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Everything posted by eternal_newbie

  1. Not only that, but a great many of the up-and-coming swordsmiths in Japan rely on commissions from martial artists to keep them funded while they try to polish their talent for making art swords (and then become well-known enough that people commission art swords from them). Not everyone can gain a foothold in the market by being the apprentice of a high-profile smith!
  2. That's a good point, I'm used to not using uchiko and hadn't considered the effect of leftover uchiko from prior owners.
  3. I second Logan's recommendation of isopropyl alcohol, wiped down vigorously with a thick microfibre towel/cloth to make sure all the little crevices get cleaned.
  4. On Youtube there's some clips of Shin muso Hayashizaki Ryu paired waza. These demonstrate the fast draw and use of a roughly 3 shaku blade against a wakizashi at close range, and with surprising speed/maneuverability considering the length of the sword. The founder of the school lived during the late 1600s and 1700s and supposedly used a blade over 3 shaku in length.
  5. If the rust is very new, microfibre and isopropyl/denatured alcohol (99.5% or higher) can sometimes get rid of it with no risk to the polish.
  6. As an aside, they're also commonly used as upper back massagers by hospitals and respiratory therapists to ease chest congestion in babies and small children.
  7. Even mukansa smiths would have made swords for practical use to pay the bills in the many years before they achieve mukansa status. These swords, while often beautiful to look at, have durability, balance and/or cutting ability prioritized over art appreciation, and typically have a lower-grade polish that won't be much affected by a few scratches here and there. Works from high-ranking modern smiths but in a style they're not famed or prized for can also get designated as "suitable for iai" - for example, the katana linked above is by Kanekuni, who (along with his father) is renowned for his Sukehiro-esque toranba and won prizes for submitting blades in that style. His Mino-style works, such as the one in the Aoi-Art link, are therefore seen as not particularly high in desirability, as these aren't what won him fame and prestige, and thus get added to the "iai" pile. Add to that the fact that this blade was made in 1992, a full 17 years before he was awarded mukansa status, so even if it was among his upper tier works at the time, it can't compete with the upper tier of his works at the height of his prowess and renown. Much easier for a seller to hedge their bets and market it as suitable for the martial arts crew, who aren't as concerned with style or name recognition.
  8. Newly polished blades apparently "sweat" water for a few weeks after and need to be wiped down and reoiled regularly; polishers in the old style would therefore finish their polish with the expectation of several passes of uchiko within the first few months of its lifetime. With microfibre and denatured alcohol, there's no need for uchiko in modern times, but a great deal of collectors still use it because of tradition.
  9. Some reasons a sword might look "settled down": Rust/corrosion due to insufficient or infrequent oiling A film of dried oil due to too much oiling/not enough removal of oil over time Abrasion of polish due to use of uchiko The sword was meant for practical use and thus didn't get a full artistic polish The type of polish best suited to the sword simply didn't exist at the time, and the original polish now looks rustic by comparison As others have pointed out, a good polish should last centuries with the correct maintenance (read: NOT uchiko) and barring acts of kami.
  10. Knew who it was before I even got to the mei... and yes, very pretty indeed!
  11. Quite correct, however a) If you are unlucky, you will encounter a customs officer who knows their stuff, and will impound it on the proviso that it will be sent out, without import tax or handling fees, if you can provide the proof of purchase being under the $1000 threshold b) Legislation is now in the works to lower, or even eliminate, said duty-free threshold That said, there is no penalty for hitting scenario a) as if you are "caught out" you can simply state that the sender mislabeled the actual value without your input (which is something that has actually happened to me - the importer lowered the value of their own accord, but the lowered value was still above the duty threshold!) There is one other thing to be careful of - concealed weapons (such as sword canes and mounted kogatana) face stricter import laws than regular weapons and may fall afoul of the customs check - again, depending on who checks the item. Just to be safe, I typically ask if the kozuka/kogatana can be sent separately to the main koshirae, at which point it becomes a "letter opener" and comes through with no problem at all Aside from that, Bazza is spot-on - the government's only real concern regarding swords (and other large traditional weapons) is collecting their duty rather than stopping them from coming in. Anecdotally, in my state (WA) the only real consequence of a healthy sword collection is having a reputation as a bit of a weirdo!
  12. Worth noting that the same seller has also posted a 1st edition of the GH Naunton collection by Joly and is offering a deal on combined shipping if both are bought together. There is also a Kaga Kinko book but it is very heavy so if you're not in Australia, expect the bill to be on the high end.
  13. It's a lovely and very interesting little blade... makes you wonder how many modern smiths' work would look closer to the unrivalled swordsmiths of yore with the same amount of polishing and reshaping that a 700-year old sword would see.
  14. Assuming we're speaking about historical smiths, for me it would be option 3 - the max best sword could have been a fluke, a gassaku or daisaku, or even made using different steel to the norm and thus cannot be used as an accurate benchmark. And for the average output, I don't begrudge anyone for doing what they have to in order to make a living - sometimes the client just wants something quick, cheap and effective. Even smiths today do it; there was a website a few years ago that sold an Ono Yoshimitsu blade that he had made for his own iai practice - it's very, very different to the fantastic stuff he usually puts out for his art swords, but I don't think it should drag down his overall 'appreciation rating'.
  15. Does it have a standalone habaki, or is it integrated with the shirasaya?
  16. Aside from all the previous discussions about this seller and the blades they have on offer, "bare blade" is a key term here. Blades without a habaki and shirasaya/koshirae don't stay in good condition for very long - and blades worth keeping in good condition would have had those made for transport and storage. You can probably treat the mei on one of these the way you'd treat a "Kotetsu" or "Sukehiro" on a cookie-cutter kozuka - it's there for flavour, not attribution.
  17. Michael and Ken have the right of it - for this to work as an actual recognition program for providing attributions, you'd not only need a huge amount of data, but have that data be in a standardized format (e.g. all the blades would need to be shot from the same angle, under the same lighting, and in the same condition and polish!). A better usage would be to train it to do things like try to work out the original shape before suriage, or identify flaws that a beginner might miss, such as retempering or reshaped kissaki. You'd probably have more luck with training it to spot gimei (we have AI that scans written signatures for forgeries, so why not chiseled ones) - but I fear this would have a negative impact in the long run since it would give fraudsters the perfect way to hone their art until it passes the machine check, at which point it'd be easy to fool all but the most knowledgeable experts.
  18. I do think there's room to improve on how we handle these arguments as far as discussion goes - too often we allow the conversation to get dragged away from the initial point by trying to persuade (or browbeat) someone into agreeing with the rest of us when they are clearly unreceptive to it. While it looks and feels constructive, like we're defending the integrity of our fellow board members and upholding truth, it also grants the disruptive party more power than they perhaps should have by allowing them to dictate the terms of discussion. I've encountered this when it comes to arguments in economics, politics etc. - sometimes the most constructive thing you can do is state that you respect their right to hold an opinion, but disagree personally, and then return to the base topic at hand. In this case, what was (and to a certain extent, still is) a deeply informative discussion about the specific criteria and judging processes involved in the Juyo designation, has instead turned into a slugfest over whether art in general should be judged subjectively instead of objectively. It's true that there are artistic merits to the Japanese sword, but that's not the entire purpose of their existence - they are weapons with over a thousand years of martial and political significance, and as such, their historical import is every bit as germane to the discussion of their worth. Additionally, the idea that Juyo/Tokuju shinsa is a case of everybody overlooking the forest for the trees (or "dying over the centrefolds" as it were) presupposes that the Juyo participants reflect the majority of the sword market, when in fact it's mostly the cream of the sword collector crop and those attempting to break into that category, while the vast majority of collectors are quite happy to pursue the "girls next door." I am in the process of saving for my first Juyo, and in doing so I have liquidated my entire collection of "girl next door" nihonto. Every. single. one. of them found a willing buyer within two weeks of listing - even the one that had been burnt and has basically no hamon left. That one actually had a second buyer lining up in case the first buyer changed their mind! Rather than arguing over whether art has objective merit, let's go back to recognising that Juyo is a designation that intentionally encompasses artistic, functional and historic significance, and proceed from there. If you disagree with the fundamental basis of Juyo, by all means create a separate thread titled "What Juyo should be" or "The problem with Juyo." Those arguments have merit and deserve their own discussion in depth - but are not relevant to the original topic here, which is the outcome of the process that already exists, and what is required to receive those outcomes.
  19. $100 dollar bills are being printed as we speak, day by day. One of those modern day $100 bills will always be equivalent to another $100 bill from the same process, currently in circulation (assuming it's not too badly damaged to be used as currency - this is a 'fatal flaw' like a hagire). But then something changes - a new form of serialisation number, a slight change of artwork or background for added security, a change in the makeup of the paper used to print it. Suddenly there's a finite range on those old $100 bills. Slowly, over time, some of them get destroyed - by wear, water damage, burnt in fires, or simply blown away on the wind into the sea. Those bills get rarer and rarer, and their historical value starts going up. A 75-year old $100 bill from a different printing process, of which maybe 100,000 remain, is now worth more (albeit not too much) than a modern $100 bill being printed by the millions. This is not to say it's any more or less useful as currency, but the historical value has now changed. Now imagine the case where out of those old 75-year old bills, a very small fraction of them had some sort of defect. Maybe the 1 was facing the other way, or there was a very slight misalignment. Possibly 50 or so of those remain in existence, throughout the entire world... That's your Juyo. They now have significant historical importance for numismatics and are universally recognised as such, regardless of whether any given numismatist prefers collecting old Japanese coins or shiny new Euro notes. And out of those, maybe 10 were still in close to mint condition, no tearing, very little folding or foxing... that's your Tokuju. Now imagine this assessment of "important or not" was done once a year. Imagine it being held a mere 10 years after these bills stopped being printed, and the assessment was flooded with a bunch of those defective bills. Only the nicest, cleanest ones in mint condition are considered important (if indeed any of them are considered important at all) - after all, there's hundreds, if not thousands of them in imperfect condition floating around, right? Then 65 years later, when there's only 50 left in existence, one of those slightly foxed, crumpled notes that was dismissed all those years ago shows up again. Is it still dismissed as not important? Obviously it's not a perfect comparison as with art we have to deal with how the work compares to other works of the artist (see the endless discussions around -den) as well as how highly regarded/influential the artist was in his field, while $100 bills more or less appear identical, but you get the idea.
  20. I think the relevant part here is this sentence in Darcy's post: Deciding if something is nice, or even very very nice, is obviously subjective. Deciding if something is important, within the context of a well-established field with not just prevailing trends but also historical records and an agreed-upon baseline for what is considered significant, is far less subjective. You don't need to be a fan of ko-Bizen to know that a signed, dated, ubu ko-Bizen tachi would be extroardinarily important to the field as a whole. You might think Masamune is a gaudy hack and "real" art is calm and austere like a good ko-Mihara suguha, but if you find a Masamune blade signed and with an inscription detailing who it was for and the occasion it commemorated, you better believe it's important to the Nihonto world and its institutions. If Gassan Sadakazu goes Juyo (and that's not a guarantee!), it will not be because attitudes changed and his blades are suddenly viewed as being far more beautiful than the primitives were capable of appreciating in the 2010s. It will be because the Juyo committe now has the benefit of hindsight and historical context of not just his own works but how they compare to his immediate peers and successors - and with this new context, his blades are now understood to be of importance to the history of Nihonto.
  21. I am very sorry to hear of your loss. My deepest condolences... He was most fortunate to have had you for an owner.
  22. I'm going to go with Komihara as well, simply because I used to own a Komihara blade with nearly identical hada, hamon and boshi. The hada is just a smidgen too loose for Aoe, and I can't see any masame that might push it to Tegai.
  23. 4kg?! That's gonna leave a mark... for reference, I have a 60cm heavy duty crowbar that weighs just over half of this (2.2kg, or around 5 pounds). More like a helmet crusher, if you ask me...
  24. Not only that, but in many cases now you can't leave negative feedback under certain conditions (too soon after purchase, no recorded contact with seller, etc).
  25. Great find, and some serious food for thought. I especially liked the (academic equivalent of a) mic drop at the end, with reference to all the 'sokes' that seem to pop up everytime there's a martial arts boom in popular culture.
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