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Koshirae for a Meiji ere blade


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Greetings all~

 

I recently had a decent blade placed into shirasaya, and love it. It is by a decent smith and traditionally forged. My question is this:

 

Does one - once deciding to put it into koshrae - start with the f/k, or the tsuba, or....? I'd like it to be themed, but subtle. It has a beautiful habaki in silver (courtesy of Mr. Tirado) but where does one go from there when deciding the theme/mounts/menuki?

 

Many thanks, and to Jean....I'm reading the posts often now :D .

 

Curtis R.

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You are about to start on a money losing venture. You can spend a lot on koshirae. One way is to find a piece that you like and then look for years trying to find matching pieces. Another method is to find a set that includes tsuba, f/k and menuki or just f/k and menuki. You can have a tsuka made and wrapped with your pieces. Similarly you can have a saya made to fit.

I have looked for more than a decade for some pieces only to give up in the end. Finding a matching kashira is tough. Kojiri to suits is also almost impossible.

Another possibility is to buy a koshirae. Chances of it fitting are slim. Sometimes they can be adjusted.

I remember taking a sword to many shows trying to replace saya but no luck.

Sorry to sound so negative but this is a difficult task. In the end you will have a suite of fittings that was put together by a Westerner.

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Ahhhh that's what I was afraid of, but better to ask FIRST from those who've been there than to get the "uh- ohhh" factor! I will look at Aoi, but am thinking its best left alone!any thanks to all - and good to know if bare blades show up in my future.

 

Curtis R.

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Fred Lohman is for modern production swords, not for Nihonto.

Even in that field he receives complaints.

 

You can view a modern assembled koshirae(with antique pieces or modern made ones) as a money losing venture or you can view it as supporting the craftsmen who continue the traditions.

My sword mentor has had new koshirae made in Japan from antique pieces and seems more than happy with them.

Nothing wrong at all with collecting kodugu in boxes but it's nice to see them mounted on what they were made for as well.

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I think that with a little patience a good set of fittings can be found that will satisfy you and as long as they are suitable, no sweat in having mounted on a koshirae for your sword. That is what sayashi are for and they have been doing it for over a millennia. It is only when you are looking for just the exact piece to complete an uncommonly rare or fine set of fittings that it may make things difficult. John

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Curtis, the only way to build a koshirae that you will be happy with is to build a koshirae that means something to you. Otherwise, as others will, you will just look at it as an assembly and probably a bit of a waste of money. Expensive, but the best way to avoid this is to have new tsuba, fuchi kashira etc made to your own spec, with a theme and meaning of your own. For this, the blade would obviously need to warrant the expense.

If your just looking for a correct period koshirae then i would just keep the spending down to a minimum. In either case you will not see a return on your spending, but at least with the new made, you will have some added personal value.

 

 

Alex.

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I have to say that I find the resistance to having new koshirae built a bit baffling.

One agrument seems to be that it's money down the drain, but in the the worst case scenario you can always remove the Tsuba, menuki and F/K, where else do most of the fittings we collect come from?

The real cost is in a new saya and tsuka,and as long as the blade/fittings are protected where's the problem?

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I also wonder why every time someone mentions they want to have a koshirae made, people pile on about how they will never get their money back, it is a bad investment, etc. It is, but so what? Few people in this do it for investment reasons-it's a hobby- and there is little that is rational in a hobby. That is the beauty of a hobby- you don't need to justify your obsession. Some things really are more important than money and your ROI. I can't see anything wrong with someone wanting to have a koshirae put together. I would love to some day have a few of my swords mounted exactly as I would like....My suggestion to you Curtis is to do what moves you....

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I don't think there are many out there that can collect without the thought in the back of their minds of what they can recover from their items if they need to liquidate. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a koshirae made, but those considering it do need to know the facts.

Are you happy to pay $5000 for a sword that you want, knowing that if you sell it the next day it is worth $4000?

Me..I like to know that if I buy something, when it comes time to sell it...my loss will be minimal. Often you know you are going to be losing some money..but you still have to collect with the knowledge in mind of what you can recover if you need to.

Any multi-millionaire can have an instant collection by just paying what it takes to accumulate one. Collectors are those that scour the world looking for items they want, at a price that is fair. And usually (but not always) collecting is also investing.

I don't think anyone said "don't build a koshirae" but they just made it clear that it must be done for reasons other than it will increase the value of the item more than what you put into it.

 

Brian

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Me..I like to know that if I buy something, when it comes time to sell it...my loss will be minimal.

 

Don't we all!

 

I don't want to be giving financial advice but I have always operated under the assumption that money spent on hobbies should be disposable income. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing where prices are going - anyone who has been in this hobby for more than 20 years has seen prices drop rather continuously since the bottom fell out of the Japanese market in the early 90's. Unless you have very low end or very high end, the market is very illiquid and you might be hard pressed to get back half of what you paid if your time horizon is limited.

 

There is nothing wrong with putting the financial facts out there for people, but from what I have read, it comes out rather like "you would have to be an idiot to have a koshirae made" with little to no mention of the returns beyond the financial that are to be had..

 

It reminds me of a conversation I had with an accountant friend about our home builds. When I asked him why he was doing this or that, he kept talking about resale value. He gave me a hard time for most of the things I have done, again, going off about resale value. I finally told him that I am building my house for myself, not for the next guy.

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Here is the dictionary def:

 

 

Definition of 'Illiquid'

The state of a security or other asset that cannot easily be sold or exchanged for cash without a substantial loss in value. Illiquid assets also cannot be sold quickly because of a lack of ready and willing investors or speculators to purchase the asset. The lack of ready buyers also leads to larger discrepancies between the asking price (from the seller) and the bidding price (from a buyer) than would be found in an orderly market with daily trading activity.

 

Basically, it means it is all gas.....

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Curtis.

You are where I have been before; see ‘Nakago Ana’ by Dr Fox. There are views there as here to your post. It boils down to these factors.

 

It will be an insult to the sword, if not done by masters of the crafts involved.

It will not warrant the expense, you wont get your money back.

Getting everything to match will be a difficult job.

It will look like some thing cobbled together by a Westener.

 

Tony Edmunds.

For me you are right on!

 

Chris

I followed your posts on this and I have to say, I personally find your views refreshing, they go to right to where I, and a good many like me live.

 

I have for instance, two 400yr old blades bought from a reputable dealer, both in koshirae. Now here is the thing, it’s quite obvious that the fittings on both swords are not of the blades age!

Now I don't feel insulted by this, but even I can see that the fittings have not been master fitted. And I only expect to get back what I paid initially. [if I am lucky].

Does everything match? No they don't, in fact I, to be nearer the age and theme of the other fittings, have changed both tsuba’s. Neither of these swords were cheap!

I have a blade coming home from polish, it has got age and it is my intention to find a theme and to source all the metal fittings, then have the tsuka and saya made by one of the best here in the UK.

Why? Because I appreciate the art displayed in the swords steel, but I also like others to see, just what the sword may have looked like in the day. If I am to define my taste, its that a shira saya contains a blade, a koshirae contains a sword.

Is it a waste to have both? I personally don't think so as I have both, but of course that depends on your definition of ‘waste’.

Denis

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Definition of 'Illiquid'

The state of a security or other asset that cannot easily be sold or exchanged for cash without a substantial loss in value. Illiquid assets also cannot be sold quickly because of a lack of ready and willing investors or speculators to purchase the asset. The lack of ready buyers also leads to larger discrepancies between the asking price (from the seller) and the bidding price (from a buyer) than would be found in an orderly market with daily trading activity.

 

Basically, it means it is all gas.....

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I am a bit surprised the dictionary didn't have a picture of me and my collection under this definition. :badgrin:

The only people making any money in this hobby are Pawn Stars! :rotfl: Back to watching the UFO shows on the History Channel. :freak:

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To add to dr. Fox, guess how many Samurai/Ronin wore mismatched sets and koshirae which were new while their tsuba and swords were old ?

 

I do agree though that a koshirae should be made by experts in their field and preferably not by amateurs, though I have seen people making quite nice koshirae for themselves.

 

 

KM

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Thank you all! Fascination opinions and facts ("illiquid" :D ) and a lot to consider. Personally, I am an older guy - 50's - and since I intend to keep the blades I have, am not in a huge hurry to have them cobbled together (although with time and care I'm thinking I could come close to a great looking set - but it may take years as mentioned) and want to pay the proper respect to the blade and it's maker.

Over time I've been pretty fortunate to make a bit here & there on knives, guns, etc but swords are a "whole 'nother country".

 

For me - and only me - I'd undertake the project for what it adds to the blade vs. the value gained overall in the near future, although after I'm dead & gone it may end up being financially worth it as well to those it passes to. As also stated, there's no way to know what the market will do. Who'd have thought than an AR-15 (or M4) that went for $400.00 in 2004 would now be roughly 1.5k? Or that the price of gold/silver would have gone through the roof as it did? Having carried one, and owned some, an M4 doesn't have a soul, nor does gold. Nihonto do, IMHO (although Sniper rifles are the exception...like the Nihonto, no one is allowed to touch your gun at risk of an a@@ beating - seriously).

 

I do especially like Chris' observation that there's no need to justify an obsession and to afford what you can afford, yet Bary also makes a good caveat of not throwing money at the problem without real thought. Also cracked up at Alex' comment that we're ALL daft :badgrin: .

 

Something Dennis said rang very true for me as well..."Shirasaya contains a blade, while koshiae contains a sword". Long story longer, I'll have to ponder (and save $$) on my next move, but regardless I've taken away "Don't have a cut-rate job done, no matter what!"

Perhaps one day Ford H. will have a "clearing house sale" (riiiiiiight :crazy: ) and I can score lol.

 

Again, thanks for the wealth of knowledge shared - invaluable! I'm hoping to meet some of you fine gents @ a U.S. shinsa next year as well.

 

Cheers!

 

Curtis R.

 

P.S.

I've had two 'standard grade' shirasaya done by Mr. John Tirado and must say that while I Do decide what to do, he's made beautiful & artful homes for each blade!! :bowdown:

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By no choice of your own, sometimes you have to mix the old with the new. I spent a year mithering the hell out of everyone (and i mean everyone) about an early yamagane fuchi for a tensho refit. Its a real pain in the ass sourcing period parts, kind of makes you feel like a bit of a nuisance :crazy:!. On a good note, i only needed a tsuba/fuchi. In the end i threw in the towel and decided to go with most folks advice and have a new fuchi made to match the patina of the muromachi tsuba. In the end, im more than happy with the fuchi, great to have something made by true artisan and it gives the koshirae a bit of a personal touch that was speaking of. As pointed out in the past, it is just an assembly, so no harm making it a bit of your own. I suppose that is why i have now become a bit of a fan of traditionally made modern parts. I may have a tsuba made in the future, but no rush. In the end, would i ever do another refit?, NO lol, fun and educational, but too much unnecessary stress, lifes hard enough :D.

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Alex,

 

that fuchi turned out great! congrats, mate :clap: I am sure with a horn kashira and some good, restrained menuki your Tensho koshirae will look great! Can't wait to see the results, please don't forget to send pics to the former owner of your excellent old yamagane tsuba ;-)

 

Sorry for hijacking the thread a bit... But Alex's example should be encouraging for the OP.

 

BTW, a horn kashira is often a very good way to go, especially when you have a fuchi that you like and for which you will most likely never find a matching kashira...

 

A restrained koshirae (e.g. Tensho-style) does not need to cost a fortune, unless you insist on mounting an expensive tsuba. A plain iron sukashi tsuba (Owari/Higo/Akasaka inspired) or plain yamagane ko-kinko tsuba will do the job credibly.

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