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paulb

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paulb last won the day on June 11

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About paulb

  • Birthday 01/25/1955

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  • Gender
    Male
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    UK
  • Interests
    Koto swords, especially pre nambokucho.

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    paul bowman

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  1. studied for the better part of thirty years, nurtured relationships with a number of good dealers and eventually sold the bulk of what I had already collected to pay for it. That's now about 10 years ago and despite having to sell some pieces I liked a great deal I have never regretted doing it.
  2. Colin, As a fellow resident in what you call "the wastelands of the UK" I think you need to try and make contact with more fellow enthusiasts in the UK of which there are a good number, many of whom are active within the Token Society of GB and equally many willing to offer help. It is true there have been and continue to be issues with transport (not just in the UK but everywhere in Europe) at present and there have been some episodes publicised here of problems with customs. However this is not the case generally. Many collectors in the UK import pieces and arranged for item to go to Japan who have not experienced the difficulties that have been discussed here. Can I suggest you consider joining the Token Society of GB if you haven't already and try and attend one of their regional meetings. We are trying to spread them across the country so those living more remotely have the chance of meeting. I think one visit to such a meeting would reassure you that the study of Nihon-To is alive and well in the UK and there are many good swords not being used for hedge cutting.
  3. There are many blades that are unsigned. In this case it is a koto blade and very likely shortened during its life. When the blade is shortened the mei is often lost. Re the fittings, while not spectacular I don't think "sub par" is a reasonable assessment. The tsuka is bound in doeskin rather than silk braid which may be giving you the impression it is less well done. The polish looks rather harsh but Iesuke is a recorded and well respected smith (smiths as several generations existed I think)
  4. Alex, I'll try and explain why my list is as it is but without going into great detail on each. Most of those I have listed are blades that I have seen in hand which I think makes a huge difference. Certainly I hadn't even considered Yukimitsu until I saw that particular tanto which I found mind blowingly beautiful. All the blades I listed have a number of traits in common: 1. The hada is generally extremely fine and well executed. Predominantly ko-itame but with some additions and variations. 2. All of them have a great deal of activity within the jigane in the form of ji-nie and chickei. 3. This activity spills over in to the hamon. Despite most being suguha, all show a great deal of activity in the form of kinsuji, inazuma, a lot of nie, sunagashi and more. 4. Finally the way the shape, ji-hada and hamon sit together to create an overall composition that is "Just right". No one element stands out from the others they all work together to create a perfect harmony and composition. And they did all that with a hammer, anvil lumps of iron and charcoal and a good eye. Pretty remarkable and the fact we can enjoy this work 6 to 900 years after it was made says a great deal for the quality and also the way it has been cared for throughout its history.
  5. As said when I put my own list up it was based very much on my own biases and preferences. I also have never made any claim to expertise, self appointed or otherwise. I Am also fortunate enough to know most of those who have offered ideas and assessments based on available data. Again I am confident that none of those individuals would claim to be experts. What they are doing is quoting publications and information written over several hundred years and including Fujishiro, Honami Kozon, Homma, and Tanobe Michiro ( are you calling them self appointed experts?) If we cannot use the knowledge of these very learned gentlemen to further our understanding then where do we look? I am not sure why this discussion is creating such aggressive responses. in the main it has been very informative and interesting. I am not sure why it is necessary to start ciricising those who are offering analysis and insight
  6. I think one reason we get hung up on this is that compared to other art the very best in Nihon-to is Almost (and I use the word cautiously) within reach. When we look at a Rembrandt or Vermeer we know the the price tag is an unimaginable amount of money. For a top sword however the price is in the realms of a good house, car and a few other bits, but at least it is a number we can relate to. We (I) no matter what I did could ever hope to hold a top rate old master in a collection of paintings. It doesn't stop me buying, appreciating and enjoying lesser work that I can afford. Studying top work helps you appreciate the features you are seeing in lesser pieces and to understand the process better.
  7. Re death and taxes, I think that's two things unless you regard one as the inevitable consequence of the other
  8. Fascinating as the discussion of variations of national tax burdens are I think as a courtesy to the OP we might return to the subject intended. Kirril in answer to your question re members with more than 1 juyo sword in their collections I honestly don't know but think there are many more than you might think
  9. Jimmy, George Cameron Stone in his glossary or arms and armour published in the early 1900s said "The Japanese sword is the nearest thing to perfection made by human hand" that's how I fell about the Awataguchi blades I have seen (which like almost everyone else is not very many) The blade has beautifully uniform hada covered in bright ji-nie and other activity. How they managed to create such a perfect result with a hammer and anvil I cannot even guess. SO in summary they are beautifully made, the forging is not only faultless but incredibly beautiful and the hardening compliments and exemplifies what is happening in the hada You are right Kagemitsu also made beautiful tanto and he would be high in my personal list too. Unfortunately he is surrounding by a mass of other great Bizen talent which perhaps has made him shine a little less than he might otherwise have done
  10. Defining "Quality" in something defined as and art object without taking in to account aesthetic appeal is not possible. The NBTHK compare blades against the standard for that tradition or school and define the quality in relation to that norm. They do not for example compare a top Soshu blade with a top Bizen blade in terms of which is better quality. To reach a high level of paper the blades must be very well made in excellent condition and demonstrate all the features associated with that smith or school. This is not new. Aesthetics have always played a major part in defining which swords were best. Soshu blades only came to prominence when it was noted that Hideyoshi liked them and the appraisers who worked for him started ranking them at the top of the league. At other times Yamashiro Awataguchi and Fukuoka Ichimonji have topped the table. Again this wasn't to do with functionality or how well made they were (they could all cut and were all well made) it was which one appealed the most to the market of the day. I believe Awataguchi blades are amongst the best ever made. The quality of their forging the superior raw material that was available to them resulted as something that is near perfection (To me). Others would regard them as boring and dull. This has nothing to do with quality. Based on what we read in various texts The top 3 best Tanto makers were Awataguchi Yoshimitsu, Shintogo Kunimitsu and Masamune. Top best long swords were made by Go-Yoshihiro Ko-Aoe Tsunetsugu and Masamune. Other names that would be in the top 10 would include Sanjo Munechika Yasatsuna Ko-Bizen Tomonari. But for all of these the reputation is based to some extent on how they look and whether that appealed to the taste of the day.
  11. I think there are more than 3000 users on the nmb so making a sweeping statement regarding the lack of quality within collections is foolhardy to say the least. I am aware of a number of collectors here who include highest quality works
  12. Motivation for my preferences: 1. Jigane. All of my top choices have incredible jigane, rich in nie and chickei, 2. Shape (I know this should be first but it runs very close) the shape of early blades be they long swords or tanto can be exquisite 3. Activity and interaction within the hamon inazuma, kinsuji, sunagashi etc. 4. The way all the above hang together and compliment each other making the whole far greater than the sum of the parts. The choices are all based on pieces I have been lucky enough to see in hand. Had I seen other great early Soshu work closer (Shintogo, Go or Masamune) the list may be different.
  13. I think Michael is right and we have been here before some while ago (Think I might even have started the thread!!) However a little self indulgence doesn't hurt on occasion. So the following list is based more on what I like i.e. what I find the most aesthetically pleasing rather than a statement of quality relating to function durability etc. 1. Tanto by Soshu Yukimitsu 2. Awataguchi daito from early Kamakura 3. Ko-Bizen Tomonari 4. Chu-Aoe Daito 5. Rai Kunimitsu tanto 6.Taema 7. Osafune Nagamitsu 8. Inoue Shinkai 9. Shodai Tadayoshi 10. something I haven't seen yet but I will fall in love with when I do
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