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From 'Tokubetsu Kicho paper' to 'Hozon'


Dr Fox
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Hi members.

I have an unsigned blade, which has got a Tokubetsu Kicho, issued in 1972. The paper attributes the sword to Echizen Kanetane.

The Kicho system was replaced in 1980 by the current Hozon, so these papers are no longer issued. It has been suggested, that the NBTHK encourage those that have Tokubetsu Kicho, to resubmit the swords to modern shinsa.

Although I find the prospect of such a move delightful, I am mindful I live in the UK, and this could be an expensive undertaking.

The value of the sword is approx £5,000.00.

I ask, what would be the gain to me, for submitting the blade to shinsa , please advise on all aspects of such a course of action.

Regards Denis.

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Hi Denis.

 

I am sure that you will have seen this article, http://www.nihontocraft.com/japanese_sword_papers.htm which, while not exactly answering your question goes some way to explaining the issues. Your call but it seems like quite a lot of effort and expense to go through as the sword already has papers. I can't imagine that the difference would make that much of an impact on the value or the likelihood of a sale.

 

All the best

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Hi Denis,

Because of the problems experienced by the NBTHK in the late 70s and early 80's and because of greater amounts of research being undertaken in the past 30 years the NBTHK have generally encouraged people holding swords with older papers to resubmit them for re-appraisal.

In the case of your own sword it has been papered to a competent late koto or early Shinto smith. It is mumei so under the current system it can obtain hozon or if it is exceptional, possibly tokubetsu Hozon papers. The total exercise will cost you several hundred pounds. Having an up to date paper may make your sword easier to sell but wont necessarilly add to the value.

If it were attributed to an important school or famous smith it would be worth considering. For anything less the benefits are less clear cut and I dont think you would increase the sales price by the costs associated with the process.

regards

Paul

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Hi again Geraint

 

Unfortunatly the link provided, didn't give me the info you were eluding to, but your response was noted and accepted, and led on from the thoughts I had. my thanks to you.

 

Hi Paul

 

And again, I can see the value in what you are saying, but just to clarify a point, sale or generally increasing the swords cash potential is not the primary reason for my enquiry. Am I missing something not to have modern shinsa? Would I get confirmation of Smith? or more precise dating, or would the Hozon paper read exactly the same, but be now a different colour! Should that be the case, its a definite no no, to spend any monies in this direction.

 

Thanks both for your time.

Denis.

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Sorry Denis that is impossible to answer for anyone other than the shinsa panel

To try and anticipate what they might do:

1. Echizen work is well documented and the characterisitcs well known. They have been for many years therefore it is reasonable to assume the initial attribution was right

2. The smith and his work are well known. He is, I think, well regarded but not top tier. therefore there is little reason to a) fake his work or b) as in this case attribute a mumei blade to him in an attempt to commit fraud.

3. Resubmission would likely confirm it is an Echizen sword, if there is enough individuality in the smiths work (sorry I dont know him that well) they could attribute it to him. If not they may just leave it at Echizen or Den Echizen.

Taking all the above in to account I do not think you would gain much greater insight and if it were me I would not go through the process. But that ultimately is your decision.

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Hey! I had an echizen kanetane wakizashi, mint, about a year ago with kicho papers. I have a photograph library of it for reference if you want to PM me we can share. The blade was well made, thick, and strong. Dotanuki, I believe. Comparing may be useful in making your decision for shinsa..

 

Regards,

Josh

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Great Paul

 

I seem to think there were 3 Kanetane in the 1600 in Echizen? And you are right, it is down to me! and at the moment its 3/0 against and I am one of them, cheers pal.

 

Denis.

 

Josh I will PM. Regards Denis.

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See it Josh

 

It indicates this Kanetane the 4th, differed his style from previous Kanetane, what would be a similarity to my blade would be the hamon. I wonder if earlier Kanetane worked in Toranba-Midare. I will see if I can find examples.

Denis.

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Unless there is good reason to believe that the current results would change, perhaps, a part of the cost of resubmission might be better spent on kantei literature, something like Yamanaka's Newsletters revised or other good books. Although, once upon a time I too had a katana papered to Echizen Kanetane, where after many months of very careful study I became convinced the new amateur polish (early lack of experience), was hiding a much better sword, which a new Japanese polish proved to be correct. In this case the sword papered Tokuho to a Jo Saku Nambokucho period sword smith. I bring this up not to raise false hopes, but rather to encourage very careful and extensive study especially of ones own (mumei) sword. Submission of an item to shinsa should be a test of a collectors knowledge, rather than being more like buying a chance ticket at some prize wining contest without knowing what the prize might be.

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See what you are saying Franco, I can't see much change in my case, as the blade is in Japanese polish, purchased from an international dealer who sources his swords inside Japan. No! you gentlemen have given me lots to ponder, and I'm comfortable with the status quo.

 

Thanks all

Denis.

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I have an Echizen Shigetaka 6th gen in Japanese polish from a dealer in Japan with kicho papers and it is gimei.

The kicho papers are genuine but not worth the paper they're printed on.

 

If I had a mumei sword with kicho papers, I would send it for Hozon just because I have zero faith in kicho papers.

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Hi Lee, really interested to hear about your sword. The suspicion that papers were issued for reasons other than scholarship around that time would hardly seem to apply to a sword by 6th generation Shigetaka. Also can't work out why someone would bother to produce a gimei of that smith when others would be far more valuable. You clearly have really good reasons for calling it gimei, would you mind sharing those? Always interested in that line and the bigger question about the papers makes it an interesting topic.

Cheers

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Hi Geraint.

There are pics of the mei and papers somewhere on this board if you do a search.

The blade is dated to 1663 and part of the mei says roku dai, or sixth generation, yet the nidai worked in that time period and the 6th worked in 1740's.

Because of the time difference, I sent hi-res pics of the mei and date to a couple of dealer associates in Japan and both thought it gimei.

 

Good questions regarding the reasoning behind the gimei/papers. I've never understood it myself.

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Hi Lee?

 

I too find your posting interesting, and would like to follow up on this, but just a small point!. If the original post on the papers was yours, would you be kind enough to point where the post is located. If you are asking, for members to prove your point, and comment, then the reference would be a nice gesture.

 

regards

Denis.

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Hi Lee?

 

I too find your posting interesting, and would like to follow up on this, but just a small point!. If the original post on the papers was yours, would you be kind enough to point where the post is located. If you are asking, for members to prove your point, and comment, then the reference would be a nice gesture.

 

regards

Denis.

 

Sorry it went unanswered...different time zones and sleep.

I'm confused (possibly by the question mark after my name). I'm not asking members for their opinion on my sword, I'm just presenting it as evidence that kicho papers are not worth the time spent discussing them. I referred Geraint to a search because he sounded interested in Shigetaka but I didn't have the link to hand and I was pressed for time.

 

Given the doubt around kicho papers, my initial point is I wouldn't trust what they said. In your position, I would not believe the Kanetane attribution and would submit for hozon.

If a low ranked smith such as Shigetaka 6th gets fake papers it raises too many questions on the integrity of the whole system.

At least it does for me, but then I bought the blade based on the advice of buying polished, papered blades so now I'm rather jaded on kicho papers. ;)

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Hi Everyone,

 

I once had a signed Echizen Kanetane Katana with NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho. Let me do some searching on my computer tomorrow to bring up information about the Nihonto. If I remember correctly it is was in old polish and was papered in the 1970s. Likely new papers at the time wound have required a new polish. When I had it I was thinking it was the work of the Shodai Kanetane of Echizen. It was a really nice katana.

 

P.S. This I think this is my first post in the Nihonto forum. :)

 

Yours truly,

David Stiles

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Hi Lee

I did read your previous post, and have to say it was right on the line with my own enquiry, the only thing I would say is that I didn't start with any doubts on the paper, believing it came from God. Well you have certainly altered that perception! and given a totally new addition to my considering to do or not to do. I will repeat, you have a fascinating ongoing mystery there.

 

The time zone does indeed have a bearing on communications.

 

To your opening line as to the Q? Not all, including myself use the registered name as their sign off, so I guessed it might be Lee, nothing sinister meant as a hint.

 

Regards

Denis.

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Hi David

 

And from me welcome.

 

I look forward to viewing you photos, as it means another sighting of a Kanetane hamon, I am trying to ascertain if there is another Kanetane that is similar to the blade I have. If you have not seen it my ref is:

Name the Hamon. Dr Fox. 3 May 2012.

 

Regards Denis.

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I dont want to re-open old discussions regarding validity of papers new and old they have been well discussed (discussed anyway) more or less since the board began.

I agree with Lee that papers are an opinion, I would add that they are a far better qualified opinion than mine or indeed anyone elses outside of Japan.

I am not as cynical regarding older papers as Lee appears to be. There is no question and it is well recorded that there were problems, particularly with lower level papers issued by branch offices of the NBTHK during the late 70s (and probably before) Some of this was due to inaccurate appraisal some corruption. This is why the system was changed. Having said that there are very many papers issued between 1957 (I think thats when it started) and 1980 which are perfectly valid and accurate. the problem is that the minority that are wrong cast doubt on the majority. I would not dismiss older NBTHK papers out of hand.

Regarding new papers and mumei blades I do not understand Jacques point. However I would repeat some personal experience with recent shinsa held outside of Japan.

In the first UK shinsa many signed swords were submitted and falied to gain a paper.

For the second far fewer signed blades were submitted. The thinking appeared to be that an unsigned blade will be attributed to something and therefore "be papered" which would make it a more commercial prospect than a signed blade which was rejected. Many of these swords were in less than good polish and detail not easily seen.

My feeling is that the shinsa panel gave the best answer they could based on what they could see and erred on the side of caution when important detail was obscured.

Some of these attributions would be changed if the blade was presented in a good condition and polish. So who is at fault here? the shinsa panel for expressing an opinion based on what they could see or the person who submitted it in a condition which did not allow for a more accurate apparaisal? Would it have been better for the panel just to pink slip them and tell the owner to get the blade polished?

I also think that condemning papers based on an individual expeirence is akin to disliking a nation because you have had a bad experience with a person.

While I dont doubt there were errors with old papers and continue to be with new there is no better system to choose from. I am a very contented member of the NBTHK, I find them an incredibly helpful organisation and with a depth of knowledge and material we can only dream of. When buying swords at distance I am certainly more comfortable buying a sword that has been assessed by the NBTHK than something that has not been.

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Hi Paul

 

You gave me more insight as to the workings of the NBTH, than I had before. Papers, are all people like me have, to give provenance to what we have. This also applies to Lee and his case, and with the noted discrepancies, would Lee have any sympathy, which would allow him to re-submit and get a better result? or is there not an appeal procedure?

 

Denis.

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I would not dismiss older NBTHK papers out of hand.

 

How many Tokubetsu Kicho papers have been issued since 1950 to 1982...350‘000...400‘000 or even more?

To hold all these Origamis for worthless would mean to throw out the baby with the bath water. As often said caution is advised with big names

 

a Kanetane Ko-Wakizashi 33 cm

 

Eric

post-369-14196847217555_thumb.jpg

post-369-14196847218519_thumb.jpg

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Dear All,

Can I please make very clear my comment:

 

I also think that condemning papers based on an individual expeirence is akin to disliking a nation because you have had a bad experience with a person.

was meant as a general point and an attempt to put single experiences in to context. it certainly wasnt intended as a comment on the attitude of any contributors in this or any other thread.

 

Denis

I dont believe there is an appeal procedure as such and I doubt records are held that would enable them to check back that far. While Juyo and higher papers are recorded and published I dont think the same level of record is held on lesser papers.

Lee could certainly resubmit the sword

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Eric

 

Great photos, and for me as near in hamon to my blade I have seen so far, Eric would the hamon you show be classed as "Toranba Midare", it has a wave effect.

And a repeat of form I have seen on my Kanetane.

 

Denis.

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Toranba was invented first by Tsuda Sukehiro II.

 

The hamon by Kanetane I is described as to be „notare togari ha maijiri with a resemblance to late Seki“... and from another source „notare mixed with gunome choji or also a hiro-suguha“

 

Eric

post-369-14196847249369_thumb.jpg

post-369-14196847251119_thumb.jpg

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The sword that Lee refers to is an interesting case, wouldn't it be great to be able to go back and ask the shinsa panel what their thinking was? The bigger picture has been well put by Paul but it leaves an interesting point for Dennis. Nakahara has some interesting things to say about the relationship between papers and the market for swords, admittedly blindingly obvious if you have given any thought to the mechanisms of the art market. As is so often stated the sword should be the first point to consider when dealing with any attribution.

 

Given that the sword is mumei I can't imagine it making a great deal of difference what paper it has and of course there is always the possibility that another shinsa team may assign the work to a smith of lower ranking. My suggestion; enjoy the sword, use it as vehicle to research the smith and the school, save the cost of re submission for your next purchase.

Most of all, enjoy the sword.

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