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izardofwoz

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About izardofwoz

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    Nick W.

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  1. Possibly the blade was retempered at some point, and a second smith added his signature, along with a distinctly different hamon? ~N
  2. Hi Eckart, I'd look at the hamon termination as a bit suspect, too. If the blade has been shortened significantly, so that 'new' tang is formed over part of the blade that had previoulsy been polished, the hamon should run deeper into the tang, not stop short of the hamachi, as it seems to do here. Unless the sword as a whole had been retempered, creating a new hamon (without getting into too much detail, often this creates a stylistic contrast with the original/alleged smith's work). This would also help explain the very white, bright metal of the hamon boundary, although this isn't uncommon in perfectly authentic shin-shinto period work, either (I have an example myself); and possibly also contributes to the 'tiredness' of the surface metal. The concept of tiredness is a bit harder to define. You get a feel for it after you get a chance to examine a number of antique and/or well-used blades, but you might imagine that repeated or heavy repolishing, ie, grinding down the hard surface steel, especially at the ji and ha, produces a more coarse, almost uneven appearance to the grain, the hada, whatever it's pattern might be (itame, mokume, etc). At the extreme, the hamon becomes quite shallow, as some of it's metal at the edge is lost, and the blade might show 'ware,' or openings in the grain, potentially deep enough to expose the softer iron core of the sword. It can be hard to discern between a high quality, but worn, blade, and one that was wasn't forged to the same standards, or perhaps flawed in the hardening & tempering process. Now, none of all this means that a sword is completely worthless, or an outright fake. The question is, if you want it, how much should you pay? And also, do you want it for what it is, or for what the seller wants you to think that it is? The gaudy painting over of the signature is, of course, the main thing. Once that's settled, as pointed out by previous posters, you know beyond reasonable doubt that the intent is to deceive. And not to deceive an expert or connoisseur, but a rube. Nobody would do that to even a modestly valuable sword. In fact, nobody would do anything to the tang at all, except maybe to add fresh file marks ('yasurime') to the previously-polished surface, or drill a new mekugi hole if remounting the blade. If the signature says 'Masamune' or 'Yasutsuna' or some other museum-quality mei of legend, then it's just that much more stupid. So, is the blade of any value at all? I think, probably a little. It's dangerous to judge from a few pictures, but this seems to be an authentically forged Japanese sword, with a real hada and hamon, probably the work of second rate smith(s), maybe shin-shinto or newer, which still makes it an antique, mind. It might be 2-300 years old. It looks a bit worn down, and/or not forged all that tightly from the beginning, and we still have to entertain the possibility of it's being cut down and/or retempered. Which is all okay: Most of the time, one isn't obscuring the work of a famous smith's masterpiece by keeping an old sword in service that way; there's plenty of good company out there..and this is a good thing, because we average-income consumers can have a genuine Japanese sword and see & admire the details of all the metalwork that goes into it. Plus the mountings, if they're authentic and of value. But there's no need to overpay. That's why it's important to identify deception when you see it. If the seller of this sword was claiming to your face that it's a valuable, papered antique, and asking, say US$5000-10,000 or more, then that's silly. There're plenty of shin-shinto, even shinto and late koto blades to be had with decent old polish and no major ware or failures, for much less. Note also that I say 'blade.' Quality swords are generally kept and sold in shirasaya only. If the furniture is available and/or valuable in itself, one would expect it to be mounted on a wood or bamboo spacer. There're lots of exceptions and qualifications to all I've said, and plenty more besides, but I hoped to give you a little scope into the likely maximum value of your sword as pictured, at least as determined by your ability to sell it to someone else knowledgable. Cheers, ~Woz
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