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Appraising, evaluating from photos, how reliable is it?

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I have been a member for a while, used your website for research and personal knowledge-rising on the subject of Samurai Swords.

My family owns a number of antiques, some of them Japanese not all of them swords. I have published some pictures of a particular piece that has been in my family since before I was born. At the time I was interested in reading of the MEI, to make the long story short I got the answer something like “most defiantly fake” after that I left my research until recently.

 

Recently I have attended a lecture on art and antiques appraisal by Professor Mikhail Tamoikin, one of the subjects that were being discussed was the unreliability of appraisal by photos and the rush conclusions of world’s best experts based on them, with career ruining consequences. He gave examples of such cases, one was about some Solovki Iconostasis that was pronounced fake, by two, now ex Russian Ministers of Culture Shvydkoi (Швыдкой, Михаил Ефимович) and Sokolov (Соколов, Александр Сергеевич) it ternd out to be genuine and worth a crazy amount of money. The other example was and here I was totally perplexed when I saw my family’s sword on the overhead...

 

It turns out that my Father knows Mr. Tamoikin from whey-back and they have recently found each other after a long period of separation. Mr. Tamoikin lives in Canada my father in Ukraine. (It is one crazy world out there) Apparently when I gave up on the sword, my Dad didn’t and when Mr. Tamoikin visited our estate, my Dad mentioned during the viewing of our antiques collection the situation with the sword. Mr. Tamoikin is the founder of the world’s first and only antiques, arts and cultural items Appraising System “TES” as it was in his competence, he agreed to do some tests and see what came of it. The sword was appraised for $80,000,000US and apparently made lots of Japanese Sword experts nervous. About at this time I come in to the picture by visiting Mr. Tamoikins lecture and seeing our sword, obviously I wanted to be in on the action.

 

By this day the sword has been published in Forbes Magazine (America, Europe and Asia) also an exhibition is being organized in the Trakai History Museum Lithuania. As I understand there has been a tremendous amount of work invested in to the sword, lots of tests have been done and authenticity proven. All the documentation is available and the sword is going to be exhibited very soon, open for study to any experts who wish it.

 

To the point, we have two (it has to be some cursed number) highly pleased, extremely ignorant experts of NTHK (Nihon Token Hozon Kai), who without studying any of the material or documents on the sword, just by looking at some photos on the internet (no HD photos or detailed photos of parts of the sword ether) claim that the sword if fake. I am not even mentioning seeing it live with their-own eyes.

 

So I have decided to bring this issue up. Because in my opinion people should think before flapping there mouth, especially if they have the weight of an organization behind them and a reputation to uphold, not only personal but the reputation of the organization from whose behalf they are making unthought-of public or other statements.

 

Further in this post I will be posting the exact statements these people have been making and the replies they have been getting. I just want to know if it is normal for experts with years and years of experience to act so childishly without though. Any comments and discussions are welcome and no offence taken or given.

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Messege in: Wed, October 03, 2012 5:19 am

 

Chris Bowen

 

You do realize that this is a modern Chinese fake and worth about $200US?

 

Answer: Wed, October 03, 2012

 

Dear Mr. Bowen

 

Thank you for a quick reply.

 

 

We are more than happy to give you a detailed answer on how this sword was authenticated but we need a little more information to properly connect you to one of our experts.

 

May you please tell us your list of facts that made you come to your conclusion.

 

Sincerely,

Tamoikin Inc. Support Team

 

Messege in: Date: Wed, October 03, 2012 1:44 pm

 

Hello-

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I have been collecting Japanese swords for over 30 years, 15 of which were spent in Japan studying the best of the art under the guidance of experts. I am a director of the NTHK (Nihon Token Hozon Kai), the oldest sword association in Japan. I can promise you that this is a modern Chinese fake. I could give you a list of things that identify it as such but it is both obvious and incontrovertible to anyone familiar with authentic Japanese swords. Try sending photos to an online Japanese sword collectors forum, such as the one below, for opinions from experts around the world. I guarantee you this is a Chinese fake.

 

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/-- :D

Sincerely,

 

Chris Bowen

 

Answer:

Dear Mr. Bowen,

 

Once again, your quick reply is appreciated.

 

We will forward your reply to our experts and provide you with a detailed answer.

 

With best,

Tamoikin Inc. Support team

 

Messege in: Date: Wed, October 03, 2012 2:21 pm

 

Hello-

 

As I said, it is obvious to anyone with expertise in the field.

 

Here are a few things you can check:

 

1. Look at the point of the blade. It is shaped wrong. Most Chinese fakes have a chisel-like, straight edge in the point. A real Japanese sword has a rounded edge in the point.

 

2. The nakago (tang) is crudely shaped with odd Chinese characters that make no sense.

 

3. The lacquer on the saya (scabbard) is upside down.

 

I have no doubt you have had messages from others telling you this is a fake as well. I have to wonder if this is simply an honest mistake or if you are intentionally trying to defraud.

--

Sincerely,

 

Chris Bowen

 

Answer:

Dear Mr. Bowen, October 16, 2012

Thank you for your email. An NTHK Director’s opinion is always valuable to us. Your

credentials clearly show that you are highly respected in the Japanese swords community.

We cannot, however, agree with your analysis of our Tachi. In our reply we will be very

direct so please do not be offended by our language, as we were not offended by yours.

 

Mr. Bowen, although we value your opinion, we find it unprofessional for a man in your

position to make statements like:

 

“This is a modern Chinese fake and worth about $200US”

“I can promise you that this is a modern Chinese fake.”

“I could give you a list of things that identify it as such but it is both obvious and

incontrovertible to anyone familiar with authentic Japanese swords”

“Try sending photos to an online Japanese sword collectors forum, such as the one

below, for opinions from experts around the world.”

 

It is especially inappropriate to make these statements without concrete evidence. You

did not personally examine the sword or at the very least examine all additional high

definition photographs and documentation that we have available. Further referencing us

to blogs and forums is very unprofessional as they, although informative, are not credible

sources of information. When it comes to such high-end projects the only credible

language is - science. Since every expert is prone to mistakes all presented statements

must be supported by scientific facts.

 

In your first email you said:

“This is a modern Chinese fake and worth about $200US”

 

How were you able to determine, from small amount of data, that it is worth “about

$200US”? Why not “about $100”, “about $300” or “about $1000”? Our metal analysis

shows that there is substantial amount of gold on the TSUBA, that gold alone costs more

that $200 US. The silver on the SAYA is not cheap either and if we are to take into

account the fact that the sword was hand made, regardless where, it’s overall value under

no circumstances can be, as you say, “about $200” dollars. Above that, to officially speak

of art, antiques and collectibles value, one must be at the very least knowledgeable in art

appraisal. Are you an art appraiser? If so who accredited you and what appraisal system

did you use to determine the value of this Tachi? We believe that only a scientific,

transparent and auditable system can be used to appraise collectible items. We know for a

fact that you did not use such a system, simply because you did not have enough data to

do so. Thus your statement of value is no more than a speculative guesswork. Once again

this is unacceptable for a director of NTHK. We apologize for being so direct but this is

because we are one of the most respected accredited art appraisal organization with

multiple patents and publications in this field. We take issue with unsupported values

stated by people who are not qualified to do so.

 

Further, you indicated that this is a “Chinese fake”. How did you come to this

conclusion? There are many countries where someone can forge a sword, so without

either (a) a detailed analysis of all materials or (b) information of other identical copies,

no one can for a fact state where the forgery is from. You did not see, or request to see,

the detailed metal analysis we have available, nor do you have any proof of an identical

copy from China.

 

Based on the above arguments we can disprove your two positions: one, that it is “$200”

dollar sword and two that it is from China. What we have left is your allegation that this

Tachi sword is a fake.

 

Since, no two authentic Japanese Swords are exactly alike; no complete catalogues of

every variation of each sword is published; no complete records of every single

swordsmiths that made swords in Japan is present – it is impossible for any professional

expert to state that our Tachi is “Fake”. All evidence that we have indicated that it is a

unique Japanese Tachi that has no known analogs.

 

To give you specifics we shall respond to your 4th email, where you outlined your three

observations about this Tachi.

Mr. Bowen - observation 1: “Look at the point of the blade. It is shaped wrong. Most

Chinese fakes have a chisel-like, straight edge in the point. A real Japanese sword has a

rounded edge in the point.”

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI was a typical shape of Tachi blades in 13th century. After looking at

multiple authentic Japanese swords from 12th to 17th century we found no major

deviations in the KISSAKI on our Tachi sword. It is difficult for us to understand how

you see it differently. Although this blade is structurally intact and has not been

shortened, we admit it was not cared for as it would have if it remained in Japan. It was

not polished for a very long time and unfortunately there is evidence that it has been

improperly sharpened. This evidence of improper sharpening left signs that are mistaken

for machining. Also we admit that the improper sharpening may have slightly altered the

shape of KISSAKI. Since the HAMON is not visible and there are sings of improper

sharpening we clearly see how this combination may have misled you to your

conclusions.

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI – typical

image.jpg

photo sharing

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI - on our Tachi

image.jpg

image ru

 

Mr. Bowen - observation 2: “The nakago (tang) is crudely shaped with odd Chinese

characters that make no sense.”

 

Our research indicates that the blade of this Tachi can potentially be much older, dating

between 11th - 13th centuries A.D. Japanese swords at that time were much less

standardized and heavily influenced by Mongolian, Chinese and Korean swords. Even

though the NAKAGO on this sword is crude, that does not indicate forgery. In fact it is a

clear indicator that this sword is very old and was made in a different way than most

other known swords, all of which are evidence of authenticity. Since we have metal

analysis that proves the authenticity of the blade, you argument is not valid.

 

Regarding the “odd Chinese characters”

 

Your statement concerns us, especially since you spent 15 years in Japan. We had a

Japanese person from Japan, who knew nothing about this Tachi other than the signature

on the NAKAGO, independently read this signature. They did not have much difficulty

reading the signature with high degree of accuracy. They weren’t able to translate only 2

out of 9 symbols because they did not have the expertise in ancient Japanese. However,

experts in Japanese language were able to fully decode these symbols with high accuracy.

 

First two symbols:

Type: URA-MEI – signed on the ura (usually the date).

Meaning: Purity in the Temple of the Sun

- A typical description of a season, in this case: fall or winter.

Notes: Symbols are absent in the official Japanese language and can only be read

in Ancient, prior to 14th century Chinese [in Japan sometimes called the

old Kanji ] which was used in Japan, China and Korea prior to 14th century.

Symbols are inscribed differently than the rest with clear tilt to the right.

 

Following seven symbols:

Type: OKKAKE MEI - an applied signature by another as a mark of respect.

Meaning:

-3rd symbol [?] is unidentified

-4th symbols [文] means – statement

-5th symbols [器] mean – vessel

-Symbols 4 and 5 together could also mean Bunroku period (1592 – 1596)

-6th symbol means [戈] - weapon

-7th symbol [信] means – faith

-Symbols 6 and 7 together could means - weapon of faith [but could also be read as temple weapon / weapon for a temple]

-8th symbols [ 正] mean – True

-9th sumbol [則] mean – Law

-Symbols 8 and 9 together [ 正則] could mean - Fukushima - if read in Ryakudzi style of Kanji.

Notes: These symbols are inscribed differently then the first two, with minimal

tilt. Inscribed in ancient Japanese since combinations of these symbols

are not used in any other Asian language. Inscribed in abbreviated

(stylized) form since some symbols are missing certain parts. This type of

writing is called: Ryakudzi (略字) meaning “abbreviated signs” and is

commonly used with versions of Kanji. Kanji is the oldest written

alphabet in Japan. It is a collection of Chinese characters that are still in

use in modern Japanese. There are tens of thousands of characters that

are used in everyday communications.

 

Further, it is widely know that early Japanese language was influenced by Korean and

Chinese languages. Majority of Japanese historians and experts recognize the ancient 12

-16th century blades were forged by Japanese swordsmiths who had roots from Korea,

China and other Asian regions. Therefore their signatures had elements of foreign

language that did not match the “typical” Japanese that was strongly enforced in mid 17th

century. The signature on our Tachi only proves that this sword was likely made in early

11th – 13th century.

 

Mr. Bowen - observation 3 “The lacquer on the saya (scabbard) is upside down.”

 

Neither the lacquer, the SAYA nor the KAMON is upside-down. It is widely known that

Tachi swords were worn with the edge down, slung on the side of the body, exactly the

opposite of the Katana. Because Tachi is worn edge down the KAMON remains in the

proper position. It is nothing unusual and most Japanese swords experts know this. The

fittings that hold the sword were added later in an improper way.

 

“Unlike the traditional manner of wearing the katana, the tachi was worn hung from the

belt with the cutting-edge down, and was most effective when used by cavalry."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachi

 

“Since Tachi were worn with the cutting edge facing downward the tachi-mei is found on

the side that would face away from the body of the wearer.” The Connoisseurs Book of

Japanese Swords by Kokan Nagayama, 1997, ISBN 4-7700-2071-6

 

Also when this Sword is put on a horizontal mounting in the classic for a Tachi, endsdown,

position the KAMON is presented in a proper way, once again. This sword must

have had very special significance to the owner. For whatever reason the owner, who was

clearly wealthy enough to have more than one sword, choose to have this swords only for

viewing [a well practiced ceremony in Japan]. This is supported by the fact that the

signature on the NAKAGO attributes the sword to a building [presumed to be a temple].

This means the sword was dedicated and stayed in the temple for most of the time.

 

Regarding the Silver Fittings, yes they are likely to be much later modifications. This is

not uncommon. Many ancient Japanese swords were modified to much more severe

extent. We are lucky this sword survived as it did.

 

Mr. Bowen, with the evidence presented above, we clearly show that this is an authentic

original and very ancient Tachi sword. Granted, it is not a typical Tachi and it was

modified over the years. We believe it is these modifications, mislead you to believe that

this Tachi was not authentic. However we hope that you now see that it is an ancient

sword with great historical significance. We believe it is a rare experimental 11th-13th

century Tachi that was influenced by the Tsurugi sword.

 

Regarding our project, we trust that you understand what we are trying to accomplish. If

you looked at our advertisement campaign and studied our websites you must understand,

that our main goal is to capture attention of the public and show them how magnificent,

important and valuable all ancient Japanese swords are. This is what we are trying to

accomplish. Never before a Japanese Sword was placed on two full pages in Forbes

Magazine. Never before a Japanese Sword was valued at over 80 million US dollars.

Never before an entire professionally made website was dedicated to a single Japanese

Sword. We, and a group of powerful and very passionate individuals are doing this as we

speak. We wish to put a stop to the global artificial undervaluation of authentic Japanese

swords and trough this project, though this sale, bring the worldwide attention to Japan

and all Japanese swords. Everything that we are doing will benefit you, your business,

Japanese swords and culture. Above that we already publicly stated that we are pledging

to donate a significant amount of revenue to charities in Japan. We hope that you

understand our position and goals - and become a supporter of this project.

Sincerely,

 

Professor Mikhail Tamoikin PhD.

Vice-Precedent of Tamoikin Inc. (Canada)

Co-owner of Tamoikins Museum

Director of Science Research Institute for Standardization & Attestation of Cultural

Property (Kiev, Ukraine)

Licensed Art Appraiser and Authenticator

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Sir,

I make no claim to be an expert in anything. I have however spent most of my adult life studying Japanese swords. I am not a member of the NTHK although I do respect their opinion. I would however make the following points which I do not think anyone here will disagree with and may save you a great deal of time rwasted in posting copies of emails.

 

1. I believe your sword is a fake. There is nothing about it which suggests it has any quality

 

2. A valuation of $80,000000 is ludicrous. Before your expert puts such a valuation on anything they should at least study the market. Swords made by the greatest smiths in history such as Masamune and Rai Kunitoshi etc do not command such a rediculous price. The highest figure paid in a Western auction for a properly authenticated piece was approximately $400,000. The value placed on your blade says as much about your experts lack of knowledge as it does the sword.

 

I would suggest you do not waste time and effort trying to prove your blade is either genuine or worth the price your expert has put on it. You will fail.

 

BTW I would place a much higher value on an appraisal made by the NTHK based on a photograph than I would a self proclaimed expert that puts such a redicluous value on a blade seen in hand.

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Is this "the blade" listed for sale in Forbes through an auction house in Canada after being appraised in Russia. I have to say that even as naive as I am the nakago - tank is newer and filed, the blade is the wrong shape for the era and considering the value - one would think it would be in better polish ? I sincerely hope it is worth 80 grand cause I must have at least 3 million in similar blades in my den.

 

The other thing I recall about the last bunch of comments was that the "proof" of the appraisals and verification by the experts would be sent out to those that requested same - none seemed to appear.

 

EDIT : Sorry I did not see the reply to Chris - the actual dollar amount that he stated the "sword" was worth - 200 could have been anything from 50 dollars to 500 and I am sure was based on the item not the value of the metal in it ! IF the changes that are noted were made to the blade then someone basically ruined it in doing whatever they were doing - like the painting restored in the church. All I know is considering what many masterpieces in Nihonto have sold for why would this be worth hundreds of times what they were and everyone agreed these others were real?

 

I recall watching a show where an "antiques roadshow" appraiser looking at a Japanese sword and unlike English Porcelain I did know about the blade he was holding and as knowledgeable as he was in a great many different types of very ancient object he knew nothing of Nihinto and it was almost like he made it up :freak:

 

Opinions are of course like a lot of things and we have heard some opinions saying its fake and the reasons why and the current authors assertion it is as stated but only because of the one gentleman's assessment who I have never heard of in relation to these blades. I wonder if the author has shown the blade in hand to a KNOWN expert in Japanese blades only ? Why not send it to Shinsa and get it papered and then - make some guesses as to value.

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Messege in: Wed, October 03, 2012 9:56 am

 

T.Fujimoto

 

Dear Sir,

 

My name is T.Fujimoto. living in Amsterdam NL as Japanese sword expert.

I am very surprised to saw your article for the Tachi belonged to Fukushima Masanori.

Because, the sword is not Japanese. it is a cheaply made Chinese copy sword.

 

Is it just simple mistake or there is some other purpose for it ?

 

hope to hear from you soon.

 

Best regards T.Fujimoto

 

Answer:

Dear Mr. Fujimoto

 

Thank you for writing to us.

 

We value your opinion.

 

We are more than happy to give you a detailed answer but we need a little more information before connecting you to one of our experts.

 

May you please tell us how you came to your conclusion?

 

With best,

Tamoikin Inc.

 

Messege in: Wed, October 03, 2012 2:25 pm

 

Dear Sir,

 

Thank you very much for your quick response.

 

Before I explain about the sword.

Let me introduce myself.

 

My Name is Takao Fujimoto, A Japanese.

I am living in The Netherlands as a Japanese antique (sword) dealer and expert since 1996.

A member of NBTHK Japanese sword museum. Doing Valuation, restoration, and giving lecture.

Staying permission EU was recommended by Minister of Culture Department NL, mr.Ken Vos Curator of Japanese section of Rijksmuseum and Japanese sword museum in Tokyo/Japan.

I also worked at State Hermitage Museum in St.Peresburg/Russia for research of their Japanese sword collection.

 

When I see your Tachi sword.

 

At First picture,

The Shape, Sori (curve) of the blade is completely wrong.

for 16th century blade. the curve should be between 1.5cm to 2.5cm, I think this balde is much more.

and The Tsuka (Handle or Tang) is looks straight. is also wrong.

so, Over all shape is already not right as original Japanese sword...

 

2nd Photo

The Lacquered Saya(scabbard) with Kamon (family crest) is Up side down...

And Sliver fittings were started late 19th century till modern.

 

3rd Photo

Nakago (Tang)

The shape is not right as original Japanese sword.

it is more like copy of ww2(1940').

it looks like, the person who made is item has never seen original Antique sword before.

he has seen only ww2 military sword.\ or even only photos.

The Signature is un-readable for Japanese. and completely different way of chiseling as well.

(any Japanese can recognize that is not done by Japanese person)

and Mekugi-ana (hole), the hole is done by machine,

in 16th century, they didn't have have Machine to make a hole. the hole was done by chisel.

 

4th Photo

Tsuba,

The Signature 鳥居清溝X Torii Kiyomizo which doesn't exist. it is not even Japanese name.

and Craftsmanship is not level of Japanese quality.

 

5th Photo

Fuchi (Fitting of handle) and Kissaki (tip of the sword)

 

The Signature of the fitting is 豊春筆、Toyoharu-hitsu. the maker Toyoharu is not existed and 筆(Hitsu) is Signature for calligraphy, not metal work. Japanese goldsmith has never signed 筆(hitsu).

 

and The Kissaki (Tip od the sword).

as I wrote above.

the shape of the tip is more like a copy of late ww2 military machine blade, The shape of Hi (grave) as well.

it is different from original Japanese blade.

and we should be able to see (or find) some activity of the steel and hamon(crystallized steel at edge).

but, the photo doesn't show any of those signs.

 

from Those reason, I am afraid to say that there is no parts similar or close to not even 16th century, but any of Original Japanese Samurai sword.

 

Please forgive my criticism and my poor English.

and Please pass my message to your experts,

If they have any question, i am happy to answer.

for your company's reputation.

 

Best regards,

T.Fujimoto

 

Answer:

 

Dear Mr. Takao,

 

Thank you for a detailed letter. We value your opinion and respect you as a professional

Japanese swords expert. We cannot, however, agree with your analysis of our Tachi. In

our reply we will be very direct so please do not be offended by our language, as we were

not offended by yours.

 

In the first email you sent us you said the following:

“The sword is not Japanese. It is a cheaply made Chinese copy sword”.

 

For a professional swords expert, it is inappropriate to make such statements without

concrete evidence. You did not personally examine the sword or at the very least examine

all additional high definition photographs and documentation that we have available.

 

How were you able to determine, from small amount of photographs, that it is cheaply

made sword? Our metal analysis shows that there is substantial amount of gold on the

TSUBA, that alone does not make it cheap. Further, the silver on the SAYA is not cheap

either and if we are to take into account the fact that the sword was hand-made, regardless

where, its overall value under no circumstances can be, as you say, “Cheap”.

 

Furthermore, you indicated that this is a “Chinese Copy”. How did you come to this

conclusion? There are many countries where someone can forge a sword, so without

either (a) a detailed analysis of all materials or (b) information of other identical copies,

no one can for a fact state where the forgery is from. You did not see, or request to see,

the detailed metal analysis we have available nor do you have any proof of an identical

copy from China.

 

Based on the above arguments we can disprove your two positions: one, that it is cheaply

made sword and two that it is from China. What we have left is your allegation that this

Tachi sword is a copy. To answer this we shall respond to your second email, first

restating what you wrote and then providing our answer to each of your observations.

 

Mr. Takao - observation 1: “First picture, The Shape, Sori (curve) of the blade is

completely wrong. For 16th century blade the curve should be between 1.5cm to 2.5cm, I

think this blade is much more. The Tsuka (Handle or Tang) looks straight, is also wrong

so over all shape is already not right as original Japanese sword...”

 

Our research indicates that the blade of this Tachi can potentially be much older, dating

between 11th - 13th centuries A.D., a period when the shape of SORI was much less

standardized and heavily influenced by Mongolian, Chinese and Korean swords. The

photographs that you have seen do not allow you to estimate the exact depth of SORI and

thus make a statement like “the blade is completely wrong”. We admit this sword has a

slightly deeper SORI but it does not differ much from KOSHI / BIZEN SORI. Further

the deep SORI was very common during Heian and especially Kamakura period. For

example, famous swords by Rai School were know to have large SORI. Finally this Tachi

was intended specifically for cavalry not infantry and Cavalry Tachi where known to be much longer and with a larger SORI. The fact that this is a Cavalry Tachi also indicates

ownership by a high status samurai.

 

SORI of a RAI School Sword [1]

image.jpg

 

SORI on our TACHI Sword

image.jpg

 

Regarding the TSUKA and NAKAGO. Yes they are straight however that does not

indicate forgery or wrongness. It does indicate that this sword was made in a different

way than most other known swords. Our research indicates that a straight NAKAGO is

seen on ancient Japanese swords such as Tsurugi. Since we have metal analysis that

proves the authenticity of the blade, what we have is hybrid Tachi, an early experimental

version made when the cannons of the Japanese sword-making were just being

established. At that time swordsmiths experimented and tested various designs. This

Tachi is possibly the only surviving Samurai sword with a straight NAKAGO. This

makes it extremely valuable.

 

The above arguments disprove your statement that “the overall shape of the sword is not

right”. Your analysis has merit if we were to look at a typical Japanese sword, however

since we have clearly shown that our Tachi sword is not typical, your arguments cannot

be considered valid. This is a very unusual, authentic, ancient Japanese Tachi. Since, no

two authentic Japanese Swords are exactly alike; no complete catalogue of every

variation of each sword is published; no complete records of every single swordsmiths

that made swords in Japan is present – it is impossible for any professional expert to state

that our Tachi is “not right”. All evidence that we have indicate that it is a unique

Japanese Tachi that has no known analogs.

 

Mr. Takao - observation 2 “The Lacquered Saya (scabbard) with Kamon (family crest) is

Up side down... And Sliver fittings were started late 19th century till modern.”

 

The KAMON is not upside-down. It is widely known that Tachi swords were worn with

the edge down, slung on the side of the body, exactly the opposite of the Katana. Because

Tachi is worn edge down the KAMON remains in the proper position. It is nothing

unusual and most Japanese swords experts know this. The fittings that hold the sword

were added later in an improper way.

 

“Unlike the traditional manner of wearing the katana, the tachi was worn hung from the

belt with the cutting-edge down, and was most effective when used by cavalry.

 

 

“Since Tachi were worn with the cutting edge facing downward the tachi-mei is found on

the side that would face away from the body of the wearer.” The Connoisseurs Book of

Japanese Swords by Kokan Nagayama, 1997, ISBN 4-7700-2071-6

 

Also when this Sword is put on a horizontal mounting in the classic for a Tachi, endsdown,

position the KAMON is presented in a proper way, once again. This sword must

have had very special significance to the owner. For whatever reason the owner, who was

clearly wealthy enough to have more than one sword, choose to have this sword only for

viewing [a well practiced ceremony in Japan]. This is supported by the fact that the

signature on the NAKAGO attributes the sword to a building [presumed to be a temple].

This means the sword was dedicated and stayed in the temple for most of the time.

image.jpg

 

Regarding the Silver Fittings, yes they are likely to be much later modifications. This is

not uncommon. Many ancient Japanese swords were modified to much more severe

extent. We are lucky this sword survived as it did.

 

Mr. Takao - observation 3 “Nakago (Tang) The shape is not right as original Japanese

sword. It is more like copy of ww2 (1940'). It looks like, the person who made is item has

never seen original Antique sword before. He has seen only ww2 military sword. Or even

only photos.”

 

We already answered this above but we would like to add the following; We looked at

countless authentic WWII Japanese Swords and were not able to find any credible

photographs of a Tachi or Katana with a straight NAKAGO that is even closely similar to

our Tachi sword. Other than on TANTO blades there is little evidence of authentic WWII

Japanese Tachi Swords with a straight NAKAGO. If there are no known WWII Tachi

swords with a straight NAKAGO then this cannot be a copy of a WWII Japanese Sword.

The only plausible explanation that is left, why the maker never seen an antique original

sword, is because the maker was a 11th -13th century swordsmith that was making a one of

the earliest Japanese swords that came to be. Our Tachi is clearly an early version that

was made, before cannons of a traditional Japanese sword where formed.

 

Mr. Takao - observation 4 “The Signature is un-readable for Japanese. And completely

different way of chiseling as well (any Japanese can recognize that is not done by

Japanese person) and Mekugi-ana (hole), the hole is done by machine. In 16th century,

they didn't have Machine to make a hole. The hole was done by chisel.”

 

Your statement concerns us, because we had a Japanese person from Japan, who knew

nothing about this Tachi other than the signature on the NAKAGO, independently read

this signature. They did not have much difficulty reading the signature with high degree

of accuracy. They weren’t able to translate only 2 out of 9 symbols because they did not

have the expertise in ancient Japanese. However, experts in Japanese language were able

to fully decode these symbols with high accuracy.

 

First two symbols:

Type: URA-MEI – signed on the ura (usually the date).

Meaning: Purity in the Temple of the Sun

- A typical description of a season, in this case: fall or winter.

Notes: Symbols are absent in the official Japanese language and can only be read

in Ancient, prior to 14th century Chinese [in Japan sometimes called the

old Kanji ] which was used in Japan, China and Korea prior to 14th century.

Symbols are inscribed differently then the rest with clear tilt to the right.

 

Following seven symbols:

Type: OKKAKE MEI - an applied signature by another as a mark of respect.

Meaning:

-3rd symbol [?] is unidentified

-4th symbols [文] means – statement

-5th symbols [器] mean – vessel

-Symbols 4 and 5 together could also mean Bunroku period (1592

– 1596)

-6th symbol means [戈] - weapon

-7th symbol [信] means – faith

-Symbols 6 and 7 together could means - weapon of faith [but could also be read as temple weapon / weapon for a temple]

-8th symbols [ 正] mean – True

-9th sumbol [則] mean – Law

-Symbols 8 and 9 together [ 正則] could mean – Fukushima - if read in Ryakudzi style of Kanji.

Notes: These symbols are inscribed differently then the first two, with minimal

tilt. Inscribed in ancient Japanese since combinations of these symbols

are not used in any other Asian language. Inscribed in abbreviated

(stylized) form since some symbols are missing certain parts. This type of

writing is called: Ryakudzi (略字) meaning “abbreviated signs” and is

commonly used with versions of Kanji. Kanji is the oldest written

alphabet in Japan. It is a collection of Chinese characters that are still in

use in modern Japanese. There are tens of thousands of characters that

are used in everyday communications.

 

Further, it is widely know that early Japanese language was influenced by Korean and

Chinese languages. Majority of Japanese historians and experts recognize the ancient 12

-16th century blades were forged by Japanese swordsmiths who had roots from Korea,

China and other Asian regions. Therefore their signatures had elements of foreign

language that did not match the “typical” Japanese that was strongly enforced in mid 17th

century. The signature on our Tachi only proves that this sword was likely made in early

11th – 13th century.

 

Regarding the MEKUGI-ANA (hole). It was unprofessional for you to jump to a

conclusion without requesting further details. As part of the metal analysis of this Tachi,

independent, government recognized, lab took a 400x photograph of the MEKUGI-ANA

and undeniably confirmed that it was hand-made.

image.jpg

 

Thus, our above arguments disprove your statements that our Tachi was a WWII copy

and that the MEKUGI-ANA was machine made.

 

Mr. Takao - observation 5. “Tsuba. The Signature 鳥居清溝X Torii Kiyomizo which

doesn't exist. It is not even Japanese name. And Craftsmanship is not level of Japanese

quality.”

 

With all due respect, we have to dismiss your ability to judge any specifics, especially

quality, from photographs as we have shown that you were wrong in your judgments

before [ex. Assumption that MEKUGI-ANA was machine made].

 

As for the signature :

“Torii Kiyomitsu (鳥居清満, 1735 - May 11, 1785) was a painter and printmaker of

the Torii school of Japanese ukiyo-e art… Signature of Torii Kiyomitsu] reading “Torii

Kiyomitsu ga” (鳥居清満画). // http://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Torii_Kiyomitsu”

 

Very strange that you, a Japanese and a recognized swords expert, were not able to read

accurately and identify a well known 18th century Japanese painter. Even stranger is that

you stated that it is not even a Japanese name, when it clearly is.

 

We admit that the TSUBA is from the 18th century. Regarding Torii Kiyomitsu’s name

on the TSUBA: Hypothesis 1: Torii Kiyomitsu was the artist who drew the design of the

TSUBA while the hallmark opposite to his make is the mark of the actual Maker.

Because this sword was of great importance Torii Kiyomitsu, a famous Japanese artist,

was most likely asked to draw the TSUBA design. Because Torii Kiyomitsu himself was

famous he asked to have this signature be placed on the TSUBA as well. This is unusual

but is the most feasible explanation. Hypothesis 2: Torii Kiyomitsu, known for Samurai

drawings, expanded his talents into the art of TSUBA making.

 

image.jpg

[2]

Mr. Takao - observation 6. “The Signature of the fitting is 豊春筆、Toyoharu-hitsu. The

maker Toyoharu is not existed and 筆(Hitsu) is Signature for calligraphy, not metal

work. Japanese goldsmith has never signed 筆(hitsu).”

 

We admit, at the moment we do not know why this signature is present on the fitting. We

believe it is the signature of a Japanese artist Toyohara Kunichika.

 

“Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周, June 30, 1835 – July 1, 1900) was a Japanese

woodblock print artist. Talented as a child, at about thirteen he became a student of

Tokyo's then-leading print maker, Utagawa Kunisada. //

http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Toyohara_Kunichika”

 

Mr. Takao - observation 7. “And The Kissaki (Tip od the sword). As I wrote above. The

shape of the tip is more like a copy of late ww2 military machine blade, The shape of Hi

(grave) as well. It is different from original Japanese blade. And we should be able to see

(or find) some activity of the steel and hamon (crystallized steel at edge). But, the photo

doesn't show any of those signs.”

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI was a typical shape of Tachi blades in 13th century. After looking at

multiple authentic Japanese swords from 12th to 17th century we found no major

deviations in the KISSAKI on our Tachi sword. It is difficult for us to understand how

you see it differently. The HI is the primary reason we believe you are attributing this

Tachi sword to WWII period. Our research shows that the HI was in fact added later

[exact date is unknown] Because sword went through both WWI and WWII it is likely

this modification happened at that time, however it does not indicate that the sword is of

that period. Regarding the HAMON, Mr. Takao, you out of all people should know that if

an ancient sword is not polished over a long time, the HAMON will not be visible.

Although this blade is structurally intact and has not been shortened, we admit it was not

cared for as it would have if it remained in Japan. It was not polished for a very long time

and unfortunately there is evidence that it has been improperly sharpened. This evidence

of improper sharpening left signs that are mistaken for machining. Also we admit that the

improper sharpening may have slightly altered the shape of KISSAKI. Since the

HAMON is not visible, there are sings of improper sharpening and together with the HI

we clearly see how this combination may have misled you to your conclusions. That said,

from data gathered through scientific testing we know and can prove that the HAMON is

there, the metal on the sword is ancient and the HI was added much later.

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI - typical [3]

image.jpg

 

IKUBI-KISSAKI - on our Tachi

image.jpg

 

Mr. Takao - observation 7. “From Those reason, I am afraid to say that there is no parts

similar or close to not even 16th century, but any of Original Japanese Samurai sword.”

 

Mr. Takao, with the evidence presented above, we clearly show that this is an authentic

original and very ancient Tachi sword. Granted, it is not a typical Tachi and it was

modified over the years. We believe it is these modifications, like the latter added HI, that

mislead you to believe that it was a WWII sword. However we hope that you now see

that it is an ancient sword with great historical significance. We believe it is a rare

experimental 11th-13th century Tachi that was influenced by the Tsurugi sword. If you are

not satisfied with our reply, we invite you to Lithuania [time and date would have to be

scheduled in advance] to personally examine this word, all documents that we have

available.

 

Regarding our project, we trust that you understand what we are trying to accomplish. If

you looked at our advertisement campaign and studied our websites you must understand,

that our main goal is to capture attention of the public and show them how magnificent,

important and valuable all ancient Japanese swords are. This is what we are trying to

accomplish. Never before a Japanese Sword was placed on two full pages in Forbes

Magazine. Never before a Japanese Sword was valued at over 80 million US dollars.

Never before an entire professionally made website was dedicated to a single Japanese

Sword. We, and a group of powerful and very passionate individuals are doing this as we

speak. We wish to put a stop to the global artificial undervaluation of authentic Japanese

swords and trough this project, though this sale, bring the worldwide attention to Japan

and all Japanese swords. Above that we already publicly stated that we are pledging to

donate a significant amount of revenue to charities in Japan. We hope that you

understand our position and goals - and become a supporter of this project.

 

Sincerely,

 

Professor Mikhail Tamoikin PhD.

Vice-Precedent of Tamoikin Inc. (Canada)

Co-owner of Tamoikins Museum

Director of Science Research Institute for Standardization & Attestation of Cultural

Property (Kiev, Ukraine)

Licensed Art Appraiser and Authenticator

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I just have a look at this topic and I am still wondering who is the smith who forges this blade, impossible to see the smith name in the article. Can you provide it Andrey, please as I am unable to decipher it on the tang.

 

Japanese blade value depends on different things:

 

- Era

- smith name and its rating

- condition of the blade

 

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the value of the Japanese sword is driven by the market which itself is driven by Japanese experts. No one will be willing to put thousands of $ in a blade without a certificate from one of the main Japanese sword societies. All other certificates are not worth a dime.

 

Only a su..er can put this kind of money without any reliable guarantee. If this blade is what it is declared to be, it will easily obtained a NBTHK juyo certificate (museum quality certificate)

So I suggest to have the blade send to Japan for polishing and submission to Shinsa. As it is not a national treasure (they have been already listed for decades), no fear to have it confiscated by Japanese autorities.

 

The big advantage of shinsa system is that the blade can be put on the first level of certification which is the certification of the signature. Here only Japanese experts can certify it because there are thousand of fakes and one must be very good to detect them.

 

As already stated, I don't know the smith name, but in Japan you have thousand of books listing the signatures of known smiths and showing either a photography of them or a copy of its rubbing.

 

I have the Fujishiro and the Nihonto Zuikan books which list all the known smiths with example given. Just provide me the smith name and I'll be glad to post a copy of the book refences.

 

 

We hope to set an example and inspire the Japanese people to start valuing all ancient Samurai swords more than ever before.

 

Here, you must have missed something, as the sword is one of the three historical Japanese treasures :)

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Wow, I just found out that my sword is worth $80,000,000! I was told it was junk, but now I realize it was really an 11th century prototype blade! It's true, I found an expert to tell me.

 

 

 

post-2823-14196846445399_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

Derek

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Since we are airing private emails in public, let me post the last round:

 

I received this:

 

Dear Mr. Bowen,

 

Thank you as well for your insightful answer.

 

It is clear that we will have to agree to disagree.

 

It is our understanding that because of certain modification to this Tachi, that happened throughout its lifetime, certain experts are labeling this sword as fake. However, based on all the information that we have, including official metal and stylistic analysis reports, we stand by the fact that this Tachi is authentic.

 

We cannot understand how you and your expert can make concrete statements of authenticity without personalty examining this sword. (bold added)That is not done in any other art, antiques and collectibles markets. Almost every expert, especially if presented with questionable item will want to examine it before going on record with their final statement.

 

If this interests you, we are more than happy to continue this discussion but may you or your Japanese colleagues please provide more tangible evidence of your statements. To be more precise, a statistical analysis for each point that you are making. For example how many authentic Japanese swords were known to have an upside down KAMON and more importantly how may know fake sword have an upside down KAMON? How many authentic sword that are known to have unexplained deviations in signature on the NAKAGO? Etc... Book references would also be much appreciated.

 

If you can present undeniable evidence, backed up by statistics, that this sword is a fake, we will gladly change our position but until then we will stand by the facts and documents that we have, as they are much stronger in any scientific community than blog and forum references that you are suggesting.

 

 

Finally we thank you for your time and appreciate you insight. We always welcome a healthy scientific discussion and trust that there are no hard feeling.

 

With best,

Professor M. Tamoikin PhD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my reply:

 

Hello-

 

Thank you for your message.

 

How do I and others who have seen the pictures know this is not a genuine Japanese sword without seeing it in hand? Two reasons:

 

1. Experience over a 30+ years of seeing and handling genuine Japanese swords.

 

2. This sword is so obviously not a genuine Japanese sword that anyone with experience can tell from the pictures alone.

 

Let me ask you this:

 

Which picture appears to be a genuine turtle:

 

1.post-1462-14196846440075_thumb.jpg

 

 

or:

 

2.post-1462-14196846444634_thumb.jpg

 

Do you really have to see each of these turtles in hand to know which one is real? It is the same thing with your sword. The fact that it is obviously not a genuine Japanese sword is clear to anyone that has sufficient experience with Japanese swords.

 

The blade shape is incorrect, the workmanship is substandard, the fittings are poorly done and not correct, the blade doesn't have the correct steel pattern or hardened edge, the inscription is not done in a proper Japanese syntax, etc. I have nothing to gain or loss whether or not this sword is real or fake. I simply felt the need to inform you of this to perhaps save you from embarrassment or legal issues in the future. If you insist that this sword is real, please send photos to the Nihon Bijutsu Hozon Kyokai in Tokyo. They are the most respected experts on Japanese swords in the world. You can google their email address. I guarantee you they will tell you the same thing I have.

 

Best of luck to you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris Bowen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, this sword was not made in Japan. It is a fake. I realize it is far easier to believe the dream that this is a valuable sword, rather than a near worthless fake, but really, how many people will tell you this before you accept the truth?

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Its is a lot like religion:,

 

Those that don't believe will never have enough proof , and those that do believe -- don't need any proof. :)

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I don't think this has anything to do with who believes and who doesn't. I think this is all about trying to sell a Chinese fake as real Nihonto. Next we know the seller will be telling prospective customers that the sword has been thoroughly discussed on the web's foremost Nihonto forum.

I also don't think this has any place on the message board; it isn't Nihonto. Get rid of it.

Grey

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For Astrepshin,

 

There is not a sword on this planet that is worth 80 Million US dollars. Past, present, future, bejeweled, Japanese, belonged to Jesus, Buddha, Masamune etc.

 

To state such shows how ridiculous your post is.

 

 

and to Chris Bowen, You sir, are a genius. The turtle pics are enlightening, entertaining and make your point.

 

 

Chris

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I have watched this thread with some interest. Whilst normally I would, like most of the members of this board, after establishing this so called tachi as a fake, merely have moved on and forgotten about it, this excercise in stubbornness on the part of Tamoikin Inc has instead now reached epic proportions.

Since the owners of this blade have chosen to defend its status and value, they are now trapped in that position, a position from which there is (given their investment in publishing) no retreat. One would think that in the face of so much adverse opinion from recognised sword experts, that there would be proof offered that silenced those knowledgeable critics, Or that Tamoikin, Astrepshin and co would in the face of their opinion steal silently into the night. But no...... We have what amounts to a Mexican standoff!

Interesting............... Immovable object and irresistible force. (Or in this case overwhelming logic). I also wonder at what other treasures lie as yet undiscovered in the archives of the vodka based economies of the former soviet block.

 

I applaud our resident experts efforts to enlighten Tamoikin Inc as to their erroneous beliefs concerning this fakery, (Love the turtles. :lol:), but one is prompted to ask, where can this go from here? Either some wealthy and gullible idiot will buy it (Surely not without verification by a Japanese authority), or the whole thing will fizzle out and die as so many scams (if scam it is) are wont to do, without the would be perpetrators suffering any consequence. :roll:

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I think that to dwell any further upon this sword is only giving the subject more credence than it warrants. If it was $8 000.00 on e-Bay we would have forgotten it by now. There is an obvious sub-text to this, although what I fail to see, that rankles me and unless there is an uber-rich moron who would drop $80 000 000.00 on any sword (without having it assessed) notwithstanding, type, really is of no consequence. This thread has some humourous satirical qualities though (the turtles were hilarious). John

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For Astrepshin,

 

There is not a sword on this planet that is worth 80 Million US dollars. Past, present, future, bejeweled, Japanese, belonged to Jesus, Buddha, Masamune etc.

 

To state such shows how ridiculous your post is.

 

 

and to Chris Bowen, You sir, are a genius. The turtle pics are enlightening, entertaining and make your point.

 

 

Chris

 

You're right, the most expensive sword ever sold belonged to Napoleon, a steal at 6.5 million. $80 million would cover Napoleon's sword, 2 F-15 Fighter jets, plus change for a different Porsche a day for a month!

 

http://en.wikicollecting.org/the-wikico ... ue-weapons

 

Regards,

Lance

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Henry.

 

If this piece of scrap (albeit ostensibly 16th century scrap), is worth $80,000,000, imagine what the Kitsunegasaki Tachi would be worth just based on their definition of ancient let alone our definition of genuine. :D

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Are you seriously telling me that in a modern age, science plays no role? When there are hall institutions that can prove through testing how old is a material, its compound and even what mine it came from. Moreover there are even tests that show how long ago the metal has been heat-treated. There are more than enough swords in the world that have no real age. The market as was mentioned is mostly blades that wore lost by Japan during wars, most of them wore mass produced with a few genuine articles. The early history of Japan is full of internal wars between clans, when lots of schools and masters wore exterminated along with numerous records.

 

Traditional sword experts have their heads filed with commonality because they study thousands of swords that come there whey, they only see real swords or fakes. The authenticity of an article is rooted in them by their experience of going through lots and lots of the same. They forget that once in a while something interesting might come up and without consideration or thought dismiss it offhand as fake without a wish or a spark of interest. I think it must be a boring and degrading job to study so long to do a monotone evaluation of other people’s possessions, it becomes a habit and sets the wrong mind set for a person in this line of work. As for the sword, modern, it is not, uncommon, it is. If as you say it is fake, why would anyone make it to be obviously so by your opinion. I think if a hypothetical forger wanted to make a fake, he has the entire internet, thousands of books to make a sword that would fool anyone on the photograph and most people in person.

 

There is defiantly something wrong about the way sword experts do thing at the moment. Maybe it is too much work to do tests, read history books to research one object, as was clearly shown by persons in question. Maybe it is easer just to look at a picture and say “modern Chinese fake”. Maybe it is a Chinese fake nearly a thousand years old (the blade). I don’t know I am no expert. But the questions this blade poses brings out a spark in me to find out why, how, who…

 

Thanks to those that tried to have a civil discussion on the subject. I see that most here are too far set in their old ways, I can’t change that nor would I want to. I still appreciate Japanese culture and art and think it needs more then it is getting. Will be online on and off and am looking forward to see the developments.

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Henry.

 

If this piece of scrap (albeit ostensibly 16th century scrap), is worth $80,000,000, imagine what the Kitsunegasaki Tachi would be worth just based on their definition of ancient let alone our definition of genuine. :D

 

The blade is much older than 16th century. This date is there to indicate the last known owner of the sword. Read everything that is available then comment. If it is not worth your time then maybe you should not participate.

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Dear mr.Trepshin,

 

I understand that you feel offended and angry by people talk about your sword "a fake".

however, I respect that you bring up this subject on opened Discussion.

we will be able to inspect the subject one by one.

so, all of us can lean about Japanese SWORD.

 

starting from Mei (Signature).

Here is the explanation of Signature by your experts.

We have quite a few people who can read Signature of Japanese sword and we have an expert for reading Japanese Ancient letters as well.

Let us see how other members find mistake(s) of this explanation.

 

Best regards

post-4263-14196846456076_thumb.jpg

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Andrey,

I am sorry but you really are wasting your time. This has nothing to do with what Japanese scholars do or do not think, how they work or their attitudes. It is about an obvious fake (sorry to be so blunt but the mesasage seems to have failed to get through) being offered for sale at a price that is so rediculous that it belongs in the realms of fantasy.

If you wish to believe this is what you claim and is worth the price you have put on it fine, carry on. Do not expect anyone here to change their view or support. You are wrong. If your scientific proof (yet to be seen) supports this then that is equally wrong or fraudulent.

The problem is the longer this debate goes on the less it appears to be a genuine error and the more like an attempted fraud/scam.

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The Mei signature is poorly written and according to that explanation, the translation is embarrassingly wrong.

 

This is not April the First, so this must be some kind of trolling, leg-pulling exercise. Either that or an attempt to gather more inside information for a second attempt at creating a better 'genuine' sword. It sounds to me as if a Chinese trader must be involved in this and his 'face' is on the line. Certainly someone stands to make or lose a lot of money here.

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Mr Trepshin.

 

I have read all that is here and what is contained in the Forbes publication. I have also discounted that which is total rubbish and defaulted to the standpoint that the koshirae is purportedly from the 16th century and the blade is a fake, therefore the oldest possible date you can claim for the whole sorry assembly is the 16th century.

 

I'm sorry, but no one is listening to the attempts you are making to justify this sword's claimed age and value. Moreover, the more you protest, the less credible you seem.

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