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celt72

eBay Shibata Ka

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I was hoping to get it

There a Shibata Ka for $ 7'800 that needs polish and shirasaya and here an impeccable Shibata Ka for $ 8'500 from ricecracker. The owner of the ebay buy will rub his eyes now.

Eric

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I was hoping to get the sword for $2800 or less. If I had $8000 to spare, it would be a tough choice between the Shibata Ka on Ricecracker or your Okimasa John.

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This kind of make the special order 28.5" Shibata Ka to commemorate the Nanking invasion Chris sold a few years ago cheap at $10k.

I believe the current Japanese dealer sale price for a super example recently sold Ka blade over 70cm in polish with paper is Yen 900,000 or just under USD $9k with shorter example to be much less.

 

Wah

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Based on what I have sold and seen around, top quality with length/special order, etc., in polish, around $10K; less than josun, in polish, special order, around $8000; josun, out of polish, around $6000; less than josun, not special order, out of polish, around $4000. I think this is fairly accurate for not only Shibata Ka but other top level gendaito too.

 

I liked this Shibata Ka around $3000-$3500. I figured $4000 was full retail and about what it would go for at a maximum. Seems someone valued it much more highly.... :crazy:

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Chris, that is about right. All gendaito by top makers are similarly priced

 

Here is a very nice Ka almost josun for 900,000 yen or $9k I retrieved it via web archive and had it been just 4 millimetre longer it would have been 1 million yen or $10k

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20090202113037/http://samuraishokai.jp/sword/08101.html

 

 

Wah

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Some people collect names without much concern for quality. As mentioned, the Tadayoshi Joe has for sale is every bit as nice as any Ka I have seen and it sits at about half the price. Kawashima Tadayoshi was a very well known smith, as was his son. I bought a josun length Tsutsui Kiyokane a while back for around $1800 that is every bit as good as this Ka. Kiyokane was another well known smith. There are high quality gendaito, as good as this Ka, out there to be had for $2000 if you learn to recognize quality and are patient. Or just toss mountains of cash at big names, I guess...

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It appears people pay a premium for big name smiths and swords that has a reputation tend to sell easier. For a while people got excited over average smiths such as Emura, Nagamitsu and Kanezane because there was write ups about them in English and everyone in the English speaking world thought they were the real deal. There are art collectors, history collectors and there are name collectors but when it comes to gendaito I get the feeling the latter of these categories is were some of the big hitters want to spend their money on but this could also be true of other eras too. At the end of the day a collectable is only worth what people are willing to pay.

 

Wah

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Ah Shibata Ka.

 

If I had seen that it would be gone.

 

This guy in my opinion is extremely interesting. A maverick and a perfectionist who did it on his own basically. Unusual and interesting and I love when we know enough to know the character of a swordsmith.

 

Sword polishers of his own time mistook some of his blades for koto work, I think Kokan Nagayama even but I need to go back and check that.

 

Here's my article on Ka. I think anyone that can own one is lucky because the prices are low for what they are getting. Really special blades by a really special and interesting character.

 

http://www.nihonto.ca/shibata-ka/

 

Please excuse the horrendous formal photo of the sugata, I almost barfed when I saw. The current generation photo techniques I've evolved to are much better.

 

But the handhelds are good. I thought before this was Ichimonji style but after I've had a chance to look at a few high level Hiromitsu I think that it's more influenced by that.

 

Anyway, they are all great, and someone could make a really neat collection by snapping up these Shibata Ka blades that come along. If you want to look at the like minded individuals through sword history you get the list of Masahide, Hankei, Kiyomaro, and so on that were not following the rules given to them and generating interesting results because of it. Over time I think the appreciation for him should go up.

 

I think he is the only self-trained swordsmith who has ever gotten an NBTHK paper.

 

I self trained as a jeweler and I sucked. I can't imagine self training as a swordsmith.

 

I have two swordsmiths I dearly care about in the Gendai period and those as Sadakatsu and Ka.

 

When I am 80 and getting to the Shinto volume I will hope to be able to put together a nice section on Ka.

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Some people collect names without much concern for quality. As mentioned, the Tadayoshi Joe has for sale is every bit as nice as any Ka I have seen and it sits at about half the price. Kawashima Tadayoshi was a very well known smith, as was his son. I bought a josun length Tsutsui Kiyokane a while back for around $1800 that is every bit as good as this Ka. Kiyokane was another well known smith. There are high quality gendaito, as good as this Ka, out there to be had for $2000 if you learn to recognize quality and are patient. Or just toss mountains of cash at big names, I guess...

 

You can keep the list going, I have seen quarter million dollar Kotetsu that I've gone "bleh" at and suriage Tadayoshi Shodai that made Juyo and I don't get it. Every Shinkai goes for $50,000 or more and none thrill me. Yet some interesting works by lower class smiths seem to be every bit as good or not better.

 

On the other hand, some of these big names, people want the story and the place in history. They are not necessarily looking for the best blade. They want a work of Kotetsu because of who he was primarily, and that's OK, that's one form of collection. But, not necessarily as one who appreciates swords.

 

I never understood the fuss with Kiyomaro either until I saw the one brought over to the Met Museum. Holy smokes that was a lightning bolt of a sword. Must have been the one he made when he was sober. But so many others just, bleh, not there. I would rather have a Soukan, sword for sword.

 

The romance of Kiyomaro presses him much higher than he otherwise would raise on talent... except for that peak blade which is really showing off what he can do. The others don't but they carry the price, and the one that does you can't ever buy.

 

In terms of Ka, the fact that he came at this as an outsider and did things that the normal guys could not pull off (maybe not on all his swords) is amazing. The one I had blew me away, looked just like koto, and Kokan Nagayama said the same thing after he polished a Ka and showed it to his peers. Looked like Shintogo of all things I think.

 

So that info bears a valuation bump. He's interesting just above making a nice sword. His are different and represent him trying to crack the code instead of do what sensei did. He just came too early. Today he'd probably be the Living National Treasure because of his advances in replicating koto <-- hyperbole, but maybe.

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I would agree that Shibata Ka was an interesting man; there weren't many self-taught smiths that came from wealthy, educated, and refined families. Not many were politicians who played the violin! And few had access to high quality koto and shinto swords for study like he did.

 

Due to his social standing, he was ranked higher in the war era press than he deserved, much the same as several other smiths, if one was evaluating his abilities as a smith alone. This is part of Japanese culture.

 

Certain smiths in the West, like Kanezane, Emura, Nagamitsu, etc., are way over valued simply because circumstances have made their names known. There is no rational reason for the prices people pay for these smiths as the quality of their work simply doesn't support the valuations seen. A good story, a published letter from the smith, or anything else that gives a smith some name recognition, and there you have it.

 

Ka, while an arguably better smith, perhaps being purchased by a more knowledgeable collector base, is a higher quality example of this same overvaluation. If we look at his work objectively, most of it has what has been politely described as a "rustic" sugata. His hamon are generally disorganized and lack control. There is an almost quaint charm to his blades. In comparison to works by the top professional smiths of the day, they are clearly second rate in most cases. I have seen maybe 20 Ka blades through the years and owned a few very nice examples; I have had 3 polished, including one that was sold on Darcy's site. They do have a certain organic feeling to them that one does see in some Koto work and perhaps this aspect might appeal to some. There were other more or less self trained smiths whose work is superior in nearly every way in my opinion: Ota Chikahide is one example, another would be a smith in Niigata- Endo Mitsuoki. He was a very talented amateur hobby smith but that is the extent of it. One wonders how good he could have been with the proper training and guidance of someone like Horii Toshihide.

 

There are certain things in sword appreciation that come down to personal taste, such as preferring a Nagamitsu over a Rai blade, or Soshu over Yamato. There is no arguing that. But there are also technical qualities that define the skills and accomplishment of a smith which are not open to debate. Spending a lot of time with smiths and polishers and listening to them critique the technical merits and demerits of blades makes this quite clear.

 

I have been told that Ka made many more tanto than katana, tanto being much easier to make. And thus, his katana are scarce. To be honest, I have seen many more katana than tanto; odds are he didn't make many of either. So, I suppose one could make the argument that the scarcity of his work is what accounts for a premium. That is quite possible.

 

It would seem that once again we face the art versus artifact divide. I would prefer to pay for quality rather than the backstory. Others clearly differ.

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Well that indeed is an opinion you are entitled to have.

 

The Kokan Nagayama evaluation of his skill level is related in his book:

 

Shibata Ka, who was also a famous sword collector and was learning kantei from Koson, made two tanto for him in commemoration of the 2,600th Imperial Year (1940). A flaw came out on one of the tanto during its groundwork so Koson gave it to me. I did the groundwork of the tanto at night and was able to eventually remove the flaw, and the blade showed beautiful workmanship after I had finished it.

 

No one attributes this tanto to gendaito whenever it is used for kantei at a sword meeting. Many people mistake it for a classic tanto of the Kamakura period such as a Shintogo Kunimitsu.

 

So on the one hand, you're saying rustic, and on the other hand Kokan Nagayama first hand telling that his work is beautiful and is mistaken for that of Shintogo Kunimitsu by people at his sword meetings. Is there higher praise for your tanto than to have your work come back from kantei with Shintogo Kunimitsu as the guessess? I personally do not think so. It's like people confusing your homemade painting for Rembrandt or some music you wrote for Mozart. It doesn't really align very well with the word "rustic" in my mind.

 

Also I don't see a lot of other gendai swords that make me feel confused about whether or not it's gendai or Shintogo work. So I don't really feel that I can agree with the thinking that Ka is second rate behind a whole lot of them.

 

But given that Ka was learning by doing, there stands to reason that there are some works of his out there that represent that learning process.

 

He goes on to write:

 

Shibata diligently undertook unique research into sword forging and was one of the few swordsmiths who came to grips with the jigane of fine old swords. It might have been possible for him to carry out research that was different from other swordsmiths as his collection included many classic swords. Some people said that he altered old swords and put his signature on the tangs but this is not true. I can recognize his characteristic habits of forging in the jigane of his blades.

 

And I think that his critics accusing him of cutting of nakago and welding on his own is about as high a praise as you can give someone.

 

But, it's fair to have a different opinion than Nagayama, just because he is who he is does not make him infallible, but I think he writes with good authority.

 

I have not seen a ton of the work of Ka, but I have seen examples, including the one from my site that you had and sold to a friend of mine, that have been wonderful. I wouldn't consider this one to be rustic at all. And I still think he's a special guy for what he's done, and my own thinking falls in line behind Nagayama.

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I suppose it all comes down to the sample size of his work that you have seen. I have seen 3 or 4 very nice blades but the majority (maybe 15 or so) have been as described- rather poorly shaped, rather uncontrolled heat treatment. That is what separates the first rate smiths from the others: consistency. I have yet to see a second rate blade out of Horii, Gassan, or the like and I have seen many more of them than those of Shibata.

 

The one that you sold belonged to a friend of mine. It was poorly shaped. The togi worked and worked on it to improve it. I think he did a pretty decent job though it still looked somewhat like a stick.

 

As for Nagayama sensei and his opinion, no doubt he had a good experience. I have no idea how far his experience with the work of Shibata extends. Like I said, he made some nice blades. Maybe I have had bad luck and seen mostly his lessor work. What that does tell me though, is that he lacks the consistency of the top tier and is thus, in my opinion, not in their league.

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Who are the first tier?

 

In my experience, there are probably 20 or so Taisho/early Showa smiths who on a consistent basis did excellent work. That list would include, in no particular order:

 

Manji Masatsugu

Sakurai Masayoshi

Horii Toshihide

Gassan Sadakatsu

Kasama Shigetsugu

Takahashi Sadatsugu

Miyairi Akihira

Sato Akinori

Akimoto Akitomo

Ishii Akifusa

Kajiyama Yasunori

Kotani Yasunori

Ota Chikahide

Kato Masakuni

Kato Sukekuni

Kato Kanekuni

Katsumura Masakatsu

Tsukamoto Okimasa

Koyama Nobumitsu

Kawashima Tadayoshi

Nakao Tadatsugu

 

There are a few others I could include, like Hokke Saburo Nobufusa, Imai Sadashige, Yoshihara Kuniie, but I have seen just a few too many blades by these smiths that were a step below their usual work and so have left them off....

 

No doubt there are many others who made excellent blades but perhaps without the consistency of these smiths. Of course, this is based on my experience- others may have different opinions. Also, I did not include smiths whose work I have limited experience with- I have seen some fantastic blades by many smiths but have limited experience with their work, and thus too small a sample to make any broader inferences.

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Is he Imai Sadashige? comments from Tsuruta san does not seem to match the smith name.

 

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-osaka-ri ... shige-kaou

 

Special feature : Kawano Minamoto Sanekake was a student of Gassan Sadakatsu .

His real name was Kawano Shigetarou. He was born in Meiji 45th year MArch 16th.

He has received the Nihonto exhibition prize.He has won other prize

New Masterpiece prize after wartime. This sword is rare Yamatoden piece

with nice masame flow. The activities in the ha is also spectacular.

 

Difficult to see the jigane but the blade seems very good.

 

Gendai guys, it is for you.

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Kawano Sadashige's war era work was decent, though not exceptional. I think his post war work is much much better. I had a star stamped Gassan Sadamitsu once signed with his late war mei (Sadateru) that I am fairly sure was a daisaku work made by Kawano. It was in Yamato den and identical to the link you posted above.

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