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Valric

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Valric last won the day on April 9 2019

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About Valric

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    Christopher H.

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  1. Lovely argument and very true. Set a time horizon and abide to it. Reselling and upgrading is part of the fun also, and not too difficult as long as you set yourself to a few blades at the time. I saw this one and I thought it was fine piece for the price, I do not know if this was a kirikomi or just a flaw. I like Kirikomi, so these tend to be neutral (or a positive) to me. In any case it's the best place to have a flaw, in the mune. Often one can negotiate a little off the price, depending on the dealer's belief about opportunity cost of providing the discount. This is where investigation becomes interesting. Some dealers add provenance because of a mon on a koshirae (which is very weak as an argument) - most often, there is some other evidence, such as writing on an old sayagaki, ranging from weak to strong. In any case, these need to be investigated carefully, and sometimes one can find absolutely stellar stories behind a sword. Like here. Few things are more rewarding in the hobby! The level of photography precludes any strong conclusions, and this is the case with 95% of dealer photos unfortunately. I have someone in Japan who is highly trustworthy and quite exceptional at taking videos and inspecting blades which are candidate for acquisition, his name is Ohira and he speaks excellent english (info@shoubudou.co.jp). Highly recommended. Agree! Issaku Koshirae is where it's at. I would however object about "none of these" - The Nubukini tanto koshirae linked here, and perhaps the Naoe Shizu Koshirae (needs better photo) have collectible value in and for themselves. Some simple mon-based designs with fine nanako and consistent presentation are attractive and collectible like here. At the highest level one can find things like this sublime Ikkin issaku here. Most often, these get separated to extract an extra million yen or so. Best protection against this practice is the mention of the koshirae on the Juyo paper (Some examples here.)
  2. Indeed, I did raise the cost factor - but the reality for most of us is that one purchase down the line leads to another. That’s one of the main reason that patience is the king of virtue in the hobby. It’s wiser to wait, study, and buy one wonderful piece than to scatter into many lesser ones. Grow your bonsai garden. For the cost of two mid grade Shinto blade, you could get a Koto piece with period koshirae, some putatively interesting provenance. That’s a qualitative jump.
  3. Here is an example of something good to aim for: https://aoyamafudo.co.jp/product_en/1134/ -Naoe Shizu, an upper tier school of the late Koto period. -Real Koshirae (not some cobbled-up mess for westerners) -Some interesting history of ownership which can open up interesting discoveries.
  4. Big no. Wouldn't touch any of these with a ten foot pole. Be careful with Shinto, the slightest flaw, suriage, machi-okuri, or worst offender - mumei, will squash the value of these blades. If you do opt for a mumei shinto/shinshinto blade, wait for a big badass name as attribution on the paper - it probably won't be that guy, but it at least says "it's a great blade". You can get a Naotane, Horikawa, etc, this way. The thing is at the starting stage of your journey, you don't even know what to like. If you want something for your budget which is nice and priced for fast clearance, go to the least traveled roads. And I don't mean dumpster diving on YJP! either. Go the the little guys without a big western audience. For example: https://tokka.biz/sword/ietsugu2.html https://tokka.biz/sword/suesa3.html https://tokka.biz/sword/nobukuni5.html https://tokka.biz/sword/tsunahiro3.html https://tokka.biz/sword/aoe2.html https://tokka.biz/sword/sadatsuna.html This dealer specializes in buying lowest and selling low within the 8-10K range. Just refresh frequently enough and inevitably you'll find a nice Aoe, Sue-Sa, Nobukuni, Bizen, Naotsuna school, etc, with once in a blue moon a real koshirae (not made up stuff! For example: how cute is that?). Aim for pre-muromachi if you can. Much more forgiving period in terms of condition and you don't need a microscope and a PhD in Nihonto to avoid getting burned. Once you find one you like, just don't hold the tire kicker and ask a million questions. PM someone knowledgeable if you feel like it, and just buy it. Just arm yourself with patience and good counsel. Avoid Facebook-Sensei, and especially the type of Sensei that want to sell you their secret blades. Another great way to find a good blade is to look at the forum offerings, sometimes you'll find great things here. The better path is to invest into a ticket to Japan for 2022 when the country finally opens up, and good look at treasures there. Train your eye, learn what you like, build you war chest and prepare the fertile soil to grow your bonzai garden (a lot in common between bonzai and nihonto).
  5. The mega yari's were most often shrine offering. They were sized to be wielded by the Kami. You'll find a similar thing with massive O-dachi that no human could possibly handle.
  6. Congrats. TH for tosogu is a lot harder than for swords (where it's a checklist, more or less). I think in the case of this fine work it was an easy pass. The Battle Royal for Tosogu is at Juyo, it's even harder than for swords (and arguably, a little bit more luck involved). Teruaki doesn't have any work at Juyo: it's all first Masayoshi, then Masatsune and Masaaki accounting for 90%, with a few Koreyoshi and Koretsune, and a few later students here and there. Some contemporary of Teruaki too. I wouldn't rule out that one day a Teruaki will be accepted and pass. Overall it's one of the supreme schools of Tosogu.
  7. It's quite simple. The politics is "make money". The credence is zero, except for buyers, in which it becomes real papers. The aficionados are also known as externally as "Suckers" and internally as "True connoisseurs". The factions are "make money" and "make more money". The drama is the usual drama: NBHTK is corrupt, fake, etc, green papers better than new papers, join our facebook group, all these things. Now since it's Osaka, Osaka vs Tokyo is a well-known factional warfare. The selling point I suppose is "those Tokyo people know nothing. We are OSAAAAKAAAAAAAAAAAAA" I still think we should issue NMB kanteisho.
  8. A typical kanteisho issued by Swindle-San from the pre-facebook sensei era.
  9. And indeed, most "Koshirae" today you'll see on sites such as Aoe Japan are patchworks bought by the kilo, and fitted to the blade by filing inside of the tsuka. The reason is obviously business: swords with koshirae sell better than single swords. The biggest difference between Japan and the West is that the Japanese see these items are naturally separate, whereas we Westerners seek the full package. Preserved high-level Koshirae from late-mid to late Edo tend to follow a single theme, or more specifically a single story with motives following tradition. You'll find flowers and shishi, waves and marine life, dragons and clouds, tigers and bamboo, chinese sages at different moments of their journey, dragonflies and pond foliage, deities with auspicious symbols, etc. More often than not, there is a real fable to each and it needs to be read in context. Each piece contributes to the whole. The closer you get to Meiji, the more conspicuous the expression, the greater the relief, the more daring the interpretation. In the wake of Somin's creative (and norm-shattering) genius, offspring schools specialised in certain themes: birds and foliage for Ishiguro, waves and marine life for Omori, etc. Early to mid edo, conventions were much stricter. There you'll see most often Clan Mons and formal attires. Sometimes multiple Mons are present to celebrate a particular union between clans, such as weddings and new allegiances. Another classic come to us from the early Goto masters, where formalized designs were repeated with little (but significant) variations between the early masters. Then you have Higo, which was its own world really. Higo had a classical form of mix-and-match: you'll see Ko-Goto Mitokoromono, often sea themes, with F/K and Tsuba by a Higo master. These reflected the austere tastes of the tea ceremony, and for many it is an acquired taste. For the Shoguns of the early days, mix-and-matching did occur quite frequently. A nobuie tsuba with solid gold F/K comes to mind. Not everyone was allowed to play with such formal things! A good way to think about Koshirae is in terms of sumptuary laws. Only few were allowed to do this, and the rules became quite formalised over time: you simply weren't allowed to go with the fashion of your choice at the Shogun's court. Treasured swords had multiple koshirae for different occasions, reflecting the social code of the time and the rank of the wearer. See here for an example - one koshirae for the most formal of occasions, and one for the more relaxed setting. Older koshirae of the muromachi and nanbokucho period often had flower motives engraved, the so-called Ezo and Ko-Mino classical themes. Unfortunately, the curse of knowledge makes it that once you've gained familiarity on the topic, you never quite can get satisfaction back from those patchwork koshirae. Beware! Finally, the tradition of "boxing" tosogu didn't start with 20th century collectors: Old Daimyo families did box their precious Ko-Goto Mitokoromono, and these were accepted as gifts for special occasion - and spare part for the fabrication of new koshirae. In old family catalogues, you'll see remnants of this practice, with vast collections of Tosogu preserved in boxes and documented by the Goto family for their provenance, makers, and various notes. Nowadays, breaking up a Koshirae to make an extra million yen on the sale of the box breaks my heart, but financial incentives being what they are - and with sufficient time - it is probably the case that the few remaining Koshirae will suffer the same fate at some point in the future. Pity!
  10. Early Juyo setsumei need to be further contextalized. They are often quite "critical" especially compared to more modern ones - I believe they benchmark their comparisons to the Jubun/Kokuho, and everything else feels a little tired in comparison. This is a great sword. Early Juyo with Daimyo provenance. I especially like the Boshi's nie structures and the well-preserved, ultra-fine hada.
  11. Koshirae feels Meiji to me. Omori inspired certainly and well executed, but Teruhide? I have doubts. Good question...
  12. NGMI. Translate first, then buy the sword. The setsumei is critical to any purchase/collecting decision. If you can afford a Juyo blade you can afford a 50$ professional translation.
  13. The price is SO good that it CANNOT POSSIBLY BE GIMEI. HARKEN! The TYRANNY of the NBHTK is getting between us and our TREASURES. Their reign of TERROR with their so-called "SHINSA" has brought nothing but grief and desolation upon our HOLY TROVES. A click of PROFITEERS in cahoot with DEALERS! How dare they assert our treasures as GIMEI? I have spent decades with MY blades, studying them over the glimmers of moonlight practicing ANCESTRAL UCHIKO RITES. I know what I own better than anyone else ever could. Remember the good OLDEN TIMES OF GREEN PAPERS? Before the adversary's foul plot to spread PROPAGANDA to discredit them and enrich themselves at our COST? We must return to older, purer days. RISE UP! RISE UP NMB! Together we shall issue a new form of paper, a PURER FORM! One born out of TRUE KNOWLEDGE. Down with HOZON! Down with JUYO! Let us issue our own NMB Kanteisho! Down with the TYRANTS! Unite. Rise up. I will show you the truth. Join my Facebook group. I'll show you some blades, and if you're lucky, I might gift one to you for a fraction of its true value.
  14. Danger zone refers to the liquidity in the market and the time horizon needed to conclude a sale. Liquidity concentrates at the bottom (0.5-5K blades) and at the top (ultra desirable rarities), the bottom of the ladder of each categories (e.g. "CHEAP" JUYO or "CHEAP" Big Name) and the roulette blade (no papers, green papers, etc). The reason for the top categories is that there are a couple of big whales in Japan with museum-level ambitions that will gobble up the top of the inventory of each dealers and leave the rest for them to "sort it out" with broader retail. Sometimes the whale leave something precious behind, sometimes someone doesn't want to deal with the whales, etc. They aren't gentle whales, but rather great whites one could say. At the bottom you have constant demand due to the collectors who focus on having a lot of blades and new entrants in the hobby. There will always be a market there. This is self-explanatory. Then you have the bargain seekers who see a Juyo blade for 1.5M yen and think it's mispriced and will jump on it immediately. Often the blade in question will end up being something like a Juyo 21 Yamato Shikkake Wako which is fugly and unremarkable overall, with no chance of passing Juyo today. Cheap Juyo is a very liquid market in the West because what you're doing is essentially sending signals that you're undercutting Tsuruta, and since everyone uses Tsuruta for price discovery, it works very well and sells fast. Danger zone is when you're not anywhere near any of these three categories. A good shinto smith like Nobuhide with TH paper is right into the danger zone. Too expensive for new entrants, too expensive for the bargain cheap juyo hunters, and undesirable by the whales. The only way out is to flush is by taking a substantial loss, or sell it on consignment and wait for eons. The roulette blades also appeal to a broad range of bargain hunters. In some cases, it's even advantageous to toss the hozon (small name) in the bin and to put up the green papers (BIG NAME) in the auction alongside with some dubious old provenance to get the apes to gamble. Especially for things like HIROMITSU (green paper) / Shimada (hozon) or MASAMUNE (green paper) / mumei shinto (hozon) etc. These generally find a good home on Yahoo auction, but you'll find them sometimes in big auctions in Europe. Most important is that the blade needs to look somewhat like an old thing. Add a coffee-stained "honami origami" and a fake Sayagaki and you're in business. I wouldn't recommend going there... And there is nothing wrong with collecting the danger zone. if anything it's the honorable pond to fish in because it's born out of love and not greed. Just know what you're getting yourself into.
  15. It's a question of business model. Having a shop in Ginza with a dozen employee will have a minimum margin requirement to survive compared to solo operation with website real estate. Competent dealers in Japan have very clear internal systems of pricing. These are "discovered" in the Japanese internal auctions. Dealers will pay what they believe clients will buy at minus the risk premium of not selling the item and the opportunity cost of capital. Once all of this is factored out, there needs to remain a profit or the dealer will go bust. "hmm...Yukimitsu, early Juyo, 72cm, I can get XX at Japanese auction". Note that these are heuristics but there is a relatively high degree of inter-dealer correlation. The price expected in the Japanese auction forms the baseline value, or the fallback value in case the item doesn't sell and the dealer needs liquidity and the items needs to be flushed out to the next dealer. The rest is a matter of business model. It's a tough and extremely competitive business. There are too many dealers given the relatively small population of aging collectors, where a few whales reign supreme.
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