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Nihonto Collection - General Ideas On Makeup


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#1 Vermithrax16

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:30 AM

This thread is inspired by member Darcy's excellent blog "The Cutting Edge" which I do hope allows comments soon as I love it!

 

The post was titled "Low and Wide or High and Narrow":

https://www.nihonto.ca/ha/?p=132

 

I guess one can only share their own story along their nihonto journey, so I will start with mine. Last January it started, in brief:

- wanted a "hand made" sword and was looking at modern Chinese forged swords to order ( I know, it's funny to me now too)

- Someone on another forum brought up authentic nihonto

- I looked into it

- !!!!!!!!!

- Now I have the fever, the love, the appreciation

 

Sadly I did not stop (collaborate and listen) and really make a plan, I bought a katana (authentic nihonto, but has some issues I did not understand at the time) about immediately. As I learned more and more and studied 100's of swords on listings and references, I fell in love with a school. I then made another mistake Darcy also discusses ( https://www.nihonto.ca/ha/?p=147) and bought a gimei sword that is so the school I love, I could not stop myself. Pains me because to have it in hand for study, magnificent. But, yeah, bad sig.

 

Since then I have really been disciplined and calm. My "unicorn" sword is out there, right now, and even though it's a stretch I am working on ways to get at it.

 

I only offer my tale as I think many newer nihonto lovers will go nearly the same way. I don't want to go low and wide.

 

But let's be up front, high and narrow is a relative term. For most mere mortals even 1 Juyo sword may be impossible cost wise, and even if it's not, may well be impossible wife relations wise (you wanna spend what for a thing that is on the wall????). 

 

So what's a collection process for a normal person? Let's say $10,000 up front and another $10,000 yearly?

 

Maybe medium and wedge shaped?

 

2 - 3 / Hozon blades from favorite school OR 2 Hozon blades from 2 different schools one likes or best smiths/sword quality available at time of purchase

1 - 2 / Tokubetsu Hozon blades of collectors favorite smith, school, era etc

1 / unicorn sword (not Juyo, but a top flight example of favorite school, era, or smith)

 

Just thinking out loud and feedback is appreciated.

 

Aside; have bought a yearlong lottery ticket for Powerball. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#2 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 05:11 AM

My/our entry into Nihonto was via many years of iaido when, more than 20 years ago, one of our Sensei told us that we would need Nihonto to continue training. My wife & I took a rather "scattergun" approach to collecting after we bought those blades, & it wasn't until about five years ago that I lucked into finding a sword mentor, a guy who had been collecting for nearly 60 years, & had a very high & very narrow collection of elite Soshu blades, with a couple of blades from each of the other Gokuden, all at the same high level. As a physician, he could well afford his hobby, & I suddenly had the unique opportunity to hold blades in my hands that I had only seen in museums, & to study them as long as I wanted. We're talking Rai, Go-Yoshihiro, Naotsuna, & Ichimonji here, among many others!

 

What an eye-opener!

 

But, even better for my engineer's brain, my new mentor had spent all this time figuring out WHY each of the Gokuden was so different, & how history impacted the way blades were made, allowing me (once I had studied enough to understand the answers) to discuss with him highly-technical & abstruse things like why did Bizen tosho make utsuri, & to analyze why Masamune's Juttetsu was most-likely fiction. This is simply information that you can't get out of a book, & made my brain start working in totally different directions. But my wife & I were still not focused - not only couldn't we afford what my mentor had, but I also wasn't interested in taking the same route.

 

After several years of studying with him, we had the opportunity for a guided tour of the Bizen-Osafune Sword Village in Okayama, where we finally decided that we would concentrate on Kamakura & Nambokucho Bizen blades, & sell off our hodge-podge of Shinto blades. Why? Well, after seeing the superiority of the early-Koto blades, I finally recognized that Shinto & later blades had a lot of "eye-dressing" to catch the attention of Samurai, who were no longer worried about their blades' durability in battle. And seeing how Bizen tosho had been making blades - which they still manufacture at the Village - from the Heian period, their style caught my eye, & my wife agreed. I think it was a very-early Kamakura blade that we saw there, a mumei Ichimonji, with a choji-midare hamon & nioi-deki, that has stuck in our minds as the ultimate blade for us to work towards.

 

It's been a very interesting trip! Anyone who has an Ichimonji or Ko-Osafune that he/she wants to trade for a bunch of Shinto blades should feel free to contact me! :thumbsup:

 

Ken

 


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#3 Jussi Ekholm

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 07:20 AM

If you can save up like in your example then you have no problems tapping into some very good items if you think on the long scale.

In 15 years you would have c. 160,000 saved up. You could for example get 3 - 5 really nice swords for that.

I read originally that 10,000 + 1,000 a year so by that math in 15 years you would end up with 25,000. You could get couple nice swords with that too. It is not always just about money.

It's all relative as some can put 0€ towards collecting yearly, some 5,000 some 50,000 etc.

In your example if you think you would save up 3 years for a sword purchase you would have 30,000 budget. Then you could think how to advance and if there is something that you want.

Of course there is always the possibility of buying a sword every year for 10,000. Then in 15 years you would have 15 swords that could possibly show and teach you lots of interesting stuff. (I know this is the opposite what Darcy spoke on his blog) I think going wide has interesting merits and should not totally be left out. The most important thing is you are collecting for yourself so you should love what you collect. :)
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Jussi Ekholm


#4 BIG

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 08:41 AM

Int. Thoughts...francis phua blog

http://vintagenihont...ogspot.de/2017/

Best Regards

Advanced collectors, sellers... tell you, that the collecting way always ends in Koto swords...
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#5 Valric

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:02 PM

Interesting. 

 

I decided to follow two rules : 

  • Every new sword higher quality than the previous. 
  • Every new sword by the mentor or inspirer of the previous. 

Eventually this will lead to a very narrow and long collection with a 3-10x price increase from the previous. 

 

For now I have : 

 

High quality shinshinto blade (some malevolent man decided to weaponise it by removing the signature, punched another mekugi ana, and aged the nakago to make it pass as Koto, hence its basically worthless) by a sai-jo Saku shinshinto smith. This blade which my was first love was in Soden-Bizen style. So that sets a direction towards Soden-Bizen direction. My second blade is by Kensho, and the third will be by Chogi hopefully. This way I have a horizontal collection of the soden-bizen school. 

 

After I reach the last nod of Soden-Bizen, I branch out to seek two very prototypical blades of Bizen and Soshu. 

 

For now that's where I am in my thought process. 

 

If its unachievable due to me being unsuccessful at grinding cash then so be it, it will stay where it is. This is a luxury hobby which I see as a reward to motivate me to do well. Swords are not investments alas, I fully expect to be paying the renting cost before it moves on to the next owner. Purchases are made with the conservative notion that 20+% of the money invested will be lost. Unless of course, I manage to partake in some of the money-bleeding auctions from deceased collectors where bargains are had - but given my "detection rate" this is unlikely to happen. Hence, boutique purchase with all the overhead that comes with it. 


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#6 Vermithrax16

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:45 PM

Great points all and Chris agree 100% that unless one of the lucky few that gets access to deal swords, probably are going to have to pay the renters fee if/when moving on from a sword.

Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#7 paulb

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:49 PM

I have to admit I never had the discipline to have a plan let alone stick to it if I had.

I started by collecting Gunto moved on to Shinto blades and then finally koto more specifically Kamakura work. I think the thought process behind it went something like " I collect Showa-To because it is the nearest I can get to owning a traditionally made Japanese sword" (1980s) to "I am focussing on Hizen blades because they are copying koto Enju and Yamashiro work that I cant afford" (1990s) to " I am buying Enju and Mihara blades because they are most like Rai and Aoe swords that I dream about" to "If I sell all my Hizen blades and other pieces ​I can buy one or two swords from the period and school that I really like" (2000s)

 

So like often described here I started wide, collecting anything that was labelled Japanese. As I understood a little more I refined my searches to specific areas before finally narrowing to the point I am at now. However this was not planned nor was it the result of setting out to find something specific. The focus was seeing a sword I liked enough to sacrifice a lot of others to be able to buy. Also was I willing to accept that I might need to sell others at a loss (usually the case) to achieve the purchase.

 

Interestingly there was one school that I always wanted to include in my collection since starting out but knowing how rare they were and thus also how expensive I never actively looked for one. Out of the blue and at just the right time one appeared and it now has pride of place in a numerically much reduced group of swords.

I know another collector who has worked for very many years searching buying at auction and dealing in Japan to achieve his goal. A few months ago he confirmed that the most important sword in his collection came to him as a gift.

The idea that swords find people sometimes seems to have some foundation.


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#8 Valric

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 04:29 PM

I would add that collecting so far has been a journey in self-discipline. How many time was I ready to pull the trigger on a "sideway" item unrelated to goals...

 

Thankfully each time external factors have kept me from pulling the trigger. Who knows how long my luck will last. 

 

It's very much like investing in the stock market. Set yourself a target and stick to it. You lose money when you let greed or fear take over. Every step you take downsizing and refocusing will cost you. If you do it multiple times you're basically going to pay double for the next round. Sure there is a dividend you get, which is exposure to the sword and hence a study value. However the value of study increase steeply with the value of the swords to my understanding. 

 

The fact that swords carry about 3k-5k overhead each for polish, shirasaya, habaki, etc all of which are prerequisites to enjoy and preserve the sword, coupled with the fact that price increases much slower w.r.t to quality compared to other art markets makes it even more rational to stay tall. When you think about, at 3k you're basically paying for something worth as much as an oddly shaped rod of mixed iron if you exclude the overhead. 

 

All of this makes it in my view that the rational thing to do is to build tall. 


Chris H. 


#9 Vermithrax16

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 01:27 AM

Great responses by all, and plenty to think about.


Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#10 NihontoNewbie

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 04:54 PM

Great thread and discussion Jeremiah. My sword collection experience mirrors yours in a subtle way. I also started looking into high end Chinese forges, but unlike you I ended up buying many Chinese swords before learning about the allure and quality of true nihonto.

I must have two dozen Chinese $1000+ swords. That money could of been spent on nihonto, but my knowledge at the time was lacking. It is still lacking when it comes all things nihonto, but I am learning slowly but surely. There are just so many terms and a long rich history that I am still absorbing.

I would like to personally thank Vermithrax for his guidance so far. We are both Bostonians so speak each others language if you know what I mean. We tend to be bit quick thinkers, talkers, and a bit kurtz around here. His patience has been legendary.

I was ready to throw money at every affordable nihonto I could find until you wisely steered me in a different direction. Quality not quantity is the path I am currently on.

My first nihonto was a Mino school wakizashi mumei with an amazing habaki and polish. I lucked out on that piece because I got it very cheap with full shirasaya and period koshirae.

The second piece was a Bizen school mumei tanto which I still need to take pictures of and post. It also came with a great polish and shirasaya.

My third nihonto is actually at my local post office now awaiting delivery. Vermithrax/ Jeremiah actually found this little gem for me. It's a Musashi Ju Hosei Hujiwara Muneharu from around 1655. He was a student of the first generation Korekazu. It came with full oshigata and really nice tiger striped shirasaya and Jyo saku ranking.


I am now saving up for a truely amazing piece. One or two nice pieces a year beats buying countless lower end pieces. Thank you again Jeremiah for the solid advice and guidance. I will be sure to take some nice hada, nakago, and hamon pictures once I receive it.
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#11 Vermithrax16

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for the kind words Erick. I am learning too, it's a process.

Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#12 Pete Klein

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 09:53 PM

I'm assuming an earlier Korekazu than the 19th century one by your dating.


“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
— Mark Twain


#13 Vermithrax16

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 03:26 AM

I'm assuming an earlier Korekazu than the 19th century one by your dating.

 

Muneharu was an Ishido school student under Mitsuhira and Korekazu 1st gen time overlap I believe. Dating of around 1661 or so. 


Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#14 Shugyosha

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 09:33 AM

Hi Jeremiah,

 

Thanks for posting a very thought-provoking thread. As soon as I've worked out the answer I'll let you know. :)

 

This is something I'm having real difficulty with lately: tying money up in what I think of as an art collection but what is in fact stuff that I don't display and so don't enjoy on a daily basis. Furthermore, I'm not sure that I need to own more swords in order to continue to learn about them and I know that the ones I can afford aren't likely to be of sufficient quality to satisfy me as my tastes have moved on. And this in the context of struggling for an overall purpose or direction to my collecting...so a bit of a conundrum.

 

In the meantime, I'll keep thinking about it as I don't want to just drop the whole Nihonto thing and hopefully by the time the question resolves itself I'll have saved sufficient money to take things on.

 

Best,

John


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#15 Vermithrax16

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 01:11 AM

Hi Jeremiah,

 

Thanks for posting a very thought-provoking thread. As soon as I've worked out the answer I'll let you know. :)

 

This is something I'm having real difficulty with lately: tying money up in what I think of as an art collection but what is in fact stuff that I don't display and so don't enjoy on a daily basis. Furthermore, I'm not sure that I need to own more swords in order to continue to learn about them and I know that the ones I can afford aren't likely to be of sufficient quality to satisfy me as my tastes have moved on. And this in the context of struggling for an overall purpose or direction to my collecting...so a bit of a conundrum.

 

In the meantime, I'll keep thinking about it as I don't want to just drop the whole Nihonto thing and hopefully by the time the question resolves itself I'll have saved sufficient money to take things on.

 

Best,

John

 

John,

 

Thanks for the post. As soon as I have the answer, I will let you know  :)

 

Yes, these swords are indeed art as I see them. And putting money into them is something I have decided I am going to do, but have to balance that with a wife that really thinks this passion is, well let's leave out the terms she uses.......

 

I am not of unlimited means either and I think more time on this forum (perhaps a new sub section about entry level sword buying?) would be better spent on education/resources for newer and less enabled members on how to get the very best sword they can for the money they have available. It makes no sense to go into great detail about koto blades with all the amazing features (and some era swords are truly wonderous) which you too can have for just....... insert crazy price here.

 

Even if you take a break or stop collecting, a nice folder that is organized by however you like, filled with high resolution pictures of various swords is one way to "hunt" nihonto without going broke. And it's still fun.


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Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#16 Vermithrax16

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 02:29 AM

And to add, 

 

To see a learning process in motion, I started a sword tracker list in January 2017. Swords for sale from various outlets. Things that caught my eye, etc.

 

Last night I reviewed them all and gave all a study.

 

I deleted 75% of them.

 

 

 

 


Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#17 paulb

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 09:19 AM

quote:

It makes no sense to go into great detail about koto blades with all the amazing features (and some era swords are truly wonderous) which you too can have for just....... insert crazy price here.
 

Sorry Jeremiah you are wrong. by studying high quality pieces whether you can afford them or not you can learn to identify the features and characteristics that make them special. you can then apply this knowledge to more affordable pieces and assess the quality of what you are looking at.

Few of us are fortunate enough to be able to afford the very best swords or indeed any other art form, but through studying it and learning from it we can better appreciate what we can afford.


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#18 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 09:33 AM

Paul is 100% right. You really have to look at high-quality blades to progress, at least once you get past the basics that we all went through. Trying to see the details of jihada in a Shinto blade just isn't going to get you very far, but you probably won't believe it until you find a way to see & study those "elite" blades. Sometimes, you have to look on-line, & there's at least one museum (the name escapes me) where you can zoom in as close as you want to see fine detail.

 

It's a real eye-opener!

 

Ken

 



#19 paulb

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 10:34 AM

Hi Ken

This might be what you are thinking of

http://www.emuseum.jp/top?d_lang=en


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#20 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 10:38 AM

That's it, Paul - thanks! :beer:  I have it buried...somewhere in my links.

 

Jeremiah, I'd like to recommend that you look at some of the top-notch blades here (do a search on sword), & zoom in just as far as you want. Then compare those to Shinto or Shinshinto. Not quite the same as holding a blade, but a lot more available..

 

Ken



#21 Guido Schiller

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 10:46 AM

Trying to see the details of jihada in a Shinto blade just isn't going to get you very far, ...

 

Sorry, but that's simply not true, not even as a generalization. There are many, many shintō and shinshintō, and even shinsakutō blades with the most amazing hada. Art is art, whether it was made 1, 100, or 1,000 years ago. Not all kotō are great works of art, e.g. blades from the Sengoku period, which are highly esteemed by many Western collectors just because of the very fact that they are kotō: most of them are mass-produced, and don't reveal anything which could be called worth being collected.

 

It all comes down to quality - those who are not able to see quality in a blade won't see it at all, no matter if it's kotō, shintō, or a Chinese fake.


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#22 Vermithrax16

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 11:14 AM

If you thought I meant there was no reason to study Koto blades in my post I need to be better at getting my meaning across. Apologies.

Jeremiah L.

 

"I wonder if we're being drawn into an ambush. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We have to do this. We've already bought tickets for the last dance. And it's going to be a real gala event."  - Robopocalypse 

#23 paulb

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 11:26 AM

no need to ap[ologise but just in case I wanted to make the point.

We need to look at the best, as Guido says regardless of age, good art is good art and by studying the best we can understand more.

Probably subject for another thread but it would be interesting to hear members views regarding the favourite Jihada from each sword period. There are great examples of workmanship out there.


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#24 vajo

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 07:11 PM

There are so many different forms of hada. It depends on the taste what is the best for the collector. Some very fine high rated expensive swords are looking really boring in my eyes because they are perfect in all aspects. It's the same effect with perfect looking girls.  :)

 

I bet the sword you like the most in collection is not the most expensive sword.


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Chris S. 

 


#25 paulb

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 07:40 PM

Chris

It is a close run thing I admit. There are several that I would not like to have to choose between.

You are absolutely right though the hada we prefer has as much or  more to do with aesthetic personal taste that it does technical quality.

What I have found is the swords I thnk are the best and I prefer have a very "tight" hada. Sorry this isnt a very clear definition but regardless of the combination, whether ko-itame with ko-mokume or ko-itame with nagare it souuld not be loose or too open. Also there needs to be a lot of acrtivity in the form of ji-nie and chickei.

I think thts why I really like Yamashiro and very early Soshu work more than most else.


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#26 Guido Schiller

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 09:44 AM

I took this thread as a reminder to edit (again) my (already 15 years old) article about my take on collecting - so, if anyone didn't read it yet, and is reasonably sure to not fall asleep until page 16 ;-) , here it is:

Attached Files


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#27 seattle1

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 02:40 PM

Hello:

 I was not aware of Guido's essay prior to this first reading, and it was well worth the read through. It is always interesting to see a writer's way of moving to a rationale for collection, the needed background information, the importance of some focus, self discipline and goal attainment. There is lots there for all collectors. Thank you Guido.

 Arnold F.


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#28 Brian

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 02:56 PM

http://www.militaria...um/17-articles/
I have updated that article, thanks Guido.


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#29 vajo

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 09:33 AM

Guido, surely right words. But, when all collectors only collect the pure art aspect, the Nihonto theme will die.

 

Thats my thought.


Chris S. 

 





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