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Heringsdorf

Opinion On Recent Addition.

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Hello,

 

I'm relatively new at collecting Nihonto.

Recently I bought this Katana from a dealer in Canada.

I would appreciate some opinions from the more experienced collectors on this forum about this katana.

Any feedback on quality, state of polish....

Also I was wondering about the edge, it's not really sharp. Is that something I should address by sending the blade to be polished?

The info I have from the nakago is:

Mei Minamoto Yoshitsugu

Date September 1860

It also has the name of the samurai who commissioned the sword and some additional points which I couldn't translate.

It has an NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon certificate from 1992.

My understanding is that the NBTHK is much more stringent in giving Tokubetsu Hozon certificates now.

Does that have any impact on older certificates like mine? Are they less valuable?

Thank you all in advance.

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Hi Maximillian,

The blade is in polish; do not have it repolished.  There is nothing wrong with your Tokubetsu Hozon paper; every bit as desireable as more recently issued papers.  Looks like a very nice piece; enjoy it as is.

I see you have about 7 posts on the board this morning, asking our opinions of various blades and kodogu.  My opinion is that you need to slow down on buying stuff and spend time and money on buying knowledge.  Get good books and read them twice, attend any show you're able to and look at everything and ask questions, and beg your way into see any collections available.  If you put serious effort into learning up front, you'll be able to answer the questions for yourself and you'll be more likely to make smart decisions about buying.

No reason to rush into this; there will always be good stuff to buy.

Grey

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I was going to ask you how you know the blade is not sharp, then realized I didn't want to know.

 

Please do not touch the polished part of the blade with your bare hands, it will damage it.

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Thank you Mr. Doffin for your reply.

I am investing also in books and have been reading them. There is still a lot for me to learn though, and I always appreciate input from experts like yourself. Currently I have John Tirado make me a habaki and shirasaya for this sword.

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Hello Steve,

I actually never touched the blade with bare hands. I always use a Fukusa when viewing it.

But I noticed that when looking head on towards the edge, I can see some light reflection on the edge, which I understand as not being as sharp as it could be.

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Hi Maximilian,

 

The reason for this is that Japanese swords have evolved into art as opposed to being purely a weapon. Your sword, with its beautiful polish, does not need to have a razor sharp edge in order to show off the characteristics that make it a piece of art because it will (for which read should) never be used to cut anything. I think also that a togishi would be reluctant to remove more metal than is necessary for an art polish on this basis.

 

If you are interested in tameshigiri, it is better to buy a modern sword made especially for it.

 

That's a lovely sword by the way. That it was made in response to a commission probably means that it is this smith's best work and will normally be a cut above those that he made for sale "off the peg". Enjoy it!

 

Best regards,

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Hi Maximilian,

 

The reason for this is that Japanese swords have evolved into art as opposed to being purely a weapon. Your sword, with its beautiful polish, does not need to have a razor sharp edge in order to show off the characteristics that make it a piece of art because it will (for which read should) never be used to cut anything. I think also that a togishi would be reluctant to remove more metal than is necessary for an art polish on this basis.

 

That to me seems wrong. While they are art objects part of their qualities is the engineering to make them such good weapons. While I see the reasons not to have them razor sharp, I disagree and would compare it to a hagire. You cannot see a hagire however the problem is how it affects it as a weapon whilst having no bearing on it as an art object. The main purpose of a polish should be the beauty in a fnctional weapon by creating a good balance, nice lines and yes sharpness. Bringing out the activities in the Ji and Ha imho should be in addition to these fundamentals.

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Hi James,

 

Whatever the arguments around form versus function and where this should begin and end, in reality, none of my swords have a particularly sharp edge and they were all polished in Japan and some by well regarded polishers (or at least in their workshops). So whilst I guess there was an element of surmise to my earlier post (I should have made clear that it was my own view), it was based on my experience and seems like a plausible explanation to me..but I'm sure there are others with greater knowledge or different views or who can otherwise add to this.

 

Out of interest, I recently read Markus Sesko's book on the history and development of tameshigiri, part of which said that the main line sword testers would take a smith's polished blade and use their own techniques on it in order to ensure that the edge was as sharp and well balanced as it could be for the test cutting. If I remember rightly, he likened this to sharpening a cut throat razor where the edge is maintained through a mild abrasive and a leather strop.

 

Consequently, it might be the case that it wasn't unusual for individuals to have their own techniques for getting and maintaining an optimal cutting edge beyond those applied during the normal polishing process...but who knows really? 

 

Best regards,

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Although I'm not sure if it's possible to judge the sharpness by just looking at the blade (I certainly wouldn't be able to do that myself), it's a shinshintô, and might still have ububa above the habaki.

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It's an easy check for sharpness, Guido, I'm sure you could manage.

Not that I use it for checking swords but for general knife work it is handy. Hold the blade so you're looking directly at the edge; any dull spots will reflect light and these are easy to see whereas a sharp edge will reflect nothing. A torch shone directly at the edge can help.

Handy if you're sharpening a knife and need to see if you've missed any bits on the coarse stone.

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