Militaria and edged weapons

Collecting Antique Swords in 2019 – Part Two

Dear Collector and Enthusiast!

Here is Part Two of my guide to collecting antique swords…

  • Authenticity of Antique Swords

Being able to purchase an antique sword with confidence that what you are buying is authentic seems obvious but you would be surprised at the number of collectors who part with large amounts of cash not really knowing whether what they have taken home is right and authentic.  It is probably only later into your collecting career that you find out that the sword was a howler and you shake your head wondering how you could have been so stupid!  Here are a few tips to avoid this scenario:


Building a library of reference books is the most important thng that any collector can do and is absolutely vital if you want to become a smart collector.  These books are normally from specialist publishers and tend not to be cheap and it is tempting to think that your hard earned cash should be devoted to buying swords but this is a crucial error.  I can tell you that there has been many a time when rememberance of a sword seen in a book has either made me jump on the piece or walk away.  It is the detail shown in these books that lodge in your brain and are taken with you to auctions, arms shows or local antiques shop.  Buy as many books as you can and devour their contents.



There is nothing more educational than handling a sword and literally getting to grips with it and studying every inch.  When attending an auction or arms show, take a walk around and inspect as many swords as you can – even if you have no intention of purchasing it.  Always remember to ask the permission of the dealer before you pick up anything and be careful when handling.  I have witnessed the breaking of fragile leather scabbards when a dunderhead has pulled out the blade and allowed the scabbard to bend and snap.  When pulling a sword out of a scabbard, always have the scabbard pointing downwards.

Visiting museums is also a good source of visual reference – the more you see genuine and original swords the more you will be able to differentiate between what is real and what is fake.  Although the fakers of swords have become very good at their “work” in recent years, the faking of real age to a sword is not an easy process and the experienced collector will have an in-built “feel” for a genuine piece.  Look for genuine wear in places that should have wear e.g. grip, blade edge, scabbard drag etc.  Also look out for the accumulation of gunge and dirt where perhaps the sword has been repeatedly cleaned over the years – brass polish always leaves a residue and this develops into a black film in appropriate corners and crevices.


© Collecting Antique Swords in 2018 – Part Two article by Harvey Withers –