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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 copper inserts in the tang opening are very strong indicators that this is Suruga work. I see nothing else to contradict that attribution.
  2. To me this looks be be a fairly non controversial Heian-jo type guard. I would debate the Momoyama dating, I think that the introduction of brass inlay needs to, at least be brought forward from the Onin period the the late 1500's, more reasonably perhaps early 1600's. Similarly nunome-zogan would appear to be a later technical adoption, from Korea it seems, and comes some time after wire and flat inlay. So I'd suggest the nunome decoration traces was a later addition. I don't think the leaves look like grape vines though, a case of mistaken identity maybe
  3. ...and of the examples Dirk posted none are alike either .
  4. This is an early 19th century piece by Horie Okinari. It features coral 'berries' and a malachite inlay representing a mossy rock. The use of gemstones, glass, ivory, lacquer and other such non-metallic materials in tosugu decoration isn't very common but we do occasionally see examples. This suggests that while not unknown it wasn't, evidently, ever a hugely popular feature. Curiously, though, the use of enamels (the Hirata school output being most notable) was highly appreciated. And Murakami Jochiku is celebrated for his creative use of mother of pearly in his compositions. The Tsuba is copied from the "Tosogu, Treasures of the Samurai" catalogue by Graham Gemmell, one of my early mentors in this field.
  5. Fukurin start off as flat strips of thin metal, they are accurately shaped like a frame around the outside of the tsuba and then silver soldered close. Only then is the 'frame' fitted to the tsuba and the overlapping edges of the frame gradually cold worked down onto the surface of the tsuba plate. On iron tsuba this would be done after the iron patina has been fully developed. You'll find a series of images showing this process here: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPDjMsj6e4pIjnu5RaoPG693ANz-JBM9ERTXnHs1_Lf34RmDP1k3u8nU8di-yShHQ?key=NHF6N0VTb0J4anlJZ1lQWjhyeE1VQm9EQVltLW13 In this case it's a shakudo fukurin on a yamagane-like base plate but the procedure on iron would be exactly the same. This is also why we often encounter applied rims that are a little bit loose, it's very tricky to close the edges inwards without the outer edge stretching a little bit.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. I love the 'helicopter' rabbit
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Tiger looks quite Mito, perhaps some Nara flavour too...but Mito would be my first call.
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