I know a photo is better than a thousand words, but I am going for the words. The Tampa Show promoted by Bill Green and his helpful wife was, as always, a worthwhile opportunity to see old friends, make some new ones, see lots of nice display material as well as things for sale, observe the dealer stock shuffle dance, and attend some of the side activities in rooms adjacent to the main show hall. There was the NBTHK, American Branch, hands on display of wakizashi covering the periods from Nanbokucho to shinshinto. Among the blades one of the most interesting was a recent Juyo Token, a well known and documented fully signed and dated hira-zukuri Ichimonji by Bushu Yoshioka ju Sukehide, 1363. Signed and dated Nanbokucho blades are uncommon, and Ichimonji of wakizashi length much less so. Among the others there was a Juyo Shikibu no Jo Nobukuni, a Echigo no Kami F/W Kunitomo, one of Horikawa Kunihiro's top students, a Suishinshi Masahide, and a terrific and powerful Satsuma no Kami Ason Motohira, done at age 75 in 1818. I had seen the latter blade before under bad light, but at the display the bright and gorgeous nie was like a cloth of sparkling DeBeers diamonds. I admire and congratulate all those owners who so generously put their treasures on display for rather risky shoulder to shoulder study. There were many other educational offering, proper sword handling, restoration discussion, cutting demonstration, Japanese archery, etc.
While Bill did his best to put on a nice show, you couldn't help but note fewer table holders and a rather show pace of activity. Leading American dealers were present, several Canadian friends were in attendance, and there were a couple of men from Japan, one being Inami Ken-ichi, of Japan Sword in Tokyo, and who I believe was the grandson of Inami Hakusui, the author of Nippon-To: The Japanese Sword (1948), beating John Yumoto's well known book published ten years later. The Inami book is still a worthwhile read.
The usual auction night, Friday, took place, and I could not help but think it is an unexploited opportunity for a real draw. Various bits and pieces of swords, tsuba, armor, tea ceramics, and miscellaneous stuff was for sale, however it was more a "fun event" than an auction as the quality of most offerings was low and attendance was light. I realize that dealers bring material for table sale and the auction is a minor side show and perhaps a minor threat, however it could be a golden opportunity in the future if every table holder were encouraged to contribute at least one or two really nice items for auction, with reserves of course. Auctions are highly efficient ways to buy and sell, and provide low commission/premium (10% in Tampa), opportunities for buyer and seller.
Anyway the show was well worth it, as they all are, and if the community allows them to die on the vine, the real cost to the collecting community won't be realized and appreciated until they are all gone. So look ahead: Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco...