Sword Buyers Digest - Issue 145, April 2020
If only the Coronavirus was a bad 'long-con' joke and today they finally reveal the punchline..

If only..

But once again, the virus outbreak seems to dominate everything we do - and yet while it is undoubtedly not a good thing, the panic surrounding it does not seem quite in proportion to the threat.

It is not the zombie apocalypse. It's just a new and 'novel' threat in a world already quite dangerous..

Now I don't know about you, but I prefer calm rational thought than blind panic. So let's put it in perspective for a moment.

Every year around the world:

  • Roughly 1,250,000 million people perish on the roads around the world. Many times this number are permanently disabled or left damaged from these accidents. Under normal driving conditions, you are much more likely to be killed crossing the road or going down to the shops than you are likely to be killed by Coronavirus.

  • Influenza claims between 250,000 to 500,000 people a year around the world. But we are seemingly used to it and comfortable with those numbers. And it is seasonal, so it kills a lot of people in two or three waves a year.

  • The number of people who die from war and conflict every year is not very clear, but there are estimates that approx 400,000 people die at the hands of another human being than the Coronavirus.

  • And then there is Malaria. 2 MILLION people lose their lives to this mosquito borne illness every year, with 90% of those deaths in Africa. But we shut down the world for Coronavirus..

  • Or how about Cancer? 9 million people a year, and nearly the same number die from a lack of food. Coronavirus is clearly very much a first world problem..

These statistics are rough estimates I grabbed from the web so take them with a pinch of salt. And while I agree that it makes sense to prevent as many deaths as possible and to follow government orders and official advise, it is NOT time to push the panic button. It's not airborne Ebola, and it hasn't intermingled with rabies to create a real 'zombie virus' as suggested in the old article by National Geographic "Zombie Virus Possible via Rabies-Flu Hybrid?" (indeed, so far, you actually have a greater chance of dying from rabies than Coronavirus, with something like 59,000 people a year losing their lives to it).

It is a dangerous world, as students of history (as most sword collectors are to some degree or another) know all too well. But while its new and there are many unknowns, it could have been a lot worse and if anything is a real wake up call..
COVID-19 - Actual Impact on Sword Collecting
As long as the courier companies and postal services are still running, and so far there are no indications that this will change anytime soon (after all, for many of us - it is delivery services that are keeping the world turning right now), the biggest impact of COVID-19 on sword shipments is simply shipping delays from less frequent pickups and most warehouses operating with only a skeleton crew due to various stay in place orders.

So the primary practical impact on the sword industry are ongoing delays. To some degree, this is also expected with orders that are shipped direct from China, though as of today almost all the forges are back at work and playing catch up (to this end, we have delayed the re-release of another batch of Project X Japanese until later THIS month).

The second consideration is safety. Avoid direct contact with drivers (i.e. practice ‘social distancing’, have your own pen ready to sign, etc) and to be 100% safe, take the parcel to an isolated location, wash your hands thoroughly and let the package sit for 24 hours before opening if you want to be super cautious (as it is believed that the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours).

See the article by Fastcompany.com How to Safely Receive Packages and Deliveries During the Coronavirus for best handling practices, just to be on the safe side..

Other than these two considerations, there isn't too much of an impact otherwise. Indeed, with more people bored and staying at home, more people are discovering the hobby - and for those with established collections, what better time than now to clean up the blades, polish out all the scratches and dings or get started on that customization project you have been thinking of doing but never had the time to get around to.

Click here for a wealth of free DIY and customization tutorials on the main site.

Swords in the News
Positive Sword Related Stories in the News
It's almost a fairy-tale, but one graduate student in Italy found a BADLY mislabeled sword that was lumped in with the 'medieval' collection, but was indeed confirmed to be one of the OLDEST bronze swords ever found..

10 mutants, 10 swords - the core story comes from another Marvel Crossover, Excalibur. Some of the swords and their powers cool, others over the top (and of course, an obligatory physics defying supersized sword or two) but anything sword related in pop culture is always good for the hobby as a whole.. 2020, Summer of Swords anyone?
He has been making swords for Hollywood for over 30 years - and in this interview with Joe Avella, Tony delves into the world of movie prop swords and why even in this age of CGI, movies still need REAL swordmakers..

Obviously with the outbreak of the Coronavirus no one will likely be traveling to see it this month. But in the former Northern strongholds of the Samurai around Akita, there are Edo period themed hotels decorated in the traditional way that the Samurai were accustomed to. And the best part, this hotel has swords in it! (though they are only decorative, but I don't know of too many other hotels with swords AND a mini-bar..
Last month we talked about how new technologies may replace blacksmiths with machines. But why stop there? Apparently quite a few countries and companies are doing their darnedest to create a sword fighting robot. Check out the video for one of the MANY examples in this very curious article..
Anyone else recall the classic arcade sword fighting game 'Samurai Showdown' in the 1990s? This article by Games Radar discusses how it was made with one of the creators, Yasushi Adachi.

Medieval Europeans were a LOT cleaner than they are popularily imagined. But then again, sometimes the definition of clean most certainly shifts with the ages - for one of the top 5 tips or the 'medieval hygiene guide' involves washing your clothes in urine..
From the Interwebz
Every now and again we stumble upon a cool image, infographic or something else sword related from around the web. Here's some timely words to live by from J.R.R. Tolkien
Special Digest Readers Poll RESULTS:
What Fantasy Sword Do You Want To See Made Next?
Thanks to all of the 429 people who submitted their vote on what Fantasy Sword Project we should consider after we complete our limited run of Master Swords based on the Legend of Zelda.

Here is what you all had to say:
Two clear winners emerge - and both of them rather timeless classics: Stormbringer takes the lead with 91 votes while Anduril from Lord of the Rings is only 5 votes behind it. The next two most popular? Sword of Omens from Thundercats and of course the Ramirez Dragon Hilt Katana from Highlander.

But we also had some direct email votes for swords as diverse as Conans Fathers Sword, Majoras Mask from Legend of Zelda, Patrick Swaze's sword from Steel Dawn and the Dragonslayer Sword from (my favorite) Anime Berserk.

In the meantime, here's where we are up to with our current project - the Master Sword we are making in collaboration with BCI.
Click here for more information on this project and the tale of the Master Sword generally over on the Legendary Swords website. The Coronavirus outbreak has effected the production schedule, so while progress is slow, at least the wheels are still turning (albeit slowly now).
New at the SBG Sword Store
Last month, various factors all came together at the same time to push our offerings in the store in a slightly unexpected direction.

Talking about accessories over the past couple of months, and with many opportunities to offer new and really good quality items passed by because we did not have an appropriate section in the store for them, we finally caved and gave the items that never really had a proper 'home' in the store their own section, and filled the section out with a hand picked selection of what we consider to be the best of breed choices at the best possible prices.

We began this expansion by first creating a home for the Saber Shogun Battle Saber and Polypropylene Bokken in the new Sword Training Gear section and have since added a hand picked selection of various sparring swords, from the Rawlings Synthetic Longsword to the full range of what may well be the best of breed training blunts by Kingston Arms.

This also allowed us the opportunity to just yesterday list what we firmly believe are the best steel on steel capable unsharpened Custom Iaito around - with the same available custom options and almost identical balance and handling as the live blade Shinken in the series.
And then, just some semi-random fun stuff. Like this $50 set of two LARP style back mounted latex "Boffer" Katana (complete with plastic saya).
But the product expansion did not end there. Already having accumulated a small selection of daggers, tanto and the like over the years, we have started to fill out our selection of suitable Tactical Knives that come close to the amorphous, ambiguous line between shortsword and knife..

And so with our selection of training swords and knives expanding, we jumped on board when our friends at Darksword Armory released a line of printed 16 layer composite wooden shields (with a custom option if you have a suitable 300dpi image or coat of arms you want to use).
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be carefully and thoughtfully expanding the offerings in each new category guided always by a simple motto "If I would not buy it myself, I won't list it".

Click below to see every new product and all the new categories:
So you thought swords are tough? The ultimate hand to hand weapon, right? Think again!

Youtuber Shadiversity certainly did, and came up with some interesting conclusions. Hope you are doing well after your surgery Shad.
Best Forum Posts
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: With a heavy heart we are saddened to report the loss of our previous global moderator, Adrian Jordan, who passed last month from cancer. For his tireless efforts over the years for the SBG sword community we have renamed the SBG Cafe the Adrian Jordan Memorial Cafe. Click here for the last goodbye thread. RiP brother in arms.

What better time than now to get started on all those customization projects you thought about doing, but never had the time to do. Here's how one forumite has been keeping busy.

Laugh or cry - we choose to laugh. After all, in times like this a sense of humor is your armor.

A work in progress and experiment with Bronze casting - using 3D printing to make a sword mold. Great idea, can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Are you Apocalypse ready?
Obviously the good people over at A.P.O.C. knew the future, for the 6 new Tactical blades in their series comes at a time when they are disturbingly appropriate to 2020.. Stock just landed and is going faster than toilet paper at Walmart, so stock up on what counts..
Survival Yataghan $129.99
Butterfly Sword Set $229.99
Tactical Kukri $129.99
Chop House Knife $119.99
Last Chance Bowie $74.99
Wayward Camper $74.99
I hope that this slightly tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted edition of the digest has cheered you up a little in these difficult and very stressful times.

Stay healthy, stay positive and until next month, Happy Swordening.

  • Paul

P.S. Please note that the opinion expressed on Covid-19 is not the official stance of Sword Buyers Guide, but is simply the personal opinion of the editor. Erring on the side of caution, please follow the advice of the relevant authorities. Just in case it really DOES mutate into a zombie virus..

In all seriousness though, keeping a sense of humor during difficult times is essential, but I truly hope that this terrible situation is resolved sooner rather than later, with as few lives lost as possible. "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic"...

Take care of yourselves and each other.