Newbie's guide to kit buying

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Foxe
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Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Foxe » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:59 am

Five simple rules for buying kit as a newbie. These rules won't save your life, but they might just save you hundreds of pounds, tears, and years of ignomy.

1. Consult your group. Talk to other members of your group, especially the group leader or authenticity officer if you have one. Their advice might not always be right, but it's the best first port of call. Assuming that they've been doing it a while, they're likely to be aware of the more obvious pitfalls. Also, your group may have rules about kit that you need to adhere to, and other members will be able to explain these to you.

2. Get to grips with the concept of 'authenticity'. Different groups have different standards - for example, some groups are hapy with machine-sewn garments while others might insist on hand-sewn only - but the principle of 'authenticity' for virtually all groups is that kit must be made to a historically correct design from historically correct material, relative to the time and place you are portraying. This applies to all kit, from clothes to armour and weapons, to footwear, to eating knives to... well, everything. How to determine whether something is 'authentic'? Start by going back to rule #1, and if you fancy the challenge, do some of your own research.

3. Start basic. Many groups have loaner kit, so you won't always be expected to provide yourself with a complete outfit first time out, but that kit is usually limited and there are some things that you'll pretty quickly decide you need for yourself. Shoes are frequently in short supply, and while you don't mind borrowing a sword or helmet off "Sweaty Frank", do you really want to borrow his spare shirt? Get yourself the basic clothing first, then start buying the pretty stuff.

4. Suit your kit to the person you are trying to portray. If you are portraying, say, an English Civil War pikeman for example, then the question that should influence your kit purchases more than any other is "what would an English Civil War pikeman have?"

5. If you have to justify it, it's probably wrong. Most groups aim to represent something commonplace, the 'typical', so if an item of your kit requires an explanation as to how it came into your hands, such as "Before I became a rural militia soldier my father went on a voyage to the Far East and there met a wise-man...", then you're going against the group's ethos.

Feel free to add to, suggest alterations, sticky if it's useful... whatever.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Julia » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:55 am

6. Just because you saw another reenactor with that piece of kit, does not mean it is authentic, see rule 1.

7. Just because you saw it in a film does not make it authentic. See rule 1


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby acecat999 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:12 am

Buy well..... Buy Once


You are judged by your whole, the greatest portrayal/impression can be ruined by the smallest error, it doesn't even have to be your own error.


(by that rule an entire group who base their erroneous portrayals on the contents of the SoF catalogue and watching band of brothers at least look uniformly wrong which is better than only one person being wrong?)


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:54 pm

Foxe wrote:5. If you have to justify it, it's probably wrong.


THIS.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:18 pm

I think that this one is worth making sticky. If the Mod's agree, could one of you please oblige?

Many thanks

Colin


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Tod » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:38 pm

Done, well and truely stuck.

7. Just because it is for sale at an event or re-enactment market doesn't mean its right. Ask the seller for details, it's basis, how it was made, what is it made from. If they made it ask them what research they did and what examples or pictures they worked from.



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Phil the Grips » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:40 pm

Shoes-
You'll spend anything up to twelve hours in your shoes a day, maybe more, so make them a spending priority over shiny kit, and well-fitting.
Make sure you get the best shoes you can afford, possibly even more than you can afford- that way they'll not only last but also be reparable and have a high resale value.
Simply changing shoes can extend some kits datelines by a considerable amount


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Julia » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:48 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:Shoes-
You'll spend anything up to twelve hours in your shoes a day, maybe more, so make them a spending priority over shiny kit, and well-fitting.
Make sure you get the best shoes you can afford, possibly even more than you can afford- that way they'll not only last but also be reparable and have a high resale value.
Simply changing shoes can extend some kits datelines by a considerable amount


Damn wish I had thought to add that one. I couldn't agree more. I would add to it a decent pair of warm socks as well. You will be amazed what you can put up with as long as your feet are warm.

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:50 am

I would add to it a decent pair of warm socks as well.


For periods where socks are the norm of course! Most periods and cultures have methods to add extra layers for warmth for the foot but not all are hiking socks from Millets. Go and do some research or ask someone....


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:13 am

7. i. Traders who say 'its right for any period' are usually wrong. So treat the object in question and all their other wares with some suspicion.


http://www.griffinhistorical.com. A delicious decadent historical trifle. Thick performance jelly topped with lashings of imaginative creamy custard. You may also get a soggy event management sponge finger but it won't cost you hundreds and thousands.

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:51 am

Bearing in mind that for many people, kit for re-enactment or living history is usually a significant outlay, apply normal buying rules. That includes buying at distance or in the wrong environment. Don't buy cars from people selling in unusual places, the dark or in the rain for example. Same applies for that sword/helmet etc.

If you are buying something from the internet then your chances of 'try-before-buy' are remote so if its not entirely right then even if the vendor offers refunds you will certainly have lost the return postage. Best go to a market where you can handle any prospective purchases.

But take the advice of your group members in the first place.


http://www.griffinhistorical.com. A delicious decadent historical trifle. Thick performance jelly topped with lashings of imaginative creamy custard. You may also get a soggy event management sponge finger but it won't cost you hundreds and thousands.

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:47 pm

Many re-enactment items are made to last. The better quality that you can buy (even if it doesn't look pretty) can save you money in the long run by lasting for years and even being sold second hand later.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:05 pm

Read some books.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:11 pm

Not entirely helpful Marcus.... I mean do you mean Phillipa Gregory, Asterix and the Egyptians, a 1920's book on armour or something a bit more relevant and up to date?


http://www.griffinhistorical.com. A delicious decadent historical trifle. Thick performance jelly topped with lashings of imaginative creamy custard. You may also get a soggy event management sponge finger but it won't cost you hundreds and thousands.

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:34 pm

What are you trying to say about Asterix?


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby gregory23b » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:21 pm

What he is getting at is do some research, do not rely on reenactors as the sole source of information.

Be critical, ask questions.

Agree with Phil, shoes first.

At least three pairs of well made period underwear, avoid just the one pair that never gets washed and gives you thrush/rash etc (guilty for three seasons in the late 80s).

If medieval - not everyone went around in rags and covered in mud, being clean is quite natural.

Avoid advice from people who say they are knights, but are wearing a torn shirt, bad shoes, awful kit, they are not exemplars, they might be nice chaps though.

Shop around for advice, find a buddy, buy nothing until you are sure, a good group will have loaner kit, buy crap and you may not be allowed to use it, peeing you off no end.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby AndyandHelen » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:53 pm

If you do happen to buy something that in the end proves to be unsuitable don't offload it onto a member of your group instead don't get disheartened and upset be positive and get yourself an eBay account and sell it that way. After all a slightly inaccurate item unsuitable for the living history society you have joined will still get a second life on the fantasy/laarper scene or fancy dress brigade.



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby uksimes » Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:43 pm

Find a subtle way of getting 'Sweaty Frank' to shower more often :D


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Henri De Ceredigion » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:09 am

So as a complete newbie wishing to buy a pair of riding boots (similar to those worn by Musketeers in the 17th century) and who doesn't have all that much money to throw at them, I'm stumped?



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby aendr » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:43 am

*takes notes*
shoes... shoes... so where's good for Tudor (Kentwell okay) shoes? I live near Pilgrim Shoes...


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby lucy the tudor » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:56 am

Aendr, Pilgrim shoes will be at the first open day meeting, so you can try on and order, then she comes to the second one to deliver. Always easier to get them when you can try them on.


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:45 am

Henri De Ceredigion wrote:So as a complete newbie wishing to buy a pair of riding boots (similar to those worn by Musketeers in the 17th century) and who doesn't have all that much money to throw at them, I'm stumped?

Musketeers didn't wear boots, they're for cavalry (which means you'd need shoes as well as boots to wear when dismounted) so that solves that problem before it starts ;-)


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Henri De Ceredigion » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:16 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:
Henri De Ceredigion wrote:So as a complete newbie wishing to buy a pair of riding boots (similar to those worn by Musketeers in the 17th century) and who doesn't have all that much money to throw at them, I'm stumped?


Musketeers didn't wear boots, they're for cavalry (which means you'd need shoes as well as boots to wear when dismounted) so that solves that problem before it starts ;-)


Thank you very much indeed, in that case, could you be so kind as to recommend some suitable footwear in a size 13 please?



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:31 pm

Henri De Ceredigion wrote:Thank you very much indeed, in that case, could you be so kind as to recommend some suitable footwear in a size 13 please?

Tod generally does off-the-peg latchets (S11) up to size 14, and handmade latchets to any size-
http://www.re-enactment-shoes.co.uk/


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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Chris T » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:58 pm

The French Musketeers of the C17th, on which the Dumas version is based, were actually cavalry..so yes, they did wear boots, and contemporary illustrations show them doing so.......


I would add to the thread.

Wear your kit.....do not treat it as a costume that you dress up in for a limited period. Use it for the tasks arround camp and so on. Not only does this give it a real lived in look, rather than attempts to artificialy age or stain it (I have seen recomendations to use everything fom sandpaper to felt tip pens to "authenticate" kit), but you will be comfortable and unselfconsious in it. If something turns out to be really impractical /uncomfortable in prolonged use, there is probably something wrong with it as a reproduction.



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Dathi » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:44 pm

Henri De Ceredigion wrote: Thank you very much indeed, in that case, could you be so kind as to recommend some suitable footwear in a size 13 please?



My choice ? Sarah Juniper or Kevin Garlick

http://www.sarahjuniper.co.uk/ or http://www.kmgarlick-shoemaker.co.uk/

You may cough up £250 a pair BUT you will get, with care and attention, at least 10 years wear out of a pair, that's only £25 a year plus the odd resole and fettle. Long term they look good, feel good on your feet and are acceptable for pretty much every form of re enactment


People forget that Gentry means money, and the spending of lots of it. It's not just a pretty suit of clothing, it's shoes, boots, spurs, stockings, shirts, collars, hats, swords, hanger and girdle or baldric, cloak, coats, glasses, purses, knifes, forks and spoons, plates, bowls and more. Nowt worse than a nice suit with a crappy shirt and collar and crappy hat with crappy pheasant fleathers and plain cheap sword and belt/hanger with a big brass buckle....



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Henri De Ceredigion » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:42 pm

Thank you all very much indeed for the suggestions about the boots. Next is the hat and I would like something not that dissimilar to this please?

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Chris T » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:27 pm

Tom Norbury.



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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby Jackie Phillips » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:53 am

That some of these traders mentioned can be found here - http://www.histrenact.co.uk/traders/mainpage.php.

This is not a guarantee that the contact details are up to date, nor a recommendation for all traders listed, just a good place to start looking for ways of contacting traders mentioned in these threads


Trust your instincts, whatever else you do.

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Re: Newbie's guide to kit buying

Postby JG Elmslie » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:38 pm

As someone who makes replica weapons for reenactors (as well as HEMA types and collectors), I'd like to add my one groats' worth here.

So, you've got boots, a hat, and you're now thinking about buying a weapon too.

Well, dont go to a custom maker, like... well, me.

Yes, the custom maker could make exactly what you want. But - and its a big but, you arent going to be able to articulate what it is you need. Do you prefer a lighter, or a heavier sword? should that pollaxe be on a round or an octagonal haft? Decoration? extra details, etc, etc?

Simply put, the chances are, whatever you get, a year down the line, you'll regret it. you should've asked for a bit longer grip, its a bit too lightweight for my style. its too heavy. I really should've gone for a black grip, I'm doing a lot more "footsoldier" than "knight in shining armour" than I thought I was going to be. and so on. Lots of details that you'll wish were different.

So, I would always reccommend that if someone wants a custom weapon, dont do so right away. Get an off-the shelf, standard item that's nice and affordable, use it, learn what you like, or dislike. Ask to try friends' weapons if they're different, and get a better idea of what suits you, and then come back to the custom makers later on, if you are more certain what you need. You'll save yourself lots of cash in the long run.


I suspect the same advice should apply to armourers making harnesses too.


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