabouts of for a few decades, unless I could buy on the contingency of a favorable archaeometallurgist's examination - which means I'm essentially out of the game.

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Senior Member
posted 03-02-2000 22:17     Click Here to See the Profile for Rich     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems that the collecting and study
of medieval swords has reached the point
of forgery that Japanese sword enthusiasts
have been dealing with for years :-(

It really is most unfortunate as it causes
all to be "gun shy" and decline buying.
That in turn eventually kills the market
and the collecting. Forgers ultimately
kill the goose that lays their golden eggs.

I've seen this happen in several fields;
antique 19th bowie knives, high end antique
pocket knives, American brillant period cut
glass, Chinese bronzes and ceramics, etc,etc,
etc. Fast buck artists/forgers really should
have the death penalty applied IMHO - they
are the murders of our interests/hobbies.

Rich Stein
The Japanese Sword Index

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Senior Member
posted 03-03-2000 00:55     Click Here to See the Profile for Craig   Click Here to Email Craig     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Did you find out who had made the swords you saw that were modern?


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Lee Jones
posted 03-03-2000 04:43     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The name was mentioned, but I do not recall it. I'll make inquiries and let you know if I find out.

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Senior Member
posted 05-08-2000 22:19     Click Here to See the Profile for Craig   Click Here to Email Craig     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Did you ever track down who had made the repo?


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posted 05-08-2000 23:41     Click Here to See the Profile for LaurieWise   Click Here to Email LaurieWise     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is why my husband, Kirby D.Wise, always marks his blades deeply with his trademark or any of the armour he used to make. Just incase. Although he handforges all of his work using traditional methods in a Blacksmith shop and strives to be authentic, yet he does not want to be misrepresented either. Although it might be thought a backhanded compliment to have one of your pieces "passed off", it is certainly not an honorable way to get known for your work.

We did have this happen to us last year. A friend told us about a suit of armour being at auction on EBay and gave us the url to take a look. He thought from the discription of the piece and maker's mark that it might have been one of Kirby's work. It was! Kirby had made it over 30 years ago and sold it. The present owner had bought a house with this piece in it.

Not knowing how old or who made it, he had it looked at by an expert and had it apprasied....the expert thought it was made 200 years ago!

We sent an email to the seller telling him about it and he posted it up on the Ebay site as information and correction. Needless, to say the bidding went up quite abit during those last couple of days (he had it up for auction for three weeks before our friend saw it and contacted us). The present owner contacted us later and was very pleased that it was a piece of Kirby's work.

But if our friend had not seen the description and the harness, it would have gone as the real thing! As it was, Kirby was complimented by what the experts had thought but we did not want to be frauduent either.

Our webmaster took the EBay website with the original explanation and correction and put it up on our website. You can see this on our website at "Kirby D.Wise & Son Arms and Armor" Kirby's mark is a "K over an Anvil".

Yes, it can be a problem with present reproductions that can look so much like originals if "antiqued" alittle. Reputable makers hate this and try to prevent it.

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