Swords are among the most unique items that you can collect. A sword collection is a great conversation starter and a fun way to get into the world of collecting. However, due to the wide range of swords, getting started can be overwhelming.
Use the following guide to become a collector of swords and start your collection.
Explore the Different Types of Swords
Before buying swords, you should know more about them, including the various classifications. Swords are typically classified based on the type of blade:
Double-edge swords are typically straight-bladed swords, such as the longsword, broadsword, or short sword. Longswords include the swords made during the late medieval and renaissance periods and are designed to be used with two hands.
Broadswords include the claymore, the basket-hilted sword, and the sabre. These weapons were primarily used with a single hand. The short sword was also a one-handed weapon but featured a shorter blade. Common examples include dirks and daggers.
Single-edge swords often have curved blades and are designed for slashing and chopping. This category includes the katana, the cutlass, the scimitar, and some sabre swords.
Edgeless swords are used for thrusting attacks and do not typically have cutting edges. The most well-known example is the Xiphos, which was the secondary weapon carried by Spartan warriors.
Research the History of the Swords You Want to Collect
Collectors should know about the history of the items that they collect, as the significance of the item often influences its value. Learning more about the history of various swords can also help you decide which ones to start collecting.
Use online sources to learn more about these different types of swords. You should review pictures to get a better idea of the different styles and designs. You may also want to learn more about the period of time that the swords were used in.
For example, the katana is a traditional Japanese sword used by the samurai during feudal times. It has a distinctive, curved blade with a round guard and a long grip. The claymore is the Scottish variation of the Medieval two-handed sword. If one of these periods or regions appeals to you, you may get more enjoyment out of collecting the swords associated with it.
Understand the Anatomy of a Sword
You should also understand the anatomy of a sword, as descriptions of swords often include specific terminology to refer to the different parts. The main components of the typical sword include:
Center of balance
Center of percussion
The blade is the metal component used for striking, cutting, or thrusting. It often has a sharp edge on one or both sides. However, some swords are edgeless and do not have a cutting edge.
The hilt is the combination of the parts used for handling the sword. The hilt includes the grip, the pommel, and the guard. The grip is the section of the hilt that you hold. The guard sits above your hand and keeps the sword from slipping.
The pommel is found at the end of the hilt. It acts as a balance to improve the control of the blade. Depending on the design, the pommel may also be used as a blunt weapon during close-range attacks.
The blade of the sword includes a center of balance (CoB) and a center of percussion (CoP). The CoB is the point where the weight of the sword is equally distributed to each side.
If the upper end of the blade weighs more, it has a high CoB. This often makes it more difficult for the attacker to recover after striking. The center of balance is typically two to three inches from the bottom of the blade.
The CoP is the point on the blade where you feel the least amount of translational force after striking an object. Hitting an object at the CoP limits the vibration that passes through your hand.
The area between the CoP and the point of the blade is called the foible (weak) while the point between the CoB and the hilt is the forte (strong).
Some swords also come with scabbards, which is the case that covers the blade of the sword when it is not in use. The scabbard typically includes a chape at the tip and a locket at the base near the hilt of the sword. The chape and the locket are often metal pieces that protect the blade and the person wearing the scabbard.
Real Swords Versus Decorative Swords
When shopping for swords to add to your collection, you may find listings for real swords, authentic swords, replicas, and decorative swords. The various categories can be confusing.
Real swords include any swords made to withstand impact during fights. They are typically made from carbon steel. They have sharp or pointed blades and can be used in combat. This includes “authentic” swords and some replicas.
A decorative sword is not intended for combat. It may have a sharp edge but cannot withstand the impact of striking an object. They are also typically made from stainless steel and do not rust.
“Authentic sword” is another name for an antique sword, such as an authentic 15th-century longsword. Replicas may be made to resemble authentic swords from historical periods. Replicas can also be real or decorative. Most sword collections include authentic swords and real replicas.
Set an Initial Budget for Your New Swords
The prices for swords can range from $100 to $6 million or more. Quality replicas can cost hundreds of dollars while authentic antique swords often sell for thousands. A real, modern katana replica can cost $500 to $5,000 or more.
If you do not set a budget, you may find yourself spending more money than you can afford. Keep in mind that you will likely purchase more swords in the future. Start with a sword that you can buy using disposable income, instead of holding off on paying bills to purchase your first sword.
Buy One Sword to Start Your Collection
Building a sword collection should be considered a long-term process. Instead of trying to buy a large variety of swords now, start with a single piece.
Choose a type of sword that interests you. For example, you may be drawn to katanas due to your love of samurai movies. You may want a longsword after watching a movie set in medieval times.
When looking for swords, begin your search online. Even if you find a local dealer, shopping online allows you to compare prices and get a better sense of the average asking price for the item.
If you plan on buying from a website that you are unfamiliar with, research the site. Look for user reviews and check the better business bureau (BBB) rating. While there are many reputable sword dealers online, you should learn more about the dealer before spending hundreds of dollars on a sword.
Decide How to Display or Store Your Swords
People tend to collect swords because swords look cool. You will likely want to display your swords instead of storing them away in the basement or attic.
Some sword collectors prefer to display their swords on weapon racks. You can even find racks that match the style or period of the swords that you collect.
For example, a medieval broadsword looks right at home on a rustic wood rack. However, exposing your swords to the room may allow them to collect dust.
A large, wall-mounted display case shields your weapons from dust. You can also find cases with temperature and humidity control.
Keep in mind that swords often have sharp edges or pointed blades. If children are around, you may need to store the swords far out of reach or use a protective display case with a lock.
Learn How to Care for Your Sword Collection
Real swords, including antique swords and modern replicas, require maintenance. The carbon steel and other metals used in the blade or hilt are prone to rust.
Rust becomes more of a threat when the weapon is frequently handled. Oils from hands can promote the corrosion of the metal. You should always wipe down your blades after handling them.
Along with wiping oil away after handling, you should apply oil. You can use sword oil, pure mineral oil, rem oil, or gun oil. You only need to apply a small amount to a rag and wipe it along the length of the blade to give it a sheen and protect it against rust.
Sword collecting is growing in popularity. You can find high-quality replicas from reputable sword manufacturers and dealers around the world.
Along with swords, you may find other items to supplement your collection. For example, after picking up a katana, you may purchase a tanto or two. A tanto was a short dagger carried by samurai.
In the end, collecting swords can be a fun and rewarding hobby. However, it also requires research. Take the time to learn more about the swords that you want to collect, including where they came from, who used them, and their historical significance.