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Ford Hallam

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Ford Hallam last won the day on March 3 2020

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    In a barn just outside of Dartmouth....

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  1. The Brass mon on the Masdanaga look very unusual to my eyes. They appear to be applied on top of the surface, rather than inlaid, but there's no evidence of nunome-zogan cross-hatching. Also, the cut out details on the leaves of the mon are very delicate, but one or two details/irregularities seem to be repeated on both remaining mon. This leads me to suspect that they are modern laser cut stencils. Their actual placement of the iron plate looks awkward to my "Edo eyes' too
  2. To add a little art technical info here... The katakiri is gilded. Were the gilding done in the classical way with mercury, fire gilding or kin-keshi, it'd have a sightly frosted look. Quite distinctive in fact. This, on the other hand, has been done by means of electroplating. This technology was only introduced to Japan, from Germany I believe, in the very late 19th century. It's application, like this, to gild engraved lines is called chinkin-bori. It became relatively common in the Meiji period.
  3. I love the 'helicopter' rabbit
  4. The subject is of a famous Chinese scholar and strategist called Han Xin, circa 200BC. from wikipedia "On another occasion, a hooligan saw Han Xin carrying a sword and challenged him to either kill him or crawl between his legs. Han Xin knew that he would become a criminal if he killed him, so instead of responding to the taunts, he crawled between the hooligan's legs and was laughed at." Some versions of the story make the bully a fisherman who was intent on belittling Han Xin and amusing his fishermen mates. Han Xin complies and thereby demonstrates his humility. While the actual tsuba looks like it needs some careful restoration I would suggest the price was fair. I think it's a pretty decent bit of work and if restored well would look pretty grand. The bully's face is particularly well rendered and expressive, and the clothing folds and patterning is very good. A complex composition well executed. The mei appears to read Nobumori, possibly the Tanaka/Sonobe school artist. Student of the 3rd gen. master Nobuyoshi.
  5. I would suggest a later date for the decorative work. Kata-kiri style cutting, the tiger's stripes, bamboo leaves etc, developed around the first quarter of the 18th century, ie; 1725 ish. Centred on the Yokoya school.
  6. As someone who has used this collection, in a number of ways professionally, I would encourage members to get a copy and to become familiar with the designs. Some are in fact ink rubbings taken from actual pieces, some even very important works by major names. A particularly fine Yokoya Somin shishi in katakiri, for example, is shown as a rubbing and in that reveals more than most photos of the piece. The mei is also more clearly illustrated this way than most photographs in the standard reference books too, so that's a bonus. Additionally what we can easily realise when studying a large collection of images of designs as they would have been available to period carvers us that notions of school based on subject or theme become less certain if everyone had access to the same design sources.
  7. Ford Hallam

    Omori Hisanori?

    John While I can appreciate your concern I don't feel my post wasn't all that controversial. As I suggested, a careful examination of the item in question reveals exactly what it is. I'm certainly not asking anyone to take my word as the authority at all. Merely that one's own eyes ought to be able to reveal the reality of the piece. As far as I'm concerned this 'tsuba' is a straightforward cast copy fake. And if it isn't pointed out in a forthright manner then there will undoubtedly more in the future. But as Geraint has pointed out, the language used in their description absolves the auction house of responsibility.
  8. Ford Hallam

    Omori Hisanori?

    The increasing threat of fakes to our field of art is something that has occupied my thoughts a lot in recent months. Where I can I will continue to offer my own technical observations, as a craftsman, to provide ammunition to our community with which to protect our wallets and pride But it seems to me that the most reliable defence against fakers is to develop a finer eye. I'm still not absolutely sure as to how this 'education' might be best achieved though. The development of a reliable critical aesthetic eye has been a long standing philosophical conundrum but perhaps we might at least begin to more carefully define the issue and thereby find our way to a semblance of reliable connoisseurship.
  9. Ford Hallam

    Omori Hisanori?

    A careful examination of the enlarged images shows quite clearly that this is a modern cast copy. Steel casting with electroplated details in silver and gold on an initial copper flash plating. The copper base plating is typical of industrial processes, it adheres well to the steel so that the silver and gold has an easier bond to the copper rather directly onto the steel.
  10. Tiger looks quite Mito, perhaps some Nara flavour too...but Mito would be my first call.
  11. Seki-gane in iron can't be patinated in a rokusho or any copper salt solution because of the galvanic action that is created between the copper and the iron. What you get instead is a seriously problematic copper flash plating on the iron. Best bet is to just leave it alone, time will do a better job than most amature fussing.
  12. Kyle, I'm not really convinced by this use, by the NBTHK et al, of 'den' to denote some sort of affiliation. It seems disingenuous and meaningless, perhaps only useful as a marketing tool? I can admit it's usefulness in the context of bladesmithing though. My discomfort with the design is down to the utter lack of imagination it reveals. Edo period crafts-people operated in a world where the principles of elegant design and aesthetics were the very air they breathed. Everything from kimono to wrapping papers bore the images of brilliant composition. And design books for craft production abounded. Weak design awareness would be a business failing and in a society remarkably attuned to refined artistic expression, the whole point of buying a tsuba after all...., a singularly dull offering like this would simply not be feasible. The snowflakes are too large for the available space, they look cramped and stuffed onto the plate...they lack any suggestion of rhythm and delicacy. Snowflakes scatter, they drift, they are random...they do not line up like sardines in a tin can 🙂. As a supposed product of the late Edo period it fails to communicate to me anything of the authentic aesthetic milieu of that time and place. I'm impressed by your diligence in compiling those examples of similar snowflakes. Using modern technology scanning those and then using that precise data would allow for very accurate dies to be created. We use a processes like that in the Jewellery trade quite routinely today. And Kyle, I'm really not trying to convince anyone of anything. My comments are merely my own musings and are offered to any interested reader for consideration. That is, to my mind anyway, the whole purpose of this forum after all.
  13. Sebastien I'm happy to hear my post was useful to you. Working backwards Suaka is simply the Japanese word for copper. Just as shinchu is brass. Your's is copper/suaka, or aka-gane, red metal. All the same. And I'd agree, not Ichijo 'school' but clearly copying their popular style. The maple leaves and blossoms are done rather expressively I think, not really trying too hard to be Ichijo, and more it's own thing. The ground is also more expressive/powerful. I think it's a perfectly honest piece, not extremely refined but a pretty decent example of its type.
  14. A few observations I'd like to offer... Firstly, unless it's signed, and speaking here about Edo period work, it cannot be regarded as of a school. This is because 'schools' operated as guilds or effectively a franchise arrangement, or Iemoto system, you paid your dues, for instruction, in time in the studio training and working for the master. And then in subs once you were considered suitably skilled enough to carry the name of the school forward independently. Secondly I am suspicious of those snowflakes. The arrangement seems, to my eyes, dull and predictable so I doubt an Edo period date. If you imagine the design as a flower arrangement then this is the equivalent of 5 flowers in a neat row.🤣 As for the stamps, well in a way I've been expecting them. I've carved a couple of similar stamps for various restoration projects in the past so have some experience of the practicalities of making and using them. These however, strike me (pun unavoidable) as being machine made. I suspect we may see more soon. Oh, and it's brass, or shinchu not sentoku. Sentoku is a very different alloy, quite brittle and very unsuitable for stamping work. It's a lovely patina colour, the cleanness of the recesses of the stampings would concern me though. And finally, looking at the kogai hitsu, the edges are nicely and gently rounded out. An acceptable finishing touch and one we do see on period work. What we don't see it that chamfering continuing around where the opening touches or runs through the seppa-dai. This reveals to me that whoever shaped the kogai hitsu wasn't familiar with mounting tosogu in a koshirae because it doesn't make sense when mounted..
  15. I think Nara would be a fair call. Of Joi, Yasuchika and Toshinaga something suggests mostly Nara Toshinaga as an influence, but without a mei I personally don't believe it should be called 'school work'. If there is/was any legitimate school association or connection then a mei would allow for that connection to be confirmed. It's absence therefore suggests no legitimate claim.
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