The sword must be regarded as a functional piece of weaponry instead of an antique, according to the My Armoury site. Recognizing the style of a sword places it at a certain point in history. The design of the blade is of primary importance, opposed to the hilt: This is because a blade can be fitted with a hilt from another period in history.
My Armoury further notes that checking the hilt to see if it matches the blade in question is imperative. Another important part of appraising a sword is holding and wielding the weapon to get a sense of its purpose. An antique sword's original purpose can be as a ceremonial piece or as a legitimate weapon in combat. The appraiser holds the sword to feel its weight. He takes a fighting stance and motions with the sword to further determine its authenticity. The blade must never come in contact with another object.
The shape of the blade must be taken into consideration, such as the curvature and length of the piece. Checking for oil and rust on the blade is done as well. Stress marks or breakage determines its value. The thickness of the blade is important, as is the bluntness of the weapon. Gloves are worn to avoid soiling the blade with finger prints, skin oil and other residue.
The How To Do Things website mentions that knowing the sword's origin is important. An appraiser knows if the sword is Japanese, Chinese or European in origin. Asian swords are the most desired by collectors. Unique engravings and markings indicate the sword's value. For instance, swords from the 18th century have engravings that display a specific maker and note when the sword was crafted. A Japanese sword has similar markings, known as Horimono.