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Massive Rai Kunimitsu on Aoi


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Sorry but this sword before the suriage was an odachi? I ask that beacouse is about 70 cm of nagasa with only 1 cm of sori

the kasane is very big for a kamakura blade and also there isn't any funbari and the width at the kissaki is too large for a normal tachi.

 

Stefano P.

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I am a bit unsure if the adjectives apply... under 70cm, but indeed wide. Not sure that classifies as absolutely massive. And as for health, the right hand panel shows a lot of evidence of heavy polishing on that side. The horimono is more worn down, and the soebi terminates a lot earlier in the monouchi. As well there are very large openings towards the machi. I think it is what it is, priced about right for what it is showing. Someone will jump in.

 

Horimono may also be added later unless this was made fairly short to begin with.

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Depending on the dealer, a juyo Kunimitsu will start at 4MYens +. So the conclusion is easy to draw. I don't like neither the soe bi nor the the horimino which was added later as the sword is O suriage. There are noticeable openings which have nothing to do with Rai jigane, Chris is right in being circonspect so is Darcy in his in depth review.

 

However, I am not an extremist about the 70cm nagasa and I like the small Ko Bizen on this website.

 

The one who shall get this TH Kunimitsu will pay the price but no chance to go for Juyo (otherwise be sure the dealer would have had it passed).

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I am coming to the conclusion that Rai kunimitsu is possibly my favourite smith. Having said that I do not like this sword. I agree with Jean and Darcy. I think it is what it is, a reasonable but worn sword with a later horimono. Is it worth the asking price? probably. Is it a great bargain at this price? I dont think so. I have no doubt someone will love it and want to give it a home

Regards

Paul

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The one who shall get this TH Kunimitsu will pay the price but no chance to go for Juyo (otherwise be sure the dealer would have had it passed).

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Completely agree with Jean on this one but haven't read Darcy's comments about this Nihonto. Given the fact the dealer is literally just down the street from the NBTHK sword museum they would have submitted it for Juyo by now if they would have thought it would pass. With that said having a sword like this would be at the top or near the upper limit of what I could ever afford given my modest means. :lol:

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IT is a quite impressive blade in spite of its shortcomings - and - it made me reflect on comments about price and top of my collection etc. I have mine in my Man Cave which also has my photo gallery of fishing and cars and a pool table and lots of stuff for guys to look at.

 

The swords are of course items of discussion and "sometimes" someone is ignorant enough to ask "Whats that worth" .

 

Beauty and value are REALLY in the eye of the beholder as where I am there wouldn't be 4 people within 500 miles who would appreciate, know or care how much these obj'e'ts d'art are worth. Same with any type of art but actually more specialized -

 

AND _ that said - I myself would have a tough time telling the difference between a 10 thousand dollar blade and a 50 thousand dollar one.

 

God we are a bunch of strange people aren't we ? :lol: :lol:

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Speaking of price and top of collections has actually made me realize I have not yet considered any of these things and where I want my collection to be at in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. The Kunimitsu in question does elucidate certain sacrifices us mere mortals have to make when deciding what is important to us. With ¥2.5m for example you could either get this or maybe a much healthier mumei Tachi by a less famous smith not that I am in anywhere near a financial state to come close to affording either anytime soon.

 

I guess it has given me clear direction that I need to write down a list of what is important and goals one should strive for instead of simply picking up anything I come across and for that I am thankful.

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James:

 

You are probably too young to get too concerned about that sort of stuff !!

 

Myself and many others are not only struggling with those decisions but also what is done when we are dead @@ Surely don't want my collection to be sold to some crook for 10% of value nor stuck with 30 thou worth of stuff that no one is even interested in.

 

I keep saying I am going to set up a sell agreement with a dealer for a pre=determined price for my entire group of blades and even if the amount is what I paid for them at some time in the past it is better than they may get on the open market with no idea who to talk to @

 

Always something - enjoy them while we can

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You can enlarge the whole blade and then you see, that the hamon and boshi is only white.

 

Photoshop/Bild/Korrekturen/Farbe ersetzen/Helligkeit is all you need. And now you should ask yourself, why someone does that.

 

 

Uwe G.

 

A little photoshop, and here the boshi is better revealed:

 

post-4899-14196949321971_thumb.jpg

 

Perhaps the originals were just poor photos, not intended to deceive?

 

Alan

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Speaking of price and top of collections has actually made me realize I have not yet considered any of these things and where I want my collection to be at in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. The Kunimitsu in question does elucidate certain sacrifices us mere mortals have to make when deciding what is important to us. With ¥2.5m for example you could either get this or maybe a much healthier mumei Tachi by a less famous smith not that I am in anywhere near a financial state to come close to affording either anytime soon.

 

I guess it has given me clear direction that I need to write down a list of what is important and goals one should strive for instead of simply picking up anything I come across and for that I am thankful.

 

I've considered these things, but only briefly. After the Philly sword show I think I knew that there was no way I was wading into these deep waters. But there is somewhere that perfect dragon tsuba waiting for me.

 

And Dr. Brian has said it too--of course we should leave our humble Showa (barely) with our son, but I'm not even sure about that as I almost immediately began wondering how to leave it. Strange indeed.

 

"Suffice to say, what we behold is censored by our eyes. To be possessed is the best reason for possessing."

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IT is a quite impressive blade in spite of its shortcomings - and - it made me reflect on comments about price and top of my collection etc. I have mine in my Man Cave which also has my photo gallery of fishing and cars and a pool table and lots of stuff for guys to look at.

 

Brian: Perhaps an interesting thread to start in "The Izakaya." I was just wondering what other Nihonto collectors have in their "Man Caves" as I was sitting in mine. I have to believe we have represent well. :)

 

Of course we're faced with the humidity challenges for those Man Caves actually below ground.

 

Sorry to distract from the topic. :dunno:

 

Ben M.

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I'm not an extremist on nagasa either, I think quality is the most important thing. Nagasa is one attribute that we need to look at in the overall big picture. I didn't feel it warranted "massive" as the description.

 

Sometimes you can get such a thing through Juyo when dug up in Japan, it just depends on context and who had it and what they did with it. Sometimes an owner will just sit on something content at Hozon then they sell it and the next guy gets it, submits it up and gets Juyo.

 

A Yukimitsu that just passed Tokuju in the last session was sitting at Juyo for 50 years or so, during this time the owner was not interested in more papers and sold it. So the next guy to get it submitted it. If you can be lucky and catch one of those blades then you have a shot, but it is true that the guy in place usually to catch those is a Japanese dealer :) and so ... yes they will try to put them through.

 

Such a piece coming up at this point may be one of the failures from the current shinsa and so it goes to market instead of waiting a year. But one failure does not mean it may not pass the next time, sometimes you need to keep plugging away and your time will come. For a dealer though or a collector it's the bird in hand vs. two in the woods. I would rather have cash now vs. waiting for Juyo, paying for Juyo, then turning around and marketing as Juyo. Because if it does fail then you blew a year. If it does pass, maybe you get an expansion of the price but also you just lost part of the market because now some can't afford it so maybe by getting it to Juyo and in a new price category it will take longer to sell for max value.

 

So each time someone needs to make a decision. I have the same decision on hand for instance with my Yukimitsu which is strongly invited to Tokuju. But the far end of shinsa is 2 years out and that is a lot of waiting. So there is a discounted number that makes sense for me to get money back and back to work vs. waiting it all out. Now, if shinsa is the next month the decision changes then it's better to pull off the market and submit and take your chance.

 

This is then maybe a time to be looking at blades that have Juyo type properties and are candidates because it's a long time from now that next year's session's winners will get to market. So this makes their value as candidates at a minimum.

 

I was able to catch one at Tokubetsu Hozon in Japan for a client a year and a half ago, and it did get through Juyo on this last session. It was a very rare work of a smith that is famous but we don't see his stuff too often. So this is part of the context that matters. That is, what is it and where it fits in. Rarity helps always and if it is one of the better ones then you have to use that more than anything else in the analysis of whether or not you think it is going to pass.

 

With Rai Kunimitsu there are a lot already at Juyo and so the blade needs to be examined in the context of the others that are out there. If it is falling on the low side vs. the main body of work by the smith then it will be hard to get through or impossible. So this is the important thing in order to figure such a thing out.

 

If it is kind of odd shaped with added on horimono and big open flaws then it is an uphill battle for Juyo to say the least. It does not mean it's a bad sword to own, the price reflects the issues the sword bears so it's all fine. When I look at something like this, it's still a good sword and the price is right so someone can get themselves a Rai example at a good price if they are understanding of what the drawbacks are on this particular piece.

 

The problem though is that a lot of western collectors are obsessed with finding "the deal" with a lot of "built in value" then they tend to pounce on something that they think is their big score. Often times the price is the price for a reason and what seems to be inexpensive ends up being quite expensive indeed.

 

Their thinking gets blinded with a couple of false concepts, which are 1. there is value equivalence between papers, so if this blade is Juyo and that blade is Juyo then they should be roughly the same price.... and 2. that there is value equivalence between attributions so if this is by smith X and that is by smith X then they should be roughly the same price. The obvious counterpoint is that there will always be a masterpiece from a smith from the height of his skill and there will always be examples that are burned out with major condition issues that may also coincide with his most pedestrian work. In failing to understand that you get guys who say well this Juyo one here sold for that so yours should be that price. Or, these other at Juyo are worth X so if I can get this one through it will be worth X too.

 

Ultimately the value is based on what the sword itself is and all of these other attributes are just guidelines or factors that multiply in. They may be major factors or minor factors but no one thing on its own or two things on their own is going to make a simplistic equation for someone to calculate the value clearly. Though some may surely approximate value provided you make assumptions about the rest of the work being "average." ... like you could say a Norishige that passed in one of the better years, of a certain known length and verbal description will carry a certain reliable price *all other things being considered average*. So no major negative or positive surprises.

 

Anyway about the big score hunters, there are a few example works that go around, for instance on my very first sword show I too had this mentality and found a beautiful looking sword (really nice in fact) that had an attribution to a high level smith and I brought it to Cary Condell. The price was reasonable and I thought wow, surely this will pass Juyo. Condell did not even look up from his table or look at the blade and he said, "don't bother" and told me what major issue it had. I am being vague on purpose here. I saw this blade skipping from table to table at every sword show I attended in the USA for the next decade as apparently each new owner bought with the same thoughts in their mind: here is my big score, my Juyo find, my Really Good Bargain... each guy too cheap to go out and buy one that was already Juyo believed he had the good fortune to find one that would pass at a much lower price. And each time in the end they wanted to get rid of it as soon as they could because they were essentially buying it for the wrong reasons and when they figured out the truth they wanted out of it. It continues to skip around today.

 

So sometimes the price is cheap because ... it's the correct price.

 

And sometimes that Hozon blade may be extremely expensive because that too is the correct price. My Kanemitsu cost me I think $72,000 when I bought it at auction with no papers. So no really even secure attribution and a lot of risk as a result. But it was just a great sword. The funny thing with that is as soon as it gets Hozon now someone with the ladder mentality (that papers directly imply a fixed range for value) will say oh no now it's too expensive, it's only Hozon (where in reality, if in the open market it commanded $72k, adding Hozon to it is reducing the risk: it's passed papers first, so is acceptable, and second an attribution to Kanemitsu is confirmed... removing risk from the unpapered blade increases its value so it should go up from $72k... not "down" because it got Hozon!) ... then putting it to Juyo it passed on the first try in the same year as Hozon. So now the ladder guy is a bit happier with the price but says pretty expensive for Juyo but not an outright rejection. I never passed it through Tokuju shinsa or attempted. But if I do and it passes the ladder theory guy is going to say "wow, very cheap for a Tokuju Kanemitsu!".

 

Meanwhile he's completely missed out on what is setting the value of this blade, which is basically that it's a great blade first and foremost. Each stage of the papers should increase that value because they are removing risk and increasing the bottom line evaluation. But the top line has to be in the observer's head by looking at where it fits into the overall body of work.

 

When I saw it in the first place I thought it was cheap unpapered. I thought it was cheap as Hozon and cheap as Juyo and if I ever get it through Tokuju it will be cheap as Tokuju. I think it is a very top work of Kanemitsu so that was my evaluation and I don't have to modify it based on the direction of the wind or whether it is sunny or what papers have descended on it today.

 

So always the thing that matters is trying to be able to ascertain the properties of the sword in question and where they fit in to the body of overall work. Keep in mind while doing so that the papers represent a bottom threshold and the potential may always be higher, but sometimes the potential may not be there. Becoming familiar with the body of work as much as you can then is the key to evaluating any individual piece.

 

A work attributed to Rai Kunimitsu will always have some very worthy attributes to it otherwise it would not obtain this attribution in the first place.

 

So this piece needs a buyer who will accept the limitations and understand what he is going for, which is a nice example of Rai work with some issues. If they are buying thinking wow here is a cheap Juyo and I will get it through and have my big bargain, this is the kind of guy that will have the blade consigned about 12 months from now. The first guy would own it for many years and probably never submit it. So it's all about attitude and context.

 

If it ever does get through Juyo then they also get a pleasant bonus on top, but this blade needs to be bought for what it is (as should all blades). Upgrade potential is always a bonus.

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When one considers a blade for purchase, one should also consider who is selling it and where- kantei shouldn't stop with the blade, but include all the circumstances of the sale. Who is selling is often as important as what is selling in determining whether or not the item is a "good deal", has "upside" on the papering front, etc.

 

There are several different markets one may patronize when buying swords. Professional dealers are but one. One needs to be informed and keep in mind that most Japanese dealers, those who have been in business for a long while, know their merchandise, the market, and the game extremely well. They do vary a bit though in their business models: some handle only the bigger or biggest names at tony locations with marquee prices. There is a slice of the collector market that likes to buy from the 5th Avenue boutiques...This has long been the model many aspire to...There are those who are more about quantity though and get by with slightly lower quality, lower prices, and volume. Many collectors, especially those buying online, don't care about the Ginza address and the tea service; they like the lower prices. This model has worked well for some. Regardless, it is difficult and rare to somehow "outdeal" an experienced Japanese dealer.

 

With the "lost decade" in Japan and their comatose economy, several Japanese dealers have been consigning quality items with dealers in the US or simply selling to US dealers. While it makes for finding great merchandise, it is tough to find any great "deals" in these situations.

 

When I was in Japan, one of my collector friends was very close with a buddhist priest who was the head of a large temple. Quite frequently, widows would come to him for advice on what to do with swords they inherited. He talked to other priests at other buddhist temples and because of his connection with my collector friend, became the "go to person" when these situations presented themselves. Consequently, my friend became the "executor" charged with selling off these swords. There was an almost continuous stream of them...Knowing of my collecting interests, as well as those of others in our circle of friends, he became our "dealer" of choice. Many of my favorite blades came via this route. Many collectors in Japan have similar situations whereby they acquire swords from other, frequently older, senior collectors, friends, etc. A lot of the really top quality material never sees a display case in Ginza. Speaking as someone who was lucky enough to have had connections with this "ura genkan" and also attended dealer auctions, etc. for many years, I can say that many of the advanced collectors I associated with very rarely, if ever, bought anything retail from a dealer. Many of these swords were juyo or better level.

 

Another common source for swords in Japan was through craftsman. They were almost a clearinghouse of information on swords for sale/wanted by their customers. This is a very popular way to find good swords and good deals in Japan. It is no surprise that many dealers started out as polishers or other sword related craftsman.

 

Not everyone is in the position to buy in this manner, which I understand. However, it does indicate that by cultivating a circle of friends with similar interests, additional avenues can present themselves for buying and selling. If one is looking for "deals" this is often where the best deals are found. I bought from dealers on occasion, sometimes from some of the well known, Ginza names. This was usually when something specific I was looking for turned up and I had little choice. I have found that after knowledge, the greatest asset a collector can have is patience. Too often emotions kick in and we "have" to have something. In almost all cases, another "must have" is down the road, at a better price, in better condition, of better quality, etc. Few swords are above being bettered.

 

Additionally, most of the advanced collectors I know had little interest in whether or not a blade had kantei-sho. Some even went so far as to say that if the blade had been submitted to the NBTHK, they wouldn't even consider buying it! I once, early on, made the mistake of asking a collector, whom I had just met, at a private kantei gathering, if the sword he was showing around was Juyo....By the sharp look at me, the tone of his voice, the acid that dripped out of his mouth, it was clear I had just insulted both him and his sword...While his reaction was extreme, his disdain for those riding the paper carousel was common. On another occasion, I was shown a bundle of swords by a collector who also bought and sold sometimes out of his home. Many local collectors had bought from him at one point over the years...He showed me several very nice swords at very nice prices. I asked if any had kantei-sho and everyone in the room started laughing....He told me to go to Ginza if I need kantei-sho....Paper collectors need not apply...Juyo this, TokuJu that: never heard collectors mention anything about NBTHK kantei-sho in these private get-togethers. Then again, these guys were by and large extremely knowledgeable and didn't feel the need for third party opinions.

 

The lesson I took from these experiences was to learn what a good sword is before shelling out dollars and I would have "deals" a plenty to choose from...If you are rich and money is not an issue, then all one needs to do is head to Ginza or the like and buy whatever you wish. If you aren't in that income bracket, learn all you can, be patient, and deals will find you. When you have learned to differentiate quality, you will have freed yourself from dependency on the opinions of others and will know when you are staring at that gift horse...

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Interesting Chris, last time I went to Japan 3 years ago, I met a Luxemburg guy who has been living/teaching in Japan for few years and married to a Japanese. I had just bought my Hosho/Kanekiyo and put it to shinsa and he told me that in the sword market, there were less and less space for unpapered swords in the Japanese market.

 

Now considering the price, you have to know from whom you buy. There are dealers who don't advertise and for whom sword business is just a side business or a hobby. They won't put a great mark up compare to ordinary dealers. i know a few of them, American or Japanese.

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There is actually little to no space for unpapered swords in dealer shops! But I assure you, there is a thriving private market between collectors and collectors and quasi-dealers, as you mention. These days, when older collectors pass on and their collections are sold, many, if not most, end up with a dealer, who will certainly paper those that he can. Just like in the West, there are collectors who buy on name and papers, for full retail. These are the people the dealers cater to by and large. It is hard for dealers to sell swords for big money without papers for several reasons- many collectors have few other options and most, knowing how many fakes there are, need the peace of mind they receive from a papered blade. Keep in mind that the kantei-sho business was created primarily for dealers and they are still the primary user of this service, at least at the NBTHK, from what I have been told. Historically, selling privately was not the traditional way to buy- just about everything in Japan is/was bought from "professionals". It is still like that to a great extent in Japan, though it has changed greatly the last 20 years. With the poor economy and the internet, instead of just throwing away perfectly good used items, they are now sold at recycle shops and on-line though sites like Yahoo auction. The direct contact between parties has always been culturally, difficult, as issues arise. Middlemen have and continue to be another common mechanism for sales.

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