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Valric

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Everything posted by Valric

  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

    kantei

    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

    kantei

    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

    kantei

    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.
  16. Hi Giulio, There is indeed Nijuba drawn in the Oshigata. See section below. Hope this helps!
  17. Hi Gulio and welcome. This is a patch of clustered ara-nie with a tendency towards nie kuzure. These form large crystals of standing-out nie that are discernible easily to the naked eye. What's occurring here is that the hardening process fluctuates between nie and nioi, with unevenness in the expression, density, and size of the nie crystals. This can be due to either materials being unevenly mixed, or to the quenching temperature differential between slightly different between sections of the blade. The ara-nie of smiths such as Shizu Kaneuji is a valuable kantei point, and considered a positive trait and deliberate (i.e. reflecting the smith's intention). Ara-nie has a strong presence in the mino tradition, and later in Shinto (which was inherited from Mino, broadly speaking). As you move away from Kaneuji, Ara-nie is considered more accidental than deliberate. Hotsure appears as fraying threads of fine nie crystals, typically a trait of Yamato-den. Nijuba you'll fine as a parallel repetitions of the nioiguchi, typically on early Bizen tachi and Yamashiro work more generally. Hope this helps, good luck in your study. Don't hesitate should have any questions.
  18. Very typically Mino. You have distinctive and sharp gunome elements, which evokes the Kanemoto School although without the three-peak pattern. The masame in the ha with sunagashi and intertwined nie comes from Yamato and harkens back to Kaneuji settling in Mino. I would situate it between Koto Naoe Shizu and Muromachi Kanemoto, as it fits well in between as a transitional piece. Early-to-mid Muromachi Mino.
  19. Dear Valentina, 

     

    Some related question - is the item in Russia presently? Is it part of a broader collection you are looking to sell? Since I have business operations in your country, I can organise the export.

     

    Best,

     

    Christopher Hill

  20. Hi Valentina, 

     

    I'm a collector in switzerland, and I'm interested in your koshirae. What's your asking price?

     

    Best,

     

    Christopher Hill

  21. From the shape: Nanbokucho, Momoyama or Shinshinto. Now elimination begins: From the Boshi: Ichimai with long kaeri. Koto: Go/Sa school. Momoyama: Yasutsugu, Horikawa school, Shinkai. Hamon: angular (box-like) choji in nioi-deki with profuse tobiyaki, long ashi. No direct koto hit. Hadori is a little hard and follows a notare pattern while the work is executed with angular ups and down. Hada: standing out itame with nie and chikei. Soshu vibe to it. The combination of the boshi stucture, jihada and choji doesn't fit neatly in any obvious Koto box. The work feels one level above shinshinto. Condition: There is either a slight machi-okuri, or none at all. This points to a sword made with nanbokucho sugata in later period length. It is probably ubu, with a second mekugi ana added either to fit a new koshirae or done at the same time the signature was erased to appear koto. Near the Nakago, the hamon begins in a shinto-like fashion. All of this leads me to a Momoyama period smith. Out of these, The Horikawa and Yasutsugu school were some of the most prolific. They have some work compatible with the shape of the boshi, hada and box-like choji. There is a certain koto renaissance inspiration to the work with mix-and-match of the five gokaden. The sword is well executed with a lot of jinie and active hamon which feels slighlty contrived, something with you often see in these koto revival work. This brings me far from my area of focus, but I'll bite: Idea 1: Iga no Kami Kinmichi Idea 2: Yasutsugu
  22. It has the typical shape of a Kanbun shinto piece. The Shinogi is a little wide, but such pieces do exist. Based on the photos, Kissaki has some geometry issues and appears to have been severely re-worked. I can't see the boshi clearly but it appears to run-off on the photo. However, your Oshigata tells a different story: The boshi speaks against Shinto (it has wavy elements, Shinto generally have a continuous straight boshi). The hamon you've drawn also speaks somewhat against Shinto, it appears there is Nijuba (double hamons) and other types of interesting activity (Hataraki) near the Tang. In addition to Nijuba, I see you've drawn some Tobiyaki (floating dots of hardened steel) which are also a trait of some Koto schools. If your drawing is accurate, it's not trivial to conclude what it is. While the shape speaks strongly for the Kanbun period, your oshigata tells a somewhat different story. Good work there trying to understand and illustrate your sword visually, I wish this was a more common practice - and probably one of the best educational tool to truly "get" a sword. Hope this helps.
  23. While I knew that the logo of Mitsubishi had a deep historical footprint in Daimyo history as a Kamon. Little did I know that the Mercedes-Benz was once a Daimyo clan. It all comes together now Jokes aside it's looks to me like an honest Edo period koshirae with a consistent and well executed formal theme.
  24. Sold and upgraded along the way. Same rule here: buy one, sell one, keep the count low and the quality high. Tastes evolve over time, and what was once interesting turns less interesting as one's tastes matures and learns more along the journey.
  25. 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.)
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