Jump to content

Loco Al

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Loco Al

  1. Okay, this isn't exactly representative of a hamon. More like utsuri maybe. Alan
  2. How do you know (suspect) that I did ok? You may try to paint me as some sort of angst ridden crazy dissident (who may be worried that he got burned a bit), but you kind of sidestepped some of the issues I had with your brief reply to mywei. Particularly, when you said: In many cases, you are paying for the expertise of your agent or dealer. What if your dealer isn't really as "expert" as he advertises? How much extra should you be expected to pay then? There is a certain lack of transparency in this business, and it is primed for those who would wish to misrepresent and profit disreputably (such as on eBay). Then, there are those items that are over-embellished by relatively knowledge dealers. Don't try to kid me that this does not occur. Regarding the U.S. servicemen, you said: Those buyers are happy to pay those prices and they feel they got what what they paid for. How can you confidently say that? Either you put your foot in it again, or you are privy to information directly provided by Pablo. Or, perhaps, you are just making this up. "We don't get to tell them they are wrong or right. That is not what this forum is for." So, what is it for? To share misinformation, perhaps? You are prepared to tell someone if they are making a mistake when starting out (only if they are are buying from someone not advertising on this site, I suspect). You will often comment on a good deal, but not a bad deal? How do you say "spin job". What is "big money" for swords? Would $120,000 over three years be big enough for you. One sword is gone. Only two left (both Juyo). It was the nasty emails that really got to me, Brian, not necessarily the overpricing. Angst, my sore behind. I'm not referring to Pablo, by the way. None of my swords came from him. Alan
  3. I’m not going to comment on the price of those swords, although I do think that it is a fair question for someone to ask. Matt (mywei) brought it up, and presumably he thought that he had good reason to do so. I understand that it kind of goes against the ethos of this forum to discuss prices listed on “dealers” websites. The moderators have made it clear before that this is generally verboten. Of course there is also the potential for much misinformation when people start to comment on (and debate prices), so that may also be a reason to discourage it. Thing is, if one were to go to a car forum for example: Members may be seen to freely discuss prices for their rides. With cars however, we are dealing with a known commodity. No so easy with collectibles like Japanese swords or other artworks. Most sword dealers will decline to comment on other dealers prices, unless of course you are offering the sword to them for purchase or consignment. So where do you go for advice on a sword’s price (or a particulars dealer’s prices in general) if you are not all that knowledgable? You certainly won’t find that information reliably on this board, unless the dealer in question is a scam artist or an eBay dealer. Dealers who promote their items (directly or indirectly) regularly on this board would seem to be immune to any criticism. I want to take issue with the four points that Brian made in his last post. Preposterous, all of them: 1. “Price is not relevant.” Not relevant to what? The beauty of Mr. Kuntz’s pdf advertisment? Beautiful photographs and lovely brochures may help to sell swords, but they are not necessarily relevant to price or the true value of a sword. Just because someone writes a 13 page essay extolling the virtues of one particular sword, does that make it greatly more valuable? 2. “If too high, they don’t sell.” That is utter nonsense, and I think you know it. It is the price bracket of the sword (to begin with) that determines whether it will be a quick sell, or not. Juyo swords are not easy to sell generally, because they tend to be in a price bracket that limits most from making a quick impulsive purchase. Not everyone is quite so knowledgable, and I am quite sure that there have been many thousands overspent by trusting buyers. Buyers who would rather trust the opinion of their favourite seller (dealer), rather than take the time to learn. “Oh, look. Mr. X has more pretty swords in his latest fancy brochure. Must acquire one!” “And that 15 page, so well researched essay, must confirm that it’s really, really something special!” As if every Joe, who has only bought a few $1000 - $3000 swords, should immediately (and instinctively) know that: Oh yeh, that $18,000 sword is overpriced by at least $5000! Come on, Brian. Who are you kidding? 3. “Since they seem to have sold…I guess that buyers felt they were getting value for money.” Stating the obvious, but did they truly get value for money (see counterpoint 2 above)? That is such a dumb, almost defensive statement, that I have to wonder what the motivation for it. 4. “in many cases, you are paying for the expertise of your agent of dealer.” And that makes it okay to overcharge for items? In the art world there is such a thing as a commission. That is expected. At some point though, asking prices may far exceed what should reasonably be expected to include fair recompense for the average art dealers commission. I realise that some dealers promote themselves more as “agents”, procuring only the best for their very special clients. Wait till these clients try to dispose of their overpriced swords later on. Alan
  4. I guess that I do have a twisted way of looking at things. Perhaps that is why I changed my display name to Loco Al. You have to understand that when one learns that the price of an item which one has previously purchased was perhaps grossly inflated (perhaps well beyond what should be considered a fair price to include a reasonable profit margin) relative to what it's true market value should be, and was perhaps overzealously advertised as something more special than it truly is (in order to justify the high price tag), then that might tend to embitter one a bit. Live and learn. It's all water under the bridge now. My math was flawed. I figure that I am down about $10,000 on the deal (not $20,000). If I had kept the sword and tried to sell it to someone else, perhaps years later, then I think that I would have lost even more. Possibly another $10,000. That is what I was trying to say. So actually, I consider myself lucky to have disposed of the sword in a timely fashion. It was a Tokubetsu Hozon sword, by the way, and would likely never have gone Juyo. Alan
  5. Peter, there seems to be a bit of angst in your opening post. It is perhaps not without good reason. See this thread: http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/16737-your-worst-purchase/ These collectibles are not investments. They are toys. Sometimes, very expensive toys. Sometimes, very rare exclusive toys. Alan
  6. O.K., Joe threw this topic up here, so here goes. Haven't made any really bad purchases yet. Only a few very expensive purchases which have since caused me a bit of anxiety since I worry that they may be difficult to dispose of in the future for anything close to their original price (except for one piece perhaps). I have learned a thing or two since then. I sold one item, which I decided was perhaps not so special as advertised, back to the dealer I got it from for a loss of about $10,000. In my best estimation of it's actual worth (based upon advice from two very knowledgable nihonto experts), I figure that I overpaid about $10,000 for it. So I am really out $20,000. He has since resold it to another buyer for a very tidy profit, I am sure. So he is up about $30,000, give or take (not counting travelling expenses, etc). steve0, $12,000 is nothing in the grand state of things. Count yourself lucky that you haven't frittered away much more than that. I think that playing this game of buying nihonto and/or fittings, with extra money that most people would normally reserve for toys or vacations, should give one the right to be contrary or suspicious. This is a peculiar passion, and no dealer or seller should assume that he has the right to your money. Pete: "Ninth Circle of Hell". What the heck (hell) are you talking about? Would you care to expound upon that a bit? Alan
  7. Kronos, That was a very interesting article on lacquer from the Bishop Museum. I saved a copy of it. Now I am afraid to leave any Japanese lacquer-ware (koshirae or stands) out on display in case they deteriorate from UV light. In answer to Ben's question: My katana-kake is supposed to be late Edo period. It was up for auction on the Aoi Art website, but no one bid on it. This is a bit off topic, I know. I inquired about it immediately after the auction ended. Having only bought one other item from them, they agreed to a small discount. Every once in a while, something really nice pops up on their website. I would try not to get involved in a bidding war for something on their auction page, unless you really must have it. They have been most reliable to deal with, and they ship items promptly. Alan
  8. Regarding storage, I keep my swords and koshirae in their bags and in a safe when not at home. Recently acquired a new katana-kake. Reluctant to display a koshirae on it though, for fear of scratching or marring the lacquer. Lots of photos. Alan
  9. Let's backtrack a bit. The title for the opening thread was: I'm Not Buying Swords Anymore, But If I were... Was this a lament, or a sound recommendation for a sword that the OP thought was an exceptional item. Peter Bleed called him out on this, and I was initially a bit put off by the tone his reply, but I think that he had a point to make. Just because one person approves it, or covets it, does not mean that it is necessarily a good buy. Unless, of course, the person recommending it is a sensei associated with the NBTHK or an equally qualified expert. The seller is "reliable". Of course he is. Someone paid him $3100 for a mediocre piece. He is laughing all the way to the bank. Yes, that Enju is very nice! That particular dealer is very reliable. But now you are referring to sword that costs over four times what the unattributed $3100 sword cost! This is just dreaming. I am very wary of "recommendations" now. You have to know what is good, and what you want. There are too many distractions on the internet and on this forum. Quote from Steve Jobs: Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Alan
  10. Yes, ideally the safe should be hidden (a closet, for example) and secured so that it can not be moved or tipped over. First and foremost, one should have an alarm system (monitored preferably). That will put some time pressure on the thieves. Get two safes: The better safe hidden. A cheaper, decoy safe, which is in an obvious location to distract the thieves and buy more time. Alan
  11. Marius, you are a supercilious nincompoop! Obviously he can't read Japanese, otherwise he wouldn't be asking for help. This is not "reading" that you are referring to. You are referring him to a page with kanji symbols in the hopes of finding something that perhaps closely matches the freehand symbols on his sword. If he is lucky, he might be able to pick out a "symbol" that remotely matches the symbols on his sword. It is more akin to decoding (deciphering), than actually "reading" Japanese kanji. This ability doesn't come naturally to everyone. It comes with time and perseverance. Your reply was disguised as an encouragement to learn Japanese (plus a very nice laughing smiley emoticon!), but I think that it was a horse-s**t reply. If I could help John L. with a translation, I would. Unfortunately, I can't. This forum pisses me off most times. There is a certain "attitude". Alan
  12. Loco Al

    New Kantei Form

    I think that it has already been well established that the has more than just drifted my way. Perhaps I am already so deeply buried in that snowdrift, that there is no hope for rescue. I did not see any ambiguity in that sentence by Kronos where he said, "and i doubt anyone else spent anywhere near that time". Perhaps then, the only ambiguity was the "crazy" emoticon at the end of the sentence. I apologize if I misinterpreted that as something other than self-deprecation. It prompted Jussi Ekholm to "confess" that he spent over two hours on his kantei guess. I am sorry, James. Things are said sometimes that are not necessarily intended to inflame, but may be misinterpreted as such. You did not get lucky, James. This was a most astute kantei, given just the kantei sheet and the few poor photos provided. You obviously did your homework. Alan
  13. Loco Al

    New Kantei Form

    Have you ever heard the saying: Humble in victory, gracious in defeat? A bit presumptive of you to say that you "doubt anyone else spent near that time". Followed by a "crazy" emoticon? Certainly not very consoling towards other members like Jussi who gave it a good college try (and risked embarrassment if they got it wrong). I know, it's like the pot calling the kettle black (since I have posted some of the most ungracious stuff recently). Kudos to you, Kronos, for arriving at the correct attribution. Myself, I probably spent well over four hours (possibly much more) poring through the Connoisseur's Book and searching for information online. I am still relatively inexperienced, and perhaps somewhat stupid. As Ken-Hawaii suggested (he tipped us off), it might belong to the Rai school, I was leaning toward a Rai school attribution. Jean gave us the clue that it did not have a high shinogi. Therefore, that ruled out most of the Yamato schools. There was also the perplexity of the shirake utsuri and the itame hada (with some masame hada). At one point, I was also wondering if it might be a Rai copy by the Muromachi smith Kanesada (No Sada). It was a very entertaining exercise, and I learned much from it. Thank you, Jean. Alan
  14. This unsigned Meiji period stand was up for "auction" recently on Aoi Art. I was the second early bidder, but new bidders pushed the price up considerably a day or two before the close. Had to have it though. At least the shipping was included. Not in perfect condition, but that was apparent from the photos that Aoi Art showed on their website. After all, it's an old antique and imperfection might be expected (as with old swords, I am told). There are some dings on the base, there is a good scratch on the back of the upright pole, and the "pole" is a tad loose in the base. Nothing that can't be fixed, but I think that I will just leave it as is. It was shipped EMS, and I had it within five days (over the weekend). It was very well packaged in a kiri box. Aoi Art kept me well informed with emails. Included some photos with a koshirae in place (even if the wrong way round). Alan
  15. Dear NMB members, This might be a bit off topic. Although this thread has already strayed off topic a bit, where it has now become a discussion about the relative value and station of wakizashi (or the station of the Japanese who originally owned them). Anyway, I would like to apologize to Darcy and all the members that I insulted with my irrational and immature response to his essay. The short essay was well composed and very convincing. He made some very good points, especially the one near his conclusion where he said that "people should always try to consolidate, to have fewer and better things, go vertical instead of horizontal..." I was thinking that I should have just quietly left the forum after my last post. I can hear you all applauding. Was I hoping to get myself banned with that post? Perhaps. I have no excuses for my behaviour. When I posted that bit about the two types of well-heeled buyers, it was in response to Brian’s comment about there being "a group of buyers for whom price is not a consideration..." It was an observation that I could not resist replying to. My proposition, which was likely the inspiration for Darcy's essay, was perhaps ridiculous and should be insulting to those with much extra money to invest in high-value swords. Cheeky sword fitting collectors notwithstanding. Alan
  16. Welcome to Nihontoholics, Pete! Everyone say "hi" to Peter! We understand that you are still a bit defensive and wary, but it took courage to show up at this meeting. We applaud you for that. We are here for you, Pete. Alan
  17. I just had to comment on this post. Dripping with sarcasm, it was the funniest thing I have seen Jean post on this forum in the short while I have been attending this forum. Several posts back, someone dredged up the old mantra about newbies being ill-treated. They are often asking for opinions about junky swords that they have hastily acquired on ebay, or not so special swords that they have acquired by way of inheritance. They are asking for the expert opinion of people who may have 20 years or more experience in collecting nihonto. It is understandable that the experts become impatient with such constant requests for opinions, but it is also not necessarily incumbent upon the experts to offer their educated opinion. Perhaps it is their prerogative to sound a bit condescending, and it may be forgivable to treat some inquiries with disdain. If a "newbie" (having been told the hard truth) later decides that he wants to continue with this pursuit, he will likely be rewarded with good swords in the future. Just call me an idiot. That's the gist of it. If you haven't the money, the time, or the patience, then this hobby is not for you. Elsewhere on this forum, I am sure that I quoted this one dealer's comment before. He said to me: Swords are toys, expensive toys, but toys nonetheless. Alan
  18. If it is not fair to discuss price differences between different countries in "threads such as this", then where is it appropriate to bring up such a discussion? Should one start a new topic in the General Nihonto section, or is this just a touchy subject that is considered to be generally verboten on the NMB? This is a multinational community of nihonto enthusiasts, and I would think that this is a topic that should naturally be of interest to all members. The well informed buyer would naturally want to ensure that he is getting value for money, and should be careful to compare prices for similar swords across the market. If one finds a desirable sword in a particular country which (after having accounted for differences in country specific taxes and shipping rates) still seems expensive, then perhaps it is too expensive. What this eventually boils down to, is that some dealers may be charging a substantial premium on their goods for various reasons. If members aren't permitted to discuss price differences and gross aberrations openly in this forum, then they have to do it privately. If they are not well connected, then that may be difficult. After all, most dealers are not willing to discuss or comment on the prices of their competitors swords. You said that "there are a group of buyers for whom price is not a consideration, and they are based on service or tradition." Those types of buyers, I suspect, must be a relatively privileged few for whom a $100,000 sword is chump change. They likely fall into one of two categories: 1. Knowledgeable, knows what he wants, but blessed with so much money that it doesn't matter if it is overpriced. 2. Naïve, but trusting. Buying into the hype provided by a dealer about sword "A", and made to believe that it is the pick of the litter and very exclusive. He's flattered and encouraged to return. As with type 1., he has so much money that it never occurs to him to seek other expert opinions about his recent acquisition. He will only find out the hard truth when it comes time to sell his sword, and no one wants to pay anything close to what he paid for it originally. Lastly: Of course there would be a difference between the prices at a dealers' auction and at Choshuya Ginza. Wholesale vs retail price in a shop that has much overhead. Alan
  19. In Canada, antiques over 100 years are exempt from duty. One still has to pay 5% GST (goods and services tax). However, depending upon which province you reside in, you may have to pay additional provincial sales taxes (or RST, retail sales tax). In Ontario for example, they have a Harmonized Sales Tax which is the GST 5% + RST 8% (for a total of 13%). I reside in Alberta where there is still no provincial sales tax, so I only have to pay the 5% GST. Alan
  20. This straying off topic, but just an observation: Looking at the pictures on Strebel's website, that is a pretty fancy shop he has. The bulk of his business is in jewellery and Uhren (watches), I suspect. His swords are probably a niche thing on the side. I am sure that his overhead is considerable with such a fancy shop, and this would have to be passed on in the markup of items for sale. If he were to sell a sword to someone outside of Germany, then surely the VAT would be refundable. Either the buyer would be able to claim it back, or Mr. Strebel would claim it back and would be able to offer the sword to the foreign buyer at the correspondingly reduced price (exclusive of VAT). As a foreigner, if you bought the sword in his store (in person), then you would be able to submit a claim for the VAT after you took it out of Germany. Alan
  21. Loco Al


    No need to apologize to me, Ian. Instead, I should rather be apologizing to you. I would also like to thank Brian for attempting to clarify the point I was trying to make. I tend to be not very diplomatic in my responses to other member's posts. Like you, I am still learning. I have no way near the level of expertise as Chris, or Jean, or Darcy. I have been fortunate enough to have acquired two very nice swords, but I was well tutored and advised in regard to those purchases. You finally supplied us with the most important bit of missing information (other than the dimensions of the sword): The price. 400,000 Yen is approximately $4000 Canadian dollars. That's a considerable sum. As Chris said, there were many who signed Moriie. Evident from the photos, there is damage to the mune in at least two places and there appears to be pitting in the hi near the kissaki. I am sure that it would be quite expensive to restore this sword. You might find a hidden gem stateside, but not in Japan I would think. Even if this shirasaya maker was not well connected, he would only have to walk it into one of the better shops in Tokyo to ask for an opinion. If it were deemed to have been something special, then I don't think that he would be offering it to you (or anyone else) in that condition. Even if this sword was judged to be worth 400,000 Yen, I would not want it in that condition. It might be very difficult to get your money back in the future. Just my opinion. Chris's last response to you in this thread was most genuine, I thought. Alan
  22. Chris, It would have been helpful if you were to have included the converted values in centimeters for those old shakkanhō units of measure. You might be quite familiar with it, but I suspect that most of us are not. Alan
  23. There are two Juyo Shikkake swords presently for sale on Aoi Art: One is the shorter blade with the koshirae. http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-shikkake-nbthk-36th-juyo-token The other one is in the auction section. It is 69cm and does not come with fittings. http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-shikkake-school37th-nbthk-juyo-paper I think that it is difficult to compare the condition of Aoi's Shikkakes to Mr. Strebel's Shikkake because of the different style of photographs provided. I suspect that if Mr. Strebel's blade were photographed (or scanned) the same way that Aoi Art does theirs, then you might see similar small imperfections. Those large full-length scans show off every little imperfection and detail in the hada. Otherwise, it's not a fair comparison. Alan
  24. That Shikkake blade does look pretty nice to me also. It may not be fair to compare these blades based upon the photos provided on Aoi Art's website alone. There does seem to be some variation in the quality of the photos on their website for various pieces. One would probably have to see both swords in hand to make the ultimate comparison. If Jean hadn't brought our attention to it, it would have probably gone totally unnoticed. In spite of his recommendation, there were only two bidders (which surprised me somewhat). Still, 1,100,000 Yen is a fair chunk of change for most people. Am I the only one who doesn't check Aoi's website every day? Even if I did, I probably would still have overlooked this sword. Just because I don't know any better. This auction business on Aoi's site still has me a bit suspicious. It's not like they are giving them away, and is the whole exercise just a gambit to move swords that might otherwise not sell in short order? For example: Now they have a Fukuoka Ichimonji up for auction at starting price of 6,500,000 Yen! Hardly a bargain, even if you get it for that price (just my opinion). If it gets bid up much higher, then it gets ridiculous. I'd be surprised if they even get one bidder for it, but we'll see. In that price range, I think that most serious buyers would rather prefer to negotiate directly with the seller. Rather than be goaded into a bidding contest. Alan
  25. Loco Al


    You were "offered" this katana from Japan? Too little information in the opening thread. How did you come to be "offered" this katana, and by whom? Have you dealt with this seller before, or did you seek him out initially. Don't worry! I do not think that anyone else here is going to be in a hurry to scoop it out from under you based upon the poor condition of the sword, the suspect attribution, and the pitiful presentation in the blurry photos. Just look at the setting in which it has been so poorly photographed and presented (unless those are perchance your own photos and you already bought it). Heed carefully what Darcy said: You really need to be careful with this kind of thing. If you really fancy a Moriie, I would save my pennies for something authenticated. Alan
  • Create New...