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  1. Hopefully it is all "civil discourse", but I think it's valuable for relative newbies to hear about the realities (my opinion?) of things like "expert", "best", kantei, kanteisho, polishing, legendary cutting ability, ninja, seppuku, "museum quality", etc. These are all things that are often distorted in various sources, especially online. This is why I was cynical about "top 10" in my reply at the beginning of this thread. Fortunately, this thread has included good info such as some proposed ways to measure "top 10". Pete
  2. Well said. The Nihonto field (and perhaps other fine arts) includes a large dose of favoritism, money, politics, ego, bias, etc. The top experts would become mostly irrelevant if objective measurements were the criteria. The experts are good at kantei (I must assume), but there is never a way to PROVE that they're reliable, especially in the determination of shoshin vs gimei. Related: My first trip to Japan in 1985, I knew almost nothing about Nihonto, but I had a couple of blades. I brought a photo of the signed nakago of one. When I visited the NBTHK museum, I asked an attendant if there was someone I could show my photo to. She fetched a fellow from a back room. We had a big language barrier, but I asked him to write down in Japanese whatever he could tell me about my blade. After returning home, I would ask my Japanese language teacher what it said. He wrote a nice paragraph praising it, and said it was maybe 200 years old. Later on that same trip, I visited a dealer in Tokyo - he spoke some English, and I showed him my photo. He immediately said "Ah, Showa Kanewaka" - he was not impressed... A year or two later I had learned enough to know that he was correct, of course. So, the guy at NBTHK told me what he thought I wanted to hear, and even wrote it down. Pete
  3. OK, that's reasonable. Given that, and without any further definition of "Top 10", here's some (with plenty of my opinions included :-) ): - Various Mishina-ke, such as the obvious Tanba Yoshimichi. Why? Because I like the flamboyant hamon style, and I used to own a couple from the Mishina group. - Hirokiyo (an obscure Kashuu smith, aka GEN32). Why? Because I have one, and it's always been my fav older blade, even though it's in rough condition. Perhaps my point here is that if I were still actively collecting, I would NOT care about what someone else thinks is a highly-rated smith. I WOULD highly value a specific blade with an interesting provenance (without regard to who made it), because I love the history aspect. If I could buy any blade I wanted, my choice would be one with a clear provenance to a famous historical figure (for example Sakamoto Ryoma). Smith rankings feels mostly irrelevant to me, other than the impact it has on resale value. Similar to folks that feel the need to "paper" their blades, even though they will learn little or nothing from the Kanteisho. Pete
  4. IMO, It's so subjective and biased, I don't know how it could have any meaning. Your term "Top 10" needs a careful definition of what it means. And of course, the 'bias' part is rooted mostly in money, status, and politics. I would suggest modifying the question to something like "highest $$-value smiths based on actual sales over the last XX years". It's still pointless, but at least it might be measurable. Pete
  5. Another approach: If you have a particular location in Japan that you know an object or family came from, and if you're able to visit in person, then go to cemeteries (and their associated temples) and ask around. Nihongo fluency is probably required... But like others said, if you don't have some provenance details to start with, matching a kamon with a name is very unlikely. Pete
  6. Yep. I'll decline to repeat any compromising stories about his 'early period'. And his Dad (my brother Duncan) appreciates being called "God, the Father" . Pete
  7. A new book that may interest some folks here. https://www.headstamppublishing.com/swords This video discusses the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY1vH10e8yQ Full disclosure: I have NO financial interest in the book, author, or publisher; but my nephew Ian is one of the Principals of "Headstamp Publishing", and he is the one speaking in the YouTube video above. He also owns the forgottenweapons.com site, and is often referred to on social media as "Gun Jesus" . Pete
  8. Thanks folks for all your comments. I have certainly learned not to use GSP to sell anything "sharp". I found a GSP info page that says Prohibited items include "Weapons (including firearms, knives, etc.)". The mystery (to me) is why they don't consistently block the GSP option up-front - it is so easy, when the listing title says "fighting knife" or "sword". It seems that the enforcement is manual and random, rather than a "change in policy" as I had first suspected. If they actually re-sell confiscated items, then that's a good thing at least. Grey wrote >I have never once written a weight on a customs form; the postal clerk writes the weight of the package and that is sufficient. My process has been to do the customs form online at home, which requires me to fill in all the details. It makes it quick and easy at the P.O. - I just hand them the form that I printed. But maybe that's not the best process... Pete
  9. I would be interested to know an actual example of what GSP charges on a specific item to a specific country. As a seller, I can't see what the buyer is charged, beyond the U.S. shipping portion. I just know that nobody has complained (to me). Anyway, the point of my post was not really to debate the merits of GSP, but rather to point out that *maybe* they had recently had a policy change that would prevent swords from being listed with the GSP option (my Iaito and bayonet are possible examples of a "new" policy). Pete
  10. Yes, Pitney Bowes handles the actual re-shipping out of Kentucky. Not so sure about the "anti-weapons" thing, since just in the last 2 weeks I shipped a bayonet to France, and large double-edged fighting knife to UK, via GSP. That knife should have caused a panic - just a 'weapon', not historic... All clearly described, of course. Maybe they just do random checks for things that they don't like? There are other online posts by people calling GSP a "scam", but when you look closer it's just that they don't like the extra shipping charges, when they found out that the Seller *could* have shipped it direct for less. And there was a post a few years ago where a guy claimed that GSP auctions off things that they confiscate, to recoup their losses. Pete
  11. Hi Grey, It's a bit more than that, in my view. I've sent many international packages over the years, mostly to Japan, some to Europe, a few to Australia and Canada. I've been using GSP for eBay sales since January. Some issues are: - Every item in the package has to be called out on the Customs form, with weight, value, and quantity. The weight and value have to add up to the total that you already entered. This means making a list in advance, assigning a weight and value to everything, adding it up, etc. I know that lots of folks "fudge" this, and take a chance. - The Customs form has a declared value. In various countries, the recipient will pay a tax/duty based on that (such as the VAT in Europe). This leads to buyers giving me "instructions" about the declared value and the description of the item. Typically, these instructions are dishonest, and I don't want to participate. Meanwhile, I would like to add appropriate insurance, but insuring for more than the declared value is an issue. [Tomorrow I am shipping something to a friend in Netherlands. To minimize the VAT issue, he gave me a "Tariff Code" to write on the outside of the package.] - Sometimes a foreign address is unfamiliar to me, so I spend time online figuring out which part is the Province, which is the City, etc. - An item can be refused by Customs (either at a U.S. port, or a foreign port). Then it is a HUGE HASSLE to resolve it fairly, and it wouldn't be free. - Accurately predicting international shipping costs can be "challenging" in some cases. ALL of the issues mentioned above go away if I use GSP. Last week's Gunto is the first negative experience I've had. But I have to say it was "easy" for me, because I didn't have to do anything (and there was no option for me to do anything). Pete
  12. Hi Barry, the GSP shipping fee (to the buyer) seems to vary greatly depending on various factors (but I don't know what those factors are). Many folks seem OK with it, and of course they know what they are paying. A few months ago, I was selling a bunch of vintage (collectible) computer hardware, and on a forum I explained that I didn't want the hassle of international shipping. Folks on that forum urged me to enable GSP (I was skeptical), and it worked out great. Pete
  13. Perhaps eBay's Global Shipping Program has changed some policies in the last couple of weeks? I sold a Gunto to a fellow in Canada last week. After it arrived in Kentucky, eBay said it was "restricted", they would not forward it or return it, I keep the money, and the buyer gets a full refund. [This is apparently GSP policy. Anybody know how they dispose of things that they confiscate?] Last night, I heard from a fellow in Australia, saying the same type of thing happened to him (as a buyer) just last week. I can't verify what he said. I have another Gunto auction that finishes in a few hours - so far, the GSP option still seems to be there (listing says "Ships to U.S. and many other countries"). The item number is 233695495982, signed Masazane. Can someone outside the U.S. verify that you see it as available to you? Just curious. I have a listing for an IAITO that starts in a few hours. From my side, the GSP check-box is on, but the listing does NOT show "ships to many other countries". It will be item 233703884003, in about 7 hours from now. A couple of weeks ago, I successfully sold a WWII Japanese bayonet to a guy in France. No problem. Today, I tried to list another bayonet of the same type, and eBay said "NO" until I removed the GSP option from the listing. A couple of weeks ago, I successfully sold a large double-edged Boker fighting knife to a guy in the UK. No problem. Pete
  14. You're not dense. Nobody knows what the question is, until Tom explains it...
  15. If you do make your own SAYA, I would suggest Poplar, as sold in places like Home Depot (for furniture making and such). Poplar is quite close to the traditional Japanese wood (HONOKI), and easy to find. It is soft, closed-grain, etc. I made a wakizashi saya years ago - it came out "OK" (I'm not a serious woodworker). Pete
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