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Old 18th September 2019, 07:23 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Notes on queries

One of the key elements of these forums is not only the open discussion of various arms forms and examples, but the reliance on examples which are posted for identification, input and review. For myself, once an avid collector, but no longer active much in that aspect, I highly value the items shared here by long standing members as well as new ones, in that it gives me the opportunity to learn from the items often newly acquired as well as those long held in members collections.

I am constantly amazed at the knowledge base and specialization here which is ever growing through our discussions and remarkable examples and use of resources shared among us.

One of the possibly most discouraging elements of discussions, especially items brought often brought in by new members, is the sometimes (in my opinion) too direct comments which although perhaps quite true, might be a bit harsh.

Obviously, we would like to properly advise the poster of the true character and nature of the item he is presenting for comment, but occasionally the responses might be blunt to the point of unkindness. I have always disdained the use of the term 'fake' (though obviously they exist) and I know I try to present the truth in as tender a manner as possible. I know the reaction will be 'why sugar coat'? but a choice of wording is not really that difficult.

For me, the 'eternal optimist' (as I have often been chided), I honestly try to find alternative solutions or possibilities before conceding to the dreary 'reproduction' assessment. It is much the same with items that are arbitrarily labeled 'tourist junk' when in many cultural spheres, these are traditional weapon forms often still produced and worn in degree by native people.

As an arms historian (or supposed as one) of course I look for authentic old items which can be investigated and their context of use determined as much as possible. Clearly reproduction items etc. offer little in that category, but I still try to find any integrity in composite items or marriages of genuinely antique elements.

One quote from some time ago which has become a kind of personal credo, is from a 1999 paper by Sid Blair and Michael Lacy, "Arms and Armor Study in Edwardian Britain";
"I was once told that it was said of Laking (Sir Guy Laking, British arms
historian and collector), that he would always find something kind to
say about a fellow collectors object".

The reason I have brought this up is not specifically aligned toward a specific incidence or toward anyone in particular, but something that has often been on my mind through the years in reading dialogue in many posted queries.

I wanted to share my own perspective, and as always, appreciate the thoughts and perspectives of others. I well understand that everyone wants to be a 'straight shooter' and present accurate insight to those requesting comments, and that is exactly what I would hope for and expect.
However my objective here is simply to suggest that in responding, we carefully consider presenting observations in a way that will reflect the knowledge and awareness of our members in as delicate manner as possible.
I do not claim to be a saint (by a long shot), but I do know I work at trying to parse my words as carefully as possible.

I think this kind of demeanor offers encouragement for better discussion (rather than disturbed rebuttal) as well as courteous interaction throughout.
I know that such discussions which remain focused on topic here have benefitted me immensely, and helped me learn for many years.
For that I am ever thankful.
Just sayin', I want to keep our pages friendly and helpful, as the intent has been since the Genesis here (over two decades now!).

Thank you guys!
Jim
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Old 18th September 2019, 08:02 PM   #2
vilhelmsson
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Hi Jim,

As a new member, I must say that I've seen some of what you refer to. However, I must say that I think the members of this forum are much more polite than, for example, another major forum dedicated to European arms and armor (but mostly focused on modern repros).

I do think there's value in learning when we possess a "distressed modern reproduction," but I think a lot of of us are hesitant to post our questionable pieces for fear of criticism.

I also know that collectors are great at self-delusion. I have a few pieces in my collection that I have at one time or another highly suspected are fakes, but I've gone to great lengths using poor logic and poorer research to justify their authenticity to myself. Before I came to terms with the way I was deluding myself, if someone had challenged a piece that I held dear, even though it was likely a fake, I would probably become retrenched in defending its authenticity and build resentment against that person and maybe against the forum. And the less people posting pictures of items, the worse it is for all of us.

I am torn about the solution. On the one hand, I would suggest that politeness dictates we should only comment on authenticity if the poster asks about authenticity; we wouldn't tell a friend his sword is fake if he was showing if off to us in his home.

On the other hand, if the purpose of the forum is promote knowledge about arms and armor, then if we think an item lacks authenticity, the purpose of the forum would demand that we say that it lacks authenticity and why we think so, regardless of the feelings of the poster.

As we are all students and teachers in this ongoing exchange of information on arms and armor, I lean towards the latter.

A middle ground could be achieved if a gallery section was created where a poster could make a post, but responses were forbidden. Or a note about "positive comments only." Or some other way to make the gallery more friendly.
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Old 18th September 2019, 08:30 PM   #3
Bob A
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I'd rather know the truth than otherwise. That said, there's a gap between objective truth - if such a thing exists outside the realm of hard science - and opinion.

I've encountered some blunt replies in my day, but I try to evaluate them in terms of information quality/quantity rather than taking things personally.

I don't see a need for a separate category for "Look without comment" - if a post is merely intended to be illustrative, let the poster say so, and hopefully his wishes will be respected.

Once people begin to tread too lightly to avoid hurt feelings, candid response gets lost. This site is primarily about weapons. We're tough enough to take the truth standing up.
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Old 18th September 2019, 09:20 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Thank you for these responses guys!
I know exactly what is meant about the delusions!! As a young collector I was VERY wide eyed, and smitten with the notion of weapons that I had seen in of course all the movies etc. Naturally I was perfect fodder for dealers who were great story tellers and well crafted 'descriptions'.
It was not long until I realized how important it was to learn more on the true character of the weapons themselves, and my emphasis became more focused on books and references.

It is amazing to look at the weapons I acquired back in those halcyon days and the excited views I had of them as compared to the cases of more mundane heritage my more educated study had placed on them in more recent times.

However, I have often been pleasantly surprised when in some cases these worn and rough condition old warriors were eventually revealed to be more rare and historically valuable than previously imagined. That became my goal, to discover the 'true' story behind each weapon I could, regardless of outcome. I resented being faced with truth as opposed to the romantic notions I had hoped for, but often found the actual character discovered to be interesting in its own right.

These conditions of course are heartily discounted when an item is found to be a 'reproduction' or 'mule' (composite of old parts). The point I was making was that in presenting this outcome to the hopeful poster, the truth can be conditioned by thoughtful wording rather than blunt declarations of being 'fake' or other derisive comments.

As an analogy for example, an airline delay caused by weather is obviously not the airlines fault.....but what matters is the way the passengers are handled by the representatives of the airline.

Naturally one would prefer to know the truth on a weapon, but beyond the courtesy in revealing the negative outcome, the learning is profoundly important. To explain the character of the actual weapon form and the incorrect features which expose the disparity would be most helpful to the owner and those reading, and hopefully prevent such events for other readers.

Another analogy, in the movie "Road House", Patrick Swayze in instructing his 'enforcers' on getting troublesome patrons to exit the place, he emphatically noted '..but be NICE!'. Possibly oblique here, but you get the idea.
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Old 18th September 2019, 09:59 PM   #5
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I agree completely with the comments above. There are times I think when we all would like to "come across the table and shake someone" but holding back is the right thing to do.
It must be remembered that what is posted here, generally is opinion only, and we are all entitled to that. Even authors of some well known books are not excused from this either. We all make mistakes sometimes.
As far as the actual items posted here is concerned, I have always (I think) been happy to post items which are quite possibly of low quality or copies/fakes. By doing this we learn, and when all said and done, none of us are so called experts, and are all still learning.
For new Members who may hold back because they think that what they have is not worth showing......do not hold back, as showing your items is how you learn, and everyone started somewhere, even us who are now getting a bit long in the tooth.
Stu
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Old 18th September 2019, 10:29 PM   #6
A. G. Maisey
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You have put your comments very nicely Jim.

It is certainly not a good idea to discourage beginning collectors by providing harsh personal opinions about something they have paid good money for. Moreover, in a Forum such as this one, those opinions can be read by everybody in the entire world, and this can cause flow-on effects for the person making the enquiry.

In addition to what you have said, I'd like to make a further comment.

When I was a child I was taught that if I could not say something nice, I'd best not say anything at all. Well, childhood is a very long way behind me now, and although I do agree in general with this line of thought, over the years I have modified it a little.

In try very hard not to make unkind remarks in public, if I feel that somebody needs to know that what they have spent their hard earned money on is not quite what they think it might be, I hesitate before making a public comment and then make a private comment in as gentle a fashion as possible to the person who has enquired.

Another thing is this. Many people are interested purely in the physical object that they collect, they have very little interest in the culture or society from which this object came. They certainly have no interest at all in absorbing the present day attitudes and values of the people who form the population of a society or region that produced the objects of interest to a collector who tends to regard something of less than a certain age as a "fake", or "reproduction".

Sometimes the thing that the collector living in his Western society might write off as "fake" or "reproduction" is regarded by the person of the society from which it came as a valid expression of their material culture.

It is perhaps a very good idea to acquaint ourselves with the attitudes and values of the society, or societies that produce the things we collect, before taking it upon ourselves to pass judgement on those things and express an opinion. Alternatively, any opinion given could be qualified to make it very clear that such opinion is based upon certain pre-determined standards or circumstances.
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Old 19th September 2019, 12:49 AM   #7
ariel
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Kubur one defined in 2 words the reason why certain people behave in a snarky manner : ignorance and arrogance. I just cannot add anything to this pithy summary.

Last edited by ariel : 19th September 2019 at 03:41 AM.
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Old 19th September 2019, 05:51 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Stu and Alan, thank you so much for your very thoughtful and supportive comments! I really appreciate your elaboration and observations concerning this ever present situation which often occurs in threads where items are posted for comment.
Naturally, everyone has their own opinions, and every right to express them.
The point I have tried to make, as you have perfectly recognized, is that the wording and demeanor of such responses is key, and some effort to temper these is much appreciated and produces better results in subsequent discussion.

While there are many individuals who simply lack language or people skills, as Ariel has succinctly noted, even a common sense application of 'the golden rule' should not be too hard to fathom in an environment where shared interests prevail.

I often see posts where queries are accompanied by disclaimers noting, 'go ahead, be brutal, I can take it' etc. but we know that regardless, everyone appreciates candor with courtesy.
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Old 19th September 2019, 07:49 PM   #9
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Kubur would like to add something:
At the very end, we are gentlemen and educated people, but even more than that, I have a simple question.
How many people are interested by our crap?
Few dozen, less than one hundred? We like the same things, we have the same passion, old men hobbies, so of course guys peace and love!

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Old 19th September 2019, 09:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Kubur would like to add something:
At the very end, we are gentlemen and educated people, but even more than that, I have a simple question.
How many people are interested by our crap?
Few dozen, less than one hundred? We like the same things, we have the same passion, old men hobbies, so of course guys peace and love!



Kubur, if you go to the bottom of the ethno arms and armor page you can see how many people/entities are browsing the forum.
405 as this post is being written.

Only 6 members though.
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Old 19th September 2019, 09:39 PM   #11
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Kubur would like to add something:
At the very end, we are gentlemen and educated people, but even more than that, I have a simple question.
How many people are interested by our crap?
Few dozen, less than one hundred? We like the same things, we have the same passion, old men hobbies, so of course guys peace and love!




Interesting question indeed,
Actually our interests and fields of study are pretty diverse, but basically centered on arms and armor, which in the general interests of the population outside our collecting and study community typically has very limited exposure or interest in these topics. We know that museums and publications of general nature have increasingly tried to avoid focus on weapons in accord with the political correctness paranoia.

I know that if I mention in conversation to someone in general conversation that I am a historian in the study of arms and armor, I usually get a subdued, 'oh how interesting'. But if I say anything further in explanation, the 'glassed over eye syndrome' becomes quickly evident.

However, if you look at the tally of 'hits' on threads aside from the viewers at the moment listing Rick mentioned, the numbers indicate enormous interest over time, and suggest that people 'surfing' the web for information often hit our threads. The proportion of readers (hits) is remarkable compared to the number of responses or entries.

Here again, and I have been told this by many persons, they have admitted they often read the threads, but are apprehensive about making comments as they feel they do not 'know enough' or fear rebuke or ridicule from other writers on the threads.

To add to your 'peace and love' I would also add two words which pertain directly to the theme I have been promoting in this thread toward responses to persons posting queries and seeking comments on their items,
"candor with courtesy".

A few choruses of 'Kumbaya' everybody !!!
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Old 22nd September 2019, 03:49 PM   #12
Jim McDougall
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Default Knowledge and courtesy in perspective

In the past week I have been deeply engrossed in research concerning Renaissance swords and famed makers of blades, which often of course crosses paths with the art of fence and dueling, and a reference on the art and science of western martial art.

In this I found a treatise written by a 16th c soldier and master of fence who was also known as a philosopher, his name was Vincentio Saviolo, and it was written in 1595. In the pages I read, I found a passage which rang resoundingly toward our topic at hand in perhaps an oblique sort of way.

"...the more skill a man hath of his weapon, the more gentle and courteous should he shewe himself".

While in a seemingly odd context as pertaining to our discussion here, what brought this to mind is that in my time of many years studying arms as well as collecting them, I do recall this sort of philosophy from previous reading on fence.
On these pages, I recall noting on many occasions that our study of arms here was in order to benefit ourselves and others by learning as much as we can on the weapons to avoid unfortunate mistakes in acquisition.
I noted that for a collector, the most sound and important weapon in his collection is that of knowledge.

Therefore, here, our weapon is knowledge in this analogy, and we all become ever more skilled in its use through our discussions, research and ideas.
The use of philosophy in martial arts as with this comparison brings to mind the well known Chinese work, "The Art of War", by Sun Tzu, while ancient, is often employed today in business practice.

I believe this is as much as I can say on this topic, so will close with it.

Back to work on research and discussion on arms for me!!!

Thanks everybody!
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Old 22nd September 2019, 06:17 PM   #13
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You are really a very wise man
corrado26
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