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TomBell

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    Fishing with double handed fly rods, fermenting cider, earth science, pre-history, foraging for mushrooms, fixing anything that breaks

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    TOM BELL

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  1. If this helps, here is a side by side comparison of the last two characters on the sword Peter shows above and my sword. The first characters look very different but the last character looks pretty similar to my untrained eye. I am not suggesting these were done by the same person, only that the last sosho characters look similar. The last two characters on the sosho mei (http://www.nihontocraft.com/Izumi_no_Kami_Kunisada_mei.html figure 4) have more than a passing resemblance to the other three swords. If so, is it more likely to be sada than sugu or tsugu?
  2. Thanks Steve, The second character of the mei on my sword is a little smoother than the last character on the Shinkai mei but they are similar enough to be a convincing match. I found this section of Wada and Massey's article particularly enlightening with regard to use of Sosho assuming Yoshida is correct. I wonder if my sword was made by an apprentice or journeyman. According to Yoshida, Shinkai Kunisada started daimei for his father in the second year of Shoho (1645) with a sosho mei ("grass" or running/cursive style mei) ( Fig.4, 5) . Yoshida said that the reason for starting with a sosho mei may be as follows: Since this daimei was still unofficial, Oya Kunisada did not want Shinkai Kunisada to put the same kaisho-mei (normal or "block letter" style mei), written by an obviously different hand, on the daimei products. Because sosho mei was new, nobody would immediately notice that this was daimei. This may be a reasonable guess. Now if I could find a match for the first one. I am speculating that the first character is 邘 (the radical⻏ looks about right) and if the second character is 貞, can this be translated to Kunisada?
  3. So much to learn about this beautiful art form.

  4. A sword I recently acquired has damage to the ha, muni and ji. Most of the damage is from the middle of the blade increasing out to the kissaki. Of these, a straight cut in the ji with a very steep V cross section is the most intriguing. I don't think this is the result of bushwhacking. The maximum depth were it terminates at the shinogi is ~0.3 mm. It's maximum width at the shinogi is ~0.4 mm. It's length is 6 mm. A distinctive splatter pattern of fine rust on both sides of the blade radiates from the ji. As a complete beginner, I am trying to learn the names of the sword elements so please forgive me if I have mislabeled anything.
  5. TomBell

    Mochi Tetsu

    I ran across this excellent narrative of the tatara smelting process. My interpretation of the use of akome iron sand is partially wrong. It seems it was used exclusively to produce pig iron. My points about the origin of mochi tetsu however still add context to the original question posed by piryohae3. The streambeds below Kamaishi must have been of great value to the local economy.
  6. TomBell

    Mochi Tetsu

    Magnetite is commonly the primary iron mineral mineral in black sands around the world. In the geologically recent terrain of Japan, skarns would be a significant but not exclusive source of magnetite for iron sand. Masa iron sand which contains magnetite appears to be the feed stock for tatara production of small batch steel. From what I can tell, akome iron sand which has a bit of titanium in the magnetite was used as a flux to start the initial melt in the tatara or was used to produce pig iron. There is another potential source of iron that has been recognized since the Iron Age which is known as bog iron ore. This forms when ferrous iron in oxygen depleted groundwater is subsequently oxidized to ferric iron by bacteria in a swamp. This is a low grade source of iron but was widely used to make pig iron in antiquity and even during colonial times in North America. The primary iron minerals are hydrated iron oxides which when dehydrated form hematite (Fe2O3). Self fluxing hematite ores are now the primary feedstock for modern steel production.
  7. TomBell

    Mochi Tetsu

    Mochi Tetsu is high purity magnetite (Fe3O4) ore. It's origin is from a skarn deposit formed where an intrusive igneous body ("granite") makes contact with limestone. The Kamaishi mine in Iwate Province is the largest known copper-magnetite skarn in Japan. This deposit has been mined from the Tokugawa shogunate until the mine closed within the last couple of decades. Alluvial mining in the surrounding drainages probably predated the underground mining. Mochi Tetsu ore originated from these deposits as they were eroded. The magnetite ore fragments were tumbled into rounded cobbles, gravel and sand in the steep drainages that surround these deposits. The larger pieces could be easily recognized in the alluvium due to their density, color and magnetism. Smaller magnetite grains can be separated from less dense mineral grains by gravity methods like panning or sluicing. Like alluvial diamonds or gold, impure lumps of magnetite ore would be more easily broken up during sediment transport resulting in a natural beneficiation process that raised the grade from the 30% iron in the ore body to ~60% iron. Satetsu ore probably originates from skarns as well but has been transported farther from the source. This reduces the magnetite ore to its constituent crystals by abrasion and collisions with other grains in the streams that carry it to the coast. Wave action on beach fronts works as a gravity separation process concentrating it into thin black layers in the beach sand.
  8. Thanks Mark, It does make sense. I have some Asian calligraphy art so I am somewhat familiar with it though cannot read it.
  9. Are calligraphic inscriptions common on swords? I have been looking at images of tangs and have not run across this style yet.
  10. I found this character ⻖ which seems to mean hill but I can't find a Japanese name that is linked to it. If you take into account that all of the characters are stylized, it looks like a plausible match. If the second character is 次 I think you could make the phrase next hill or second hill. When combined, it yielded this 陸 Readings Common reading: りく Riku (male given name) Additional readings: あつし Atsushi (unclassified given name) おか Oka (surname) おく Oku (unclassified person name) くが Kuga (surname) たかし Takashi (unclassified person name) のぼる Noboru (unclassified person name) る Ru (surname)
  11. Thanks to all of you for sound advice and your efforts to identify the mei. Grey, I agree completely that nothing should be disturbed on this sword until more information has been gathered and a qualified person has been found to polish it if at all. I have attached some photos. I don't have a light stand so the composite of the blade is crude but I think you can zoom in to various sections and see some detail.
  12. Thanks to each of you. I will have a full set of pictures after daylight tomorrow. I think you will share my skepticism that this is an ancient blade when you see the pictures. I think polishing the blade might help clear up whether it is hand made or not. I would not dare try this myself but who can do such a thing in the US? I will contact the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston tomorrow and seek advice. I welcome any suggestions from this forum. My wife's colleague Prof Shigeru Miyagawa has just responded to our inquiry "The characters are highly stylized and I could not make out the first one. It appears to be the name of the maker. I checked some references and nothing turned up" which is consistent with Ray's response. We will ask how he interprets the second character(s) since he did not mention it (them). Tom
  13. I found a 98 gunto (?) at an estate sale. After reading posts on this forum I think this was worn by a civilian employed by the Army. There is no tassel and there is no ring for one on the small plain kashira. I doubt that the blade is hand forged but it is dirty and I am not absolutely sure. There are two mounting holes on the tang but the handle only had one makugi and no other holes for another one. Could this be due to a production blade that left an option for a second makugi that was just not utilized? The blade length is 69 cm and it is sharpened to the ha-machi. The saya is leather over wood with an unusual fine diagonal black grain. It has clearly been through the bush based on the gradient of scuffing from kojiri to koigichi. The ito has darkened areas and wear around the sitesone would grip it. There are two menuki, one is a fat smiling Buddha sipping from a large bowl and the other is not so clear though there is a simple sun in the middle. The tsuba appears to be brass with identical ocean waves on front and back. I am looking for the deceased owner's service record to see if he actually fought in the Pacific and where. I think this is the real deal based on very authentic artifacts of various sorts in the estate sale. Here is a photo of the tang and a photoshopped enhancement of the markings. I would very grateful if someone can help with their identification.
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