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  1. Hi my dear friends, First of all, I want to express my most sincere wishes and a Happy New Year to you all and your families. I know this should be in another section so Brian, please feel free to move it if you feel like it, but I posted it here because some members have contacted me and I want to reach most of them. Not sure they all go to the Izakaya. Then I guess I owe you guys an explanation and an apology for my silence those past few months. I’ve wanted to do that for quite some time but it isn’t always easy to expose your issues in front of everyone, and I know some of you may find those issues triffle or first world problems. Anyway, here’s what has happened to me since my absence. First of all, let me tell you that I’m an animal lover… maybe a little too much ! For years, I have been doing the job of a shelter for distressed cats without help or financing. At some point, I had more than 30 cats. Costly and tiring. That’s roughly three hours of work in addition to my full time job everyday. Those animals I recover are usually starving, some of them sick, all of them scared by very difficult beginnings. I’m used to have animals that don’t live long because of that. I loose some every year. Everytime, its a tragedy for me but I’ve developped some endurance to it. This year was special. I lost ten of them in a row over the space of two months. Causes of death were different but I think that the last straw was probably the last one who was litteraly and voluntarily crushed to pulp by a car and the driver purposefully drove over him with both wheels. I know it as I saw it happen. I guess it taxed me a lot and I entered some kind of a breakdown. I was starting to recover, in September, when the secong blow came. Now, here’s the second part of my life. Ten years ago, my elderly mother suffered a stroke that left her with paralysis on her left side. My father had a hard life working in construction and carrying loads so his back is ruined and he has to use a walker. Being an only child, I took them both in and care for them. Not a light job either, but one I feel I have a duty to accomplish. So, come September, my father has to be hospitalized because he had fallen in the middle of the night. His blood count was well below normal. Diagnosis : Mielodisplastic syndrome. To sum up, a bone marrow cancer that will turn into fatal leukemla in generally something like two years. That was the fatal and final blow to me. Now it’s been three months since that diagnosis and I am starting to digest it and recover. My father is responding to treatment and so far, he is neither better nor worse. There you have it ! All tis has made me depressed and apathetic, with no real interest for anything and some sort of self pitying. So I am sorry and apologize to all those who’ve contacted me and to whom I haven’t replied, I will reply to each and everyone of you. Please just give me some time as things have accumulated and I have some catching up to do. Know that I am feeling better and will do my best to stay around. Best wishes to you all, JP
    19 points
  2. HI Khalid, I have a few thoughts on this below and a great article from Guido Schiller.
    17 points
  3. Hi guys thought I would share this katana that arrived two days before Christmas. Signed Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu saku A day in August 1937 Merry Christmas
    14 points
  4. It was a busy year with not much time for Tosogu, but I came away with 3 or 4 things that I will enjoy for a while. I do not currently have photos of the ko-goto kogai, but it came from a friend... as most of my pieces seem to do these days.
    13 points
  5. Wow! There are some really great tsuba in this thread. Scrolled up and down, up and down trying to pick a favorite. Can't settle on just one. I only picked up a few this year, a nice Soten, an Akasaka Tadashige made at age 73 and a Tokuho Kanayama.
    12 points
  6. I thought I would share this legitimate Generals sword with the board. It came from the Son of an army vet who was a part of the early occupation. The son told me his father traded an elderly Japanese general a 10 lbs sack of sugar for it. He didn't know the tassel denoted the rank until I told him. Enjoy! Bill Rannow Mpls, MN
    11 points
  7. 國廣 - Kunihiro, using my all-time favorite reduction of the kanji 國
    11 points
  8. Hi everyone, offering for sale an excellent Shinsakuto Katana by Enamoto Sadayoshi showing the clear Gassan school influence and knowledge. The blade combines excellent ayasugi hada with a strong sugata on 73cm nagasa. The other dimensions: Sori 2.8cm, Motohaba 32.1mm, Motokasane 8.4mm, Sakihaba 22.6mm, Sakikasane 5.4mm, Blade weight ~830g The blade is in excellent condition and comes with a finely made shirasaya with full buffalo horn applications. The Habaki is first grade two piece gold foiled and covers the bohi as a nice detail. Same custom shape is found in the shirasaya handle. The blade is still in it's first original polish. I am asking 7200 Euro for this blade. Donation to NMB will be made if sold here. Please see this video and more pictures below for details (set to 4k and 0.5x speed for best impression):
    10 points
  9. An interesting thread indeed. The UK is fortunate in that contact with Japan occurred not only during the 16th and 17th centuries, but also very soon after Japan was 'opened ' during the 19th century. For a while during the late 19th century there was a considerable interest in Japanese art and culture during which a considerable quantity of Japanese art of all types, including swords and fittings, was imported into the UK. Retailers such as Liberties in London sold vast quantities of lacquer work and other treasures, and if stories are to believe, even used woodblock prints as wrapping paper. Other tales are told of tsuba, tied in dozens on a string, being sold on the London docks, having served as ballast in ships. There is even a fleeting mention of a Japanese armour in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories. All this points to the fact that there still remains a considerable number of armour, swords and considerable quantities of fittings in the UK. We are also fortunate in that some of the earlier collectors have left a corpus of valuable reference material in publications such as the Journal of the Japan Society. This initial enthusiasm for all things Japanese dwindled around the close of the 19th century, becoming positively antagonistic after WWII. It is to such people as B.W. Robinson, whose writings during the post war period, rekindled the current widespread interest. To this earlier category must be added the not inconsiderable number of swords brought back by soldiers who fought in the Far East during WWII. All of this preamble leads up to the obvious statement that we in the UK are blessed in living in a country rich in swords, armour and fittings. Whist there now exist severe restrictions on the acquisition of swords from abroad, plenty of swords are available at arms fairs and many more are available from public auctions. Some of these items are of considerable merit, many having belonged to those who began collecting after WWII and who are now dying off. There are lots of good items out there if you take the trouble to learn what is worth having. Ian Bottomley
    10 points
  10. I have looked at Andy's sword and hopefully helped him out some...... My impression is: Blade appears Muromachi, it is signed katana mei not tachi mei but we could see that from the pictures. The blade looks to be medium quality, i don't see any visible fatal flaws, there are some small carbon inclusions and/or small pits or ware', some nicks (polish should take out), some coarse hada (maybe core steel), habaki was tight and i didn't want to damage it so left it as is so didn't see the machi. I think it was originally signed Fujishima_______ and the smiths name has been lost. All in all the blade is an honest Koto sword, not a treasure but not junk, just mediocre. The tsuka and saya were redone probably Meiji for export (sale to foreigners), you can see the 2 hangers were not original, they were added to the saya. The tsuba is ok, nothing special my guess is Meiji, same for fuchi kashira and menuki. The hangers have dragons (one is missing on one side) and Tigers (the tigers seem to be maybe tobacco pouch ornaments, the dragons look like they were made as part of the hanger but they must of been added as you can see the spot where the missing one was attached). Probably the sword had samurai mounts and then they were tarted up in Meiji. I gave some suggestions about how to care for the sword and preserve the koshirae as it will deteriorate if left as is or mishandled. He will probably post his thoughts.
    10 points
  11. I went and did the thing that everyone tells you to avoid doing. I had new koshirae made for a katana. I used a set of tosogu from the Edo Period. The Fuchi Kashira is signed by Yoshikawa Mumemitsu. The Tsuba and Menuki are unsigned but the Menuki are attributed as Denjo by the NBTHK. I’m calling the koshirae “The Chicken.”
    9 points
  12. I agree with almost all of the comments above and you have some great advice there. My personal observations are: - often people submit and re-submit (if they can afford it and is feasible) until they are happy with the outcome - this could entail multiple submissions to the same or both organisations - sometimes, the judgements are different but they tend to be within the same broad period (eg late Kamakura or late Koto or something Muromachi or a specific era within Shinto, etc) and within the same broad level of skill (eg, very rarely a 'second' tier smith or school will be interpreted to be a 'top' tier master; also, extremely rarely are there any disagreements as to whether something is pristine Koto or ShinShinto) In my case, I have had a sword that a previous owner had passed through the NBTHK and NTHK. The NTHK agreed with its Oei Bizen designation and issued the papers. But the NBTHK disagreed with the mei and pronounced it gimei. The previous owner had the mei removed and nakago repatinated. The sword then passed through NBTHK as Ichimonji with flying colours. Also, Tanobe sensei when he saw it commented it was a typical Yoshioka Ichimonji. So, in some ways, the gimei was bringing it down to an extent. The NBTHK seems to be more commercially recognised and in Japan dealers prefer their papers. At levels below Juyo, the turnaround is actually 3-4 months (not 6) and one gets the judgment / result in a slip reasonably quickly after shinsa. The actual certificate takes another two months or so. As to this blade, could we actually see some more of the blade? As pointed above, Tomomitsu is a reasonably big Koto name and it will be interesting to see this example. Thank you.
    9 points
  13. I'm not really a Kinko fan, but these flew to me in the spring of 2021 and have taken up residence.
    9 points
  14. Some more personal favorites. The first I bought in December 2020 but it’s roughly within the last year bracket! Iron Wakizashi size sukashi wheel @7.2 x 7.4 x 0.4 cm. The sun, 2 birds and a cloud among the radiating lines. Two gold leaf Hitsu ana. Mumei. This is not (yet) papered but the design of ‘Ken’ blades and inomé boar’s eyes appeals strongly to me. The faint Yamakichibei Mei is an added bonus. Iron, slim and large @ 8.2 x 8.0 x 0.3 cm, Owari, 清洲 Kiyosu, Early Edo. Fitted box.
    9 points
  15. Here are a few I picked up (all from Yahoo.jp), in no particular order. These three are Higo, Satsuma koshirae and Umetada.
    9 points
  16. Second Tsuba - in Shakudo , Ishiyama Mototada , NBTHK papered , subject of Male and Female tigers
    9 points
  17. and just for grins two more that seem to be crowd pleasers: 11. pretty generic mei, but... 12 and last but not least, an oh-no: Happy Holidays, rkg (Richard George)
    9 points
  18. Interesting smith, also good with horimono (hori do saku on his own blades, but also on blades of other smiths). I believe he won an award for a horimono on a blade of another smith. I own a blade from him from 2003 with a sukashi horimono which is well-made. John L.
    8 points
  19. Listing something special for New Year. A healthy, perfect signed and dated Nobutaka wakizashi with two sets of papers, Koshu Tokubetsu Kicho and Tokubetsu Hozon. Large piece in great condition with beautiful workmanship. Very fine ko-itame hada. Suguha-based hamon with a gentle notare and ko-midare in places. Small sunagashi and koichigaiba. Signed Hoki no kami Nobutaka. Ubu perfect nakago. In shirasaya with gold foil habaki. $5,500 (plus shipping and PayPal)
    8 points
  20. Grev, Thank you for this (unsolicited) post. Just for the record, as a Gold member, you should be able to edit your post for 2 days after. Please check by clicking on the 3 dots top right of the post? I don't really want to get involved in this thread, but I will say that limiting sales to Gold members is tempting (most of the other collector forums I know do that) I don't want to go that route. I want to leave it open for a person stumbling upon a sword in an estate or at a sale, to be able to sell it here and offer it to the members without having to pay anything. So I won't charge a fee or a subscription to sell or buy here. That is one of the perks on the NMB. BUT...that said, there are people with over 30-50 sales who have never subscribed or contributed a cent. So be it...it's their choice. But I MAY consider a limit to have many items a non subscriber can list at a time. It's something I have been thinking about. The average person can still list a few items a month. But regular and frequent sales should come with some sort of give-back to be fair. Nothing set in stone yet. I'm still debating it in my head. Especially since it has come to my attention how many HUNDREDS of sales come from pm discussions and don't even make it onto the forum. How many..I have no idea. But feedback I'm getting is that some people make a tidy living from pm sales. Thanks again to all those who do support us with contributions, memberships, percentages of sales or even just helping with info.
    8 points
  21. Since its (almost) the end of the year, let's see what treasures you've acquired this year - I seemed to have gotten entirely too many pieces this year, but here are some of the top ones, in no particular order: 1. Killer kanayma: 2. Monkey/moon themed ko-shouami: 3. and just to make your skin crawl, here's a millipede themed tsuba attributed to Myouchin: 4.Kodai Jingo 5."ume" tada: Enjoy, rkg (Richard George)
    8 points
  22. With the understanding that I haven't seen the sword in hand (it may be wonderful) and also, since I do sell swords, I have a dog in this fight, I think you can do better for the money. 4,500 GBP is about US$6,150; I would expect something more exciting than unsigned Jumyo in shirasaya with a paper for that amount. Grey
    8 points
  23. Not many additions for me. But a few that are worth sharing: Iron Khorin tsuba, which in itself is rare, seeing he usually worked in soft metal. Ingenious way to depict grasses in combination with the gold inlay. A Muromachi Ko-Mino tsuba (TH), these are hard to come by, so pounced when I had the chance. Very nice early nanako, nice floral theme, nice detailing in the ana, what's not to like?
    8 points
  24. So. The plot thickens. I'm fairly certain that is a Matsu stamp: I don't see evidence of a number, although corrosion could have destroyed them. Making this more interesting, if it is a Matsu stamp, is that the majority of Matsu stamps have been found on blades made in the Niigata prefecture. We have 2 recorded from neighboring Nagano, and now this one from either: Aichi, Mino, Dewa province (which back then included Yamagata), Yamagata, or Gifu, which is where the known Kaneyoshi smiths operated from. As you can see, they all neighbor Niigata and Nagano, so I'm starting to think this stamp was an Army stamp used for certain areas, like the katakana stamps we see with numbers. @george trotter - thoughts?
    8 points
  25. A couple of pieces amongst this years acquisitions , due to be posted on the long running thread ' A Series of fittings ' towards the end of next year - I should add that 2021 has been a very busy year , purchase wise , by my standards . Seem to have got hold of a number of reasonable quality fittings , but more by luck than judgement. First Tsuba Iron sukashi - Akasaka 5th generation NBTHK papered - subject Hikiryo Mon & Kiri
    8 points
  26. Great stuff Rich! Just love that otafuku mukade guard. It was a busy year (for me) with three acquisitions - a ko-katchushi ish piece that shows some fine subtleties, a strong and dynamic Kanayama, and a serene Yamakichibei. 👺🙏
    8 points
  27. continuing.... 6. Really Nice Kyou sukashi: 7. Mokume and made by a swordsmith: 8.sadahiro 9. old kagamishi 10. I don't know what it is (probably myouchin I'd guess), but I like it: rkg (Richard George)
    8 points
  28. Hi again guys, I'm not there as much as I would want to, but Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the kind words and such warm comments. To be honest, i think i even shed a few tears reading your posts. It really feels good to know and be friends with guys like you. We are a community and more, a family! I can't express how much reading you was comforting, so again, thank you deeply. I still haven't replied all the messages of support I have received and i apologize again for that, but rest assured I will. Last two weeks have been busy at work with the Covid situation and we keep having meetings on how to best manage the situation. Thank you again, I love you guys! JP
    7 points
  29. 尾州浅井住兼光作 – Bishu Azai ju Kanemitsu saku 武運長久 – Good luck forever on the battle field.
    7 points
  30. If we consider the 1943 IJA camouflage document for static and mobile weapons (which also includes Small Arms) as posted and explained by Nick Komiya on the Warrelics forum, i think you can see that of the 4 basic colours mentioned, the 'Hay' (Dead Grass 枯草色 Karekusa-Iro), is the closest to resembling the 'gold' that we are talking about here. Perhaps it was the only available paint, close enough to the dried grass/hay, and was therefore used instead. This colour was used in the grassy plains environment especially during the summer months. The top 4 colours were used prior to 1943, the black (not shown) was now no longer able to be used as an outline colour as it had been in Manchuria proir to the 1943 manual update. White (also not shown) got mentioned for the winter/snow environment, particularly with relation to reflective factors. Here you can see several different colours used on the type 95 scabbards, and sometimes even on the handles. Note the black outline used on the 3rd last sword. The RS scabbard was included as an example of colour used only. The 'Grey' at the end was only used in Naval colour schemes. Bruce, the winter camo swords you posted in post#3, are all mine except for the second one down.
    7 points
  31. 古藤島 – Ko-Fujishima 但大磨上無銘也 – However, it is Osuriage and mumei. 南北朝期傑之一 – One of good works in Nanboku-cho period. 刃長貳尺五寸二(?)分有之 – Blade length: 2-shaku, 5-sun, 2(?)-bu 昭和庚戌年初冬吉日 – Showa kanoe-inu year (=1970), a luckey day in early winter 寒山誌 – Kanzan wrote.
    7 points
  32. I have never regretted joining the To-Ken Society - in fact one of my best decisions ever, together with following this portal/community for well over 16-17 years. The NMB provided theoretical knowledge while the To-Ken meetings enabled me to see swords and koshirae first hand and hear more experienced people describe these items while teaching us. Of course, once one builds an own network of contacts, then it becomes easier to navigate the field solo. But still, the social and educational elements are valuable. In informal and interpersonal meetings, one can learn and share a lot more than publicly..... People sometimes focus too much on price. Price is an important element of a purchase but so is the quality of the item, the guarantees, the deferred purchasing methods that some offer, the trustworthiness, the investment in a relationship with someone who might offer you items that will never be published officially on a website et cetera. Also, my main piece of advice is to defer a purchase until you can make your own judgment rather than rely on judgements by others. If it takes years, so be it. It might be better than burn money, burn bridges/relationships, get disappointed, acquire something that in a year you will not like anymore as you have changed your mind or did not know what you were buying in the first place.
    7 points
  33. Many of these new acqusitions shown above are really beautiful and valuable, and I am grateful to be allowed to study them. I am really impressed by their design and quality, so I hesitated a bit to show one of mine as it is (only) a TEIMEI TSUBA. These are not in very high regard, but to me, they have a very solid and reliable charisma, comparable to ONO and some HOAN (which are most desirable but difficult to get at). TEIMEI may lack elegance and refinement, but I like them for their strong character.
    7 points
  34. Nice post I bought these two in 2021 The lobster menuki has incredible detail in a fitted box the like I've not seen before This tsuba just makes me smile
    7 points
  35. Oh, man. Such great stuff to behold. Congratulations all. I will add two tsuba. Firstly, a nidai Akasaka Tadamasa. the second from 2010 but a great comparison to Bob's Akasaka futo hiki ryo mon and kiri - Akasaka sandai with Kanzan Sato hakogaki. Best Wishes for continued health and success in 2022!
    7 points
  36. continuing with the mokume: 5- an amazing Sado island mokume that was first deeply carved to make the raised cherry blossoms, then only the background of the mokume plate was etched. It's all one continuous piece of mokume. 6- Another amazing, deeply etched Sado island mokume tsuba. It has a ridged scallop shell design, and the mokume swirl was done in such a way as to create the natural growth rings that you would see on a shell like this. And personally, I can't help seeing that the raised ridge lines of the scallop end up forming a Mt. Fuji design 7- And last but not least, a mumei mokume with a double wheel motif. I love that the mokume ends up looking like the wood of a wagon wheel, or could maybe even suggest "water" if these are water wheels? I really don't know if these are intended to be wagon wheels or water wheels... not my area of expertise Regardless, I'm amazed that the layers of the mokume didn't split apart during the carving process.
    7 points
  37. OK, it was my first year of collecting tsuba... I kind of went deep into the "tsuba diving", even wrote an intro article for the JSSC (Japanese Sword Society of Canada) about the tsuba's historical development and features, with an overview of various tsuba styles. I definitely went overboard, but I'll share my favorites: Mokume first: 1- insane wood grain effect 2- Armorer's wan-gata mokume, similar to Richard's 3- A Kuninaga snowflake mokume (I got help with the mei from NMB members, thanks again!) 4- A deeply etched mokume that has a whirlpool-like swirl pattern with a sukashi of a paddle. It's dense and heavy.
    7 points
  38. Here are two of the tsuba added to my collection this year, both depict shishi and peonies. The two tsuba were probably made about 200 years apart and show differing aspects of the subject. Shishi are mythical guardian animals in both China and Japan and the peony is regarded in Japan as the king of flowers and symbolises bravery, honour and good fortune. Consequently the two are often depicted on tsuba together. The first is a shakudo tsuba, signed Masanaga, plus kao, with a pair of shishi on the omote and a peony on the ura. The tsuba was catalogued as Haynes Index no. H 04250, which identifies the artist as Chosuke Masanaga (d. ca 1700), who was a student of Nara Toshinaga (Markus Sesko) or Ito Masatsugu (Haynes). However, there were two generations of Masanaga in the Nara School and both used the same kanji for their signatures. The first generation, Seiroku, was a student of Toshinaga (either the 3rd generation master of the Nara School or a student of the same name). His (adopted?) son was Gihachi Masachika, who signed Masanaga for a while after his father’s death and was from the Kawakatsu family and a nephew of Sugiura Joi. The Nara tsuba artist Gohachi Masachika may have been an alternative name used by either of the other two Masanaga (see gen chart). Consequently, there is some uncertainty as to the identity of the artist who made this tsuba (assuming, as always, the signature is genuine). Specification: Height: 7.6 cm, Width: 7.4 cm, Thickness (rim): 0.4 cm, Weight: 216 g This tsuba was purchased by Edward Wrangham from the Roland Hartman Collection of Japanese Metalwork (Christies, 30 June 1976, Lot 130). I was told by the late collector and friend, Sidney Divers, in about 1976 ‘Start collecting tsuba. They will soar in price.’ In 45 years this one barely doubled. The second, a copper tsuba, is a radically different interpretation of the same theme and was made by a modern artist, Yanagawa Morihira (1899-1971). Apparently Ichiyushi/Shinryuseki/Shinryoso) Morihira was a Tokyo artist. From the age of 14 he studied with Yoshioka Mitsushige (who died 14 September, 1923, in the Great Kanto Earthquake). He then studied with Toyokawa Mitsunaga (second generation) and took the name Mitsuo until he established himself. The front (omote) of the tsuba shows both a shishi and peonies, whereas the reverse (ura) only shows the shishi. Interestingly, the shishi on the omote has a silver body and a golden mane and tail, whereas the combination of silver and gold is reversed on the ura. The heads on both animals is copper. Shishi are often represented as playful creatures, but these two are muscular with a fearsome pose and the silver shishi has a head which looks rather like Hannya, the Japanese female demon. The engraved peonies on the omote are coloured with silver and gold gilding and the petals are in a darker shade of silver. The gold and silver seem to be painted on, i.e. amalgam. The outlines are defined in katakiribori (half cut carving) and kebori (hair carving) and, particularly the silver, darkened to add extra tonality to the design. The nagako ana has four 32(?)-petalled chrysanthemum punch marks on each side, purely for decoration. There is also a single kozuka hitsu ana, filled with a gilt cat scratched plug. Shishi is also the name given to a group of political activists (Ishin Shishi 維新志士) in the late Edo period who opposed the westernisation of Japan. I think that it is likely that this tsuba was made in the 1930’s when Japanese militarism was at its peak, which is probably why I got it below estimate. Specification: Height: 8.75 cm, Width: 8.4 cm, Thickness (rim): 0.7 cm; Nakago: 0.4 cm, Weight: 254 g A very similar tsuba to this, in terms of technique, by Morihira is currently for sale by Aoi-Art (https://www.aoijapan.com/tsuba-morihira-sinryuseki/). I bought this tsuba in memory of my nephew, Gary, who died a few weeks before this tsuba originally came up for sale in 2020. It was unsold and came up again at the next auction (2021) when I decided to buy it. I would not normally have purchased this tsuba but Gary was an extrovert party guy whose group of girlfriends gave him the nickname Simba. This over the top depiction of shishi will always remind me of Gary. All the best for 2022, John
    7 points
  39. Hi Bob , this piece was in Dr Torigoye's book Toso Soran . I haven't compared the pictures side by side but thought you would be interested to see it .Your picture is much better ! It is a lovely piece. Ian Brooks
    7 points
  40. Hi guys, I haven't posted here for a while; thought I should stir the pot. I just listed a lovely signed and papered katana with itomaki no dachi koshirae: all of it in excellent condition. https://www.japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com/store/swords/q642-signed-papered-katana-itomaki-no-dachi-koshirae I know there have been newer collectors here on NMB asking about possible purchases. They could do a whole lot worse than this one. And as long as I'm tooting my horn, I don't understand why I still own this Hojoji Kunimasa katana: https://www.japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com/store/swords/q404-long-katana-hojoji-kunimasa Give it a look. Cheers, Grey
    6 points
  41. Our fifth Katchū is on the road for our members. Enjoy!
    6 points
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