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What should happen to collections?


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#1 Peter Bleed

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 07:12 PM

I find myself wondering about what should  happen to collections. I am still out there scouting and thinking about Japanese swords. But I also seem to be encountering collections - of diverse old stuff - that are being offered for sale. I like my stuff better, but seeing these other collections being broken up makes me wonder "When and how should a collection be dispersed?" What are good - and bad - ways of dispersing collections?

Peter


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#2 vajo

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 07:45 PM

Hi Peter, for myself i will do nothing. Thats the part of family after me. I have made some collection books with a price list for every item i have bought. They can decide what they do with it. 


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#3 16k

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 10:11 PM

Now, that’s a question I’ve often pondered about and am still unsure of.

Some twenty years ago, when I just had one blade, I decided to pass it on to somebody I knew would care for it (one of my students. I’ve kept his contact information in that purpose).

But now I have about ten swords and if none of them is a national treasure, they still are my treasure (my precious, in Gollum’s voice). So I don’t know yet. I don’t want to sell them. I think they should be passed on, not sold. You don’t sell a soul. Chances are, when and if the time has come and I realize it, I’ll probably contact some members here and give them out to them. The question is when do we feel we are ready?
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#4 paulb

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 11:02 PM

It is an issue we all have to consider at some point, and certainly as I get older it is something I think about more often. A couple of things I am fairly sure of:

 

1. I would not offer my colection to a museum. Too often I have seen treasured and some important works being accepted by non specialist establishements and then being stuck in cupboards. On average museums are capable of displaying between 5 and 10% of what they hold. The rest remains in storage and in non specialist establishments not always in suitable conditions.. I believe that pieces that have survived so many years and I have had the joy to hold for whatever period of time would be far better cared for by another collector rather than an institution.

 

2. I would not want to leave the problem of disposal to my family. It's my collection and my responsibility. Passing the buck to my nearest and dearest who dont share my interest seems irresposible to both them and the pieces concerned.

 

With these two considerations it then becomes a matter of timing. Of course the unexpected can and does happen so everything is well documented and advice on disposal written down. However I would hope I would have the foresight and courage to know when I should move on what I have. When somthing has occuppied such a major part of one's life this becomes an incredibly difficult issue to determine. I hope I will know when the time is right (And also it is not too soon in coming !)


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#5 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 01:46 AM

Peter, this is a question that my wife & I have talked about for years. We both train in martial arts, & share our ennjoyment of Nihonto, but that enjoyment has skipped the rest of our family. Our granddaughter attended weekly talks with me & my sword mentor for several years, but then she moved 2,000 miles away, & has no intention of returning. We do have an extended Japanese family, but they appear more frightened of our blades, than anything else.

 

Like Paul, we have carefully documented all of our blades, in hope that this will help the next caretaker, but we're far from figuring out who that next caretaker might be.


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#6 Lance

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 03:17 AM

Obviously not talking about breaking up daisho fittings or  koshirae from blades, but II don't see an issue with a private collection being separated as nobody is really going to have a connection with everything you may have as a whole, unless they were your children, a close friend or relative and becomes a memento of that friendship/familial ties.

 

It would probably be more difficult thinking about everything being dispersed if you collection was comprised of something like examples of different generations of sword smiths, fittings artists from a given school,  themes, or every example of gunto.  Otherwise wanting the individual pieces to be cared for and enjoyed is probably the best you could hope for.   

   

 

Regards,

Lance  



#7 Vermithrax16

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 03:40 AM

My loose plan is when (I hope to God I get a general feeling as to "when") the time is coming, I can find suitable caretakers for the works I have. I myself have worked hard to become a caretaker, and I think I will be able to place my collection when the time comes. HATE thinking about it.


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#8 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:14 AM

Crystal ball, Jeremiah? Wish I had one!


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#9 Peter Bleed

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:15 AM

Dear Friends, Thank you all,

I am feeling no particular frailty, but I happened to take a bit of a drive last Friday to look at an "estate" that featured some swords.The good news isthat the owner was still be with us. He had also told his handlers what all this stuff was and what it would be worth on the world market  over the past 20 years.

There was as well some bad news. 1) he was wrong on almost everything , and 2) it was in Arkansas, rural Arkansas! (hot, but no cotton mouths)

I would just as soon not see my stuff and my heirs subjected to what I observed at this event.

Peter


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#10 Vermithrax16

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:22 AM

Crystal ball, Jeremiah? Wish I had one!

Ken you are the true Iron Man, so amazing what you have seen and fought through. It's a tough thread to talk in, and yes, I do hope I have time (all we have is time, yes?) to see things coming and make arrangements. Alas, not likely to be so.


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#11 BIG

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:43 AM

Curious, had the same kind of thougths yesterday. The easy way would be to have a top collection, that went to Japan ..

Best
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#12 SAS

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 08:20 AM

I saw a youtube vid about weapons testing in the Vietnam era yesterday, and saw the jets you flew Ken, and thought about you. My particular collection is small and of no great value, but i would hope that whoever ended up with them would take care of them and not let them rust away.


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#13 Brian

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 02:22 PM

Leave everything to the forum :glee:
Personally, I think auction (not online) with a reputable company ensures they find semi-decent homes. Or consign with a reputable dealer.
Or leave them to the forum. Did I mention that? ;-)


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#14 vajo

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 02:48 PM

You are all honorable gents. You spent your time and money to take care of something that is really in the interest of mankind to give it further when our time is coming. Its like a important secret. Maybe you think, ah thats nonsense.

If you have one piece or two you didn't take much notice about it. But when the collection gets bigger the knowing of it will follow you every day. I think of it every day. It's there when i wake up and i think on it when i go to sleep. Its a deep feeling of satisfaction to come to that point over all the years. You grow in mind with your collection. And i think it is the best footstep when you give it further and someone knows it comes from the collection of XY. So you will get a part of the pieces, a long time after you have passed. The internet will never forget. The next collectors will search information about their new piece. And with a good reportet provenance the piece will be much more interesting. So be proud about your collection, if it is worthy or not. 

Now its the year 2019. Think about what is in 10, 20 or much more years? The next generation has grown up and find their interest in Nihonto. If they buy only the piece from ebay, they start with nothing. But when they know all what you know about it and where it come from so history becomes a face. Thats only my little thoughts.

 

Brian we need a hall of fame as i said in the past  :laughing:

A place to remember. A little walhalla for the collectors of the nihonto message board. If this board will pass away. Time back machine will preserve it.

 

tanto.jpg

(it makes really fun to have a handwritten sheet - these days nobody writes on paper anymore)

 

Cheers

 

Chris


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#15 Stephen

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 02:55 PM

Lets just hope they are available to the public. Years back i went to local Historical Society to ID what they had. 90% were in less than good shape.
Guns rusting away swords faired somewhat better because of saya's, ones without not so good. Id rather find a up in coming student than leave to museums or historical society.
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#16 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 03:54 PM

I'm with Stephen on this. I have my swords because someone offered them for sale on ebay, auction houses, and dealer sites. Each one challenged me to learn more as I went. My grown daughter may keep them, but she may sell them off for much needed cash. The buyers will likely be beginners who are looking for their first good Type 95/97/98, and excited when they receive it in the mail.
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#17 Austus

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 12:31 AM

Just make sure you get one thing across to whoever may have possession of your beloved swords for any amount of time:  DON"T TOUCH THE BLADE!!   (Not everybody knows that.)     

 

Then add: Don't clean the tang.


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#18 ChrisW

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 04:11 AM

While I love and care for each of my blades, I have to view them with a certain detachment. I know its best to not leave them to my heirs someday, so my plan is to treat my collection as my retirement, only leaving a scant few behind for possible interested heirs. The rest? It should be sold to new collectors whose interest will be in preservation. The money to be benefiting me and my loved ones.

 

Much as I love museums, all the points brought up are very sadly true. Fun fact: if you are any kind of government employee (this includes teacher or state office workers), you can attend any federal museum's yearly inventory sale: this includes the Smithsonian! I have heard many a person obtaining good items this way.


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#19 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 04:47 AM

It amazes me that museums will sell off their blades, but I've seen it done several times, here in Hawaii, in Arizona, & in Wyoming. I wonder if these sales may be related to today's knee-jerk reaction to weapons, in general.

 

I asked the curator of our local museum, but he refused to answer me, which I guess is an answer, in itself.


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#20 ChrisW

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 05:06 AM

It depends on whether or not if they're federally associated, like the Smithsonian. If they are, then they probably do have a sale. If they're not, then no such rule exists for private museums. Best bet is the Smithsonian, you wouldn't believe the volume of things that passes through these sales.


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#21 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 05:38 AM

 

It depends on whether or not if they're federally associated, like the Smithsonian. If they are, then they probably do have a sale.

I don't understand, Chris. Do federally-funded museums have some kind of rules for selling unneeded items? If so, I think this is important to know.


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#22 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:58 AM

Government museums are likely to never sell any items as they get their funding from government or fundraisers/donations etc etc. Private or local museums are the ones most likely to sell items as they can be essentially just collectors like us with the infrastructure and money to display things. There was a private military museum in Cowra that auctioned off the entire collection a few years ago, tanks, AAA guns, swords, guns and just about everything else but the kitchen sink.

 

As for my collection, I'd like to have a list of other collectors I feel comfortable passing on my swords to and reasonable prices for everyone. Plus a few that should be kept safe in the family for as many generations as possible.


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#23 kissakai

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:30 AM

Hi John

It is the same in the UK

I proposed I buy a few tsuba and they used the money to restore some of the other tsuba

If they sell one item they loose all funding!

So they have sat in the archives for well over a 100 years going rustry

Sad


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#24 Ken-Hawaii

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 12:26 PM

Repositories of our history - NOT!


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#25 Jean

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:47 PM

I have applied beforehand my friend Jeremiah’s philosophy and have scattered my Gokaden collection to trusty collector friends. They are very happy and me too. :)
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#26 Pete Klein

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 08:03 PM

"It amazes me that museums will sell off their blades, but I've seen it done several times, here in Hawaii, in Arizona, & in Wyoming. I wonder if these sales may be related to today's knee-jerk reaction to weapons, in general.  I asked the curator of our local museum, but he refused to answer me, which I guess is an answer, in itself".

 

So, Ken -- would you really like to know the answer to you question?  Well, to put it simply, it's because museums are not run by men who might/would see the value of swords, armor etc. but by 'very' rich women, who sit on the boards of said museums and create the funding for said museums - who do not.  If you doubt me, look at any exhibit being funded by a married couple and you will see the wife's name first.  The Met can get away with a sword/armor exhibit because they have a long standing armor and arms club which is the wives way of placating 'hubby'.  All of this has nothing to do with cultural, historic or artistic preservation and only to do with their own 'social standing' and hierarchy.  Trust me, they care not a whit about Nihonto but will swoon at the sight of some piece of trash which is only important because their lap dog, sycophant dealers insssist they are (yes, with three s'sss), and of course that will increase their position forward at the table!  Now then, this is not to say that all women feel this way and there are some who truly appreciate these fields and we all love and appreciate  them for it but in the greater picture, they are a small minority.

 

So, the next time you see a museum deaccession their Nihonto or other armor related items, you know where the funding came from for the latest 'acquisition'.  


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#27 Pete Klein

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 08:08 PM

PS:  


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#28 Brian

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 08:50 PM

I would love to say that is unlikely or an exaggeration Pete....but I fear you are probably 100% on the money there.


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#29 Tigerinbamboo

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:06 PM


"It amazes me that museums will sell off their blades, but I've seen it done several times, here in Hawaii, in Arizona, & in Wyoming. I wonder if these sales may be related to today's knee-jerk reaction to weapons, in general. I asked the curator of our local museum, but he refused to answer me, which I guess is an answer, in itself".


So, Ken -- would you really like to know the answer to you question? Well, to put it simply, it's because museums are not run by men who might/would see the value of swords, armor etc. but by 'very' rich women, who sit on the boards of said museums and create the funding for said museums - who do not. If you doubt me, look at any exhibit being funded by a married couple and you will see the wife's name first. The Met can get away with a sword/armor exhibit because they have a long standing armor and arms club which is the wives way of placating 'hubby'. All of this has nothing to do with cultural, historic or artistic preservation and only to do with their own 'social standing' and hierarchy. Trust me, they care not a whit about Nihonto but will swoon at the sight of some piece of trash which is only important because their lap dog, sycophant dealers insssist they are (yes, with three s'sss), and of course that will increase their position forward at the table! Now then, this is not to say that all women feel this way and there are some who truly appreciate these fields and we all love and appreciate them for it but in the greater picture, they are a small minority.


So, the next time you see a museum deaccession their Nihonto or other armor related items, you know where the funding came from for the latest 'acquisition'.


Um, Pete and Brian, this is not a gender nor a government funding issue. All museums, and I've worked with one, have limited funding, space and staff. In order to continue showing new and interesting items to their public, they have to de accession items to obtain new ones. The exceptions are items that are donated with the condition that they are never sold, like the Bushell netsuke collection at LACMA, or the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, or the Mitchner woodblock collection in Hawaii. They can be reluctant to accept items that require labor intensive maintenance. If you think Japanese swords are hard to protect, you haven't owned ningyo (Japanese dolls). If you find a museum that wants ningyo, let me know; otherwise my collection will be auctioned off on my demise.

Respectfully, Kathleen
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#30 Surfson

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 12:49 AM

My plan:  to sell my collection before I lose my marbles.  I hope to eventually put the pieces in the hands of respectful collectors.  The timing is key though, and if I wait too long, my family may get stuck putting it into an auction.  


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