March Edition of the Sword Buyers Digest
Issue 119, November 2017
Your Monthly News & Updates

We start the month on not the most positive note I am afraid. There are some serious rumblings in the sword industry that started a few months ago. But last month, the rumblings have started turning into a bit of an industry wide shake up - and it does not look like the worst of it is over..

With such difficulties facing what is a fragile micro-industry, even though it may not be very positive, you guys need to know..

But more importantly, we are also offering some suggestions on what to do about it. So if you love swords, this issue is a must read..
After 47 years, Paladin Press Will Close Its Doors November 29th...

When it came to rare books on swords, martial arts, self defense and pretty much everything sword collectors love, no one had such a good range or good prices as Paladin Press..

Sadly, after the sudden death of their founder, Peter Lund in June this year, and no doubt finding it increasingly hard to compete with (as are we all) they will be closing their doors after 47 years in the business, and right now is the last chance to get some of their rare and hard to find niche books and training videos..

You can check out their full range of products here, but in the meantime, below are some of my recommended picks.

Naturally, once these items are sold out, they will not be restocked and many are simply not available anywhere else. So it is well worth a look..
The Master Bladesmith: Advanced Studies in Steel

Never-before-seen instructions, diagrams and photos explain the tricks behind using Japanese mokume gane, differential heat treating, power hammers, and other techniques to make kukris, wavy blades, spears and swords that bear the master's mark.

Forging Damascus

This download takes you step by step through the creation of a beautiful 10-inch Damascus blade. Learn things that books can't teach, including how to correct mistakes, get a proper welding heat, grind an edge and more.

Currently ONLY available at Paladin, $23.96
The Fighting Sword

The second in Dwight McLemore's Fighting Weapons series, The Fighting Sword began as a way for the author to chronicle his experience of commissioning a custom-made sword and then designing a training program to use with it. As he developed the sword-fighting concepts, techniques and combat scenarios for use with his sword, however, he realized that they could be adapted and used by anyone with a sword.

$39 at Amazon, on sale for $17.50 at Paladin
Don't want to cause a panic, but the Sword Industry is under attack...

One of my responsibilities to the sword community is to do all I can to keep you all informed and do what I can to support both sword makers and collectors..

Unfortunately, the industry - which has been in a steady decline since around 2010, is taking a serious turn for the worst, and seems to be under assault from several different directions all at once..

A perfect storm if you will..

For example, in this post on the SBG forums, we see a Malaysian company selling Parangs is now been unable to ship swords internationally - and more and more carriers are simply refusing to ship them, classifying them as 'dangerous weapons'. But in that post, you can see many other countries have suddenly been rejecting sword imports without rhyme or reason, and in our own case, we have experienced the exact same thing and the number of countries we can ship to has been shrinking quite dramatically..

The recent BCI shipment also was stalled suddenly in the Philippines, after 25 years of shipping swords all over the world, they were suddenly told they needed a permit for these 'dangerous weapons', but were not told what permit they needed or how to get it, and it took nearly 2 months to find a solution.. (and they have sold well at all, so are being liquidated)..

At the same time, China recently banned all domestic shipping of swords within China - effectively decimating the local market, and as 90% of the customers for Jian and Dao in Longquan are Chinese, and the fallout for international collectors of Jian and Dao is now very much up in the air..

In the UK, they have doubled down on swords and blades yet again as seen in t his post..

And then there is YouTube - first is was google adsense that banned advertising for swords, then Facebook (it is probably only a matter of time before they decide that pages dedicated to swords are 'unacceptable') and then this..

(Yes, the channel has been re-instated due to a public outcry - but the fact that the whole channel was taken down so suddenly is quite disturbing).

And to make matters worse for sword sellers, not only are they now losing the ability to ship swords internationally, but sales overall are pretty much dead in the water. Quite a few good sellers now seem to be on rather shaky ground. Take a look at Kult of Athena for example - almost all the swords in their new products section are sub $100 from Deepeeka..

Why? Well, you would need to ask them, but my guess is because all the usual stuff simply isn't selling anymore..

In our own case, we have never had so many good offers fall flat - indeed, I recall a time when readers of the digest used to support us by taking advantage of the sales and specials we offer..

But this year, I can honestly say that no matter how good the deal is we offer - and despite the digest now having around 16,000 subscribers - we are lucky if we make one sale from our best offer.. (I don't hold out much hope for this months special offer, even below cost does not generate sales).

And all of this, it is simply not sustainable..

In the short term, Christmas sales may keep things going until the end of the year. But if this trend continues, the industry and many sellers will be in some serious trouble by this time next year..

Clearly, there are some nasty rumblings occurring - and who really knows exactly how it will all pan out..

I will do my best to keep you all updated of the developments as they happen.

In the meantime though, here are some temporary workarounds and suggestions for members of the community..

First, for International Sword Buyers - one shipping method that still seems to be working, at least for now, is using the services of a freight forwarding company such as those listed on our site here.

These companies are used to dealing with all kinds of legal but curious shipments, and because of their relative size and clout, can often arrange a shipment where all other methods fail. As a bonus, they are actually often CHEAPER than standard shipping methods due to their bulk buying power. And, assuming the swords are not in violation of any local laws, their agents can often get shipments unstuck by overzealous customs officers (many of whom just ASSUME swords are prohibited, when usually that is not he case).

Secondly, for all sword buyers - now is definitely the time to pick up more 'exotic' swords. Manufacturers are on the whole not really willing to take any risks with 'micro-niche' sword types - and so will tend to fall back on what they know sells (such as Katana and Longswords, single handed medieval swords tend to be outsold by longswords 5 to 1, and anything more unique, seems invisible these days).

In our own case, our recent shipment of swords that I personally wanted to bring to the market has fallen completely flat and basically we will not be re-ordering those models (indeed, we are about to liquidate them, see later in this newsletter for our final below wholesale cost special offer).

Thirdly, at least for now, it is a good idea to support your favorite local sword sellers who contribute to the community as a whole. Buying from eBay sellers based in China often seems like a good deal, but they rarely deliver exactly what was promised as we discuss in this article. Additionally, it is possible that the Chinese government may suddenly decide to ban sending single swords outside of China like they did without warning to the domestic market - and the risk of these sellers going out of business and stalling you until you cannot get a refund is a very real concern.

In our case, we can overcome this with our forge direct line and custom katana, etc that also come direct from China by having them sent to a US warehouse, something that the part time eBayers cannot.

Likewise, while buying second hand swords is a smart move normally, right now with sales for all sellers of new swords at record lows, the secondary sword market is actually really hurting them, and the worst case scenario is that some of them will start to go out of business, and the secondary sword market will be all that is left..

Finally, and this goes for everyone, be careful about what you say with regards to using swords for self defense or 'gory' discussions on the forums, Facebook and other social media. It seems many legislators are just itching for an excuse to wipe out the industry, and while we all know that sword collectors are responsible people who love swords for their rich history, self development from the martial arts and for innocent 'geeky' reasons, we need to be extra careful about how we present ourselves to the outside world. Believe you me, the authorities see what we post, and so we need to be extra vigilant to present ourselves in a positive light.

One last note, while things are bad - the sky is not falling and while a shakeup is in progress - if we all stick together we can overcome it and we will find a way. Yes, some types of swords will probably disappear for a while, and yes, some sword sellers will likely go under (we have noticed a trend of falling customer service levels in the industry because many sellers find it hard to take losses now when before they would).

But if you follow the recommendations above for now, it will at least provide a short term solution while the dust settles.

The responsible ownership of swords is our birthright and an important continuation of centuries old traditions. Let's do our bit to keep it alive, not just for us, but for future generations. As a world without swords, is colorless, grey and oppressive - and we need to do all we can to preserve the hobby that we love.

I will keep you all posted of any further developments.
Video of the Month

One project I have been working on behind the scenes is our pending line of fantasy swords - so to lift the mood a little, here is a cool video by the guys at GoT Academy comparing the magic swords from Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

Now if only they could come up with a magic sword that could teleport to international customers, that would solve a lot of the issues the industry is facing right now..
Best Forum Posts

A collection of four of the best and most recent posts and threads from the SBG Sword Forum.

A bad review and why being too picky is not realistic
This customer did nothing wrong, we messed up a description and did what was necessary to make it right. But this discussion has evolved into why it is not realistic to be overly picky with hand made swords, and why expecting perfection is anathema to the hand made sword industry.

New Up and Coming US based sword maker
Only his second piece, but boy does it look good. Definitely an up and coming sword maker to watch - indeed, stay tuned - because we have been so impressed by his potential that quietly we have been commissioning him to make a prototype for our Fantasy Sword Project!

Starting Your Own HEMA Club
If there is not a Historical European Martial Arts Club near you, maybe you might want to start your own. Here are some tips and advice from someone who has done it twice..

Slow Mo Cutting of PPR pipe covered newspaper rolls
A very cool video by our friend Lancelot Chan in Hong Kong cutting PPR covered newspaper rolls with super fast battle cuts (i.e. no windup or telegraphing). Super cool.

BCI Liquidation Sale..

My aim was to bring in some designs that aren't seen that much and re-invest in additional less commonly seen but super cool sword types. But it seems that, despite these being some of the best quality swords to have hit the market in nearly 7 years, we only sold a handful and sales have come to a complete halt..

As such, I have no real choice but to sell them at or below cost to try and recover the funds tied up in them.

One of them, the Chinese Jian that I was really enamored by, is still not even selling with a 25% discount (putting it well below the cost price) and a 30 day trial period where you can inspect it and return for a full refund so it does you a single cent to check it out..

I really loved this sword. But even with a 25% discount and try before you buy offer, seems I am the only one..

I posted about this one on the store blog here in detail - and need to add one caveat. The gentleman who informed me that the balance point was not suitable for the most commonly desired Jian type had the following addendum..

"I'd suggest a change of that idea of where the balance point on a jian should be- different schools and practitioners have different demands- and of course no one agrees on the same things!!

Two-fingers breadth out is the minimum. Anywhere from there to 4 inches to a maximum of six inches out (though some argue it is inside the guard when the blade meets the handle proper).  Depends I think on whether one favours cutting or dotting/thrusting methods. The best rough guide I've come across is the distance if you lay your palm across the blade with one side touching the guard (horizontally) if you get my drift, its the distance from top of guard to your own palm width up the blade. Of course this is for a custom blade then, or average sized man's hand.  Safe to say around the minimum two but generally the 4-5 inch balance point would please most with cut and thrust."

So it's not really anywhere near as off as I was first thinking - yet the 25% discount still holds..

But with so much money tied up in this shipment preventing many further projects (and seriously delaying the much anticipated Fantasy Sword line we are working on) I have no choice but to close them all out at a loss..

So here it is, my final offer on all 4 of these swords..
15% off ALL our stocked BCI Swords

Simply enter the coupon code ' FINAL' in the checkout (or click the link for it to be automatically added to your cart) and we will take 15% off any and all BCI swords in our inventory.

Offer Expires November 15 2017
Because we are being forced to sell them at a loss, this is the last time for the foreseeable future that these models will be available. What monies we can recover back we will (perhaps foolishly considering the market as it is right now) invest into the Fantasy Sword project.

So here is your chance to take advantage of our mistake and secure one of these unique designs while they are still available. Once they are sold, the original quoted restock of 5-9 months is now probably 5-9 years, if at all..

A real shame that they are so under appreciated - but that's the way the market is right now and I can see why no-one else will take risks like this to offer more unique swords to the market..

We tried.. And now, we just need to move them out..

And yes, the 15% discount applies to the 25% discounted Jian too, that's down from $499.99 to $317 - losing us about $1000 overall.. :-(
Here are the swords on closeout
The Chinese Jian- 7 out 10 still in stock
Roman Gladius 7 out of 10 still unsold
Tactical Ginungting 6 out 10 still unsold
And finally, the one that inspired the fantasy sword project (hmm, I might have to rethink the whole thing)..
Celtic Sword Only One Sold and 9 still in stock
Hope you guys will at least have a look..
I apologize if this issue was a bit of a 'downer' - but as I said at the onset, there is no use sugar coating it. While it seems that the industry is under serious assault from all angles, there ARE things that can be done. I will keep you all notified.

So no matter what, I will find a way we can all keep on swordening happily..

Talk to you all again next month with the Christmas issue - at least, this year, the options for a swordy Christmas are still relatively bright.

- Paul
Paul Southren | Sword Buyers