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The Gleam of History

 October 8, 2023    African Arms

One of the real joys of collecting antiques is the knowledge that you have in your hands objects with stories behind them. Long years of use and journeys across areas often little known to outsiders. For me, there is a particular sense of history and perspective that metal brings. Iron, steel, brass, all are hard, require skill to form and significant effort to obtain.

There is a certain look and a certain feel to old steel. A worn nature that speaks to long years of service. It is an honest material and each blade I handle has not only the tale of its maker, but each owner through the generations. Be that an edge, sharpened many times, or a pommel worn smooth by a hand gripping the hilt.

I’ve talked before about how some swords and blades are special and their nature is readily apparent once you handle them. The same applies to the look and feel of steel. Older swords tend to seem the most charismatic. I like to think this is a reflection of the greater travels and experiences the sword has seen, but it more likely simply a romantic notion.

Still, such things deserve respect commiserate with their age. Steel is also a fragile substance. Prone to decay and disintegration. Swords need a caretaker, otherwise they rust and fade. This is the vital roll a collector plays. A sword, covered in the rust of decades can be restored with merely a little oil, time and hard work. The reward is simple, once the steel is revealed the gleam of history is revealed.