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Mumei (Ko Bizen) Wakizashi


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#1 nagamaki - Franco

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 02:56 PM

https://www.aoijapan...-mumei-ko-bizen

 

What's not to like?


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#2 eternal_newbie

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 05:31 PM

Very nice indeed. I like the koshirae too...


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#3 Darcy

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 09:26 PM

Just be careful as usual, it's a Kamakura blade though he is hinting it as Heian. Papers explicitly state it as Kamakura. 

 

2 times in the last 30 years a Ko-Bizen wakizashi got elevated to Juyo. There is no common Ko-Bizen work, but at the same time, wakizashi are not ideal candidates for Juyo. A lot of the time people will report a gut reaction on Juyo candidacy without actually examining what the Juyo output looks like. Wakizashi is basically a condition issue that is a lot worse than katana shortening. That of course is really bad compared to ubu nakago but beggars can't be choosers. The point being that a wakizashi has got extra hurdles to overcome at Juyo because of the significant loss of sugata.

 

Blade would be nice for someone who wants to make a Ko-Bizen daisho though. And this kind of thing has very high learner points as a first sword. 

 

This is the kind of wakizashi to get when following the wakizashi advice for first time buyers (which I don't agree with in general). I think if you can start out though and study stuff like this, you will have a lot of trouble to find equivalent quality examples sitting around as katana. So it really represents good value for someone who wants to study.


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#4 Gakusee

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 12:01 AM

Darcy, what is your view on the monetary aspect? I would have thought that being a Ko-Bizen blade, given the relative rarity of those (in total around 800 in existence if I remember correctly one of your posts), it would be more expensive than what Aoi is advertising it for. The Aoi blade comes with the added bonus of papered koshirae as well.
Put differently, what in your experience would you expect a Juyo Ko-Bizen wakizashi to be offered at? I am not suggesting that this blade would be elevated to that status but let us just hypothesise along the lines of a similar blade (well-preserved Ko-Bizen wakizashi). Thank you
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#5 Jean

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 12:28 AM

Anything between 1,5 M¥ and 2,5 M¥.

You will notice that there is no attribution to a smith but only Ko Bizen. Years ago there a juyo wakizashi by Bizen Sukemune for sale on Tsuruginoya website. I don't remember the exact price but it was around 2,4 M¥. It took more than a year to be sold, though there was a kiritsuke mei on the tang attesting that the blade shortened was signed Sukemune.

I have seen on Aoi website several Juyo wakizashi (coming from o suriage tachi) with prices going from 1,5 M¥ to 2 M¥.
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#6 Darcy

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 01:12 AM

Darcy, what is your view on the monetary aspect? I would have thought that being a Ko-Bizen blade, given the relative rarity of those (in total around 800 in existence if I remember correctly one of your posts), it would be more expensive than what Aoi is advertising it for. The Aoi blade comes with the added bonus of papered koshirae as well.
Put differently, what in your experience would you expect a Juyo Ko-Bizen wakizashi to be offered at? I am not suggesting that this blade would be elevated to that status but let us just hypothesise along the lines of a similar blade (well-preserved Ko-Bizen wakizashi). Thank you

 

 

Ko-Bizen is a huge net that lasts 250 years. On the early part, it basically is everything going on in Bizen. On the late part, it is stuff that is not fitting in with the new developments in Bizen. So in Heian, it is everything, and in Kamakura they are outliers and stragglers. Not to say the quality may be bad, this is to say that in Kamakura things started changing and anyone being labeled Ko-Bizen is basically in a lineage that stayed with old style production. With the new things happening with Ichimonji and Osafune.

 

I think a chance to get a good condition Ko-Bizen anything is a nice opportunity and the price is cheap for what it is including the koshirae. 

 

I just think buyers need to understand what they are entering into. 

 

"Juyo Ko-Bizen wakizashi" as mentioned spans 250 years of production, so are we looking at a thousand year old blade or this one?  What is its condition and quality? Does the setsumei say Kamakura or does it say "Looks very close to Masatsune or Tomonari." while calling it Ko-Bizen? There is a huge range of options that you can end up with here. I think if the condition is good to excellent and the period is Heian then you are talking about prices from 2.5 to 3.5 million yen. If they are lesser examples especially of the type that won't pass Juyo now, then less. 

 

Personally I just think that old blades are rather underappreciated outside of Japan but these are precisely the things people need to study if they want to understand the center points of nihonto. You won't get the center points of nihonto studying a Chu-saku Shinshinto wakizashi. 

 

You will by studying Ko-Bizen. 

 

For the kind of guy who can never buy a Juyo katana, this is the kind of thing to get. 

 

Again just be aware of the couple of asterisks. There is a pattern in these listings. 

 

Trying to show it's not first rank Ko-Bizen, but second rank Ko-Bizen is still far more important and worth study than 90% of everything else. 

 

Juyo is a large portion luck and timing so who knows, I just look at what the results are so I can predict what they will do on any particular thing. I don't look at a blade and say it's nice so it should pass. The NBTHK doesn't do that. So if you look at the results you can start to understand what kinds of blades they like for Juyo. 

 

Send in an 80cm Chogi or Kanemitsu and you will get Juyo 100% of the time. Sugata is a huge deal, if you cut a blade in half which is basically what some of these wakizashi are close to, you erase a big part of what would otherwise help make it Juyo (preserving the original shape of a sword). 

 

So I think if the appetite were to be high for these things we would see more having passed.

 

Status quo for Ko-Bizen is that there are 411 items Juyo and Tokuju from the school. This includes signed pieces by various smiths and those just attributed as mumei for Ko-Bizen. Of those 19 are wakizashi length (and of those 19 many are gakumei signed and so they raise a bit higher in priority to pass because of this). So we're talking about 5% wak and 95% daito and that means wakizashi are really hard to pass.

 

There are another 112 Jubi, 75 Jubun and 16 Kokuho from everyone combined. 

 

The buffer to get up to 800 or so then includes blades like this one. 

 

But just remember there is Heian and there is Kamakura Ko-Bizen. When you call it Kamakura and later you're deliberately drawing a line through the best smiths of Ko-Bizen and saying it's not one of them.


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#7 Darcy

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 01:20 AM

Anything between 1,5 M¥ and 2,5 M¥.

You will notice that there is no attribution to a smith but only Ko Bizen. Years ago there a juyo wakizashi by Bizen Sukemune for sale on Tsuruginoya website. I don't remember the exact price but it was around 2,4 M¥. It took more than a year to be sold, though there was a kiritsuke mei on the tang attesting that the blade shortened was signed Sukemune.

I have seen on Aoi website several Juyo wakizashi (coming from o suriage tachi) with prices going from 1,5 M¥ to 2 M¥.

 

This one was actually Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukemune on Tsuruginoya and a good quality blade. 

 

There are only three works by him Juyo and higher with the other two being signed tachi. The NBTHK won't attribute a mumei blade straight to him. There are two more Juyo Bunkazai.

 

So it's a sad situation, the blade was very rare and should have been snapped up. Whomever got it got something very special and impossible to replicate (the others all being zaimei tachi means $$$$).

 

But people probably just passed it over because it was a wakizashi. 


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#8 Jean

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 09:02 AM

You spoiled the fun Darcy :) I was wondering if any of our members will have the curiosity to search who was this Sukemune and why the asking price was so high. In fact, he was one of the Bizen Goban kaji or his son, if I remember well it was initially a kodachi.
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#9 Gakusee

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 11:30 AM

Darcy and Jean
Thank you for your thoughts and shared experience - they are very insightful, as usual. I was trying to put into perspective the pricing at 3.3m yen of a very well preserved Juyo mumei wakizashi classified Ko-Bizen but clearly later than Heian (as it shows some transition to Ichimonji and yet some of the typical Ko-Bizen hataraki). As you mention, the fact that they have been shortened so severely and it is still classified as Juyo and called a masterwork in the setsumei demonstrates the quality is high and the NBTHK thought highly of it.
I can see a definite and clear quality differential between that one and the TH one at Aoi which explains the 2x price difference. But overall I agree with you - the high quality of this Aoi blade and the fairly good ensuite koshirae make this Aoi offer very, very attractive package even if it does not qualify to Juyo.
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#10 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 11:40 AM

As always fantastic information from Darcy both from a collectors and sellers point of view.


John


#11 Pete Klein

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 02:26 PM

Was it this one?

 

https://web.archive....1_3/f00008.html


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#12 Jean

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 05:35 PM

Yes, that's it Pete, what would we do if you were not around? :)
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#13 Vermithrax16

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 02:43 AM

Great information but if worthy of study is a 10K waki, I am not long for this art!


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#14 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 03:16 AM

Jeremiah, studying the really good blades is the only way that you will grow to understand why quality is so important in a Nihonto. I thought that my sword mentor was joking when he told me that he gets a headache when he looks at an ugly blade, but after studying with him, I now understand perfectly!

 

Ken

 


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#15 Vermithrax16

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 03:24 AM

Jeremiah, studying the really good blades is the only way that you will grow to understand why quality is so important in a Nihonto. I thought that my sword mentor was joking when he told me that he gets a headache when he looks at an ugly blade, but after studying with him, I now understand perfectly!

 

Ken

Ken I agree, and I have studied now for a while. Leaps and bounds from some swords to others. My point was that without a solid base to grow from, this gets exclusive.


Jeremiah L.

 

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#16 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 03:45 AM

It IS exclusive!! Other than studying something as esoteric as, say, pink diamonds or black opal, I can't think of anything else that even comes close to studying Nihonto. For the first 10 years or so, my wife & I wasted our time looking at "ugly blades," & thought that we were learning something. But once I was introduced to elite Koto blades, my whole outlook changed - & so did our own collection. I'm selling off our flashy Shinto blades, & buying one papered Kamakura or Nambokucho blade for every three of those that I sell.

 

That mumei Ko-Bizen wakizashi is a real gem, & the fact that it has TH origami makes it very attractive to collectors like us. Money almost has to be secondary when it comes to high-quality Nihonto. (If I don't say "almost," my wife is likely to take her shinken to my neck when she reads my posts!)

 

Ken


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#17 Derek

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 03:46 AM

Yes, It is very expensive to own quality swords.

On the other hand, one can attend a show in the US and study literally dozens of quality swords.  (Along with the owner talking you through the finer points!)

That is why I am a huge proponent of attending as many shows, sword clubs, or just a friendly get-togethers as possible.


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#18 Vermithrax16

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 04:02 AM

Not making waves or trying to. I study and understand. Just would hope we can build a base of interest or else, it's just all of us chasing 100-800 swords.


Jeremiah L.

 

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#19 Prewar70

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 04:49 AM

Well I am in my infancy in Nihonto study. I am going to say the first thing I thought of when I saw this blade, how does this look different than a Hizen blade? To me, from pictures, it reminds me of a Tadayoshi or Tadahiro. Blasphemy? Okay, so I said it. Now in person, they might look very different. So please help me understand. On the AOI site they also say it "has shinogiji". Not sure what that means unless it's a translation issue. I take it to mean it has healthy shinogiji and jigane, with no rough hada or course grain.

James Friedrichs


#20 Jean

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 08:32 AM

It is a muku gitae blade, James :)
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#21 paulb

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 08:58 AM

James

Identifying blades can be very difficult even more so from images on a screen. The only way to understand and regognise the differences between traditions/schools/smiths is to see as many good examples of their work in hand. This is why going to sword shows or club meetings is so valuable. with this as a background it then becomes easier to see detail in images.

If you were to see this blade in hand you would very clearly see differences between this and a Hizen blade, the hada, the structure of the hamon and the overall look of the steel would be different. But as said it is not always straightforward or easy.


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#22 Gakusee

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 09:23 AM

Well, to help James a bit directionally, this similarly to other KoBizen has a slightly darker hada, they normally have jifu utsuri and many more darker chikei hataraki than Hizento. I dare say that often the nie is more visible on a KoBizen than on a Hizento.
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#23 Valric

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 07:20 PM

What did it fetch? 


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#24 raymondsinger

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 08:59 PM

http://www.sword-auc...-mumei-ko-bizen


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#25 Valric

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 07:44 PM

Thanks Ray! I wasn't aware you could see the results after the bidding period expired. 


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#26 Pete Klein

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 09:17 PM

Chris - from my experience you need to save the link to the item's bidding page prior to expiration or you won't be able to find it.


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#27 Jamie

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 09:22 AM


Sword shows are one of the most important things to concentrate on imo. There is a higher concentration of quality swords in one place than you'll find anywhere else. Join the clubs and definitely go to the NBTHK meetings at the shows. I missed the meeting this year but was Lucky enough to see one blade I had been wanting to see for quite some time. You don't need to buy anything, just go study. It's truly priceless.
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