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Everything posted by Rivkin

  1. Thanks! Always glad for an opportunity to make prediction for a blade being submitted. Feels like mid Momoyama to 1650, likely the early portion of the interval. Regarding the school - so many similar ones. Can be along the lines of Fujiwara Nobutaka. Can be Fuyuhiro.
  2. I saw blades declined on the basis of polish, but my personal guess would be this one will paper. With boshi photographed more can be said about the likely attribution.
  3. Yes, very Houju-ish, yes its consistent with early Gassan. Still think its Muromachi. Something a lot of people frown at as provincial - random patches of noticably blacker steel, very wide and often rough bands of masame.
  4. Come on David, we are in serious and repeated violation of the Nihonto Code here. An opinion can only be expressed as: I was instructed by O-Sensei to relay the following: Those who see Kambun in this sugata are men of but half truths. As it is written by Daiso Tadamichi: they grasp but do not breath, they fish, but do not smoke. For a fresher fire lies within this steel. Seek the path between the stone and the monkey.
  5. Well, it feels like a stick with some tapering, so probably Kambun. Judging by whatever we can see in the hamon its probably one of the period's Mino schools. Re: polishers etc, it does not feel particularly valuable, though there is uncertainty due to condition etc.
  6. Judging from the photographs its very nice and I personally would have it polished. Very many would rightly frawn upon kantei by photo, but that's how I buy my blades, so I risk (precision of the method is admittedly inadequate) my own money on the method. I am also not a specialist on Gassan. But. The style of hada is old - its ayasugi (not too periodic one) mixed with wide stripes, its very similar to Houju and to the lesser extent Naminohira. This is very much what you expect from the earliest Gassan work. The signature is in the right place, and its executed in the right style. So in my mind there is no doubt its a very early Gassan and in good condition. Now the sugata can be read twofold - either Oei (slightly before or after is ok) or something very old like mid Kamakura. Could you please measure the width and the height of kissaki (by yokote)? For a while existence of Heian-mid Kamakura Gassan was accepted and you do find reference to those in all books. There are however almost no examples which are papered as such today. Typically the earliest you see in modern papers is from 1350-1370 period. They are exceptionally rare - 85% of koto Gassan is roughly between 1504 and 1535, 10% from between 1535 and 1575, and 5% is the rest. The signature suggests somewhat early date, the way strokes are, and yes "saku" comes and goes in Gassan, and there is an opinion that between 1504 and 1530 it was not used as "Gassan Saku". I think realistically the chances of this blade being accepted as pre-Nambokucho are very slim. Realistically you are looking between 1360 and 1430. NBTHK will unlikely indicate the exact date. They'll just say its ko Gassan. Unfortunately I don't think there is much here to guarantee its pre-Muromachi. Thus people will be conservative and Oei might come as a default attribution. Will it be very expensive sword once it polishes and papers? Unfortunately I am tempted to say "no". There is 5% chance it will be accepted as specifically pre-Muromachi and then its more expensive. There is 10% chance it will turn out to be "dud". 35% chance they'll say its later into Muromachi. etc. etc. But its a rare, early blade and I think it will be very good looking in polish. I think you will get your polish and papers money back, though sort of barely so. Unless there is a person who will really like this kind of style. This is one of the cases where the blade is rare, collectible, important, nice and in the long term I hope this gets recognized more and more, but today's market is not very forgiving to anything suspected of Oei-ness. I personally like such blades a lot; to me ubu Houju from Nambokucho or even Oei is a prized sword. To most collectors and books its however sort of provincial sidetrack to real collecting. Just my 2c.
  7. Being even more arrogant I would argue its shoshin!!! There is heavy Yamato flavor in the hamon, with large angle hotsure together with what little we can see in hada - might be ayasugi. Judging by the sugata its probably also among the earlier ones. Nice.
  8. Kudos - you are probably better person than I, maybe the only one on the board or among gaijin (nihonjin in my experience are more realistic) in Japanese nihonto clubs to honestly admit something like that. Even in Tokyo one is constantly hit in clubs by janitors from local embassies trying to sell their services and expertise on the pretext they have amassed the top of the top collection, while in reality all they ever did was drinking with nihonto crowd for the past 60 years. back to the question: On the prices there is a theoretical "it must be like this" world, and each person has his own version of it, and there is objective reality. The reality is that level of papers multiplied by attribution gives you more or less precise price range. Singed or not, condition, length, who's the seller further narrows it down. One can argue "but that's a great blade" and price it at twice the estimate, but unfortunately few will look at it. 2mln yen Yamato Juyos include some really good examples, lots of averages, and some absolute junk Mihara from 2X Juyo sessions. Not average blades, just plain junk. Good luck selling a great Yamato Juyo for 3.5m. "It can be TJ" - right, great chance of this happening today for Yamato. If you are top dealer with great name recognition - you can name your own price, certainly. Otherwise you'll get a lot of people laughing in your face "if it's such a great blade, you would have gotten TJ yourself". Unjustified? No. Unfair? Yes. Market price and quality are not the same thing. If the blade is signed, then the gap between Juyo, TJ and TH can narrow down. The chance that you'll get substantially different attribution at Juyo level is no longer a strong consideration. Singed, ubu O-Kanemitsu is TJ material by default, and unless it has glaring detractions, it will be priced comparable to this level. With any papers. Unsigned - its a bit of a lottery every time you submit. That's a serious price detractor every level down from TJ. It often has nothing to do with quality - if a blade has anything unusual, it can send the attribution sideways into much lesser name. If you are not bothered with this, you can get a top+ quality blade with very low papers (better yet pricewise - unpapered). Will it be commercial success? In the current climate, if it has no unusual features then usually yes. If it does - very likely sooner or later, at some level there will be issues. On Japanese resistance to sell top blades - there is a reason why western museums have absolute top of the line tosogu, the kind of things one seldom sees even in Japan, but MET's blade collection is frankly speaking something reasonably wealthy beginner with but two years of experience should not be proud of. I guess things kind of got relaxed after 1980s, but at some level (chokuto, blades with historical provenance bought in Japan) one is bound to start getting random flack. Yes, there is a lot of classism and racism. I actually like it. The honesty which feels more comfortable to me compared to fantasy pretend world one encounters outside Japan. Just my personal 2c.
  9. I would classify for myself personally "nihonto opportunities" to be of many different types 1. First class blade attributed to second class name. Happens with not-so-famous groups (Unsho) who can be attributed based on date/kantei rather than "quality". I like Aoe because one can buy better Aoe blade for 10% price compared to a worse blade with papers to Rai Kunitoshi. Unfortunately, this approach basically excludes certain groups like Awataguchi where deals like this DO NOT EXIST. 2. First class blade with unusual features which greatly complicate the attribution. Often its certain elements of sugata which are strange and then often its kasane. For example, there is a whole block of Soshu blades from 1340-1380 and especially 1360-1380 that no one really knows how to attribute precisely, so you find one with papers to Shimada and work on it. You'll never pull a first tier (i.e. late Kamakura) Soshu out of it, but a decent 1370 name is easy. Unfortunately, inverse is also true. This is basically the type where one has to figure why there is a (potential) conflicting judgement and then learn whether he is comfortable living with it. 3. Somebody needing money right now. You don't want to be the first person making an offer, as usually the seller will price it somewhat high (I paid X and I want 1.25X), but after he is hit by couple of real low-balls from dealers you can make an honest low offer... 4. Undiscovered blades. No papers and no one knows what it is. Possible in the west, not nearly as often in Japan where I usually "work". There is however Japanese version of it - a blade was shown to a Sensei who said "don't bother polishing and (re)submitting it". Well, sometimes after a few years you learn that the sensei was actually right... These are the cases you don't talk about. But sometimes its more of the opposite and you get bragging rights to what you discovered.
  10. I think its less a genuine appreciation but a combination of two things: 1. Antiquities are not "too liquid" and thus below and above average deals are common. 2. In green paper days those issued to Sadamune and Masamune were uncommon, but not nearly as much as they are today. In their light Etchu Tametsugu was seen as a third rate attribution. Today when there is a push to give top tier names to blades that are actually somewhat earlier, Etchu Tametsugu is slowly accepted for what it is - something made between 1335-1345 and 1365-1375, Soshu style, with clear Norishige influence and solid quality.
  11. Selling Japanese antiques to foreigners = slightly inappropriate. Selling Japanese blades to foreigners is inappropirate. Every Japanese dealer has a nice story why they still do it. To advertise Japanese culture. To save Japanese sword from rusting in Japanese sea salted air. Because the blades they sell are from Fukushima and radioactive. Because they use proceeds to feed starving children at an orphanage. JuBi+ is the level where most do not want to make excuses anymore. Its just inappropriate. The owner might do something illegal with those, because he is a foreigner. Maybe he'll get caught smuggling blades on a ship staffed with Russian fishermen and Korean prostitutes. Everybody who ever associated with him will then be labeled as "involved" with the guy who took Japanese national treasure, did something and it ended up in the papers. Nobody wants that. Maybe if you have a proper renome, maybe if you sponsor grand charities in Japan - maybe then you are different, absolutely no idea. But an ordinary foreigner owning such blade might face random issues starting literally from hotel and extending to all his business contacts. "Its inappropriate to mail things" to or for such people. Its inappropriate for them to lecture at universities. Why do you refuse to give the blade back to Japanese people? Very many people will feel that way and will voice their concerns.
  12. A simple lecturer like me knows little to nothing about those high ranking paper things and I am grateful to be enlightened. There are two small observations which I however consider important. First, a lion's portion of high paper sales are private rather than price advertised on the internet, and they occur in a "descending auction" manner, when an intermediary (dealer) first contacts the highest rollers ("whales" in vernacular American) offering them an item for X yen, then in half a year he offers it to "regulars" at 0.8X and if nothing works it might easily end up with some riff-raff for 0.5X. So whether a JuBi is worth 300K or 150K USD can be a matter of circumstances as much as concerning the blade itself. This unfortunately extends down the spectrum as well, simply since Hiroshi Saito stating "these are solid gold mounts of incomparable quality" versus me stating the same carries different weight and thus the offer price will be different. Second observation is the statement "TJ is the same as better half of JB" is a self-serving position of NBTHK which is repeated a bit often. The owners of state versus NBTHK paperwork tend to be different and the market is different. Japanese treat state-issued papers - differently. They treat state employees - differently. Above all, foreign ownership of Jubi and above is not considered appropriate by a solid portion of Japanese society. For Americans out there, its a rough equivalent of publicly stating "I think some women are not too smart". Expect the point of discomfort to be brought up in not too subtle a manner.
  13. That's a platter holder utilized to hold tsuba. By the looks of it, a good late Meiji work, maybe someone associated with godai (tokyo university of art) - too lazy to check the signatures etc. etc.. Those are not completely traditional but nice in their own kind.
  14. Far from being a tosogu person, but: the ones of such shape supposed to imitate either rapier's guard or a similar continental device. They tend to have cross-shaped ana since all European and Chinese ana are rectangular and thus remade tsuba would have a combination of native rectangle and Japanese triangle. However there are exceptionally few (contrary to a popular sentiment) cases where the rectangle is indeed original, usually among Hizen tsubas, and almost all are Japanese imitations. Also geometry is quite different compared to anything European or continent related, including guards made for European market.
  15. Expanding on this, I will voice an unpopular opinion that a differential between TH and Juyo prices for the top names reflects the certainty of attribution. Kiyomaro or Sukehiro, signed, papered are close to 100% certain, and a very bright Kiyomaro will cost a lot with or without Juyo papers. TH Norishige or his developed type (with matsukawa) will likely cost similar money whether TH or Juyo, while his work without matsukawa will not, as there is less certainty of attribution and quality of those blades also varies a bit more. Masamune with TH, Juyo and TJ are in the different world of prices. etc. etc. etc. For "'lesser names" a price differential between TH and Juyo is more a function of expectation whether it makes to Juyo or not.
  16. I think some of these offers do come at a discount because of later generation. I would argue that when retail prices are concerned, everything below 4K USD are non-collectibles. Does not mean one can't pick a good name from something unsigned unpapered and likely poorly polished in this category. 5K USD is the level where one can on occasion buy a good blade with some issues like out of polish or unpapered. Sort of still in the gambling territory or its just not a great blade to begin with. Casino land for those who like the feeling. 6-10K is where you typically find rounded packages with every box checked but obviously no stellar names. If shinto can still be a very good sword. 10-20K you start seeing koto daito from genuinely good schools. 20K is junior Juyo usually from one of the Yamato branches. 40-60k is either serious Juyo, like Ichimonji, or H+ to top level shinto smith like Sukehiro, or TH papered top class koto like signed Fukuoka Ichimonji with some blemishes. 70-125k: I would argue this is top class sword bought below retail. You can get a good Juyo Norishige mumei or Go at this price level, but only directly from a collector. Its also a common price level for good name JuBis but that's the kind of material that has its affecianados and its detractors. 200k: TJ, major name. 150-200K is a typical price level for the top of the line Japanese shop trading in such material. 400-1000k: First class name, high provenance sword, likely Bunkazai.
  17. The way the signature is done is weird, but the work appears to be at least a decent late Soshu adaptation.
  18. Its something to ask from a seller. Can be anything from poorly cleaned oil, "smudge" in the polish or even a sign of possible fukure. The last one is unlikely given the shop's reputation. If you like the style, its a good piece. I don't, but then I frankly can't stand almost the entire lineup of Bizen products. I also personally feel that the top of the line shops make sense when one buys absolutely top of the line items, usually with top of the line papers, its just something cheaper sellers will not offer that often. This being said, again if you really like this particular style than this piece might cross all the good points - certainly Oei, signed, dated, good koshirae etc. Oei Bizen items tend to be quite expensive in Japan now. I had difficulty in selling them outside Japan at comparable levels though.
  19. 95% of things sold are problematic and the market is noticeably more expensive than it used to be... at least my personal impressions.
  20. Rivkin


    I feel bad about admitting the right answer almost immediately but here it is - Aoe, another paper to Aoe Sadatsugu. Very prominent dan utsuri.
  21. Rivkin


    Nagasa is 29.8 inches. Photographs for the rest. Rather typical for the school.
  22. Not a specialist, but nijimei with them implies the mainline, i.e. someone like: TOMOSHIGE (友重), 5th gen., Kōshō (康正, 1455-1457), Kaga – “Tomoshige” (友重), “Fujishima Tomoshige” (藤島友重), “Fujishima” (藤島), first name Jihei (次兵衛), chū-jō-saku But I think that's 6th or 7th generation, though Markus Sesko's reference volume does not indicate those specifically as signing with nijimei. Kaga nakago (as here) in Fujishima I think is also somewhat more popular with 6th+ generations, but I am not sure. So I would put it as Tomoshige between 5th and 7th, myself believe its 6th.
  23. Sorry I meant mumei... writing late in night after work never helps.
  24. The blade I personally like at AOI right now is: https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-heianjo-yoshifusa/ Which obviously crosses all the wrong points, being suriage Muromachi. Unfortunately the judgement appears to be solid. That's how Sanjo Heianjo tends to look like, but they can be of very solid quality. If one has the means, this is: https://www.aoijapan.com/katanamumei-aoe-yoshitsugu/ a truly great sword however.
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