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Ed Harbulak

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Ed Harbulak last won the day on May 9 2018

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  1. It looks like a better than average habaki and the hamon looks more complicated that most showato. For $860 it's a good gamble. My guess is that it's an older, probably mumei blade, either later shinto or shinshinto. If it turns out to be signed, then it could be a gendai. In any case, the tassel is worth $100 so I don't think you will loose. But, it sure would have been nice to get more good pictures.
  2. A friend of mine once had a type 98 gunto with 4 menuki, two standard cherry blossom style, on each side of the tsuka, Perhaps the original owner wasn't able to make up his mind how to grip the tsuka, or perhaps he was ambidextrous.
  3. It's probably hard to remove now because the wood of the saya has shrunk over the years. Wood shrinks, brass doesn't, means it's a very tight fit now.
  4. Les, to answer some of your questions: 1) Your sword is definitely an older Japanese sword, but regardless of what the signature says, trust us, the signature was not written by Tadahiro. Among other things, the tip end of the tang is the wrong shape for a Tadahiro blade. 2) Tadahiro lived and worked in the mid 1600's so it's reasonable to think your sword is younger than that, perhaps from the 17 or even 1800's. The exact date is harder to pin down. Even during the working life of the more famous sword smiths, other sword smiths were making blades with forgeries of famous sword smith's signatures. That practice has been going on in Japan for hundreds of years and was a fairly common practice throughout history. I'll even bet you can find fake Rolex watches on e-Bay today. 3) You can still have the sword polished if you want, it's your sword, your money and your decision. Ken has listed two excellent American polishers in the above comment. You could even have the fake (gimei) signature professionally removed, have the blade polished, a new habaki and shirasaya (storage scabbard) made and send it to either the NBTHK , NTHK or NTHK-NPO to get an opinion of who the actual maker might be and when it was made, but quite frankly the blade isn't worth spending that much money on. Keep it lightly oiled and honor it as your families heritage that's easily more than 100 years old. Good luck with what ever you decide.
  5. The blade is signed Hizen kuni (no) ju, Fujiwara Tada Hiro. Translated it says "made by" TadaHiro, resident of Hizen Province, Fujiwara (clan). Hizen TadaHiro is a big name smith so one always has to be careful of fake signatures, which I suspect is the case here. Technically the blade is a wakizashi but the signature is on the wrong side of the nakago or tang. There's a slim chance it's signed on the side it is because originally it was meant to be a short katana, but the writing isn't as neat as I'd expect it to be for this smith. It's a good Japanese sword otherwise, but definitely needs further study.
  6. Are your sure it's solder and not some kind of epoxy? Many amateurs want to "fix" things but don't have the necessary tools or equipment for soldering so use epoxy instead.
  7. In general, a person's abilities increase with how long a person's working life is or was and how long he's been doing a particular activity, like making swords. Middle age, for example ages from perhaps 30 to 60 years old in the working life of a sword smith will see quality differences between his early years, his middle years and later years. When a sword smith is in the middle of his working years, his work will most probably be at its best and then the quality may gradually go down hill as he gets older and older. As he gets older his son often starts taking over the work under his father's name so it's sometimes hard to know if the father made the blade or his son or top student. On the other hand, if the smith dies during his peak working years, his last swords will be among his best work. One sometimes sees swords with the inscription made at age 60, as sort of an indication that the smith is saying "Wow, I'm still able to make a good blade at my age". Each sword really has to be judged on it's own merits and knowing at what point in his career the smith made it.
  8. Adam, There is one thing you are over looking with respect to the $1800 sword you based your questions on. Although the blade is papered, the mountings are not. The papers apply only to the blade, not the mountings. Since part of the total price includes the value of the mountings, what would you guess is the value of the blade itself? If you are really interested in nihonto, wouldn't it be better to purchase a papered blade in shirasaya for $1800 and end up with a better quality blade for your money? Yes, I realize that fully mounted blades imply a real, samurai sword with the history and mystique that goes along with that, but in the end, the real value in your example is in the blade, not the mounts. Just something to think about.
  9. Remember that the blade must verify the mei, not the other way around. Judging signatures means you should compare blades made as closely together in time as possible since a signature often does change over time.
  10. I once owned a fairly small tanto that had an oval shaped Japanese coin used for the tsuba. The coin had a hole cut in the center to let it slip over the nakago. Although it was a Japanese coin, I have no way of knowing if the coin was original to the blade or if some enterprising WWII service man made the modification. It certainly wasn't a better quality blade and if I recall it looked more like the end of a broken blade with a shinogi that had been converted into a tanto.
  11. No Chris, the inspectors traveled in person to the sword smith's shop, inspected the blades and stamped them there. My understand is that there were several inspectors covering different parts of the country, where ever there was an RJT smith located. The inspected and stamped blades were then sent to various arsenals to be mounted. Chris Bowen has written quite a bit about how it was done. There might even be some details in one of the older NMB discussions.
  12. There were several inspectors examining and inspecting blades make by RJT smiths. It's reasonable to think each inspector would have had his own individual stamp and preferred place to apply the stamp. Variations should therefore be expected in both the stamps and location where the stamp was applied.
  13. Put a slight bend in the tang of the kogatana and friction will keep it in the kozuka. NO adhesive is needed! Or, wrap some paper around the tang so it's a snug fit and that's all you need. I presume you aren't actually going to use the blade for cutting, so it doesn't have to be more than a friction fit.
  14. Pete,the signature is definitely gimei, so judge the blade and value it accordingly or as a mumei blade. The second character in the mei, zen of Hizen, is wrong for the Tadayoshi main line smiths. It may be a good sword, but the signature is not correct.
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