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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/25/2020 in Posts

  1. 34 points
    Today I drove down to Kamakura to visit my friend Robert Hughes (well, being one of those jaded, elitist nihontō pricks, I don’t have any real friends, but Bob is the next best thing). After some hearty lunch next to a beautifully maintained Japanese garden we strolled to the Hongakuji Temple (本覚寺) of the Nichiren sect (日蓮宗). Ashikaga Mochiuji (足利持氏) built, and then donated, this temple to the priest Nisshutsu (日出) on the site where Nichiren stayed at after returning from his exile to Sado (佐渡島); the temple houses some of the ashes of Nichiren. A stone monument stands near the main temple in honor of Okazaki Gorō Masamune (岡崎五郎正宗). The story goes that when Okazaki Gorō, still a boy, came to Kamakura, Nichiren had already taken up residence in the Ebisudō (夷堂) Hall. Gorō 's father brought him to Nichiren to learn his teachings, and in return Nichiren gave the boy a new name, Masamune - which implies the rightness of the teachings of Nichiren himself. Nearby is a prayer column dedicated to Masamune, dating from the Muromachi period and finally there are the gravestones of Masamune and his son Sadamune; they date from the Nambokuchō period, and all inscriptions are eroded. To be fair, there are (yet) no hard facts or documents to support all this, only circumstantial evidence. Further research is needed to corroborate all of this. *** See, Bob, you censuring me for taking photos while you explained all this to me was totally uncalled for – I actually *can* multitask! Oh, and if I got something wrong, it’s only because you didn’t explain it correctly.
  2. 25 points
    This was just posted by Andrew Ickeringill ( @Andrew Ickeringill ) on Facebook, and I thought it was worth posting here, and pinning for the future. Andrew is a FULLY trained traditional polisher and one of the most qualified to make these statements. Before bringing up the subject on this forum, and risking a storm of fire, please read this and take it to heart. Amateur sword polishers… I know you probably won’t listen, but I’ll try anyway. Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more rubbish from amateur polishers on the internet, it’s not a new problem, but with social media being what it is, amateurs have been given a platform where they can prosper. It’s beyond frustrating, it’s infuriating, and it's working directly against what I'm striving for, the preservation of Nihonto. I’ve had to correct the damage caused by amateur polishers many times, and the damage is always severe. Correcting these hack-jobs takes a lot of work, and it means removing more steel than would’ve otherwise been necessary if the blade had previously gone to a traditionally-trained togishi. A traditional apprenticeship in togi takes years to complete for a reason, THERE’S A LOT TO LEARN! It means giving up everything else to spend your time in servitude to Nihonto. My apprenticeship was 12 hours a day / 7 days a week / for over 6 years, and even my spare time (what little I had) was usually spent studying nihonto. But if you want to be a togishi, this is the way it must be, you have to go all in. Through arrogance or ignorance or both, amateur polishers have completely forgone this necessary training. Some of them may have attended seminars in Japan, or visited a togishi for a few days… but this obviously doesn’t equate to traditional training. And for many amateurs, the bulk of their training consists of reading books and watching youtube videos of swords being ruined without a clue. Unfortunately, these videos receive plenty of misguided encouragement from those who don’t know any better… “wow, so shiny!”. Amateurs will often argue… “this sword isn’t worth sending to a pro, should we just leave it to rust?”… but how would THEY know? They haven’t been trained in kantei, they have no idea if a sword is worth a professional restoration or not. A cold chill passes up my spine every time I think about this, how many great swords have been ruined by amateurs? I know I’ve already seen a few in my time. If you’re an amateur polisher reading this, let me give you a tip… this job is not for you. This isn’t something that should be attempted by anyone but a traditionally trained togishi, and if you haven’t realised this fact by now, then you need to develop more respect for Nihonto and the craftsmen who have worked their butts off to complete the proper training. Please stop scraping the life away from these works of art, you’re doing far more damage than repair… this job is not for you!
  3. 23 points
    I'm sure all of you know and have interacted with Ray Singer and Swords of Japan before. He appears to be a respected voice on these boards and I am sure others as well. I became acquainted with Ray as of some direct information I picked up here with the suggestion to purchase an initial sword from someone on this site. Based on that information, I went to the Swords of Japan website and found a beautiful Takada Muneyuki Katana in a very reasonable range. After some initial discussions with Ray, including some wonderful background on the sword and the smith I decided to purchase the sword. That's where it all went downhill, for the sword. The transaction was professional and quick with the sword shipped to my house quickly thereafter. Sometime after it was dropped off at USPS, the sword fell out of the system. No scans were made, the delivery date came and went. This went on for a little over 5 weeks on a shipment that should have taken 4 days. During this whole time, Ray was working the system trying to find information for me to keep me up to date with the results. All told, he said he spent 50 hours on the phone with the USPS. Well, after 5 weeks, he finally decided all avenues had been exhausted and decided to make an insurance claim. Well as usually happens when that type of decision is made, USPS decides to walk up to my house and drop off the sword. The package was a little beat up but the sword inside was well packaged and unharmed. I really appreciate the efforts that Ray went through to make this happen. Most would have thrown up their hands after a week. With that, as long as I am in this hobby he has a customer. There is too much negative in this world and sometimes it's nice to focus on the positives. Jim Blubaugh
  4. 18 points
    I know I always say this place is free and will never have a charge to sell or interact here. And I really resisted saying this. But seriously..... I am seeing many sellers who move thousands of $'s of goods through this place regularly, who have never contributed a cent. Or who won't even consider a $30 Gold membership for 6 months. Guys with multiple $2000+ sales who don't even say thanks. There are multiple ways to say thanks in the STORE section above. And then we have others that will send even a single dollar if they do even a $10 sale...and will contribute every time. Those guys...these small handful...are allowing these big sellers the opportunity and privilege to sell. Because those few guys are keeping this place running. Thank you again to the few who are always so generous. To the others, be thankful I don't institute a charge to sell here. And I don't refer to the small guys who sell a tsuba or 2 occasionally or one item a year. or the reputable dealers who contribute a sum every few months or annually as a thanks. I am grateful to all of you. But those who have sold thousands of $'s and never contributed a cent......don't thank me. Thank those that are covering the costs here for YOU so that you can benefit. Just needed saying.
  5. 18 points
    For someone who has an interest in Soshu-den works, this is an extremely enjoyable sword to study. It is an o-suriage wakizashi which appears to be a Nanbokucho-period naginatanaoshi. The bo-hi appear to be ato-bori, and the upper portion of the blade is ubu (ie. the kaeri is intact). The jihada is an extremely beautiful, large pattern itame that is thickly covered in ji-nie and having areas which appear like yubashiri. Nie arcing out of the hamon becoming chikei in the ji. The hamon is generally midare, with areas of gonome-midare. There is deep nie-hataraki to the edge, including ashi, yo, kinsuji, sunagashi, etc. The hamon is brilliant. The nakago, as mentioned, is osuriage with 3 mekugi-ana (one plugged). The sword is very healthy and has a heavy feel in-hand. It is 7mm thick at the shinogi. The nagasa is 41.1cm and moto-haba is 31mm. The sword has two old attributions, which I will emphasize and make bold, are not to be considered guarantees of either attribution. One is an early Tokubetsu Kicho dated Showa 37 (1962) giving an attribution to Naoe Shizu. There is also an old sayagaki from Hon'ami Koson attributing the blade to Sa Kunihiro. Again in bold, the blade should be resubmitted to an NBTHK shinsa or discussed with Tanobe-sensei for a more current attribution. Regardless, this is an exceptional sword, and is whoever decides to purchase it is going to be very pleased. SOLD Kind regards, Ray
  6. 17 points
    Today I went to a sales exhibition at the Nihombashi Takashimaya department store of works by Gassan Sadatoshi, and his son Sadanobu, by invitation of Inami Kenichi. I’m not a collector of contemporary swords, but wanted to have a look at their take at Sō-den, my main field of interest. Although the Gassan smiths are famous for their swords with ayasugi-hada, they also excel at the Sōshū style, and some very fine examples were on display / for sale. As a collector of antique swords, I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when looking at those absolutely flawless, healthy blades, exactly like the smith intended them. OTOH, they are also kind of “sterile” (for lack of a better expression, and not meant derogatory at all); in any case, art is art, no matter if it was made in the Heian period, or last week. It’s always a pleasure to meet Gassan-sensei, who is very friendly and humble (and constantly in need of a good haircut 😝). The only downside was the lighting, which was a little bright, so I had to twist my neck constantly to get a look at the details in the blades; that’s also the reason why I didn’t take more photos.
  7. 16 points
    Hi, My name is Grey Doffin, I live in northern Minnesota, USA, and I have a website dedicated to Nihonto and books on the subject: https://www.japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com/ I've been studying Japanese swords for nearly 40 years now and buying/selling for most all of them (I'm trying to lose my 1st million). If you check my site today, in late 2020, you'll find a dozen or so swords and koshirae (with more to come soon), 150 to 200 sword fittings (tsuba, menuki, fuchi/kashira, etc), and a very large inventory of books on the subject. I try to have reasonable prices and items to fit a variety of budgets. I try also to be helpful. If you're just getting started with Nihonto feel free to ask questions about any of my pieces; I'll tell you what I think I know. This field can be daunting; there is so much to understand and ample opportunity to make mistakes. If you come to me with a question, I will answer honestly. Promise. Not sure what all I'll do with this space on NMB. As I get some time in the coming days I'll post highlights of some of the pieces on my site; beyond that we'll just have to wait and see. Feel free to post here also; your comments are welcome. If you want to contact me please use my email, not personal message on NMB. Email is easier and I can keep track of our correspondence in folders on my computer. Phone calls, if you live in The States, are fine also. Thanks for stopping, Grey grey@japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com 218-726-0395 central time
  8. 16 points
    Getting to see this today almost felt a bit surreal, though I‘ve been told of it. After all, it is the final proof of the blade being an original Masayuki. Can’t tell how happy I‘m today!
  9. 16 points
    Happy New year folks! Here is a project of mine that I think some might enjoy. This PDF should have all sword related National Treasures (Kokuhō - 122 items), Important Cultural Properties (Jūyō Bunkazai - 792 Items) and former designation Important Art Object (Jūyō Bijutsuhin - 1096 items + 5 EX blades). I have written all of the names in Latin alphabets but I have always included all of the kanji, so you will find lots of signatures in this one. There can be an error or two in the mix as I wrote all of them in by hand and there are thousands of characters to type in. However while doing so I got to check for errors like if years actually are correct, etc. So I kinda did checkup at the same time. There should be 137 Named swords - for which I used term Meitō in this index. There are probably some more in there but for these I have 100% confirmity as I have them in reputable books or online sources from Japan, as well I have the Japanese characters to all of these named swords. How does this work. Well you have 86 pages of swords & items indexed. At first it might seem that there is logic and there is not. First we start with National Tresures, followed by Important Cultural Properties and last the Important Art Objects. This part is logical but the actual placement of items in first two categories are not. As you can see the number in front and you will most likely wonder what it is, here is the explanation for that. I have checked all my data entries to database of Agency for Cultural Affairs. You can find the said database in HERE. They have assigned a number to each item, and I have gone through all the items in crafts section and added them in number by number to make sure there are no duplicates in. The database is only for current designations and as a former category Jūyō Bijutsuhin items are not featured. However I have the old set of books that feature all of the sword related Jūyō Bijutsuhin items, and I have typed them in numerically as they appear in the books. Just note that this is just an index. However you can find some info per item from the database I linked above. Likewise I should have extra information for I guess at least 90% of the swords. But this is just an index and I do have some far superior work in progress to this going on for multiple years. The format is very simple and this should be extremely easy to use. Item number - Item type - Maker - Signature. Few notes, I did not transliterate fitting or koshirae themes as I didn't feel I would get them correct, similarily I didn't type in kinzōgan or kiritsuke mei etc. However for those that I have the data I typed in the kanji so items that you might find interesting you can use the kanji. Same goes for long signatures on the swords. The format is simple, there is just maker and possible year. Signatures are typed in kanji so you can research more on your own. Check it out and I hope it is a fun one, might be totally boring to some. Kokuho & Bunkazai Index.pdf
  10. 16 points
    I'm back! The Tadayoshi did indeed make many styles of Hamon ---and the world recognised signature pieces were suguha. But not just any suguha….THE suguha. The forgers jumped on this bandwagon, and anything with suguha was faked into gimei Tadayoshi with varying degrees of signature quality from that akin to a 2 year old drawing in sand with a chopstick, to the Hizen Kaji itself adding the signatures. Some rare genuine pieces are in the more flamboyant choji midare, gunome etc and I suspect were special orders. The Oshigata books are full of them, but they rarely surface in the flesh, and when they do, they command very high prices and great care is necessary. The bulk of the works we see are therefore suguha- and in really nice suguha with some fine, often missed, ashi sometimes (4th and 5th if I recall correctly), and nijuba (2nd Gen), bright nioiguchi (2nd gen), nie deki in dark nie (1st gen) , flawless (3rd Gen)and so forth. Since the wilder hamon are buried deep in collections and rarely seen, the tendency is to assume they are gimei when they do show up. If you see a suguha sword, most jump straight to the Tadayoshi and if the hamon is lifeless, then clearly NOT the work of this school. The reality is that far more suguha gimei are out there, and unfortunately, some 85% of the overall Tadayoshi swords/oshigata/images I come across are in my opinion outright gimei, maybe 10% are in the 'not sure' bracket, and 5% have me drooling. The 10 % is the grey ‘floating world’ of gimei and all sorts of theories expound, but they can be really, really good. In short, its not JUST the signature, but the message the whole sword puts out. No I am not high! What I do when I see the wild hamon type swords is to put a great big question mark in the equation. In fact, the best approach is to not have any sword fever at all, and start with a gimei approach, the aim being to find signs that prove it is genuine and try to take the hoarder/gold fever attitude out of the equation as the heart beats faster. So the question is.... is this sword genuine. Since I presume no-one bought it who commented, it is now an easy option to say probably gimei, feel good about it and move on, but I don’t think that does this sword justice. I once saw an old collector at the SFO show years ago sit for two days behind the dealers table with a single sword he was contemplating buying – just getting to know it and listen to it he said! The sword, from what I can see (which isn't much) , doesn't have any obvious flaws and looks nice quality with a good colour to the steel. It gives an impression of quality, not junk. In no particular order...... The almost O-Kissaki and boshi is great with a Hizen type kaeri (I think that is what is there- an even tightish turnback without the wavy midare carried into the actual turn itself?). It’s a stoutly (very stout) proportioned sword, with an unusually short nakago and a signature that fills the nakago…… almost tsunobi tanto style --- so if it is only JUST a wakizashi in cutting length, then that's good news because there seemed to be a penchant for tsunobi (oversize 1 shaku 1 sun) tanto within this school (ie you don't often see small tanto, but you do see technically short wakizashi over 1 shaku, with tanto type proportions – tsunobi tanto), hence the rather short nakago ** (more later). Koshirae is possibly changed but ---glimpse of a Hizen Namban type of tsuba, a glimpse of lovely menuki in quality shakudo and gold, a glimpse of a silver dragon kanamono on the dried up saya ripe for restoration. Kind of points to a higher value owner than a hunter killer impoverished Samurai. Onto the nakago ----- well the nakago shape is good for the early generations, rounded V shaped nakagojiri, yasurimei are good quality, patina suggests maybe early Edo, if you go with a tsunobi tanto, then signature size and placement is kind of Ok. So I am thinking Hizen kaji work and haven't really seen anything to say it isn't yet. I love the powerful blade shape, and the short nakago maybe significant as the nakago wouldn’t be long enough to chop through your Xmas Turkey or opponents thigh bone in one stroke. The all important Mei. What I don't like: One chisel stroke in the Zen kanji runs into the nakago-mune. Hmmm. I would have been more comfortable if the mekugi-ana had pieced the left chisel strokes. Kind of suggests that the mei was added AFTER the mekugi ana and squeezed into place. I don't know what they did in this respect, but was told by an old Japanese sword master a few years back that the sword was a utility weapon, and was made into a sword after the smith made it. So you would expect the entire sword blade including the signature to be made first, and the hole placed later by the person fitting the koshirae who was more concerned with fitting the tsuka than the smiths signature. Not sure on this point but it makes sense........( Incidentally he also said once a sword was chipped or damaged, it was retired from use since your life depended on its structural integrity. I would suggest that depended on the depths of your pockets. I digress but all those Sengoku Jidai battle blades we collectors hold in high esteem with hakobori he thought of as junk!). What else is not right ......Kanji spacing is a little suspect but hard to discern on an oblique picture. The bottom TADA and YOSHI seem wider apart than the upper kanji ---almost as if they are set apart from the rest of the signature to say – “look at me ---- and don’t look anywhere else”- could be the angle but it is a question mark in the process. I usually run on 3 strikes and you are out--- right now we have a (probably) tsunobi tanto shape ( ** more later) but not a problem , with a wilder hamon than usual, again not a problem but care should be exercised, possibly awkward spaced kanji (maybe a problem) and a stroke runoff the edge (problem). What I do like : the vertical stroke in the kanji Tada is exactly correctly placed for X smith. The kanji are well cut, and let’s face it, up there with the actual smiths. Whoever applied this signature was in the upper end of his knowledge of this school, whether it was a master himself, or very good faker, or ......... the kaji itself. None of the kanji are out of place for this school in terms of shape and stroke ---none that I have spotted yet! We now take a while to let this sink in before returning to the kanji, and digress a little. The same Iaido master in Tokyo told me (and who am I to doubt him), that the castles in the castle towns were also repositories for weapons. Swords were stockpiled in times of peace for times of war. Thousands of them. And significantly many/most/all? were unsigned as they were churned out by the deshi and masters for the stockpile. The finest pieces went as gifts or were sold, the rest into the stockpile – unsigned. When hard times fell upon the Samurai (1800's onwards) and the CEO (Daimyo) was looking for cutbacks --- guess where the stockpiled swords ended up! Back in circulation ... but mumei swords were plentiful and what was required were swords made, and more significantly signed, by the masters (who were now dead). Add this to the grey production lines that the Daimyo did not control , and hey presto the actual 4th Gen sword with a faux 4th gen signature becomes reality... kaji made 'gimei'. Yup --- this throws a big spanner in the sword world... thank goodness it isn't rife in the armour world! I have that sword – a 4th gen blade, with a 4th gen signature, dated 1819 (8th gen was around 14years old). Un-papered of course but everything screams 4th gen except the inscribed date (which if anyone is aware is smack in the middle of the leaderless Kaji as the 8th gen was still too young, and the 6th & 7th recently departed this world)! Back to the ** short nakago issue. The same Iaido Master also told me that if you ever see a disproportioned (in length) nakago on a wakizashi size sword, it is PROBABLY a merchants sword. Remember they didn't fight, and could not wear a katana being limited to wakizashi. They carried fine pieces, high quality, but of little real fighting use due to the shortened tsuka. There was simply no need for a larger tsuka because if the merchant ever put his hand on it, he would probably be cut down in the blink of an eye. Best not touch it! They could afford the masters works and the flamboyant hamon, and often glamorous koshirae, and wanted the signed pieces. I am also thinking no self respecting trained killer of a samurai is going to put a silver kanamono dragon on his ro-iro saya. Incidentally the old Iaido Master’s grandfather was friendly with a local Daimyo, and they both had a passion for swords (he showed me the photo at his house one evening). Anyway, the Iado Sensei inherited the old family house, and had it restored. He found over 160 swords stashed in the attic and was slowly selling them off (I bought a few over the years) including a really nice Shodai Tadayoshi leaf yari that papered– and the usual bunch of (subsequent) gimei other smiths – stick to what you know! So that is where I am at with this sword --- possibly a tsunobi tanto, (someone is now going to post its length as 1 shaku 9 sun or something, rather than 1 shaku 0 Sun 8 Bu and shoot me down ! ), possibly a merchants sword in nice koshirae, and I would give it a shot at 80% genuine 1st gen and worthy of more research -note I did not say Shinsa in Japan as the last few swords I sent a while back to the NBTHK came back Horyu (undetermined). Did I say 1st gen? Slip of the pen but it got everyone’s attention. I am still pouring over the oshigata references, but I like it and am actually leaning towards 1st gen C1621 or a good gimei (not run of the mill). The ONE kanji that really cracks the Shodai question is the top of the HI kanji and the number of strokes top right – which was 3 for the Shodai and 2 for the other smiths – and that is the kanji we don’t see here (funny old thing)! The only solace is that had there been a couple of serious bidders, it could have hit a much higher price way outside of my now wife limited retirement budget of $4 per month. Had I seen it earlier and posted this, I guess the price would have been a lot higher than the rather pitiful $2,000 (sob sob). It is not 100% gimei and IMHO worthy of further research, and despite my setbacks with the NBTHK, even (dare I say it) worthy of Shinsa, otherwise known as “passing the buck” Hopefully some insight into suguha hamon, and gimei/shoshin appraisal (of Tadayoshi). Don’t you just hate it when a potential bargain slips past in the night! Rog
  11. 16 points
    Over time, I tried new light sources. I only share for enjoy. Jirotaro Naokatsu ko-wakizashi One of my favorite blades
  12. 16 points
    Adam, at this point I do not want to speak on any investments from my side. I do not know the final costs myself (yet), I do not know what the value is when fully restored and papered, I'm only following what I'm being recommended to do by experts, so why discuss something like this? I have received help from this forum and several members in particular, by giving feedback to the current status and additional information I got I try to give some of this help back. That is the reason why I keep this thread alive. So even if the numbers Michael quoted are correct, wouldn't that be my problem what I'm investing in a hobby and as long as I'm happy with it, all should be fine? And finally, it is a bit weird if not rude for you to assume I would only do this for financial benefit and that you are sure it will be put on the market. Several times within this thread I made it clear that a) I can afford all of what so far was done plus b) I don't have the financial need to sell this item and I'm looking forward to the day I'll get it back. While my background surely is not the same of a person who dedicated centuries of his life to the study and collecting of Nihonto, I still can appreciate workmanship and give it a warm and good home as long as I am happy and pleased with it.
  13. 15 points
    Hey all! So I built a katana tansu, thought I’d share:
  14. 15 points
    OK, I got a small teaser to share!
  15. 15 points
    First, thank you for all those kind words. This post is prompted by yet another thread started by a new collector who is wondering if he should buy some gawd awful & ugly unsigned wakizashi with bad kizu on ebay. Beginners, I know you want to be the one to find a diamond in the rough and your natural inclination is to be wary of anyone who knows more than you do (us dealers) but you are doing yourselves no favors. If you are just getting started you need guidance and you won't find that on ebay. I am not the only dealer who claims to be honest here on the message board or with a website; there are more than a few of us you could safely approach. If, however, you do come to me about a sword you're considering, I will tell you about any defect or shortcoming it may have and what it means to the value and answer any questions you may have and gently steer you in a sensible direction and I won't lie to you just to sell a sword. And, as mentioned, there are others you can trust; it doesn't have to be me. But please, leave ebay alone. Take your business to someone who has nothing but his reputation.
  16. 15 points
    Alive, still. @Neil: I saw that you wrote me a PM and apologize for not having replied (looking at the board on a regular basis, but hardly logging in, and the notifications go to my old email address, so I have to change that). I am still working on the Gendaito Project, but I wish I had met the full goal of donations back then to take that time off to bring the project to the finish line. About 1/4 was met, for which I am very grateful, and after so many years, I totally understand all the frustration, so if anyone wants a refund, I am happy to to do so. I have mentioned at some other occasion that at the moment, and going forward, I am working on what I call my "legacy," which is, newly researched monographs on each of the swordsmith and sword fittings schools published as individual (smaller, and thus less pricy) books. This will not be chronological and I have decided to make the Gendaito Project part of it and publish it as one of the first books in the series. Due to the number of Gendaito smiths, there might even be two volumes, and the website with all the pictorial references that can not go into the book(s) will be there as well. Now working remotely for the museum a full year (and 2,5 years in total), and living in a small town in North Carolina, going back to NYC becomes less and less attractive, also because no decision has been made yet if my position becomes permanent, as Assistant Curator, or not. This means, if that does not work out, and it might be so as it currently appears, I will have full time again to 100% focus on the backlog.
  17. 15 points
    I built a fire proof lined vault in the man cave and lined it with slat board. Then we got to work in the shop and made wooden, stepped brackets which allow a blade in shira saya to be displayed adjacent to the koshirae. Blades having just shirasaya simply rest on slatboard hooks. I’m now gradually repositioning blades and grouping them by eras, and schools which is useful for study purposes . jim
  18. 15 points
    Some more photos. The last one shows (from left to right) Gassan Sadatoshi (sitting), Gassan Sadanobu, Inami Ken’ichi (and an unknown visitor). I just couldn’t bring myself to ask them to post for a selfie with me … 🥺
  19. 15 points
    The little Tansu in my study room.
  20. 15 points
    Hi Jim, thank you for sharing the story here and I am just relieved that the sword finally arrived. I will add to this that I needed to open investigations three times with USPS. The cases would be under investigation for a week at a time with no progress or call-backs, and then were simply closed. After this I opened investigations with Consumer Affairs first at the Florida side of the journey and then the California side. In retrospect, perhaps I should have initiated the claim at an earlier point but I continued to receive promises of a call-back "soon" with additional information, which were never fulfilled. As I told Jim in my last email, I am grateful and appreciative of his patience and understanding throughout this long process. Best regards, Ray
  21. 15 points
    Hello, I would like to present my newest Tanto Koshirae. Saya. Working with the shells turned out to be very laborious. I used eggs from the village with a fairly thick shell. It is important to peel off the inner film after boiling, which is best to come off wet. The application lasted about 4 days. Then, filling small gaps and lacquering. During sanding, be careful not to take too much ... Tsuka. Samegawa dyed in the process of 2 natural dyes, which I received from a Japanese professional Tsukamakishi. Tsukamaki. The first time I did a 10-pair braid. The difficulty with more pairs is keeping straight lines on the center of the hishi in the cross section. Therefore, I decided to make the middle part of hishi - using the hineri-maki method. This in turn causes the cross section to be raised and the need for more hishigami / komekami ... The braid is a bit taller / protruding, but it gives a good depth. The braid is fully stitched so the threads do not slip and are tightly stretched. Used jabara is 0,85 mm diameter. My dream is to make a 12-pair braid. However, I can't find the right thickness for the jabaraito anywhere, it has to be about 0.65mm thinner. I used honoki wood. Saya fittings. Koiguchi of copper, rest of buffalo horn. Seppa with filing big teeth of copper. Keep fingers crossed for next better project.
  22. 14 points
    Thank you John. The injury to the hand is a severed nerve, so while I'm unlikely to make a full recovery, there will be significant improvement. I'm feeling very fortunate overall. It was an attempted murder (the guy has been apprehended and charged by police) rather than an accident; but due to some excellent medical care and a few surgeries, the hand is the only major lingering issue. Very briefly, I was out running with my wife and came across a man assaulting a young woman and making death threats to an elderly couple. I intervened, he attacked me and a fist fight ensued. After a few moments he was face down on the ground. While I was calling an ambulance for him, he regained consciousness, drew a weapon, stabbed me in the lung several times (puncturing the lung) and slashed the rear of the right arm (severing a nerve). An eventful day overall. I'm mostly feeling lucky that I survived, wasn't castrated, didn't lose an eye and that nobody else was hurt. Edit: Please edit this as appropriate if there's anything inappropriate or too graphic.
  23. 14 points
    Some time since the last update ... today I got informed that the result notification of the NBTHK Shinsa came in, it achieved Tokubetsu Hozon.
  24. 14 points
    Hello, I wanted to show the last project. The order was for tsukamaki. However, after unwrapping the old braid, SAME was found to be in poor condition. I peeled off and cleaned SAME and then stained it using the traditional method. It was not the end of worries. The new fuchi and kashira needed a new spigot to make the fitter solid. On this occasion, I tried a new way to integrate new wood into the current wood. The wedge-shaped and additional 2 pins for this work gave a good effect. It shouldn't fall apart. Previously, I made flat inserts with 2 pins but I believe that the wedge will hold better if the tsuka was to be used for training. About tsukamaki. I learn something new every time. Currently, I plan to focus even more on shaping the washi paper under the braid. I believe my next tsuka will be even better. Thank You for watching. More photos and video here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/artur_drogamiecza/albums/72157717440581412
  25. 14 points
    Thought I'd share an interesting tsuba from my personal collection. By Hamano Shozui aka Masayuki(1696-1769), founder of the great Hamano School of sword fitting makers and pupil of the legendary Nara Toshinaga. Tokubetsu Hozon papers from 2014. Size: 75.8mm x 70.4mm. The omote side is an armillary sphere, an astronomical device for representing the great circles of the heavens(likely an import from Portugal to the Shogun while they were trading with Japan in 1605). It's carved with incredible skill of depth and perspective in Sukisagebori technique. The ura side is crashing waves among rocks. Both sides together I believe he is conveying a theme of time. The armillary sphere shows a movement of the sky while the ocean tides ebbs and flows weathering away the rocks. Shozui must have been inspired by 金家 (Kaneie) because this type of non-matching components on each side to express one hidden thing is definitely Kaneie’s style. Shozui signed his mei on either ura/back or omote/front of tsubas. Usually when he signed on the back it indicated that this Tsuba was ordered by a higher rank authority than Shozui. Another note is this is signed “穐峰斎”(Kihousai), a very rare signature among the numerous signatures Shozui signed with. I've only seen one other Shozui tsuba signed this way and it's a masterpiece by him.
  26. 14 points
    Custom case with dehumidifier and locked glass front doors - over blade LED lights and I can sit and look at them all day !!
  27. 13 points
    Kai Gunto, Bizen Kozori school Tachi. Owned by a IJN special landing forces Colonel with full provenance on Japanese & Australian sides. Note the saltwater crocodile leather cover, made in the field on Balikpapan.
  28. 13 points
    Some of the collection belonged to one of the most important European sword collectors in history. Jean-Jacques Ruebell. Father was a general for Napoleon and his grandfather a general in the revolutionary war. He donated 350 European swords (he had all types) to the Met and basically seeded its arms and armor collection as a result. They wrote a lot of articles about him in the 20s and 30s. Since he was born rich and never had to work he devoted himself to sword collecting. Of all types and cultures. The 350 that he gave to the Met had items going as old as the 1300s. He liked small art items, as he collected other art too, but his idea was he wanted objects he could share with friends and people who visited him to show them or teach them or amuse them. As a result he had a lot of daggers and that extended to tanto. As various diplomats went around those that came back from Japan and found their way to Paris by diplomacy or retirement seem to have sold off items they had at House of Drouot and he was constantly there picking up whatever they brought. His own collection went out in 1933 and had many beautiful things (Shinkai daisho with Omori Eishu tosogu, Minamoto Masao daisho with Ishiguro tosogu, Awataguchi Yoshimitsu tanto, etc.) A very small bit of that auction in Paris were fractional parts of his collection held over since 1933 in another family. Back in 1933 though he sold off 2 Nobuie tsuba and 3 Kaneie tsuba and a lot of other nice things... maybe they are floating around Paris still today? Get to work Jean.
  29. 13 points
    Well as I mentioned bit earlier this year in a thread in here I have been working on a index of Jūyō items. It has been ongoing for a few years now but now I have the 1st version finished. It took some time as I originally planned to just have old swords (Kotō) in a document (as they are my own personal interest), but then I didn't want to do a partial job, so I took on all of the swords, and finally I forced myself to tackle all the fittings, attachments and kinzōgan, kiritsuke etc. As I typed probably few hundred thousand kanji characters in by hand the project took a while. Now this should have all of the Japanese characters that appear in the index pages, and I have written smith / school etc. into Western characters, followed by Japanese characters. However I am not yet comfortable enough trying to translate the style of fittings, kiritsuke-mei, kinzōgan-mei etc. as I would make too many errors so for those you have the Japanese text that I typed in. The format in this should be very simple to follow. It is the same as in my last index (Kokuhō, Bunkazai, Bijutsuhin). 691 pages, 66. Jūyō sessions and 14792 items (if I added them up correctly). Hopefully the PDF will be easily readable (it should be searchable too). Now as this has been a solo project spanning over a long time period, there must be some errors in there that I have made (there are definately some in rare fittings makers as fittings are not really my thing and sometimes I found 0 results with Google on some of the mei). If you spot some errors, send me a message and I will fix them for next release. I plan to make a yearly updates after NBTHK releases the session results. Might be bit boring stuff as it is just lots of pages with plain text. I hope some will find this enjoyable and can find some help in personal research etc. Juyo Index.pdf
  30. 13 points
    Hi, The Poem: かへりみよ、これもむかしは花、すすき(薄)まねきしそで(袖)のなごりなりけり。 Meaning(free translation): When living, she(bone) was a beauty like a flower. But Japanese pampas grass is fluttering in the wind like sleeves of her Kimono now.
  31. 13 points
    Brian, I completely agree with you. There used to be a thread “Show us your high-end tosogu”, where initially such items were posted and then it rapidly went downhill. The thread became a sort of “my favourite” piece, with people not taking a self-critical view or what they have / post. Sometimes it is better to remain silent and not post rather than comment on everything, post incessantly etc. Darcy’s pieces are sublime. I was very fortunate to buy this Ishiguro set from him - a rare theme and also rare shibuichi rendering as opposed to shakudo.
  32. 13 points
    The sword is a family heirloom, rather than a newly-made arsenal sword. The bearer had military mounts made for his family sword. There are many such short swords repurposed for military use. They are often erroneously referred to as "pilot's swords", with the assumption being that pilots would use shorter swords, but I think this site has disproven that claim fairly comprehensively. The inscription (the ones in blue are written by the cutting tester) 乳割土壇払 Chichi-wari dotanbarai 天保十年二月日於江府作 Tenpō jūnen nigatsujitsu oite Kōfu saku 会津住元興 Aizu-jū Moto-oki 同年十月二日於千住神谷清治試之 Dōnen jūgatsu futsuka, oite Senjū Kamiya Kiyoharu tamesu kore Cut across the chest Made in Tenpō 10 (1839) February, Kōfu Moto-oki from Aizu province/city Cutting test performed in the same year, October 2nd, at Senjū, by tester Kamiya Kiyohara So the swordsmith Moto-oki made this sword in February of 1839, and someone had it tested by cutting it across the chest of a cadaver (probably) in October of 1839. I didn't find this tester's name in Guido's list of famous testers, or anywhere else on the internet, so it looks like the tester is someone lost to history. It also looks like the tester didn't have room to write everything on one side, so he continued on the other side, which is slightly unusual. The longer sword is a typical military/arsenal blade.
  33. 13 points
    The bottom sword doesn't rest ther it was out to show the sori...it has its own stand
  34. 13 points
    There has been a great deal of discussion around what one should collect, how one should collect and what is right and wrong. Having been caught up in that debate, in some cases rather uncomfortably, I have taken some time to think about what I do and how I do it, to try and create a framework to help me understand the reasoning behind choices made. Collecting in any field is multi-facetted and everyone is motivated by different things. I think this why misunderstandings and sometimes arguments occur. Debates as to whether something should be polished or otherwise restored often occur because of these differences. For some it is purely a financial decision, for others more emotional and driven by more abstract concepts. While there should be no debate as to how something should be restored, i.e. by someone qualified to do it, there will always be varying views on whether something should be restored or simply conserved. For the sake of transparency I should confirm that my own collection has evolved over almost 40 years. It started as many do by buying anything that appeared to be Japanese and sharp. I accumulated a number of not very good swords. As I learned more and looked at more good swords my searches refined in to some specific areas. About 15 years ago I took the decision to reduce the number and improve the quality of what I held. I did this fairly ruthlessly over the next three or four years until I had what I believed to be the best examples I could afford of the schools I was interested in. Since reaching that point I have added one further blade that I regard as an important addition, but also two or three others simply because I found them interesting or enjoyed what I was seeing in them. Within my current collection which is predominantly work from the Koto period I have two signed koto works and one signed Shinto piece. The remainder are all o-suriage with the exception of an ubu, mumei shin-shinto work. While I am reluctant to say I have stopped collecting I do pretty much believe I have reached the end point in what I can achieve. While it would be foolish to say I will never buy another sword I certainly have no plans or immediate ambition to do so. Having reached this point I have looked at what I believe to be important in this pursuit and how it should be approached. I must also make it clear that this is a personal view; it is not a recommendation, instruction or any form of guidance. It is an explanation of how I have collected. Basic rules to myself: 1. Always study the very best examples of blades that you can find. Take every opportunity you can to look at good quality workmanship. This may be at a museum (although access can prove problematic) viewing days at auctions (less frequent and poorer quality than they used to be) and at sword events and shows such as the DTI, S.F. show and other specialist fairs. Or if lucky looking at swords in other enthusiasts’ collections. 2. Also look on line. The quality of blades published on various websites is exceptional and the images first class. While this is not a substitute for looking at good pieces in hand it is a useful addition and greatly broadens the opportunity to see works that might otherwise not be available. However also be aware that images can be and sometimes are doctored or modified by less scrupulous dealers. By doing the above one can identify which aspects of a sword have the greatest appeal. In good quality blades features such as utsuri, activity within the jigane and hamon etc. are generally more clearly visible and identifiable. Having seen them clearly in these pieces it is easier to identify them in lesser work, or pieces in less than perfect polish. 3. Once you have identified what you like and want to add an example to your collection find the best example you can afford. As has often been said patience is required. By waiting and saving a little longer a better example may become available. However one also needs to be realistic in setting targets and what can be achieved. 4. One of the challenges a collector will ultimately face is that as they learn more they become more discerning and as one colleague once put it “their knowledge surpasses their budget”. As understanding increases one often hears of collectors refining their collection and moving toward the “fewer good quality pieces are a better collection than many mediocre” concept. 5. But then there comes the odd ball. Occasionally, albeit increasingly rarely, a piece may appear that does not fit in to the criteria identified above but it just appeals. It has features that can be enjoyed and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be a great work or by a recognised master it is simply a good thing. However that assessment is not based on “I just buy what I like” it is a view formed after following the steps above and after time studying good workmanship. The nearest comparison I can make is in painting or sculpture. I know the masters I really love and study as much as I can. That study does not stop me appreciating work by lesser painters or from buying work that appeals. Adding this to a collection does not necessarily improve it, add to ones education or understanding, but it can enhance enjoyment. Put simply it can just be a beautiful thing and can be appreciated for that alone. So do I always stick to the above? No, I am human and sometimes for all sorts of reasons I take a flyer, thinking I see something in a particular piece that could make it worthwhile. More often than not I am wrong but I learn though the process. Fortunately that hasn’t happened too often. However if I do get it wrong one thing I have not, nor will I do, is try and pass on my mistake to someone else. If you gamble and it fails live with the consequences. I think we are all motivated by different aspects of collecting. My approach will be different to many and similar to others. There is not a wrong or right way. The important thing is that whichever route one chooses to follow is based on an understanding of the subject and of one’s motives for collecting. Once those are understood it is much easier to enjoy the process.
  35. 13 points
    As I was browsing through my Tōken Bijutsu magazines, I noticed some interesting information. I have pretty much just skipped the yearly report as I have seen it mainly as financial stuff etc. and with my limited Japanese skill is not possible to really read it, I know some info that it contains etc. but now I decided to take a closer look on some sections and I was surprised to see how much info is presented in there. I must say I have probably had bit more conservative number about yearly items, I think I have been in somewhat correct ballpark as I have done research based on paper numbers and what numbers pop up to dealer sites in Japan after shinsa. As this is public information posted on Tōken Bijutsu magazine I do think it is ok to post data I translittered to English in here. NBTHK membership is unfortunately quite rare especially outside Japan. I know many people in the west are bit suspicious about NBTHK and there has been some negativity and slander behind the scenes and out in open too. I know people often still bring up some things that happened way in the past, in order to discredit the current organization. I do believe in open discussion and exchange of information, and I do think NBTHK is doing wonderful things for our tiny hobby (as are many other smaller organizations too). Here are the numbers that NBTHK provided in their yearly report, for some reason In Jūyō results number of swords passes is 100% match but other items do not always match the actual number of items passed on results list? But here are the last 5 years of results for you to study and think about. 2019 Hozon Tōken – 7,106 submitted – 4,749 passed Hozon Tōsō – 333 submitted – 186 passed Hozon Tōsōgu – 3,764 submitted – 2,401 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 3,317 submitted – 2,259 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 154 submitted – 102 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 1,062 submitted – 841 passed Jūyō 65 Tōken – 997 submitted – 101 passed Jūyō 65 Tōsō – 45 submitted – 8 passed Jūyō 65 Tōsōgu – 287 submitted – 29 passed 2018 Hozon Tōken – 7,433 submitted – 4,978 passed Hozon Tōsō – 345 submitted – 177 passed Hozon Tōsōgu – 3,408 submitted – 2,131 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 3,372 submitted – 2,342 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 203 submitted – 103 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 854 submitted – 604 passed Jūyō 64 Tōken – 916 submitted – 135 passed Jūyō 64 Tōsō – 63 submitted – 7 passed Jūyō 64 Tōsōgu 296 submitted – 23 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 25 Tōken – 342 submitted – 70 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 25 Tōsō – 10 submitted – 2 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 25 Tōsōgu – 41 submitted – 5 passed 2017 Hozon Tōken – 4,257 submitted – 2,880 passed Hozon Tōsō – 199 submitted – 126 passed Hozon Tōsōgu – 2,600 submitted – 1,646 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 1,891 submitted – 1,287 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 106 submitted – 66 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 629 submitted – 421 passed Jūyō 63 Tōken – 753 submitted – 140 passed Jūyō 63 Tōsō – 35 submitted – 6 passed Jūyō 63 Tōsōgu – 279 submitted – 29 passed 2016 Hozon Tōken – 7,455 submitted – 4,913 passed Hozon Tōsō – 351 submitted – 196 passed Hozon Tōsōgu – 4,123 submitted – 2,753 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 2,771 submitted – 1,893 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 135 submitted – 89 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 1,022 submitted – 763 passed Jūyō 62 Tōken – 875 submitted – 149 passed Jūyō 62 Tōsō – 54 submitted – 9 passed Jūyō 62 Tōsōgu – 274 submitted – 29 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 24 Tōken – 326 submitted – 71 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 24 Tōsō – 10 submitted – 2 passed Tokubetsu Jūyō 24 Tōsōgu – 27 submitted – 5 passed 2015 Hozon Tōken – 6,984 submitted – 4,594 passed Hozon Tōsō – 367 submitted – 218 passed Hozon Tōsōgu – 3,948 submitted – 2,613 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 2,450 submitted – 1,648 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 152 submitted – 107 passed Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 940 submitted – 754 passed Jūyō 61 Tōken – 826 submitted – 165 passed Jūyō 61 Tōsō – 49 submitted – 11 passed Jūyō 61 Tōsōgu – 277 submitted – 37 passed
  36. 12 points
    The cabinet made that was shown on the NMB by Richard P a few weeks ago was superb. This is for us lesser mortals so not in Richards league but a nice project I bought a coin cabinet that the draws were messed with and too small for tsuba so I needed to make all new draws. This was a cheap wat way to house a lot of tsuba Images in the order shown. 1 - The bought coin cabinet with 24 draws 2 - The amateur way the draws had been messed with 3 - Initial test with plywood but due to the large hole is distorted so I used MDF 4 - Shows the old draw and my modified draw. My friend had 0.56 stainless he gave me for the backing plate 5 - The original handles were chrome screws so I bought beads that were only drilled half way. I needed two diameters for the csk screws and this is how I aligned the holes 6 - The felt should have had the cuts to allow the felt to fit into the recess but it just got too fiddly so I just forced the felt into the recess 7 - The completed draw. I should have cut the felt slightly bigger than draw as when the felt was forced into the recess it pulled some of the felt away from the edge 8 - Stages of the draw build 9 - Finished cabinet that hold 98 tsuba It was a snug fit that would have been better if I used 8mm MDF rather than 9mm I tried to remove the last duplicated image but when I do it just comes back - what a pain!
  37. 12 points
    In the case of this blade it passed within 5 years so the same people were in charge. There is some misunderstanding above of the process. If you go and submit something that has existing papers yes they can find it and yes they do check. Knowing the blade's past history is important, especially with mumei blades, as the historical attributions provide a base from which to make current and future attributions. There were a lot more available to work with 300 years ago than now. So of course you want to have supporting documentation and to consider the history, especially if it's a judge like Honami Kochu. In the case of an overturned attribution, one would HOPE that it would happen. The idea that the NBTHK is a monolithic AI that popped into existence 60 years ago fully formed with no hope or need of change is flawed. It's composed of people and those people both improve their education as time goes on and more information and history will always come out. There is another fundamental misunderstanding about papers and attributions which I've talked about before, which is sourced in some Japanese scholarship, which is as the quality degrades the judgments can slide more and more sideways lacking any distinguishing characteristics. There is a Yoshimichi thread posted here and the blade is very characteristic so there is no other possible attribution if this was mumei, only whether or not it's genuine (I think it's ok). As you slide down the quality scale and erase characteristic features (both together) it is hoping for something unrealistic, that everyone will agree and assess the blade identically on eyeballing it. So if you have junk, you will basically get attributed to junk and the point is that which junk it is becomes neither meaningful nor possible to determine. Now on the higher end of things, a blade such as this Enju in question sometimes has some additional information that isn't shown on the NBTHK paper. It can have an old origami, it can have a sayagaki by Dr. Honma, and whenever it passed for whatever reason a conservative judgment was issued. I have seen Dr. Honma's sayagaki to Awataguchi Hisakuni and the NBTHK only accepted the blade as Awataguchi and nothing more. The blade was Juyo as Awatguchi Kunimitsu. So you have some span of disagreement here being sorted out, where it was Juyo at the time Dr. Honma was in charge and only settled as Kunimitsu then "downgraded" to a school attribution. Dr. Honma presiding over both sessions. So you can sit back and wring your hands over it or understand that you have a basic disagreement and the blade was not "downgraded" by changing it to Awataguchi school. It's done only to broaden the attribution to resolve disagreements. There is a mumei tanto attributed to Shintogo Kunihiro and when the blade's old Honami papers were discovered it was changed to Awataguchi Norikuni. Both attributions are suitable but Norikuni looks stronger and once the old judgment by Honami Koon was found then it is only appropriate to modify the attribution. More information SHOULD imply going back and reassessing and changing your opinion. Only an idiot refuses to change an opinion in the face of new information or ongoing study. So by this rule, you WANT judgments to both be conservative, and to be open to re-evaluation. Going to the Enju again, Enju is a conservative judgment that can be used to settle an issue about where the blade stands between Rai, Awataguchi and Enju. If it has properties of all schools and it is top class it could fall into any. An Enju blade is not necessarily inferior to a Rai blade. We do not know the state of polish or condition or history or information on the blade at the time of Juyo. We only know that at Tokuju the NBTHK had the opportunity to say den Awataguchi, Awataguchi, or den Awataguchi XXX, or Awatguchi XXX. The span of time is 5 years. They don't have to do anything or even pass it at Tokuju if there isn't any reason for it. There are other similar cases, but as the quality goes up, the chance of this happening goes down. Nobody should be mistaking Masamune for Masahiro but people saying Shimada or Masahiro that is acceptable. Because there isn't really any span of quality difference between those two and the styles overlap. Now, Norishige, Go, Masamune and Yukimitsu can overlap. The important thing is not getting mixed up between Shimada and Masamune or Norishige and Norikuni. From the first the school is the same but the quality and period are light years apart. For the second the period is close but the styles and school are far apart. If someone wants to say Norikuni and another wants to say Shintogo, those are a lot closer and depending on polish, condition, and how conservative you are being then you go one way or another. Last note: the entire concept of papering Hozon, Tokubetsu Hozon, Juyo and Tokubetsu Juyo has built into it this concept of re-study and revision. If a blade is good enough to promote it is definitely considered open to reassessment and new opinions. If you submit it covered with rust vs. top polish then what the judge can say is going to be different. Any shade of gray in-between means you need to accept some conservatism or leeway in the judgment. But, you need to absolutely understand and accept that elevating papers is not simply rubber stamping what was handed to you. It is re-assessed. If the prior judgment was not adequate it will be open to challenge and re-attribution. As the level goes up, then the scope narrows. So this is also something to really grasp and understand. If you have a completely lights-out Enju at Juyo, YOU need to understand that you are not at the conclusion of the story and that the judges likely understood this as well. If you have a pedestrian Enju YOU need to understand that you are at the end. If you cannot tell the difference this is your shortcoming and YOU need to improve your study. Once you see what you are dealing with and understand where you are in the story, you can understand what a placeholder attribution is and why it's done and that sometimes it's done with the idea that it's definitely going to be reassessed and revised. Anyone who ever got horyu should also understand this. It's not a reason to panic its a reason to send it in again because the judges on this viewing were not ready to make an assessment. If they felt it was gimei or bad for whatever reason that's what they would say. In terms of Juyo and such as well, what is acceptable at the lower level papers is not acceptable as the level elevates, and this is because of the necessary gray areas of mumei assessment. Because you are not dealing with an absolute in the sword, completely lacking the ability to time travel, a lower level paper will have more leeway built in. So if you can get it to Tokubetsu Hozon based on its history it is maybe going to be acceptable on the balance of all available information to let it sit there as such but it can't go higher because the requirements tighten every time you go higher. So you can maybe help yourself by looking at a paper and thinking "this is the least disagreeable conclusion at this level given this amount of study in the current condition of this sword and this amount of revision of existing previous decisions and with what we know in total in terms of the item's history and the universe of current scholarship." And if you think that weird things do not happen in terms of associated articles with swords, I am a case in point as the shirasaya with sayagaki for a sword that I bought about 7 or 8 years ago appeared attached to an unrelated sword as an "extra" shirasaya at Sotheby's auction, and wasn't shown in the photos on the auction page but only happened to come up in about the sixth level of emails with the auctioneer. Stuff gets separated, and sometimes is found again. So something with Dr. Honma's sayagaki should definitely be considered in different light than one without. I would hope that someone might consider his opinion when offering theirs and if it causes them to reassess then good. Though in this case the sword is already Tokuju with the same assessment, in the case of the Hisakuni above I would hope that people might understand the blade to be OK as Hisakuni and not just Awataguchi knowing what his opinion was. That should be guidance and if the blade couldn't get that assessment in the attribution column at Tokuju, I hope people would understand as being OK and to take it "under advisement" that not everyone agreed with him and it is OK to come up with your own opinion. Edit: one thing I meant to hammer as a point is that Tokuju is the only one that is going to be considered to be impossible to revise other than for factual information (i.e. a mostly obscured character that can be reassessed later to change a date for instance). The case of that blade is a tanto that was attributed to Yukimitsu by Honami Kotoku and then polished and changed to Masamune by Honami Kochu. So you are talking about the number one and number two judges, or more like 1a and 1b. The blade was owned by Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi among others. This passed Juyo as Masamune and then Tokuju as Yukimitsu mostly because of the strong feelings of Sato Kanzan that Yukimitsu should be considered at the same level as far as I can understand it. After his passing the blade was revised back to Masamune. Other than this exception which had of course strong past judgments in both directions and the most elite ownership: when something is passing Tokuju then it's done and the opinion being issued is done so with this consideration in mind. When you pass it at Tokubetsu Hozon and you think it can end up as Masamune then it could be done as Yukimitsu at this level because they know they will see it again and for a longer period of time with a spirited debate. This is the concept of a placeholder attribution, and to a lesser extent it can happen at Juyo. A case in point of this is a Tokuju Yukimitsu I once had that passed Juyo with an extraordinary note that the blade was historically Yukimitsu but that this was something to reconsider and revise at a later date (i.e. after being accepted as Juyo and this put in writing). This indicates that the earlier Juyo, the thought that the attribution could be revised and reassessed with more study and more knowledge was an active thought. The blade later passed Tokuju and Yukimitsu was confirmed but my feeling is that the blade was more likely Sadamune. Yukimitsu however is acceptable and one can consider it as such and it is OK. But understanding the context and the care of the judges and that even in writing they would say this is open to reassessment helps you understand what the intention was. In all of this, a blade should hopefully only go sideways or up when it passes through the process, if the process is working correctly. A Chogi that gets reassessed to Kanemitsu is sideways or an Aoe that gets changed to Kanemitsu is sideways to being up. But those do not indicate a randomness or an error, they indicate conservative judgments or the degree of flex that is necessary when something is based on opinions or a committee agreement. So Enju going to Awataguchi shouldn't be anything that should break a heart or cause a pulse to race. Awataguchi going to Nakajima Rai is what is the headache and a problem. So: remember... it's very difficult to undo this kind of thing. Once you say "Masamune" you can't retract that easily and then say Yukimitsu and the time it happened got overturned. You can say Yukimitsu and then retract that and say Masamune or Sadamune later which was what my blade was open to during and after Juyo and what happened to that tanto above in the first place. Tanobe sensei will indeed (and recently has) looked at blades (the case in point for recently is a member of this board but I don't want to dump anything)... but he looked at the mei and pronounced it good and that the blade should be carefully polished... and that he wants to see it again after polish. He's always going to make sure that there is something held in reserve to look at it again if the state is going to change. So in this case because it's verbal he's indicating a positive result on what he sees so far but it's subject to revision after polish. The blade needs to come back and be of a quality and style (style is probably already OK) that is in agreement with the mei before he is going to feel satisfied. I think for the owner that it is going to go 100% ok but ... this is how a good judge operates. ... Edit 2: I will throw in one other anecdote which comes from a few years back where Tanobe sensei showed me a really wonderful unpapered sword that had returned from polish and he had been studying. He said at this time that what I would say and what Ted Tenold would say is something he would consider in his appraisal. I looked at it and I offered an opinion that it was Masamune and this to me was pretty clear from the quality of the nie in it. The hamon looked like it was 40 below zero and someone breathed on it and their breath had frozen into crystals. I said if the owner wants to sell this please let me know because I would love to have it whatever it was. I then asked him what his judgment was... He told me, "I don't know, that's why I'm studying it." Of course he had this thought in his mind already about Masamune but not even verbally was he going to point in that direction because once saying that he would not be able to undo it. Again, shows the care with which this thing is done as the level goes up. Next time I encountered the blade it was in the Juyo oshigata as Masamune then passed Tokubetsu Juyo right after that confirmed as Masamune. In the end my snap judgment was fine for *kantei* and in hindsight it was a good call, but we need to remember always that kantei and attribution are two different things. The first is an exercise and a game and a chance to learn something. The second is ideally a careful process and even verbally Tanobe sensei in this case was not willing to say what he was thinking but was actively probing other people's thoughts, no matter how minor a character they were in the overall story, he wanted to hear what they thought. If something comes into Tokuju as Enju and the quality and skill and inherent features of the blade cause a reassessment to Awataguchi, I look at that as the process working not that the process is faulty. At the end of the day if you are going to buy it you need to be able to look at the blade though and in your own heart accept that the judgment is good. At the end of the day, nothing is perfect and it is still a subject matter that comes down to opinion, but hopefully educated and thoughtful opinion. There are things with papers that I don't like and other people accept without question. There are things in top collectors or with top dealers that they accept and others may throw rocks at. You need to be happy yourself with what you read and see.
  38. 12 points
    NMB for your viewing pleasure I present my Shin Gunto collection. All the blades except for the Mantetsu in the middle are coated with Renaissance Wax. Any suggestions on what type/model I should be looking for next? Any suggestions for displaying the saya better? I'm rather limited by space.
  39. 12 points
    I was in my 30s working as an engineer. One of my hobbies was blacksmithing at the time and I was deep in the study of ferrous metallurgy at the time. One day a friend said he knew someone who was selling a Japanese sword and wondered if I was interested because of my interest in blacksmithing. It was just $10 so I told him I would take it. I was stunned the next day with what I saw in the metallurgy of this blade. It was obviously very old and made with enormous skill. It was all I could do to hide my excitement and close the deal. I spent the next six years studying this blade by buying books, going to a few sword shows, and enlisting the help of Paul Allman and Dean Hartley. The first collector I showed it to in Georgia told me nothing about it but managed to make an offer of $11,000. When he pulled it from the saya his voice was crackled and his hands started to tremble. That told me more than his words could have. When I was finally sure of what the sword was I decided to have it polished and submitted for shinsa. The first shinsa before polish was by Kotoken Kajihara at a show in Birmingham , Alabama. He attributed it to the first generation Moriie. The NBTHK shinsa after polish left it with Juyo papers and an attribution to the Ichimonji school of the early to mid kamakura period. I still have the tachi and I have been hooked on Nihonto ever since. It’s hard to build a big collection after starting out so well. The blades I like are too expensive so I have spent more on books. I will leave a few nice polished blades and a lot of books when I’m gone for the next generation.
  40. 12 points
    As the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor approaches, thought I would share some pages from a WW2 Japanese publication, detailing their attack. The book contains the strategy, officers, transparent overlays of recon photos, maps etc. I have offered this to the Pearl Harbor Museum, but no reply. Hope you Japanese military buffs enjoy. More photo's can be posted if there is interest.
  41. 12 points
    I live near the auction site and had an opportunity to examine the sword in hand. The blade details were obscured by gunk, but no visible flaws. What appears as possible ware in the photos is gunk on the blade. Very nice shape and good length. But the selling price was a reflection of the fact that astute observers identified this as a probable kamakura nagamaki/naginata blade. See Brian's post above. There are hints of great age in the auction photos. The smaller grove evident on the tang is almost gone, polished down, on the blade(shown clearly on one of the photos on the auction site but not reproduced in this post) and one hole on the tang is clearly not drilled but probably chiseled. The tang also showed great age and was much thicker than the blade indicating a significant number of polishes. The condition of the blade obscured most of the hamon but portions were evident showing what appeared to be a gunome pattern. Impossible to say if the hamon is intact on the entire blade. Still the selling price was more than I was willing to pay due to the cost and uncertainty of restoration/shinsa outcome. I have no knowledge of the identity of the successful bidder and whether that bidder inspected the blade in person,. There was only one day of viewing prior to the auction \and when I was there only one other person looked at the blades. One lesson to be learned is that NOTHING can replace a personal inspection of a blade. Auction pictures/descriptions can be very deceptive making a blade appear much better or worse than it actually is.
  42. 12 points
    This film shows swords being presented by the CO of the 13th Field Coy , Major Carmichael to members of his Company . This occurred at Rabaul on New Britain . The Japanese had dug an extensive tunnel system ( 150 miles according to one report ) at Rabaul and the swords were stored in the tunnels under guard to keep them safe from souvenir hunters. There is a photograph in the Australian War Memorial ( number 98687 ) showing Capt Williams of the 11th Division Headquarters issuing swords to a unit which appears to be at the mouth of one of these tunnels. The photo caption states that there were 7000 swords issued to troops at Rabaul as souvenirs . Years ago I bought a sword off a man who said that they found a back way into the area of the tunnels where the swords were stored . He and his mates drove a jeep into the tunnel, loaded it up with swords pistols and binoculars and drove out again.. Records show that there were 53212 Army troops ( including 3661 officers ) 16218 Naval troops ( including 1222 officers ) and 19861 civilians on Rabaul at the end of the war . If all the above figures are correct then it means that about nearly eight percent of ( or one in every thirteen ) Japanese had a sword with them. There is a list dated 2 Nov 1945 which sets out how the swords were to be allocated . Larger units such as infantry battalions received from 250 to 350 swords depending on their size .Small outfits were allocated smaller amounts commensurate with their size . For example the 11th Div postal unit only received four . The 13th Field company who appear in the film received 96 swords . It was interesting to me that all of them seemed to have tags with the owners name on them and some seemed to have multiple tags . Many years ago I came across a sword which had been bought back by a very senior 11th Division officer . This had a piece of paper with it saying that it was the best sword on Rabaul The blade was signed Kunihiro ( Horikawa ) and it was dated 1606 . It had been carried by a Japanese Captain and was in average quality shin gunto mounts with no mon. Unfortunately it was not for sale so never became part of the Brooks collection. Ian Brooks
  43. 12 points
    For the record: I have entertained this whole discussion because we are a discussion forum. And what is posted is in the interests of collecting. I don’t delete what I don’t agree with, and keep what I do. That said, it would be great if we could all collect top swords only. Ubu swords in great condition, signed and polished. But that’s not reality in this hobby. The majority of us will strive for that, but end up with suriage Shinto or average swords in average condition. And as long as we don’t let our ambitions stay there, and at least study better swords, that is fine. As long as you enjoy your collection, That is just fine. As long as we do no harm to swords we come across, that is just fine. As long as we respect the culture and history of what we are collecting, that is just fine. This is not an either/or situation. Strive for the swords Ray advocates, but collect what you are able to and never feel embarrassed of what you own. This forum will never become elitist or exclusionary. The fact that many members here started out with nothing and ended up with fine papered swords means we are doing something right. Unless I win the lottery, a juyo isn’t in my future. But I enjoy what I own and see some beauty in all of them. Discussion and advice on how to collect is welcome. But let me stress that denigrating anyone or insulting them because of their collecting choices is a fast way out of here.
  44. 12 points
    All Guys and Gals, Sword Freaks and Geeks - Please send out good thoughts, vibes, wishes, etc. today for good success with Brian's surgery. Hope he has a successful surgery and pain relief with quick recovery. Rich
  45. 11 points
    Time for the reveal! Many good and close answers. The majority nailed the period and tradition. A few of you nailed the school. Sue-Sa or Sa Ichimon would count as Atari here, so I think the board was very close to succeeding here (and Brian can PM me his Ether public key) The sword is attributed to the Sa Ichimon. By tradition, Sa school blades with a relatively calm suguha or cho-notare are attributed to Sa Sadayoshi. Due of the wild monouchi and ichimai boshi, the attribution is prefaced by "Den". So we have here a piece attributed to Den Sa Sadayoshi. The smith has 21 Juyo pieces, and half of them are accompanied by Den. His signed works are extraordinarily rare, and the attribution within the ichimon follows tradition. There is significant overlap between Sadayoshi and his father, Yoshisada, in style. To sum up, there is significant uncertainty when attributing within the Sa Ichimon due to the lack of daito with a preserved signature and the majority of works attributed to his students and the master are prefaced by Den. The thick and bright habuchi with sparkling ko-nie is a strong kantei point for Sa school. The boshi of Sa school is often quite distinctive, with a sharp and long kaeri. Here we have a sharp kaeri, but more intriguing is its ichimai characteristics, which is unique amongst Sa School published work. What I find particularly appealing is the wild but symmetrically tempered boshi and monouchi. In combination with the early end of the bohi, we have here a deliberate design choice on behalf of the smith and essentially would give the blade a second life in the event of a broken boshi. A point of particular interest is that there is a single prominent kinsuji on both sides, at the same place. These features are unusual for the Sa ichimon, and point to the influence of Go. An attribution to a student of Go is also plausible here, but that is not within the practice of the NBTHK due to lack of an extent historical corpus. The blade was once part of the a museum collection and came with an old inventory tag on its sayagaki (further research required here, I was told Tokyo national museum had the same tags). It further had an early torokusho number of 4038. Not much else is known about its provenance. It is possible that it was passed as Go during the Edo period due to its prominent fully hardened boshi, or the work of O-Sa as is often the case with Sa Ichimon, and has been carefully preserved as a result. For an old blade, the state of preservation is close to Kenzen, with a few weak areas on one side. Often for Sue-Sa or Sa ichimon attributions, the hada can be relatively weak, and this particular work stands out here. It passed Juyo with the following setsumei: Explanation The Chikuzen-smith Samonji (左文字) was active in the early Nanbokuchō period and left behind the traditional, classical Kyūshu style by establishing a new style which was comprised of a bright and clear jiba and a prominent amount of chikei and kinsuji. Samonji had many highly skilled students, e.g., Yasuyoshi (安吉), Yukihiro (行弘), Yoshisada (吉貞), Kunihiro (国弘). Hiroyuki (弘行), Hiroyasu (弘安), and Sadayoshi (貞吉), who faithfully continued the style of their master and who flourished throughout the Nanbokuchō period. It is said that Sadayoshi (貞吉) was the son of Yasuyoshi (安吉) and that he was active around Bunna (文和, 1352-1356). Signed works by this smith are extremely rare but there are unsigned blades with period attributions to Sadayoshi which often show a ha that bases on a Sa School- typical suguha. This blade is ō-suriage but reflects with its wide mihaba, little taper, shallow sori, and elongated kissaki the typical shape of the Nanbokuchō period. The kitae is a standing-out itame that is mixed with mokume and nagare and that features much chikei. The hamon is a nie-laden chū-suguha with a wide nioiguchi that tends a little bit towards notare, that widens along the monouchi, and that is mixed with gunome and angular elements, and the bōshi is a largely undulating midare-komi with a pointed kaeri. We recognize thus the workmanship of the Sa School and as Sadayoshi is traditionally known for hardening most often a suguha-based hamon within this school, the blade can be attributed to him. The jiba is rich in hataraki and has many highlights, and particularly impressive are the powerful nie and the sharply pointed kaeri of the bōshi, features which both match the dynamic shape of the blade. Therefore, we have here an ambitious masterwork among all blades attributed to this smith. Tanobe sensei's sayagaki Jūyō-tōken at the 63rd jūyō shinsa Sa Sadayoshi from Chikuzen province This blade is ō-suriage mumei. It is of an Enbun-Jōji shape, shows an itame-nagare that features plenty of ji-nie and much chikei, and is hardened in a nie-laden suug-chō with a wide nioiguchi that shows kinsuji and yubashieri and that is mixed along the upper half of the blade with a gently undulating notare. The bōshi is a widely hardened midare-bōshi that is bold and powerful and as its kaeri is somewhat pointed, we recognize along the jiba all characteristics of the Samonji group, with the rather calm course of the ha of this masterwork attributing it within this group to Sada- yoshi. Blade length ~ 71.5 cm
  46. 11 points
    For almost a decade I struggled to photograph Ichimonji. I could do the shallow angles technique; the results are bright and can show some details, but are difficult for kantei or to publish. But other techniques were just giving me watery images with little substance. Yet finally I think I am getting to point where I am personally comfortable with the results.
  47. 11 points
    Hello, I have completed the koshirae project. The first time I was wrapping a curved and rounded saya - naginata shape. It was an interesting experience. Working with samegawa is done after it gets wet and you need to know the drying and shrinking time of the skin to do this. What was new to me in this project were: - new shape of the seppa rim, - leveling the braid on the sides of the tsuka - jabaraito katatemaki, so that the attached tsukaito strips on tsuka ura are not visible - tsunagi - first job. Saya and tsuka was made of Ho wood, tsunagi - alder wood. I still need more practice with wood work, have to buy more tools Thanks for watching. Best
  48. 11 points
    1919 , Shigetsugu Tachi made for Tanaka Giichi, Baron, Minister of War, Prime Minister, Tanto by Shigetsugu.
  49. 11 points
    I find sometimes, the smaller things that draw me to Nihonto, are quite joyous. This is a thoughtful gift from my brother, with many thanks. Looking at Tamahgane, not only did it draw me closer to Nihonto, the forging process and knowledge/skill needed, but to family as well. For this, I am thankful! I wish, I could capture the middle stone's deep sea blue, or midnight sky color, and imagine the possibilities... beautiful. Just thought I would share. Happy and safe Holiday season to all.
  50. 11 points
    Gentlemen, Before you get too carried away with master plans to send or not send to Japan or whatever can I suggest a good first step might be to let someone with some experience look at it in hand? Steve if you pm me your contact details I will try and put you in touch with a member of the Token of GB who is closest to you. In hand they can better judge what it is and condition and advise you on the next step. Regards Paul
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