This time of year, a question we hear a lot is - How is the fair going? Being we are heading into the 4th weekend of the Bristol Renaissance Fair and the Minnesota show just three weeks away we figured a report from the front lines would be in order.
Bristol has started very well with our crew hosting old and new customers with good sales and some excellent fun being had by all.
Welcome good gentles to A&A
Minnesota is still pretty quiet as they do not open till August 20th, but we have spiffed the booth a bit and we are prepping as much as possible with stock and getting things ready for our demos and displays.
We have heard from the crew at Bristol that the most asked question is - Why does the stock seem limited?
Daggers are fun.
An excellent and easy to answer question. For the frequent follower of our blog, you can probably guess the answer, but for fair visitors and others its a result of the unique challenges of the last two years. Our supply chain for raw materials and services has been interrupted and cut off in several cases as well as continued hiccups with covid absences and shutdowns. (In the shop alone, we have had three positive tests over the past month.) The second major factor is our queue of orders online and direct at the shop is quite long. (not as long as it was a couple of months ago, due to great effort from our shop crew- great job guys) But this is our main priority to get things done for folks who have paid and have been waiting patiently for us to conquer this unprecedented challenge created by the times we live in.
This should be large enough.
They say the second most asked question this year is - What kinds of steel and what are the differences? This is pretty straight forward our large blades are made with 6150 steel. Tempered out between 50-52 Rc hardness. Our daggers and some of the axes are 1050 steel and they temper out between 45 - 50 Rc depending on item and technique used. Major difference between the two is the 6150 has a few more alloys in it while the 1050 is straight carbon steel.
Did they use these?
The third topic most enquired about is - Did they really use these? This is usually asked about the impact or pole weapons, but at some point, someone will comment along these lines about all the pieces. The root of this probably comes from these pieces often being the furthest from our common experiences today. Many of the average renaissance fair patron have probably not been in a violent encounter with need for a cudgel or spear.
This of course does not always apply to our customers :-) not that they are a violent lot, but rather many have experience with the martial arts of the past and study the history of this period which adds context and understanding to how these pieces fit in our common heritage.
Yes, we know a bit about these things.
In fact, we will often have people on our staff at the renaissance fair that have spent years practicing these arts and can enlighten many to how practical the pieces are in the context of medieval combat. If space and time allow we can often show how the pieces where designed to be used and how effective they were.
The reason I need one of these is ....
We look forward to seeing everyone thats able to visit us at the shows this year and rest assured we are working hard to have as ample a display as we are able.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985