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Apercus last won the day on February 8 2021

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About Apercus

  • Birthday 10/26/1952

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    I’m interested in the metallurgy and archeotechnology of Nihonto from all eras and in the artistic /aesthetic aspects.

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    Shannon H.

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  1. I had not planned to make any comments on this line of discussion. I’ve found that most people come to the discussion like this with preconceived conclusions based on a little knowledge and state those ideas as incontrovertible truth that can’t be challenged. e.g. “Modern mono-steels are always best”, “Japanese smiths used inferior steels”, “nothing can compare to a modern tool steel”, etc. With the rid of being vilified and derided I will offer a small amount of my own observations and then bow out of the discussion. There is no performance testing comparing modern blades with ancient blades so “conclusions” should be stated as speculation. I also hope no one ever tries to do performance testing on a historical piece. I haven’t seen rigorous comparative testing between modern traditional blades and modern non- traditional blades so predicting those outcomes is just speculation. There are many different types of construction techniques employed by different smiths, including heat treatment, steel composition, etc. You would need to look at the product of each smith to evaluate comparatively. A traditionally made blade is a metal to metal composite which likely has structural advantages over a mono- steel. One of these is resistance to crack propagation. I have used X-ray fluorescence to evaluate alloy composition of a tachi made in the early 1200s. I found iron, .7% carbon, and .05% titanium (an ideal concentration for thermomechanical processing). There were no other “impurities to 5 decimal places. I don’t know if it’s even possible to buy modern steel commercially that clean. Certainly 95% of modern tool steel doesn’t come close to that. Simply machining or grinding a modern tool steel to shape is not the equivalent of forging. The microstructure and grain size can be improved with forge work. Thermomechanical processing (forging with he presence of a microalloying element such as titanium) is a process that increases both the hardness and toughness at the same time. These are just a few considerations I’ve mentioned. I’m sure there are antique blades that could be outperformed by a modern Howard Clark blade but I don’t know if his work would be as sound in application as a blade by Yoshindo Yoshihara. Until there is controlled comparative testing none of us know. We should not represent speculation as fact in the meantime. I’ll go crawl back to my corner now.
  2. Beautiful work. You will get a lot of opinion but you won’t get a lot of certainty without shinsa. The logical step would be to submit it then decide about polish when you know the results. I would probably send it for polish whether it was economical to do so or not just because I like it.
  3. I work in Columbus Georgia and I have a little experience and a lot of reference books that we could go through to help determine what you have if you are ever in this area. There are probably members closer to you and certainly many who know more than I do. Just letting you know I’m available if you pass this way.
  4. I learn something every time I read one of your posts. Thanks for taking the time to share information.
  5. I’ve had a few close calls and spent time thinking about this subject. One of my sons collects Japanese swords and we often trade books and blades between us. Another son is also interested, knowledgeable and would properly care for them. I think I will just continue to enjoy what I have knowing they will be taken care of or sold to other collectors who will preserve them when I’m gone. I’m doing my part to continue the study and preservation of Japanese swords and art by leaving two collectors to replace me.
  6. I still have my first blade. I was going to sell it to upgrade my collection but I haven’t stumbled across anything I like more than this first juyo Ichimonji kamakura period tachi. I’m still looking.
  7. I work in Columbus. I’m no expert but I have a lot of reference books and and a little knowledge that I’ll freely share if you are in the area.
  8. Looks like that is a strong possibility from what I can see when comparing the photo you posted with what is left on the tsuba. The edges were hammered to create the flared out edges and roll over effect. If this was done after the mei was added it could account for the beat up appearance. Thanks for the response. I was just curious. The iron does not look too particularly old to me.
  9. It’s been treated poorly. There are traces of lacquer remaining and deep pitting on the outside edges. There was active rust on it when it arrived. I bought it because I was curious of the style and forge techniques. I thought it would be interesting to study.
  10. This has been a great discussion. Thanks to all who are contributing to it.
  11. The focus is perhaps a little better on this photo.
  12. I don’t know if there is enough left of this signature to get anywhere. I don’t know a lot about tsuba but I have a number of reference books that I can go to. Can anyone point me in the right direction for schools or era? It’s 5.8 cm by 6.2 cm and .9cm at the outside edges.
  13. X-ray fluorescence equipment could tell you what alloy composition you have without damage to the blade. Some of the larger salvage yards have that equipment and can be talked into running a quick test. It just takes a minute and provides accurate alloy composition in percents. I would be interested in any such data on Japanese blades that anyone in the group gathers. It would be interesting to create a database of alloy composition by schools, smiths, and periods. If I ever win the lottery I might spend the $50 K for the equipment and bring it to a show.
  14. I haven’t had the opportunity to donate to this project. I will if there is a method to do so.
  15. I might drive from Alabama quarterly to hear Markus. Let me know if this develops. Shannon Hogg
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