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Everything posted by watsonmil

  1. Gary, NO Japanese gun barrels were ever made from the Lost Wax Process. Few if any barrels in any country were made by this method. ... Ron Watson
  2. Dan, The mandrel is removed and the tube heated repeatedly. If necessary the mandrel was removed by hammer and a thinner steel rod acting as a punch. You are hammering a hollow on an anvil, ... the anvil takes up a great deal of the energy. It is a very slow process of heating the tube and reinserting the mandrel. ... Ron Watson
  3. Dear Dan, First you take a flat piece of steel and wrap it around a COLD ( clay and ash insulate mandrel ). You then remove the mandrel and heat the seamed tube till it can be forge welded by hammer. You reinsert the cold mandrel and hammer forge the seam. You now take a separate long piece of steel and wrap it about the original tube at about a 30 degree angle until you have wrapped the entire original tube. You then heat the resulting tube and your wrapping until hot enough to hammer weld. The mandrel again is inserted COLD and the gunsmith hammer welds the outer wrapping to the inner tube until you now have one single tube made up of two different pieces. Quite often a third wrapping of a long steel piece is wrapped about the tube at an opposite 30 degree angle the full length of the tube, this all is heated yet again, .... the COLD mandrel is again inserted and the gunsmith hammer welds this third layer to the tube until the tube appears as one solid tube. It is however now laminated ( remember how plywood is laminated from several thin slices to form one sheet ) Laminated wood or steel is stronger than any one solid piece of the same thickness. ... Ron Watson
  4. Dear Dan C, Yes indeed, ... I forgot to mention that pertinent fact ! ... Ron Watson
  5. A couple of more Japanese Match-safe's ... Ron Watson
  6. The invention in the early 19th century, approximately 1826, of a workable friction match by an English chemist ... John Walker in Stocton-on-Tees ended the hundreds of years of man striking flint to steel to obtain fire. Other inventors improved upon Walker's design. One Richard Bell developed an ignitable tip an improvement over Walker's design which required a piece of sandpaper to initiate the lighting of the match by striking the tip against the sandpaper. With Bell's design the match could be ignited by striking the tip against practically any surface. These early strike anywhere matches had the uncomfortable characteristic of igniting accidentally by rubbing against one another whilst in the pocket or even by mice chewing upon them often with dire consequences. It was therefore necessary to place the matches in some sort of fireproof box, ... thus the invention of the Vesta or Match-safe. The first were simple rectangular or circular containers, ... but soon to follow as style and art would dictate a multitude of both decorated boxes and containers shaped as animals, birds, fish, people, books and everything else imaginable. The Japanese quick to copy and improve upon Western ideas soon began to produce Match-safes in a variety of Eastern themes. Many were made in a heavy lacquered paper mache while others were produced in copper, silver, tin, and old sword fittings ... using the Fuchi/Kashira for lid and bottom with a small hollow container often resembling a Tsuka to hold the matches. Humorous designs of Priests, Deities and not a few erotic Shunga types were produced. Since both sexes smoked match-safes appealing to both men and women appear and were easily carried in the sleeve of the traditional Kimono. As I have said before this utilitarian item and quite often artistic item is rapidly disappearing into collections around the world. They are yet another example of a Japanese Art form that few of you recognize or watch for. I have pictured a few from my modest collection for your interest. As always any error or omissions are mine alone. I hope you enjoy. ... Ron Watson
  7. Dear Jon, Uploads are fine, ... no problems whatsoever. Some nice items ! ... Ron Watson
  8. Dear Jon, Well, ... there you have it, ... two opinions ( not necessarily in conflict ) and with the translation of the stock maker as being probably Kunitomo not at all unusual since gun makers of the time were transients moving about the country to wherever they could find work ... we often see a mixture of two schools in any one gun. It often makes definitive identification of a particular example difficult. Usually I would go by the signature on the barrel to make a more confident identification, ... but even this is not foolproof as I say again these gun smiths particularly mid to late Edo Period moved about the country and we do not know if this barrel is signed ... many are not. In my opinion the overall appearance does not suggest Kunitomo as the school or location if you will of this guns manufacture, ... although I agree with Piers that the stock is in the Kunitomo shape ... in particular the butt. What is your overall opinion Piers ?? I could well be wrong as the Kunitomo did on occasion do bulbous muzzles ( I actually own one ). ... Ron Watson
  9. Dear Jon, Although I would lean towards this being a product of the Bizen Gunsmiths ... certainly the trigger is in the style of the Bizen, ... it also however has some characteristics of the Sakai, but I think Bizen . It would be nice to see a barrel signature and a photograph of the gun as a whole. I agree the gun is late, late 18th century or more likely early 19th century. Unfortunately the Serpentine and serpentine pin is missing ( Bizen guns often have a Silver Headed pin ) which would help somewhat in the gun's identification. The pan cover, ama-ooi is also missing. The brass screws are also a much later addition and would need replacing. As Brian says the internal mechanism may also require parts. The inlay is well done and very attractive. At the right price, ... I would buy it and carry out restorations. Overall this was once a very attractive Tanegashima, Teppo or Hinwa-ju ... your choice of Japanese words. If you can purchase it between $ 600.00 - $ 900.00 and have the expertise and time ... a wonderful winter project. Can anyone translate the Kanji of the stockmaker. This might help in identifying the area of manufacture. ... Ron Watson
  10. Dear Jon, I am not positive what the Japanese Matchlock Elevation Sights were manufactured from. I assume brass, as bamboo would probably have been too flimsy to have stood up to use. Yes, ... I agree unless the Japanese were incorporating some secret code into their shooting manuals, ... many of the illustrations are just not correct and make little or no sense. Long range Elevation Sights are generally purchased by the individual for long range target shooting. The simplest are what are called Creedmoor Elevation Sights and are employed NOT FOR SERIOUS target shooting ( as they have no adjustment for Windage but ONLY Elevation ). These are purchased by people wanting to do historical re-enacting. ( see first photograph below ). Serious long range target shooters use a type of elevation sight that also incorporated adjustment for windage as well as elevation ( see second photograph ). The elevation sights are generally attached as far back on the gun as possible ... generally on the breach rather than the barrel ... actually so far back from the barrel as to be behind the Action of the firearm ( see third photograph ), .... whereas the Japanese attached their elevation sight to the rear barrel sight as an accessory. There is usually a horizontal hole thru the rear sight or sometimes a slot arrangement for attaching the elevation sight to this rear sight. ... Ron Watson
  11. Dear All, Just notice this reference on the: tetsugendo.com ( facebook page ) .... " the small holes used on tsuba from the Satsuma kinko schools is Sometimes called udenuki ana, but the proper term according to the NBTHK is sayadome ana. Satsuma Bushi were known for their short tempers, so they sometimes tied the tsuba to the saya to prevent a quick draw from a short temper.... " ... Ron Watson PS. Out of several tsuba I own this is the only one that has these two ( on purpose holes ).
  12. Dear John, " On an antique that will never be fired again it is at what point do you weigh damage against preservation? In these cases I would err towards the preservation side. " ............. SO WOULD I JOHN, ... SO WOULD I ! ... Ron Watson
  13. Dear Dany C. Weird, ... not necessarily. When one gets stuck for solutions to a problem, ... it is often the weird that succeeds. The main thing is much like the first rule a Doctor should learn ( but often don't ) ... do not make the patient worse. Your idea will surely not make the patient worse, ... and is worth a try. Often when doing restorations ... it is of utmost importance to go slow and always if possible use the original type hand tools and techniques of the time period the item was made. Patience is a virtue soon learned ( often too late ) when doing restoration or repairs on antiques. ... Ron Watson
  14. Dear Piers, " Incidentally someone told me the other day that the first guns made in Tanegashima probably had solid, sealed breech plugs. " Yes, ... see my article above ... " sweated " into place as in early Portuguese matchlocks. Once something is " sweated " into place it is solid and generally cannot be removed as heating the breach afterwards also heats the breach plug which had to be cold to insert in the beginning. To answer Dany C. , ... heating the breach plug would defeat the purpose as that would cause the breach plug to expand even tighter, ... what it might do is upon cooling and contracting it might break the bond between breach and breach plug. I've often done this with stuck bolts on machinery, adding a little fine oil around the area of the threads as I'm heating with some success I might add. ... Ron Watson
  15. Dear Eric, I mechanically translated the Essay from the National Rifle Association of Japan, ... and although difficult to understand one or two paragraphs stand out ... here is one of them from page 3 : " It is characteristic of the steel structure of crystals (magnification 42) locations along the thread profile, it flows continuously. By inserting the male screw "type torsion" it after heating the breech and 鍛打 outside of the barrel, which indicates that it was formed a female screw gun cavity wall surface. And serves as a critical evidence that was created during hot forging. Those further expand the (magnification 100) of the internal thread piles, f is illustrates the crystalline structure of steel by hot forging is as described above. " " .... Conclusion " " The screw of hot forging has been made ​​over the Edo period to the late Edo period, Western thought never came in was proved. " I get the gist of what the writer is trying to convey, ... that my theory may probably be correct that indeed rather than the female threads being cut by die, ... they were actually formed by HOT FORGING. This seems to be the first Japanese scientific research into how the female threads were produced. ... Ron Watson
  16. Dear Brian, Removing the bisen is not all that important. The barrel can be adequately cleaned inside without its removal. It is simpler but one often finds getting the bisen properly lined up when re-installing it can be frustrating to say the least. You are probably never going to fire it anyway, and if you do at least you know the breach plug is secure :D . Wrapping emery paper around a brass rod and then using your electric drill will remove any stubborn rust from inside the barrel. Follow up with crocus cloth to give the inside a nice clean polished finish and voila you're ready for hunting Lion, or Elephant Poachers . ... Ron Watson PS. Got your ama-ooi completed yet ??
  17. The Matchlock entered Japan aboard a small Chinese cargo ship in 1543. The ship landed on Tanegashima Island and by chance on board were 3 Portuguese, ... two of whom carried Matchlock muskets. These were the very first Europeans to land upon the shores of Japan. To make a long story short, The lord of the island, Tokitaka, purchased two of the matchlocks which were sold “for a great profit” and tasked his sword maker with producing copies. Japanese swordsmiths were expert blacksmiths/swordsmiths, but the blacksmith/swordsmith had difficulty in forging the barrel so that the breach plug screw on the end could be fitted or so the story goes. The screw could supposedly be removed to allow the barrel to be easily cleaned. The truth of the matter is that contrary to popular belief the breach plugs on the Portuguese Matchlocks were in all probability not threaded at all but rather sweated into place. This was done by heating the breach end of the barrel and then inserting what had previous to the barrel being heated ( the heating causing the barrel opening to expand ) a slightly larger diameter plug of steel. When the barrel cools the plug ( breach plug ) is now impossible to remove the fit is so tight. Supposedly a year later, a Portuguese blacksmith arrived in Japan ,and he was persuaded to pass the secret of the breach plug by as legend goes ... the Portuguese blacksmith was offered the hand in marriage of a lovely girl called “Wakasa” ( the blacksmith's daughter ) as the reward for disclosing the secret of how to affix the breach plug into the barrel. This is in all probability just legend. Now whether or not the Portuguese had moved from the sweated in breach plug to a screw type system is questionable ( in spite of the Japanese claiming to still own one of these original Portuguese Matchlocks ). Personally I believe this is just wishful thinking that any Portuguese Matchlock survived. The matchlock in question is missing its lock I believe. I searched but I cannot find a photograph of this or some say two guns. Perhaps Piers has a photograph ? Since the breach plug or Bisen is on any Japanese matchlock that I have seen have been of a threaded variety ( male thread ) and affixes to the breach by threading into the barrel ( female thread ) and quite often such a poor fit that a small flat piece of lead is added to the threads on the bisen so as to get a tight fit to the female threads of the breach .... HOW did the Japanese thread these barrels ? It is one thing to hand file threads on the bisen, ... difficult, ... but not impossible, ... but it is bloody impossible even for a Japanese craftsman to file the female threads inside the breach of the barrel. It cannot be done ! Well you might say, ... I've seen pictures of a Japanese TAP for cutting these threads ( perhaps Taira Sawada or some other Japanese expert has explained how it was done ) but since I do not read Japanese I cannot be sure. ( SEE PHOTOGRAPH of what appears to be a Japanese TAP). Since the Japanese did not possess to the best of my knowledge TAP & DIE sets back in the late 1500's nor the early 1600's for that matter .... we see virtually no screws being made. With but very few exceptions the Japanese used tapered brass pegs to attach locks to their firearms. So how did they cut the female threads inside the breaches of their matchlocks ? Perhaps the Japanese Scholars have already explained the process, ... but if they have, ... they to the best of my knowledge never published the answer in English. Here then is my theory ( if stolen I assure you quite by accident due to my not reading Japanese ). The item that appears to be a TAP was inserted cold and probably coated with clay into a pre heated ( red hot ) barrel ... a tight fit. The breach was then hammered all around driving the barrel steel into the groves of the FALSE TAP. The tap was then removed by unscrewing and the process repeated by screwing the cold false tap into the poorly executed female threads. The barrel was repeatedly hammered until a decent fit was achieved and the FALSE TAP removed permanently. A BISEN was then filed by hand to match the threads on the FALSE TAP ... a tedious but possible task. This explains the rather poor fit of many bisen and the reason a small thin sheet of lead was wrapped around the bisen to ensure a nice tight fit on many bisen I have examined. I have attached several photos , showing the different methods of attaching the breach plug or bisen, a FALSE TAP, a Treaded Breach, and a Bisen. As always any errors or omissions are mine alone. ... Ron Watson
  18. A hearty welcome to DanC, ... actually Danny Carruthers is my cousin's son. Danny has shown a serious interest in Nihonto and the Tanegashima as well as Japanese Art work in general. I hope you find many hours of enjoyment here on the NMB. There are some wonderfully knowledgeable people here and you need not be afraid to pick their brains. ... Ron Watson
  19. Dear Josh, The collecting of Netsuke is at best a honey trap for flies. Piers is being diplomatic when he refers to all miniatures with the ability to have a cord attached either by pre-constructed holes ( himotoshi ) or by a natural part of the sculpture such as an arm ... netsuke. Collectible netsuke are those that were actually used or intended to be used to attach a pill box, purse, tobacco ensemble or some other hanging thing ( sagemono ) from the waist belt ( obi ) of the Japanese Kimono. Although there are a few modern carvers who turn out spectacular works of art meant for this purpose but because of their value not normally worn, ... I suppose we could call these netsuke. What should NEVER, ... but is being today called netsuke are the thousands upon thousands of Chinese carvings which although could be used as netsuke are at best referred to as fakes and at worse trash. The type of " netsuke " being offered on eBay are primarily of this variety. Secondly when you enter the field of Netsuke Collecting you are going to meet many wonderful people but even more people whom are Elitist, Rich Snobs, whose only serious interest in the subject is to out do one another with their display of wealth. Most ... unlike the Nihonto collectors have really no interest in Japanese History nor Culture. If after all that you still wish to pursue the collecting of them, then take Piers's. advice and stick to reputable dealers Oh, one other thing, ... if you live in the USA forget about IVORY netsuke. Under the Obama Administration the import, export or even interstate trade in Ivory is for all intents for now at least illegal. In fact no matter where you live, ... check with your government for restrictions on importing ivory. Some of the above is the writer's personal opinions, ... but as you will find out for yourself for the most part accurate. I am not known for being a diplomat :D . Attached are a few of my favorite netsuke ( author's collection ). Please excuse the poor photograph I had on file. ... Ron Watson
  20. Dear Members, Around the fourth century A.D., glass already exited in Japan. These were glass beads and glass bowls. However, most of these objects were imported through trade with China. Some glass beads are considered as Japanese products. However, there was no exact record to prove this fact so it is still doubtful that they were truly made in Japan from an archeological viewpoint After the tenth century, Chinese glassware was increasingly imported. From sixteenth century, more glasswares which were created in Spain, Italy, Holland, Portugal and England, were being imported. That was the time when Japan encountered European glass for the first time. To be exact, in 1551, there was a record on the list of presents from Francisco de Xavier, the Spanish missionary to the Japanese feudal lord Ohuchi Yoshitaka in Kyushu. Xavier arrived in Japan to propagate Christianity and records said that he presented glasswares and mirrors on his arrival. In 1633, the government of Edo began a national seclusion policy and broke off all relations with foreign countries for 200 years. Edo is the old name of present Tokyo and the name Edo period came from the name of where their government was founded. Before they took this policy, European glass imported and brought through Nagasaki port, which opened its gates to foreign countries at that time. At the same time, not only products but also Portuguese and Dutch glass artisans came to Japan. It is commonly said that the history of glass making in Japan was started around early in the seventeenth century. Through this policy, the government opened the port in Nagasaki, especially the place called Dejima. During their period of isolation they accepted limited imports of foreign goods and culture mostly from Holland. So, it can be inferred that European glass and their techniques were continuously imported through the time of national seclusion. The Edo period started in 1603, and, as I have already mentioned, through the research on the history of glass art, the production of glass ware by Japanese started early in the Edo period. There is no exact date of establishment, however, according to records, there were several association of glass artisans in the middle of the seventeenth century. Nagasaki, is the birthplace of glass making in Japan and was one of the oldest port towns in the North of Kyushu, the great island which is positioned in the Southwest of Japan. The technique of glass making which developed in Nagasaki expanded all over the country, especially in the beginning of the eighteenth century, glass making became popular mostly in Kyoto, Osaka and in Edo. At the end of the Edo period, that was the middle of nineteenth century, the place called Satsuma, the old name of the present Kagoshima city, was the center of the blooming of the unique glass culture. The Japanese glass making method which originated and developed in Nagasaki had its foundation in the technique from Chinese glass. At last, they developed their own technique mainly taking in the European glass making technique such as from Portugal and Holland. Anyway, in the beginning, the technique of Japanese glass was quite simple in all aspects. They had only a few variations in its style. Basically these were small and thin blowing glass and on its surface, they had unsophisticated decorations such as the paintings of Japanese flowers and plants or the diamond cut pattern. At that time, facilities for glass making were simple and on a small-scale and they could only create plain design glasswares. In the eighteenth century, glass making skill developed and improved, and the technique and style of glasswares began to show variety. Not only using the free blowing technique but also the mold. Blowing which enabled the creation of free shapes but also they came to make some decorations on their products with a kind of lamp work technique. bowls, plates, goblets or cups but also accessories, stationery, medical instruments, lamp shades, bird cages, and so on. These were mostly made of transparent colored glass and used to have a simple pattern design which obviously expressed the unique Japanese sense of beauty. The common people in the Edo period were supposed to enjoy these products. However, they were still so fragile and did not have the strength and practicality of European glass. Therefore, it is unsure how these glass products won popularity and actual use in the daily life of the common people. In 1868, the new government was established instead of the Edo government and the Meiji period started. At that time, Japan had a great reformation in political, economical, industrial, cultural and educational areas. Needless to say, the circumstance of glass making changed drastically. There were small glass makers which continued the old style which began during the Edo period and barely able to continue their production. However, on the other hand, several governmental and private glass factories were established. These factories adopted various Western glass making systems and as a result, Japanese glass began to enter a new stage with brand new techniques. After 1873, the government invited instructors of glass making several times, and received instruction of the facilities as well as the techniques of various styles of glass making from them. The government also expected them to train Japanese technicians in making glass. Especially in the engraving glass field, the English advisor, Emmanuel Hauptmann was invited to Japan in 1881. As a consequence, from the end of the nineteenth century to early in the twentieth century, a lot of English style glass which had Japanese decorations, were created, though their design and the expressive style were still on an unrefined level. The above history of glass in Japan is by no means complete, ... but it does serve to take us up to the point at which the Hand Blown, hand decorated coal oil lamp in my collection pictured comes from. As a point of interest, I would date this lamp as coming most probably from the early 1860's to approximately 1880 ... when molds were then employed in the production of most glassware both Europe and a little later in Japan. Coal oil was first produced in 1850 and Kerosene a short time later. Although technically different both are often simply referred to as Coal oil. Therefore the lamp cannot be dated any earlier although it is definitely hand blown, and appears to be of Japanese manufacture and definitely of Japanese decoration. I cannot prove however that it is of Japanese manufacture but the hole on the bottom ( where the blowpipe was affixed is not generally the way European glass blower removed the blow pipe as they generally gave the pipe a slight twist to seal off the hole caused by the blow pipe with a bit of excess glass. The burner was missing when I found the lamp, ... and is of an odd size. The chimney too is of an odd size, and of a diameter more often found in Asia than Europe or North America. Although I have in the past dealt ( Antique Business ) with some truly magnificent lighting devices, ... I could never bare to part with this lamp. I hope I have not bored you all to death with this non Samurai related Japanese work of art. As is always the case any errors or omissions are mine alone. I did make use the extensive research of Atsushi Takeda, former director of the Yokohama Museum of Arts and in some areas plagiarized his writing. ... Ron Watson
  21. Dear Eric, Thank you for the posting especially the link to the pages in the book ... " Recreating Japanese Men ". I read and re-read it several times. I like to make sure I miss nothing that can aid in my studies. And, ... as an added bonus you got us ( me ) back on the track of the original thread being Prints featuring the Matchlock. ... Ron Watson
  22. Dear Eric, Malcolm, Brian, Yes, ... that is the " Back Position " often referred to as the " Creedmoor Position " used in long range target shooting competitions. It seems to have died out shortly after the Creedmoor competitions of the late 1870's and the Standard Prone Position ( shooter lays flat on stomach with rifle supported on elbow bent hands and rifle butt stock to shoulder ). I am not sure the old Creedmoor Position is even allowed any longer under the Competitive Shooting Rules. I know, ... that I never seen it used during the time I was Competitive Shooting back in the 1960's and we shot out to 1000 yards. The observation of Malcolm that at least some of the Japanese Gunnery Manuals were copies or strongly influenced by European Manuals is possibly the case but this so far is unproven. Attached below is a Newspaper's illustration done at the Creedmoor Competition of I believe 1874 showing the Creedmoor Position. I would have to agree with Brian that the design of the Japanese Matchlock lends itself much better to this position than the European style firearm. Also note the position of the Elevation Sight on the rear buttstock of the rifle of the fellow using the Creedmoor Position as compared to the Elevation Sight on the breach end of the rifle being used by the fellow shooting in the Standard Prone Position. I notice that Inatomi Ichimu worked in the early 1600's. In point of fact the Inatomi Manual would seem to predate the European illustrations AND earliest descriptions ( being 1776 apparently ) of the " Back Position ". Now that is interesting ! ... Ron Watson Note : Since originally posting the above, ... I had surmised that Malcolm would be correct in thinking the Japanese borrowed from European Shooting Manuals. Further research on my part might actually indicate the reverse may have be the case ... and if that were true, ... it might also be possible that the Europeans borrowed the idea of the Elevation Sight from the Japanese ?? This however I doubt as the Elevation ( ladder ) rear sight was not of any real use until the advent of the RIFLED barrel and the rifled barrel most definitely was not in use by the Japanese prior to it being introduced to Japan post 1853. Someone is bound to note that the first European rifled barrels appeared in 1540 ( Germany ) but they did not come into any general use until much much later.
  23. Dear Ian, That is interesting, ... but I maintain that for the number of matchlocks that were produced ( several hundred thousand ) that there should have been more " survivors ". I also surmise that most matchlocks were never issued with an Elevation Sight even though most Japanese matchlocks have a rear sight that is designed for their use and that fact along with normal loss of the few that were made explains their rarity. It is well known that a smooth bore musket is not accurate much beyond 50 - 70 yards ( 45 - 65 meters ), ... therefore what would be the purpose ? Ian, ... would it be possible or even feasible for you to post a scan or photograph of the picture from page 86 of the catalogue. I for one would be most interested. ... Ron Watson
  24. Dear Brian et al, The ladder, elevator or elevation sight is so RARE to find today ( for the Japanese Matchlock ) that one must assume, that although most Japanese Matchlock rear sights make allowance for them that VERY few were ever produced. A more plausible explanation for the lack of these rare to find sighting attachments can only be explained by : ... like so many Japanese customs, ... that's the way sights ( things ) have always been designed so I must carry on in like fashion. ... Ron Watson
  25. Dear Brian, What I was trying to point out here, ... is for instance Malcolm and perhaps Eric seem to be under the impression that the ladder sights were used as depicted, ... wherein this is incorrect ( perhaps I am incorrect in thinking so, but few people actually know much about shooting anymore ). I meant no ill against anyone, ... but rather to point out that misconceptions may arise from how we interpret photographs and or prints. I did point out that the Inatomi Manual although incorrect in their depictions were important historically. I go back to my statement : " Yes, ... the Japanese manual shows an " elevator " front sight, ... but how many will assume this must have been thus employed ?? ... if we do not explain why it is incorrect. " I too am enjoying the posts. If I have offended anyone I apologize, .. it was NOT my intent. ... Ron Watson
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