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#31 Brian

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 10:45 AM

All this "comparing signatures" eventually gets to the point of being useless. You can only use a signature up to a point. Maybe it is 25% of the shoshin decision, maybe less.
Signatures varied over time, and a stoke by stroke analysis is going to be pointless. What needs to be seen is the work. The hamon, the hada, the hataraki. And those require at least a window.
Thinking a decision on gimei can come from online study of the signature is destined to fail. At best you will have a good guess.
And then, even if we (all) think the signature is real, it can end up with a fatal flaw.
The decent advice has been given, now it is a matter of taking it further and having people look at it in hand. Maybe have someone in Europe polish a window. There are qualified polishers in Europe that can do that.


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#32 Jacques D.

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 12:05 PM

Brian

 

There are some features which are constant and present on all mei of Masayuki/Kiyomaro. I just highlighted them. 



#33 Surfson

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 01:36 PM

Brian, I am saying that after the cost of restoration (at least $5K if done by the top craftsmen), if the sword is gimei, you have to add signature removal to the cost ($600 or so).  On top of that, since the yasurime is much more distinct on a shinshinto than on a kamakura or nambokucho blade, I speculate that signature removal will be more obvious.  At the end of the process, one would have a mumei shinshinto utsushi blade.  Good luck selling that for $5K, unless it is drop dead gorgeous.  So yes, I am sticking to my opinion on this.  Cheers, Bob


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#34 Tom Darling

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 04:46 AM

Leave the mei on, that's the main attraction, and forget about the polish. It's very unusual to say the least. I personally like it a lot.

 

 

Tom D.


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#35 Rivkin

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 05:55 AM

Potentially erroneous and highly personal take - signature will play >80% of the role in papering this blade. The best course is to show the photograph to someone who seriously deals with Kiyomaro collecting in Japan and see what the response is going to be.

For pre-Muromachi blade signature might be in 10% of importance and even significant issues will be overlooked. There are quite a few Juyo where "people know" the signature looks strange and can be even Muromachi period add-on. There are very respected blades like Hojo's gifts where it can be theorized that the signatures were added around 1520 - and it does not really bother people except maybe those with more "historian" attitude.

 

Its about 30% for Muromachi blades, but goes up to 70-95% for top names for anything from Edo period, except very few who are kind of known to be highly unique in their work.

 

Mumei blades appraised to Sukehiro or Shinkai are exceptionally rare and bordering on non-existent for some judges. Bad signature on Kiyomaro cannot be broken (we accept that the smith had a cold and his hand wavered in second kanji...) by the blade's quality by itself, unless its close to the best blade Kiyomaro ever made.

 

Otherwise no matter what one finds - shinshinto take on Soden Bizen, Soshu a-la-Norishige, Soshu a-la "Masamune", Bizen that tries to be more Ichimonji etc. etc., related things were sort of experimented on by others at the same time, and even at very good quality level it can theoretically be Kiyondo or a dozen of other shinshinto (and even later) smiths who worked within roughly the same Soshu-Bizen "area of interest" - and whose blade was then upgraded with a signature. 

 

Very few will take a risk to claim on paper it is Kiyomaro if there are doubts on the signature. 

Per current practice It will likely not be rejected, but the paper will not be issued, as "more research is needed".

 

Kirill R.


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#36 Valric

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:01 AM

Some interesting takes here. 

 

I strongly disagree with the notion that the blade shouldn't be inspected further and kept as is. While there maybe irregularities in the signatures, we need to compare to the full corpus of the smith and not a single exemplar to know which variations are acceptable and which ones are not. 

 

I also reject the notion that signature plays such an important role in the presence of irregularities which could fall within to the corpus of work: if the blade quality isn't there or the shape falls outside of his corpus even with a perfect signature, it's unlikely to paper Kyomaro. It's easier to copy a signature, especially in the times following Kyomaro, compared to copying the quality of his work. A window needs to be polished and checked for the traits of Kyomaro's period work. There is one canvas - It's arguable that for Kyomaro this is tricky because he was a drunk and did produce some very subpar work on occasion, and some of the bad stuff is probably considered Gimei even today. 

 

Finally, if the window reveals quality and there are no deal breakers, even if Gimei and Shinshinto, it will be worth its cost of polish provided it can be attributed to a top smith of the Period. Come on guys. Mumei attributed to a student of Kyomaro will easily fetch 5K. Now, there is a real risk that a gendai smith copied the original Kyomaro blade and it's sleepy and boring and basically there is nothing to it. This is the killer, and this was done in the past, and needs to be kept in mind. If that's the case you're going to lose money. There is a chance a good polisher will be able to discriminate and cut short your losses during the process. 

 

My take on this is that this is a bet with good upsides, and this is a tough thing to say for blades outside of the Koto range. 

 

To sum up:

  • Gendai Gimei Kyomaro: Zero
  • Shinshinto Gimei Kyomaro by top smith (e.g. student): you get your money back
  • Real Kyomaro: tens of thousands of dollar

Finally, remember the provenance: We are dealing with a stolen blade. If this was out of Japan nobody in his right mind would think twice. 


Chris H. 


#37 Promo

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 10:24 AM

Chris, with respect: this blade is not stolen. It was lawfully purchased from a governmental organization with remaining unknown how it came into governmental possession (I'm currently trying to find out more on this, by the way). Most (over 99%) of the weapon items sold there are from individual "weapon bans", and it being among two other blades from the same case number it is extremely unlikely that someone either used it in a criminal action (robbing the bank, etc.) or stole it from someone. Therefore it was most possibly taken away from someone in Austria and the person accepted this (you have to do something wrong, to get a weapon ban. Police then gets to your house to search it for weapons and seize them. During trial most if not all people sign a resignation to these items in order to show understanding for their wrong behaviour).

 

Please forgive the maybe beginner question, but assuming I would have it polished and then would be papered as fake. Is it then mandatory that the markings are removed (and like already done there), or would I be able to keep it with those as a still nice looking wall hanger?

 

The costs for the polish would not be the problem, since I do can afford to put some money into it since many of my guns are more expensive than the estimates for the polish I was being given, yet I am a bit reluctant to sending such an item to a person which I've never met before and not see it for like years.


Georg


#38 Gakusee

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 10:52 AM

Hi Georg:
- firstly, I think you can get it polished for less than €5k. In fact I have recently had 3 mukansa level polishes for around €3k. Admittedly, those were more touch-up/rectification of bad polish or minor rust. Of course, there is also admin involved in getting it there and back but not more than 500-1000;
- next, you will need a reputable agent to do the admin work (import, authorisations, despatch to polisher and receipt, applying for export permit and sending it back). You need someone reliable and either based in Japan (eg Paul Martin) or someone with an international network who can arrange local details (eg Darcy Brockbank). These are well known experts and authorities and trustworthy.
- the sword will not “paper” if the signature is judged gimei. However, subject to which institution you submit it to (NBTHK or NTHK) you will receive either verbal informal feedback (NBTHK) or a more formal, written view (pink slip or notes sheet from NTHK). With that guidance, you decide what to do - eg, remove the signature (done by a professional in Japan, mostly by compressing the makura and restoring the yasurime) or keep
(genuine or needs further study) or whatever
- there is of course a shortcut to the formal submission process - requesting a high authority like Tanobe Michihiro sensei to look at it and opine on its authenticity. Darcy recently did this for someone on a very old blade. That saves the hassle of a longer submission/waiting time for the predesignated formal assessment days (these are not every month and there are specific dates for shinsa)
- workmanship is very important and a “window” ( short section polished to clear up the hamon and hada) will assist if the signature is borderline. If glaringly gimei, then the window is more for you to assess the quality and decide whether to invest in a full polish and assess economic outcomes should you be wondering if you could recoup polish investment or are thinking of selling it

However, I am personally a bit sceptical that someone would have faked the entire sugata and the quality grooves and the minute details to such an extent. Of course, it is possible, but I think the fakes are more on the more straightforward katana-type blades.
Admittedly, as we are not experts, we would need 20-30 Masayuki mei in great detail to examine and compare to be able to give firmer opinions on the tagane, makura, strokes, etc
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#39 Valric

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 12:30 PM

Georg, thanks for the clarification. That's harsh. It sounds like those obscure Austrian auctions are a great source of bargains, since the government is notoriously bad at pricing things and publicizing their auctions...

 

What I want to convey by this statement is that the provenance gives this blade a chance to be real. If you had purchased it from Japan, from Ebay, Yahoo auctions, or some other sources where where is knowledge asymmetry in your disfavor, it would be a fake Kyomaro. The fact that it comes as government confiscated property from some unsavory character (to say the least...) is a good source for a lottery ticket like this blade. You have a chance. 

 

Michael S has it all outlined for you. I am eager to hear what Tanobe has to say about it in Japan. 


Chris H. 


#40 raaay

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 02:54 PM

Slightly of topic,

 

My understanding  is in the Uk,  if  a weapon is confiscated or handed into to the authorities most would be destroyed  , so somewhat surprised they actually put weapons' /swords up for public auction as they could potentially end  up right back in the wrong hands ,   that said Georg I think you are a luck guy to own this one , IMHO it  has great potential, good luck with it.


Ray :)


#41 Promo

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 03:27 PM

Court auctions are always a huge gamble. They are best described with a famous quote: "Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get." Same applies here. They are done not regularly and during normal working time so main persons attending are retired. Sometimes they are a bit better described with short descriptions to know at least a bit in advance what you can expect, most times as it was the case here you read "weapons, etc." and just attend if you have the time and it is not too far away. And you can't disassemble nor get an expert opinion on those, just gamble if you get it or not. Would the friend of mine who I had asked at the beginning offered me € 500, I would had sold it to him and would had been proud of a good deal and to make him and myself happy. Having learnt a lot over the last few days I'm happy this had not happened. And a small side note, local laws obligate justice to sell items which can be sold to cover any expenses. I think quite good, because otherwise this one might had ended up as scrap metal.

 

Anyway, to get back: I've now heard several times the recommendation to have a window polished. Is this something which also needs to be done in Japan, or can this be done like here in Europe as well? Or would this be a bad idea? Is this so much cheaper than polishing the whole blade that this makes sense? I mean it is not nice as it looks now, but if just some part of it was polished and left this way, wouldn't it look hell of ugly then? And how would this work, even if polished in Japan - does the polisher then does a picture of what the polished window looks like and how would I then know if I want to have the rest polished as well? Or would he then show this window to whoever and then tell me if he should polish the rest?

 

Another point, I've now heard the first time there are two organizations. What is the difference between NBTHK and NTHK? Why use NBTHK and not NTHK or opposite?


Georg


#42 Brian

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 04:11 PM

About the window...
The only real way to tell if a sword is healthy and of good quality is to see it in polish. Then you can see all the activities in the steel. Crystals, hamon, grain structure etc etc. It is quite amazing to see a sword in polish.
Because this is so expensive ($200+ per inch) a small section can be polished in full, so see the quality. Usually that will say a lot about whether the sword is worth a full polish, and who made it, and how good it is. Plus if it is healthy.
As for having a patch done that looks ugly because it doesn't match the rest of the sword...to be honest..who cares? The value of a Japanese sword is in the features in the steel.
To me, it would be worse to just have it sitting like that on a wall. A window would present a small area of what is possible.
Yes, they can be done in Europe. I am sure you will be advised who the professionals are and I suggest having a chat with one of them.


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#43 Rivkin

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 05:50 PM

There is no visible damage to its complex sugata so the chance of being burned is very low.

Other than this, shinshinto and gendai are not known for widespread flaws. Maybe a tiny fukure, a short ware somewhere. Not something a window will tell, and unlikely something truly catastrophic.

Even if it is (early?!) Kiyomaro, the chances of it having such a distinguished work that it can be judged by it alone - is low.

 

If you collect koto, you study blades. If you collect Edo, you have to study signatures. Otherwise there are plenty of top name blades out there that in craft look 100% convincing, but will never paper because the signature has strange elements to it. Some in 1970s did get green papers, but today's Art world is much more paranoid.

 

Would it still be worth its money if it polishes and does not paper? Maybe. If the work is good, it can be a decent Kiyondo. It can also be a dud someone made, lets say in Taisho era. It will be a fun project though and about a year of precious waiting and guessing "did I win the lottery", so that's by itself is probably worth a lot.

 

Kirill R.


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#44 Brian

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:58 PM

Can someone show me a sword with this shape, style, well cut hi...exactly this shape and with the same features, that is made by a low level smith or is a dud?
Not saying they are all very good swords, but I'd like to see one. As soon as a sword has well cut hi, naginata/nagamaki shape, and good lines...the price goes up.
Again, show me the others.


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#45 Rivkin

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:28 PM

It is quite hard to show a sword with exactly the same yasurime, hi, sugata, exactly this length of kissaki, and I have to admit that kantei by hi is way above my level.

There are plenty of good horimono that do not repaper, this one I do (sort of) know.

Meiji to Showa had some of the best cutters that ever existed.

 

Kirill R.

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#46 Ed

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:34 PM

Interesting sword, interesting post.

 

All of the opinions given are mere speculation based on a few photos. Some will argue that the mei is good, some will say it is not.  Some will be right, some wrong.

 

With a smith of this caliber comes into play several factors which make authentication difficult.

First, he signed with several different mei over the years.

Second, there are differences noted even among known shoshin works.

Third, there are many gimei signatures with a smith of this fame, some by experts at forging gimei signatures, like Kajihei.

 

In my opinion, a sword with this potential, warrants being viewed by someone at the highest level.  Someone like Tanobe or the NBTHK. With Tanobe being the former head of the NBTHK, I would probably prefer his judgement over today’s NBTHK.

 

My only advise would be, do not cut corners to save money with this sword.  Tanobe can most likely pass judgement from the mei alone. If not, he will be able to give you the best advise you can get. 

 

If Tanobe authenticates the mei, then have it polished.  Again, if deemed shoshin, do not have this sword polished by just anyone.  There are some polishers in Europe, but unless I am mistaken, none have completed a full apprenticeship in Japan (I’ll probably catch flak over that). 

 

Self-trained or partially trained polishers are not good enough if this is a Kiyomaro!

 

Darcy Brockbank doesn’t live in Japan but has excellent connections in Japan and is as trustworthy as there is.  There would be no reason for concern sending your sword to him.  Darcy can get your sword looked at by Tanobe and into the hands of an excellent polisher.

 

In closing, I would ask that in the event you don’t want to send it to Japan or wait to have it polished, as you mentioned.  Please sell it to someone who will take the time and effort to see it through in the best possible manner.


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http://yakiba.com/   For questions, please DO NOT contact me via PM.   If you have a question, or interest in an item, please contact me via the website: Yakiba.com@gmail.com

 

My comments are based on my own personal opinions and experiences and are not intended to influence others nor evoke argument or reprisal. 和


#47 ChrisW

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 10:53 PM

I whole-heartedly agree with Ed here, he's got this sword's best interest in mind and it would be a great disservice to cut corners with such a potentially important piece of nihonto history.


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#48 Blazeaglory

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 11:06 PM

My 2 cents before I bow out...

At worst, it's new (late 20th/21st century) and made to look old... At best, well, it's a legit Mei and is a traditional Nihonto and blade just needs polishing/restoration.

Choose a person to send it to, open a window, listen to the opinions and suggestions that follow. At that point you should know if it's worthy of further pursuit.
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#49 Beater

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 09:12 AM

It doesn't appear to have been mentioned / considered yet but has anyone got another example of an authentic Gosaburo Yamada cutting test mei which they could post here? I think a comparison of that feature would be valuable.

Reassuringly, the last two scans Georg sent me appear to show a hamon in the area under the habaki. He tried a different method of lighting to provide excellent images of the mei but it also seems to have shown the hamon too. I have had to greatly resize them to be able to load them here, which has made them slightly blurry but I think you will see what I mean.

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#50 Tom Darling

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 02:23 AM

The habaki ( -0) is original to the nakago, but not the blade. The three (hi) beyond the machi is also a clue. A subjective perspective is one open to greater interpretation. It is not always what it seems. Now, be friendly.  Peace.  IMHO.

 

Tom D.



#51 raymondsinger

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 02:31 AM

The horimono are identical to the Juyo example and show the blade to be machiokuri.

#52 Surfson

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 03:25 AM

I like this blade a lot and wish it were mine!  

 

i agree with the advice to send it to Japan, have a window put in, get it into the hands of Tanobe sensei and then make a decision about whether to restore it.  If the consensus, or simple opinion of Tanobe, is that it is gimei, then I would only restore it if the hamon/hada were beautiful, and I would include NBTHK shinsa, and signature removal in the process.  

 

I might run it through NBTHK twice despite the preliminary opinion of gimei, just because I would hate to destroy a signature on a shoshin blade.  Whenever I have had signatures removed (three times now), I put them once or twice through shinsa first.  Congrats on an exciting find!


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#53 Tom Darling

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 04:54 AM

I've submitted koto tachi to NBTHK, that was gemei, was advised to remove the mei, have it  polished and resubmit. Got papers about two years later to an  obscure school. The time of that costly experience was 1976. Found out from two Japanese sword dealer/ friends, not to remove a gemei signature, The gemei signature is usually not put on a good blade as the cost and time is not worth finding out..Good luck. Peace.

 

Tom D.



#54 Promo

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 11:25 AM

The habaki ( -0) is original to the nakago, but not the blade. The three (hi) beyond the machi is also a clue. A subjective perspective is one open to greater interpretation. It is not always what it seems. Now, be friendly.  Peace.  IMHO.


I‘m sorry but I understood nearly nothing of your post. I‘m not a native speaker and yet know nearly nothing on Japanese blades. Would you mind explaining a bit more what you meant with your post? Thanks!

Georg


#55 Geraint

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 02:12 PM

Dear George.

 

Not to speak for Tom but some of the terms are hard to cope with at first. The machi are the steps at the junction of the blade and the tang.  Machi okuri is a process where the machi are moved toward the blade's tip to shorten it somewhat.  Your blade has very unusual grooves, three is not often seen.  Moving the machi has altered the position of the end of the grooves so that they are a little lower into the tang than they would have been.

 

Hope that clarifies the technical terms, the rest of Tom's post I will leave to him to expand.

 

All the best.


Geraint

#56 Promo

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 11:01 PM

Thank you, I had gotten that machi okuri means shortening of the blade part in favor of the handle length (if it was not shortened as well). But what did he mean by that the brass thing (habaki) is original to the handle part (nakago), but not the blade? The handle is part of the blade, how therefore could it be original to one but not the other? And for what are the three hi (I assume these are the three lines on the blade?) beyond the machi a clue for?

Georg


#57 Blazeaglory

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:17 PM

Thank you, I had gotten that machi okuri means shortening of the blade part in favor of the handle length (if it was not shortened as well). But what did he mean by that the brass thing (habaki) is original to the handle part (nakago), but not the blade? The handle is part of the blade, how therefore could it be original to one but not the other? And for what are the three hi (I assume these are the three lines on the blade?) beyond the machi a clue for?

 

If you plan on taking this hobby seriously and want to continue, I suggest picking up a copy of the book by Kokan Nagayama, "The Connoisseurs Book of Japanese Swords"

 

The info is priceless! There are way too many terms to go over in one thread and the book has a glossary that is amazing. I highly recommend it.

 

But in meantime, here's a few links

 

https://en.wikipedia...Japanese_swords

 

https://www.nihonto....words/glossary/

 

https://markussesko.com/kantei/


Dwain H.

#58 Promo

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:34 PM

I understood the terms since I did look them up. I however still did not understand what he meant. How can a Habaki be original to the Nakago, but not the blade? Second, which clue can give three lines above the machi?

Georg


#59 Surfson

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:53 PM

He doesn't really know Georg, just guessing, I assume, that when the blade underwent machiokuri a new habaki was made.  The habaki could well be original to the blade, in my opinion. 

 

So you have an interesting dilemma.  If you were to sell the sword now, you could likely get a fair bit for it based on people's hope or opinion that it is a genuine Kiyomaro, which can be worth 6 figures.  On the other hand, if you do send it to Japan and find out that the sword is not genuine, the perceived value crashes to earth, i.e. it is worth a couple thousand bucks.  

 

Interesting choice, no?  We collectors that do a lot of hunting face this, albeit usually at a lower dollar amount, all the time, and everybody takes their own path.  Whatever you decide, your luck has been great so far and I hope that it holds up!  


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#60 Promo

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:34 PM

I have mentioned it at the very beginning, and this will not change: I will not part with this sword unless I have written proof saying it is original and there is a great collection where it is appreciated more than with a gun collector. If it is a fake (or gimei, as Nihonto collectors would call it), it has little value and I will keep it. It is as simple as that. No chance that I will be selling it as it is now.

Is there anything which I should be afraid of when sending it to Japan via an Agent? What if it is lost while being shipped, would any shipping company insure a very high sum? Did anyone have ever lost something? And how long will this take, polishing and papering it?

Georg





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