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Apercus last won the day on February 8

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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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. This has been a great discussion. Thanks to all who are contributing to it.
  6. The focus is perhaps a little better on this photo.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. I haven’t had the opportunity to donate to this project. I will if there is a method to do so.
  10. I might drive from Alabama quarterly to hear Markus. Let me know if this develops. Shannon Hogg
  11. I was in my 30s working as an engineer. One of my hobbies was blacksmithing at the time and I was deep in the study of ferrous metallurgy at the time. One day a friend said he knew someone who was selling a Japanese sword and wondered if I was interested because of my interest in blacksmithing. It was just $10 so I told him I would take it. I was stunned the next day with what I saw in the metallurgy of this blade. It was obviously very old and made with enormous skill. It was all I could do to hide my excitement and close the deal. I spent the next six years studying this blade by buying books, going to a few sword shows, and enlisting the help of Paul Allman and Dean Hartley. The first collector I showed it to in Georgia told me nothing about it but managed to make an offer of $11,000. When he pulled it from the saya his voice was crackled and his hands started to tremble. That told me more than his words could have. When I was finally sure of what the sword was I decided to have it polished and submitted for shinsa. The first shinsa before polish was by Kotoken Kajihara at a show in Birmingham , Alabama. He attributed it to the first generation Moriie. The NBTHK shinsa after polish left it with Juyo papers and an attribution to the Ichimonji school of the early to mid kamakura period. I still have the tachi and I have been hooked on Nihonto ever since. It’s hard to build a big collection after starting out so well. The blades I like are too expensive so I have spent more on books. I will leave a few nice polished blades and a lot of books when I’m gone for the next generation.
  12. I’ve been lucky enough to stumble across a few nice swords over the last 30 years or so. I’m sure I won’t make any great contributions to the field but I will manage to have a few blades polished, preserved, and rescued from the trash heap. I have also managed to teach my children and grandchildren about Nihonto and bring a few new faces to the study. I will leave them a lot of books and a few nice swords for their growing collections. Be nice to them when you meet them. Shannon Hogg
  13. I had access to the university lab in the materials science department and a scanning electron microscope.
  14. I don’t have access to x-ray florescence equipment anymore. Some of the larger companies that deal with metal salvage use a handheld piece of equipment that provides a partial analysis of the different elements in alloys that is accurate. They use it to sort metals for salvage. All that is required is to hold the equipment against the bare metal for a few seconds. It’s non destructive testing if you’re careful to not scratch the surface you hold it against. That would at least give you a snapshot of the alloy composition. It might not be difficult to talk your way into access to the equipment at some company. Most people are interested in things like that and it requires almost no effort on their part to help.
  15. I have heard many speculations that the kamakura period steel had lots of impurities. I found myself with an early period Ichimonji tachi and access to x-ray florescence equipment so I decided to test that idea non destructively years ago. I found the tachi has varying carbon content . At the edge it is around .8% which is pretty much ideal for hardening. The only other elements detected were .05% titanium by weight and a small amount of silicon. That percentage of titanium exactly matches an ideal saturation for thermomechanical processing in modern steels. It helps keep the grain structure very fine which increases both hardness and toughness. That is the only mechanism that increases hardness and toughness at the same time that I know of. Silicon is added to modern steels to increase toughness. I believe the silicon was introduced as flux in the folding process. Rice husks produce pure silicon when all of the carbon is burned out. There were no other elements or impurities in the steel when analyzed to 5 decimal places. I don’t know of any modern steels that achieve that level of purity except for some electroliticaly refined modern steels. The idea that early Japanese steels were impure or inferior in any way to European steels is incorrect. I have only done x-ray florescence on the Ichimonji tachi so I can’t say that “impurities” are not a factor in the differences between different schools. Some of what we call color variation may be due partially to the reflectivity characteristics of different crystalline micro structures. One of the early metallurgist, Cyril Stanley Smith, came to the conclusion that Japanese metallurgy was the supreme pinnacle of the craft of steel making in human history. I agree with that completely. The Japanese sword is essentially a metal to metal composite of exquisite structure and complexity. I knew nothing of swords when I stumbled across my first one but I was floored by the beauty and craft I saw in the metallurgy. Anyway, that’s just my two cents on the subject.
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