How To Appraise Antique Swords

Antique swords are artifacts from different eras and different countries in the world. Its original purposes are mainly for war and fighting, cavalry, fighting, infantry, and ceremonial purposes. Now, swords are basically considered as art pieces that symbolize a part of history, which is why many aficionados are mesmerized by them. From samurai swords, medieval swords to swords used in the Civil War, these objects can really be fascinating, and could also be quite valuable. Just bear in mind that this type of hobby requires a bit of research. If you’re planning to collect swords or if you’ve already started but are not sure what you’re doing, it is worth knowing a few pointers on what to look for when buying a sword. This guide would also give you a good idea on how to appraise antique swords.

  • Know the type of sword. Is it a Japanese samurai sword? Or an ancient Chinese sword? Asian swords are legendary, and currently, they are the most sought-after. As expected, they would cost you a lot. Other expensive types are medieval swords. They are also quite rare, and might have been used by knights and/or kings in the middle ages.
  • Check the craftsmanship. Like all antiques, durability matters. This is particularly true for swords, since you might want to do a couple of swings upon acquiring one. Durability is also an indication of how long it will last, given that it has already existed for a very long time.
  • Check for functional and design elements. Swords vary in functionality, depending on the geography and era. For example, Asian swords are traditionally designed for slicing or cutting while whine medieval swords are more for thrusting. Design is also a big factor when choosing the next sword in your collection, and the skill and artistry invested in the making of a sword is essential in determining its value.  
  • Check the sword’s markings and signs. These are also critical, as they may provide information on a sword’s origin, making it easier for you to appraise. For example, swords from the eighteenth century have markings at the bottom of the blade, which indicates the maker and the year it was made. Japanese swords also have markings, also known as “Horimono.” The earliest documented “signed” sword from Japan was created by Sanjo Munechika of the Heian Era.
  • Check the hilt. The hilt is the handle of the sword, and consists of a pommel (a counterweight at the top of the handle), a grip (the actual handle of the sword), and a guard (the part that protects the hand the user from an opponent’s weapon). The hilt also serves as a good indication of the type of sword, origin, and the area where it was manufactured.

With this knowledge, you would more or less have a good idea on the relative value of the sword that you are about to purchase. If you want to learn more about sword appraisal, you could consult reliable sword or antique appraisers. It would be ideal if you talk to more than one appraiser to make sure that the price is accurate. You could also check out sword websites and forums, which offer a lot of tips on how to check antique swords.


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