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Valric last won the day on April 9 2019

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    Christopher H.

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  1. Aggregating statistical information from different sources (Tukuno, Fujishiro, Pass factor, Kokuho counts...) is the wisest path. One must keep in mind their sources (monetary values of observed sales, historical appreciation, NBHTK's pass factor, ministry of culture...) within their particular historical context and access to source material. None of us here have sampled enough blades to come to approximate the statistical distribution of excellence. We have seen only bits and pieces of the elephant, here and there. Some of us more, others less. But in the grand scheme of things - nothing compares to what some established scholars have handled through history. Stay humble and keep an open mind.
  2. So this is more or less, the canon of the top 10 if memory serves: Masamune (2) Go Yoshihiro (2) Ko-Hoki Yasutsuna (0) Awataguchi Yoshimitsu (1) Sanjo Munechika (0) Ko-Ichimonji Norimune (0) Ko-Ichimonji Yoshifusa (0) Osafune Mitsutada (1) Ko-Bizen Masatsune (0) Ko-Bizen Tomonari (0) In parenthesis, what I've had the chance handled. Sadly not a lot. Some of these smiths are incredibly elusive. Now, personal preference, purely based on what I've been impressed with in the past, or which I am familiar with and that you can reasonably find: - great Aoe - great Taima - Kencho - Hiromitsu - Anything awataguchi - Sa Ichimon - Kagemitsu - Yamato Kanenaga/Norinaga - Nosada Things that are appreciated, but just don't do it for me: - Run of the mill Ichimonji and 'Rai Kunimitsu' - Kinju & co. Anything that gets close to Seki...Seki is the cursed place where the art went to die (exception: Nosada)
  3. My experience has been a welcoming one I must say. Foreigners have an advantage over Japanese: we can walk into a sword shop without second thoughts, visit a famous collector with the right connexions, and basically move freely far outside of the strict norms the Japanese must observe. In my experience there is far more friction between top Japanese collectors than from Japanese collectors to foreign collectors. There are complex webs of intra-dealer/intra-collector dynamics in Japan, and being outside of these webs gives us far more freedom. We are strange creatures outside of their world, and seeing foreigners interested (and most important of all, knowledgeable) in Nihonto is a point of pride and brings joy. Demonstrating knowledge and understanding opens many doors. As for prices, well, this thread inevitably promotes "ladder theory" in one way or another. There are shortcuts but they are noisy. One needs the Zufu volumes, and to study them to contextualize a blade. Translate setsumei, sayagaki, etc. Look for the devil hiding in the detail, and understand where the work sits within the corpus of the smith.
  4. Wonderful to meet more local people interested in Nihonto, thanks for tagging and suggesting.
  5. If you're still on the hunt, here is one which is affordable features an O-kissaki, from the Nambokucho period: https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-hokke-nanbokucho-period/
  6. Relic of the past. Digital libraries are far more efficient and instantly searchable, not to mention much cheaper. Ipad with an instant library of a thousand volume searchable, the cognitive gains are simply immense. The current practice of reading entire volumes containing lists of smiths and work is an incredibly inefficient search methods, and impedes learning. Motivated beginners nowadays can learn at a rate unimaginable in the past and reduce the knowledge asymmetry immensely (and as a side-effect, horse trading income). Paper is tied to demographics. Collectors are a venerable population, in the US I would think it is mostly boomers who could enjoy the bounty hunting period of history. So paper will slowly die out with the cohort. The question is whether or not new blood will enter the overseas market of if it will concentrate back into Japan, which faces a similar albeit extremely skewed population of very wealthy whales competing for the top. Same story with NBTHK papers really. Should be at this stage digital certificates, but the tastes are driven by the demographics. Everything with swords moves slowly due to the preferences of the cohort. In fifty years we might see blockchain-issued NBTHK papers. The new reality will take time to manifest, and Nihonto will probably be one of the last collectibles to shift into the new digital epoch. Which is unfortunate because it reduces the immediate value and appeal of the hobby with newcomers.
  7. It's just badly organised tech-wise. We should have videos at this point of swords, the sort that Ohira-san makes. The problem is that all of this costs money, running a website, doing the videos, documenting, collecting votes in an interesting way, keeping a leaderboard, giving clues, etc. What's the business model here to sustain it? I don't know.
  8. Valric


    Give hints when it's veering off-track by providing some broad clues. It's hard to operate kantei on the internet due to the varying degrees of photographic quality and styles. Another way to give hints is to describe the visual elements on the photography, such as the utsuri, or the boshi. These are traits which are hard to infer upon from photos.
  9. Blades in these shapes were not mass produced as far as I am aware. Another probable case is that this is an early momoyama period work, made mumei later to pass off as Nanbokucho. Seki at this point would lead us to someone associated with Daido, who made blades with O-kissaki in Seki during the early momoyama days.
  10. Jussi, great answer. When a school spans multiple period, they'll often market the place within the most valued period. We saw this with Tsuruta's latest Ko-Bizen, which was bucketed in Heian in the description while belonging to Kamakura. We all have a clear association with Nanbokucho and its characteristic shape, but it's important to remember that schools such as Yamato operated during the Nambokucho period and maintained the earlier shapes. Context is everything and each blade much be analysed without shortcuts.
  11. Valric


    I'd have never guessed. I associate Ayanokoji with Sadatoshi, which generally displays a finer hada, ko-nie, and profuse nijuba. These are also traits of Sanjo/Gojo. I think you style of photo really brings out the traits, but on the downside it makes work seem much rougher than they really are. I was also unsure about the hazy white upper portion, whether it was utsuri, or something else. Those tobiyaki all over the place, the irregular nie and relatively coarse nie and hada, the bright contract with the ha, these attributes bring me elsewhere. Utsuri (if this is utsuri) rules it out though. I went through the records and found some Ayanokoji work (although, in the minority) with tobiyaki drawn in the Oshigata. So much to learn. An enriching experience all in all.
  12. Valric


    Thanks for posting this. Interesting blade. Tobiyaki, irregular nie clusters and incrustations, nioiguchi with violent fluctuations, I would put it squarely into muromachi, Sue-Soshu. Clearly harkens back to Hiromitsu/Akihiro, offshoot later branch. My guess is Shimada.
  13. Weight and balance were not really a factor since the end of the Muromachi period. Occasionally you'll find massive iron tsuba for Nanbokucho slashers. Sturdy and relatively thin was the goal back in the days, for added protection. You'll also find rawhide tsubas that have been lacquered for waterproofing. These were made and used with functionality in mind. In Higo you'll find remnant of this function-first philosophy.
  14. Pretty much slam-dunk Kanemoto school. The Sanbonsugi pattern is highly regular with sharp peaks, at the same time is looks well made and high-quality. I would put it a generation or two after Magoroku. Likely 1570-1600.
  15. I am not certain this qualifies as Nijuba, it seems you have here two structures: a finer nioi-based ha, with a coarser ara-nie based structure above it. In my experience Nijuba has a similar structure to the habuchi (i.e if it is nie-based, the nijuba is nie-based) - but these are technicalities beyond my expertise.
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