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I have owned this sword for many years. It was given to me by my parents when they moved out of their house.It was left to them in a house they bought in 1964. I have been trying to research it and have come up with very little. I hope my photos are clear enough. 

 

The handle is in bad shape as is the scabbard. The blade is very sharp but has small bits of rust on it. I have not cleaned it  just took it apart.

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Hi (name please),

The Chicago sword show comes up in 2 weeks.  You can have all your questions answered there and you'll learn a lot more.  Given how close you might be, living in Indiana, you should take advantage.

And you have done yourself a huge favor by not trying to clean it; damage happens easily if you don't know what to do.  When you put it back together make sure there is a pin through the hole in the handle; it locks the blade in the handle so it can't fall into the bottom of the scabbard and shatter the point.

Grey

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As Joe mentions, the blade is signed Kawachi no Kami Fujiwara Kunisuke. This line worked for several generations in Osaka in the 1600's and onward. Many fakes of the first few generations who are well known.

 

The way the signature is positioned towards the end of the nakago makes me wonder if the blade wasn't shortened....It is hard to tell from the photos as none show a full picture of the nakago (tang) nor do you give any measurements.

 

I would take Grey's advice and seeks some informed opinions at the sword show where people can view the sword first hand.

 

If the signature is good, it will most likely be a good sword. If the signature is not good, it will be worth much much less and may or may not be good. You can use google to search for more information and examples of valid signatures to do some comparison...Search 河内守藤原国助

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There is a shinsa (professional judging organization) at the show also so you could actually have it judged (for a fee) and if the signature is good get a paper for it.  If you are thinking of selling it there will be dealers and collectors there who purchase swords.  Here is a link to the thread on all of this:

 

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/16320-chicago-sword-show-424-26-2015-midwest-token-kai/?do=findComment&comment=172284

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100% it was shortened. I think the signature is OK. I think this is probably a copy of Shizu or Sadamune. 

 

The ratio of the width of the shinogi-ji to the width of the blade is often found to be small in the end of Kamakura / early Nanbokucho period blades and this school liked to copy Shizu and Sadamune. So it should polish up nicely, but there is a harsh devaluation factor on the value of Shinto blades with altered nakago.

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Looking a little closer, I believe the end of the nakago has been cut off and a machi-okuri done ("notches moved up"). Usual nakago-jiri (end of the tang) is different in this school and the end of the bo-hi (groove) usually finishes above the "notches", while here is it lower. So, the blade has been shortened a touch.

 

Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke school is known primarily for one thing: their distinctive choji hamon called "kobushigata choji" which is a fist-shaped choji. They are said to have roots in the Ishido group which worked in the Bizen style. The shodai's early work is similar to Oya Kunisada, but later, and successive generations, worked mostly in their trademark choji, which is considered Bizen den, not Soshu. Never heard of this group liking to make copies of Sadamune and Shizu, but they are famous for their choji. See an example below. There should also be a yaki-dashi, or straight section, leading in to the main hamon.

 

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the shodai's early work is similar to Oya Kunisada, but later, and successive generations, worked mostly in their trademark choji, which is considered Bizen den, not Soshu. Never heard of this group liking to make copies of Sadamune and Shizu, but they are famous for their choji.

 

attachicon.gifkunisuke nidai.jpg

 

Let me clarify, "this school" when I wrote above means Horikawa school.

 

Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke, first generation, is taught by Horikawa Kunihiro. He is a Horikawa school smith by his training.

 

Kunihiro is famous for making blades that have been confused with Masamune and is quoted out as copying Masamune. Yamanaka indicates influences on Kunihiro include Shizu, Sa, Akihiro and Hiromitsu. He also made excellent Yamashiro style works. Note in this that Masamune and Shizu are often interchangeable (with some famous Masamune becoming Sadamune and then Shizu down the road).

 

Yamanaka writes:

 

"Horikawa Kunihiro: made in the old traditional Soshu style."

 

He further goes on to state:

 

"Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke was the student of HIROKAWA KUNIHIRO of Kyoto and he supposedly went to Osaka about the same time as IZUMI no KAMI KUNISADA and though the exact date is not known, it is popularly assumed to be about the Shoho or the Keian Era. Although KUNISUKE made blades in the Shinto Tradition, there are very few of these and those that are generally seen are like those of his teacher KUNIHIRO, that is in the Koto Tradition."

 

Kunihiro was making the Soshu style blades in the latter half of his life, when he was teaching all of the great students that he had. Making Sadamune and Shizu type blades was popular with Umetada Myoju too and these techniques got taught to Shodai Tadayoshi as well, where we see the Soshu style works he made at the very beginning of his career before focusing on late Rai style Yamashiro type blades which would become the backbone of Hizen.

 

From the examples here, he appears strongly influenced by one of the work styles of Go Yoshihiro. For the record the comparison Go on the right was known as a Go in the Edo period.

 

kunihiro-1.jpg

 

And below we see his work which is either based on Shizu or Sadamune. In this case the NBTHK says Shizu, but we see this hamon pattern in Sadamune as well. What we don't see in Shizu is this combination of horimono and a strong commonality with Sadamune works is that they frequently exhibit bonji, futasuji hi, suken, gomabashi, and many other things, several at a time, often assymetrical ... and seeing that to me it looks like an intention then to homage Sadamune on this one. But the point all of this raises is that it can be difficult to know which Soshu smith is being targetted, especially because these smiths have handed down mostly mumei swords and the attributions have changed over time. Masamune in Kunihiro's time, as mentioned, may have been Sadamune by the time of Honami Kozon and Shizu by the time of the current NBTHK.

 

In the case of the elongated kissaki this should steer us to Sadamune and Shizu, smiths coming a bit after Masamune as it is a feature that belongs to the middle to late Nanbokucho rather than the Kamakura/Nanbokucho boundary where Masamune resides.

 

kunihiro-2.jpg

 

The students I expect would have all been trained in what the master knew, and the influence on the work of some is probably greater than in others. But we do see Sadamune/Shizu/Soshu influence in Kunisuke works, as in these below. On the left it is a typical Soshu style wakizashi with horimono and yubashiri to the point of hitatsura on one side and muneyaki. In the middle is a Sadamune style wakizashi with quiet notare based hamon with ashi, gunome mixed in and a bit of togariba. This can be confusing because this shape of blade and style of hamon we can also feel to be influenced by Shizu and togariba is a stronger connection to Shizu. The katana on the end is a Soshu style hamon with gunome mixed into notare, and sunagashi and kinsuji and looks more like Go than anything.

 

kunisuke-1.jpg

 

Without that blade getting polished and a close look at it, it's not clear what the style is, my only comment is based on the narrow seeming shingogiji to wide ji ratio resembles the Soshu work of Sadamune and Shizu and knowing Horikawa school copies these (and other Soshu smiths, I've had this same layout on a Yukimitsu), is what draws my reaction.

 

As a side note we do see choji in Yamashiro and Soshu, especially in Ayanokoji and in Rai. Kunihiro is not known as a Bizen smith but as one familiar in Soshu and Yamashiro. Is it more likely then that choji comes from Bizen than Yamashiro teachings in the works that inherit from him? Kunisuke's "choji" is often gunome rather than an Ichimonji style choji. I'm not making any argument for or against here, just pointing out that his teacher was making Yamashiro and Soshu den and his own work has a lot of gunome and notare in it.

 

The below two examples are more of the same that is based in Soshu den. There are ongoing attempts to create hitatsura like features, with yubashiri appearing and muneyaki, and in the case of the naginata he's completed the tempering throughout the shinogi-ji. This is not Bizen den, and not Yamashiro den, this is rooted in Soshu.

 

kunisuke-2.jpg

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Actually, to be precise, shodai Kunisuke was late to the Horikawa den and is commonly thought to have been a student of Echigo no Kami Kunitomo, not Horikawa Kunihiro.

 

Be that as it may, no one was or will argue the point that Horikawa Kunihiro and several of his students were influenced by the Soshu den and made works in that style, creating the Shinto "style".

 

But the subject blade isn't a Horikawa Kunihiro blade, it's claiming to be a Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke blade. Successive generations of the Kunisuke school (and it is recognized as a distinct group) are not known to have "liked to copy Shizu and Sadamune", thus you must be saying this is the work of Shodai Kunisuke when you make these Soshu comparisons, post oshigata of the shodai, and say you "think the signature is ok"... I surely wouldn't be comfortable making that claim...

 

As for the origin of choji in Kunisuke blades, it is said that the shodai had a connection with the Ishido group. His work is said to be similar to that of his ani-deshi, Oya Kunisada, except that there are often some choji elements. His connection to the Ishido group is usually given as the reason, and it is clear that the Ishido ha didn't get their choji from Rai.

 

Interestingly, the nidai Kunisuke, the so-called Naka (middle) Kawachi, is also referred to as the "Osaka Ichimonji" thus it is clear that these are considered works in the Bizen den. The kobushi-gata-choji, was fully developed by the nidai and is considered the trademark of the Kunisuke line, much like the doran-ba of smiths in the Sukehiro line. Thus, when one hears "Kunisuke", one naturally thinks "kobushi-gata choji"...

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Actually, to be precise, shodai Kunisuke was late to the Horikawa den and is commonly thought to have been a student of Echigo no Kami Kunitomo, not Horikawa Kunihiro.

 

Be that as it may, no one was or will argue the point that Horikawa Kunihiro and several of his students were influenced by the Soshu den and made works in that style, creating the Shinto "style".

 

But the subject blade isn't a Horikawa Kunihiro blade, it's claiming to be a Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke blade. Successive generations of the Kunisuke school (and it is recognized as a distinct group) are not known to have "liked to copy Shizu and Sadamune", thus you must be saying this is the work of Shodai Kunisuke when you make these Soshu comparisons, post oshigata of the shodai, and say you "think the signature is ok"... I surely wouldn't be comfortable making that claim...

 

As for the origin of choji in Kunisuke blades, it is said that the shodai had a connection with the Ishido group. His work is said to be similar to that of his ani-deshi, Oya Kunisada, except that there are often some choji elements. His connection to the Ishido group is usually given as the reason, and it is clear that the Ishido ha didn't get their choji from Rai.

 

Interestingly, the nidai Kunisuke, the so-called Naka (middle) Kawachi, is also referred to as the "Osaka Ichimonji" thus it is clear that these are considered works in the Bizen den. The kobushi-gata-choji, was fully developed by the nidai and is considered the trademark of the Kunisuke line, much like the doran-ba of smiths in the Sukehiro line. Thus, when one hears "Kunisuke", one naturally thinks "kobushi-gata choji"...

 

 

Yamanaka writes that the Shodai's style follows his teacher. You can argue with him. The oshigata show Soshu style. You can argue with those. I didn't offer shinsa services on the sword, you made a contrary comment (surprise) and I illustrated my thinking starting with the teacher and proceeding to the shodai (which you failed to address). After the fact you try to crack open books and find holes, and if you can find them you try to poke at stuff. It's consistently tedious.

 

Seriously if you have some personal beef you can email me your number and I'll call you and you can get it off your chest.

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You claimed:

 

 

I think the signature is OK. I think this is probably a copy of Shizu or Sadamune.

 

There is no reason to argue with your sources as they made no claims or expressed no opinions about this blade.

 

Again, the Kunisuke group is considered a "school", so when you say:

 

 

this school liked to copy Shizu and Sadamune.

 

when referring to a possible Kunisuke blade, it is taken as a comment on the Kunisuke school, not as a comment on the Horikawa group. Thus from my original comment: "Never heard of this group liking to make copies of Sadamune and Shizu, but they are famous for their choji." It should have been clear from the "choji" comment that I wasn't talking about the Horikawa school, but the Osaka Shinto Kunisuke school. Your monograph showing the Soshu influence on the Horikawa group was superfluous since no one was, or would, argue otherwise. The Kunisuke school however did not like to copy Shizu and Sadamune. Some of the shodai's work shows Soshu influence, but one smith is not a "school".

 

The OP asked "What do I have?" If we are to believe your comment that the signature is ok, and the inference from your statement that "this (meaning Horikawa) school liked to copy Shizu and Sadamune", it can only mean you are saying it is a genuine blade by the Shodai Kunisuke.

 

Luckily, I have many Kunisuke signatures from several generations on hand because someone asked me to appraise their Kunisuke blade recently. Comparing the signature to valid shodai signatures, I don't think so. Please post your comparisons that allowed you to reach that conclusion. No doubt it would be very educational. If you weren't thinking of the Shodai, then the whole Shizu/Sadamune monologue was a red herring but perhaps you can show comparisons for the generation you were implying when you said "I think the signature is ok"...

 

No personal beef, just respect for the truth. I would assume that is what the OP is after... As I have said before, if you don't like having to defend your opinions and find it "tedious" to have your statements challenged, then the obvious thing to do is to not post them.

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