Sheath or no sheath
Is that a naked blade I see before me?
So, the discussion came up around Halloween of last yea r if I would be carrying my sword to the church harvest festival in a sheath or naked. The answer for me is almost always: “sheathed.” That was when we started talking about whether pirates wore their swords in sheaths / scabbards or not and then I go tot thinking, what should the protocol be when you are out in public.
At faires, it becomes very easy, I can’t think of a single fair that would let you walk into an event with a sword out in the open, naked, no sheath. You are going to have to peace tie your sword, you are going to have to make sure that it is safe to walk around in and if you try to bust up in a faire with a sword tucked into belt or on a baldric with no sheath… they are going to send you back to the car. And it is not just a question of whether our not you would pull the sword or whether or not it is easier or hared to peace tie a sword into a sheath, it is a question of safety.
Let me set the scene:
You are roaming through your favorite faire with a sword at your hip. You didn’t bring the sheath and they decided to let you in. You are standing in line to get your first Turkey Leg of the Ren Faire season. You turn to say something to your friend who is in line behind you and you stick the tip of your sword into their leg. Now, you are both hurrying through the faire looking for the first aid tent, you are hoping that the gash in your buddy’s leg is superficial, your friend is hoping that the blood is not ruining his new boots from Catskill Mountain Moccasins.
Always make sure your weapons, those of a sharp nature, are in sheaths when you are roaming around in public.
As for whether pirates carried theirs in sheathes, that is easy. I would speculate no. The pirate carried a sword only when the ship was under attack or attacking or if they were going ashore (then only if they owned a sword of their own). The cutlass and hangers onboard ship were owned by the crew, not by individual pirates. At times of battle, the weapons were passed out and they got ready to attack anything and everything that was around them. They didn’t have time to worry about sheathes. They had to pull the sword from their baldrics or belt and be ready to fight. They also couldn’t have the sheath slowing them down as they went about their business of pirating.
So, in conclusion, unless you are in a small intimate setting, sword in sheath, sword in scabbard, the same goes for daggers. Anything with an edge, keep it safe.