This tsuba comes form the collection of Richard Turner (I think he visits this forum from time to time). Allow me to use Rich's description:
This is an interesting tsuba that was attributed to Tosho (刀匠) by the NBTHK in February 2008. This looks to be an old iron tusba, probably from the Muromachi or the Momoyama period 室町時代 – 桃山時代 at the latest. The plate is excellent and there is much tsuchime (槌目). There are also small tekkotsu (鉄骨) in the mimi. These are usual traits of Muromachi and Momoyama period Katchushi (甲冑師) and Tosho (刀匠) work. There is a single hitsu-ana (片櫃仕立 – Kata-hitsu shitate) for a Kozuka ana, which probably contained at one stage, sekigane to protect the kozuka from the iron.
The dimensions are 8.1cm x 8.1cm and 0.3cm thick.
It is interesting that current thinkings could perhaps place this tsuba as Ko Katchushi. No raised mimi and large sukashi is thought to indicate Katchushi work whilst no raised mimi and small sukashi is Tosho.
The theme is described as Sankou no Zugura 三光の図柄. This represents ‘three heavenly lights’ the Sun (the main body of the tsuba), The Moon (the large sukashi) and Star (small sukashi at the bottom) are both represented in In-sukashi (陰透). Another possibility is that it may represent the family crest of Tsunagiduki (繋ぎ月). I guess one could argue that if the theme was the crest of the Tsunagiduki, then perhaps the sukashi was ordered to be added by a samurai of this family so as to be proudly displayed when the katana was worn.
Some have suggested this may also be a symbolised crane, with it’s two wings folded up around the seppa dai. I had considered this at one stage but have since discounted that theory.
Though I personally do not believe it to be so, it is possible that this large sukashi was a later addition, and possibly added in the Edo period. If this is the case, then I suspect it was originally a Tosho tsuba due to the lack of large sukashi and a raised mimi. The NTHK papered this tsuba to Shoami based on this theory, even though they agree it is an old plate, suggesting Momoyama at the latest. As I understand it, the NTHK will attribute a tsuba to a school if they believe significant changes were done to the tsuba by that school, regardless of it’s origins. In this case, they believe the chisel marks in the sukashi walls added in the middle Edo period were made by a Shoami artist, thus the result in Shinsa. Whether or not a chisel mark in the wall of sukashi can be attribute to a specific school or group, I am unsure. What I personally believe however is that regardless of what, if anything, was done, by whom and when, it is still a Tosho tsuba.
The page with this tsuba can be found here:
HOLD $750 plus shipping and PayPal HOLD
3 days sale. No price cuts, sorry, this is cheap. Take tarts... how many times am I gonna say that?
PLEASE NOTE: This tsuba comes with the NBTHK paper only. Rich has lost the NTHK some time ago, sorry.