In the last post we discussed the prevalence of Sword Like Objects and some of the ways that popular culture distorts the public understanding of swords. In this post we describe our approach to creating historically accurate products that feel as good as they look.
Back in the 1970's we got our start making weapons and armor to joust with and to sell at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and eventually at Ren-faires around the country. At that point there were very few makers of historically accurate European weapons. Most products were far too heavy with little distal taper, and very dubious historical context.
We focused on researching and reproducing actual historical weapons, working hard over decades to build a deep well of knowledge in archeology and history, and to develop relationships with world-renowned experts. Our goal was to make pieces that look, feel, and function just like those you can see in museum collections around the world.
An original sword and a reproduction that we make
We think that one of the most important aspects of reproducing historical weapons is staying true to the hand-made aesthetic that was always present in these pieces. Just as in original antique swords, the hand of the maker is evident in every item we produce. Each sword, dagger, or weapon we make is a handmade piece of craftsmanship in which we try to express the the qualities and characteristics of the original on which it is based, with all of its quirks and personality. We like this and see it as a strength. The subtle asymmetries of a hand-worked blade, cross, or pommel give our products a soul that we think other makers sometimes lack. Our swords are not geometrically perfect and we think that makes them beautifully imperfect.
An original rapier and a reproduction that we made.
To achieve this aesthetic we avoid some forms of modern manufacturing that, while very efficient, lead to a mass-produced, geometrically perfect outcome. This doesn't mean that we avoid all modern techniques. To the contrary, we utilize state of the art technology like creating 3D models of original swords when appropriate or hot salt heat-treating. But each of our swords also is hand ground, fabricated, and fit to achieve our signature look and feel.
Starting at around 12:37 see this 2012 interview where we discuss how we approach our work at Arms & Armor.