Let’s face it. Swords are cool. Luckily for props people, swords pop up all the time on prop lists.
I learned some basic swordmaking techniques from Tom Fiocchi while at Ohio University. Usually, when I’m asked to make a sword, it’s a decorative or trick sword with a very show-specific look. If it’s for stage combat, the swords are often rented or pulled from stock. For Twelfth Night at Shakespeare in the Park, we rented many of the swords from Weapon Specialists here in New York City (hopefully I’ll be doing a tour of them in the upcoming weeks).
Old Swords has a wealth of information on historic swords. There is a gallery of swords categorized by nationality and time period, as well as a comprehensive search function of their database. The site also includes a cornucopia of resources, articles, and links about antique swords, sword makers, and anything else you may need for research and reference. You need to sign up to access the information, but it’s free, quick and well worth it.
The Wikipedia article on Historical European martial arts is a great jumping-off point for information on historical sword-fighting techniques. The Mid-Atlantic Society for Historic Swordsmanship also has a great list of links for all things related to historic swordsmanship, as does William Wilson’s list of links on historical fencing.
The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts also has an introduction to Historical European Martial Arts at their site. They also have a large reading and research list, including online historical fencing manuals. If you scroll to the bottom, you will find two manuals by Alfred Hutton, who helped begin the revival of historical swordsmanship over 120 years ago. Old Swordplay (5.54mb PDF) and Cold Steel (11.1mb PDF) are both available for free on their site.
If there are any other sites or resources you use for swords or similar weapons, let me know in the comments!