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A Sword I Am Looking At Right Now... (Take 2 - Sword In Hand)...


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Thanks for that Karl :)

 

I just wish I had more books here :) lol

 

Having said that - everything I have read and looked at online so far doesn't rule out Sukehiro - in fact it confirms the fact that he did work like my sword demonstrates - and did make the longer blades also (in my case a 77cm nagasa) - the only thing that didn't seem to fit perfectly was nakago-jiri...

 

I have a feeling it was Paul or Darcy who mentioned the idea that if you were going to put a signature like Tadayoshi/Tadahiro on a blade you would make sure it was a damn GOOD blade or else you wouldn't get away with it... And the idea that such a blade would then command a higher price (''market forces'') also works...

 

All I can say so far is that this sword is definitely one of the better blades I have handled or owned - and as you know I lived and worked in Japan and got to study some nice stuff up close and personal when I was there...

 

I am no ''expert'' but I believe I have a ''good eye'' for a quality blade when I see one - and she is definitely that - quality :)

 

Who knows - maybe one of these days I will send her for shinsa - but I'll be honest, I don't know I would want to go through the mei removal process and re-submitting just to ''get her papered'' because for me the signature in this sword now is also a part of the sword and her history...

 

Call me strange - but I really do believe that what they say is true - we never ''own'' a sword - we are just its temporary custodians... In the case of the one sword that IS my ''collection'' now - she is not my ''possession'' - I am just her custodian until such time as I die or its time for her to ''move on''...

 

My ''job'' then is to look after her as she is - keep her in the perfection condition (fresh polish) that she is in - and learn everything I can from her - and feel honoured that she has chosen me as her custodian - for now :)

 

Just my 2 cents :)

 

 

 

In response to the in-depth information above... I have uploaded 2 attachments (2 examples of Umetada Myoju's work; a 1620 sword and also a tsuba) which may address both the TADA & KUNI character issues mentioned above...

 

On a positive note... #members above have complimented the blade with...

 

#3 great sugata and #8 very nice blade

 

#12 "The signature"  - "is a pattern made by Shodai Tadayoshi when he was in the end of his days and means it's a custom order for the Nabeshima daimyo. It's called kenjo-mei because he left out the Mutsu no Kami in this. The implication is that he is showing some humility in recognizing that this title is honorary only and that the blade is intended to go to someone who is a real lord of a real province." - "Tada is not correct for Shodai" , "not Tadayoshi." ,"TADA character doesn't exist for either first or second generation"

 

Well - if anyone really did go to the Umetada school -  then they actually 'may' be chiselling a TADA like that... as that is how UMETADA MYOJU did it himself. 

 

..................on another note.

I DO see the Kaku(square) and Maru(circle) argument suck in a lot of experts... and I'm slowly crossing-off these fantastically made Sukehiro reproductions from this infinitely spiralling Tadayoshi circle/square argument. 

 

PS. Umetada Myoju - evidence provided.

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Well - if anyone really did go to the Umetada school -  then they actually 'may' be chiselling a TADA like that... as that is how UMETADA MYOJU did it himself. 

 

..................on another note.

I DO see the Kaku(square) and Maru(circle) argument suck in a lot of experts... and I'm slowly crossing-off these fantastically made Sukehiro reproductions from this infinitely spiralling Tadayoshi circle/square argument. 

 

PS. Umetada Myoju - evidence provided.

 

 

What Myoju did is not relevant when it's signed Tadahiro and we have a large volume of extant signatures of the smiths in question to compare to. 

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Having said that - everything I have read and looked at online so far doesn't rule out Sukehiro - in fact it confirms the fact that he did work like my sword demonstrates - and did make the longer blades also (in my case a 77cm nagasa) - the only thing that didn't seem to fit perfectly was nakago-jiri...

 

 

My ''job'' then is to look after her as she is - keep her in the perfection condition (fresh polish) that she is in - and learn everything I can from her - and feel honoured that she has chosen me as her custodian - for now :)

 

Just my 2 cents :)

 

 

Sukehiro should be glittery fine steel in most cases. This doesn't look like his work I think.

 

About removing the signature, if its vandalism then removing the signature is restoration. We need to be careful about it in case we're wrong. When the smith has hundreds of available works to compare against, then there's not much fear about making a mistake. Anyway you can find out first what they have to say on authenticity and then decide after. 

 

033.jpg

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Thanks for that Darcy :) I was wondering, have you been able to see any of the Sukehiro Yamashiro-den work up close and personal (?) I might be off the mark here - I can't remember WHERE I even read about this - but apparently he DID Yamashiro-den work (katana especially) that were so good that at the time there were dealers who passed them off as the works of famous koto masters - I *hope* I've got it right there but I think it was specifically Soboro himself they were talking about...

 

Wonderful pic btw (the one above) - it certainly gives you a sense of the quality of the guy's work...

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Evidence swinging the blade in Q back towards the Tadayoshi School camp is TADAKUNI (Hironori) son of Hirosada (Tadayoshi's half-brother)...

 

...and this student of Tadayoshi also wrote like Umetada Myoju. 

 

Just because it is signed Tadahiro does not mean you can totally out-rule Umetada Myojo's hand-writing (school or style)... or you would be classing every student dai-mei as 'gimei'.  

 

Tadayoshi/Tadahiro was a life-long student of Umetada's old-school ways.

 

Plus... when emulating the 'older-styles' [call it an older brand] I'm sure they would emulate the shape too... which may make their blade(s) look like they were made elsewhere... if that popular style was only made elsewhere for instance. And that unique 'TADA' boomerang was also incorprorated within the MASA of MASAMUNE which Umetada Jusai oshigata-ed (not sure how to write that term. My error-noted.)

 

PSS: Can I do a shout-out for any HORIKAWA KUNITOMO signatures (I have the usual KUNISADA one) or more for the young KUNIHIRO (Hirosada's 1st son) & Munenaga's son Yoshinaga? Thank you. These are so rare to get hold of.

post-2842-0-13327300-1455642414_thumb.jpg

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(Correct me if I am wrong here Karl and in advance apologies for the wrong term - I am sure there is a more correct term than daisaku mei if we are talking nephew/uncle rather than father/son... At any rate - this is *great* stuff - just wish I had more electronic references to hand...)

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Did Darcy say something about an "acid trip"? Or is this an acid flashback?

 

In a later post, Darcy said: It's gimei in my opinion but of course others may disagree, and you can put it all to the test by submitting it.

 

If we can backtrack a bit: My understanding is that Johnno bought a sword which has a mei, but has no papers. Nothing. The authenticity of the mei is now in question, by the reckoning of some of the experienced members on the board. There are some preconceived notions (as Darcy said) as to who actually made and signed the sword. All speculation, so far.

 

Karl presents confusing arguments regarding signatures, with many photographic examples of signatures.

 

It looks like a very nice sword with no obvious flaws, and is in very bright polish. It is well understood now, that it is a very enjoyable sword.

 

There is only one way to put this to rest, and that is to submit it to shinsa. Otherwise we might be going around in circles forever, and Johnno will never have a definitive attribution for this sword. It's great fun to entertain debate and speculation. One might hope for the best possible attribution, but that will not ultimately be decided by the NMB.

 

Pietro

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This is going in so many directions, it is starting to look like a tree.

Forget the signature. None of the work matches. Whilst I could easily be wrong, there is 95% chance that this IS gimei. You have no workmanship here matching and no real reason to think it anything else besides a Tadahiro gimei.
Doesn't mean it isn't a nice sword. But don't let people who like to play cat among the pigeons mislead you. It is all about the workmanship, and not about the signature.
Send it to a US shinsa where they won't require gimei removal to give you an opinion as to who made it.

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Thanks for the feedback so far guys... I have to admit it - the idea of sending for shinsa in the US at some point would probably be the way I *would* go Brian... Why? Because in that way I get to have my cake and eat it too... I can get the opinion of a shinsa team without automatically having to go for mei removal - but if based on the judgment of the shinsa team they say you have ''x'' or ''y'' - and it sounds like its worth it - well, then I would be able to consider that option still (for papering etc.)

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John

I may be misinformed and others will correct me if I am wrong but giving an opinion if a sword fails shinsa is not unique to the USA. I think the NTHK (both bodies) whether carrying out the shinsa in Japan or overseas will give an opinion as to what a sword is if it fails. It may still be easier to send it to the USA  but it is not the only option

regards

Paul

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To Brian post #38 - I'm not 'creating' an argument. I'm just presenting 'primary evidence' (FACTS) (some say 'introducing suspects' but that's what the shinsa panel does - and then they vote on it - ) all suspects should be part of the consideration when the sword is judged... and that is purely why you find it hard to challenge what I'm saying. 

 

I'm showing the (percentage of FACTUAL evidence that is is actually 100% correct for what it is. 100% Umetada Myoju. 100% Tadakuni. No shinsa panel necessary) No argument(s) Not from me.

 

I wish that Shinsa voting was always 100%-all-votes-correct if the way-of-working relied on all available evidence - such as facts - truths - and pure primary evidence. 

 

I'm not the one saying 95-99% gimei... I'm the one saying LOOK AT pure 'primary' evidence which needs to be considered.

 

What ever happened to the story of Tadayoshi being illiterate and couldn't write for himself - and that he copied down what others wrote down for him? I guess being illiterate and the notion he wrote exactly the same characters down all his life... falls through tightly clenched fingers like water through a sieve.  [The only people who would write the same characters down consistently over and over again are those who had 1 primary source - a sword to copy.]

 

 I will stay 100% factual - and when I'm wrong I'll be the first to hold my hands up and say so. 

 

I will state 100% that every single TADAHIRO signed sword is signed differently. And I will add... that consistent signatures are by his master, friends, sibling and student(s). And if you are removing signatures and judging the blade by it's metal alone - well, you'll will end up with some blades being identified as older works... and incorrectly so... but maybe... you just don't want the truth.

 

I have a HIZEN character which i think is by the real TADAYOSHI. And i will state that 4 swords signed by both Tadayoshi + Munenaga seem to be copies by a later swordsmithing team of greater prowess (who also had a horimono master). And the source of Tadayoshi's Sharpness may not be a family thing as I will state now bigtime. that his family could not replicate it BECAUSE they were never the original source of the 'sharpness' to start with. A team copied his blades and out-did Tadayoshi... even having his swords rank above their own. OMG - I said it. [This is my theory and I have the evidence to prove it. HIZEN-SMITH CODE coming soon.] PS: The fantastic structure and 'sharpness' and 'hamons' belong to the dream team, not - one man.

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Guys - in my attempts at online research I've been trying to find the best examples of Shodai Tadayoshi's work from around the time he changed to using ''Tadahiro'' in about 1624. Does anyone know where I might be able to find better pics of this sword in particular: http://www.samuraisword.com/nihontodisplay/CUTTING_TEST/gold_inlay/Tadayoshi/(its a long shot but I thought I would ask). Thanks, John.

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John

Sorry for the old fashioned suggestion but the best and most comprehensive illustration of Tadayoshi (and Tadahiro mei) are in the Hizen Taikan. a substantial volume printed in the 1970s If you look on Grey Doffins site he may have a copy. I bought one from him some while ago and it is amongst the best references for Tadayoshi you can find

I appreciate it may lack the convenience of online but if you are prepared to spend money sending your sword around the world for papering spending a few hundred dollars and a great reference book is not a bad idea.

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Thanks for the suggestion Paul - I might have a look and see how much that would set me back - a reference like that would probably be worth having. I guess that with all the travelling I have done I'm the sort who nowadays wants to get everything in electronic format (pdf or whatever) but I guess that in the world of Nihonto that is not so do-able...

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I PM'ed John a good sized chunk of various published Tadahiro mei by different generations, most of them by NBTHK. There are a lot to study for and should help out a bit.

 

For Karl Peter, do you know for example how 2nd Tadahiro changed his signature over the years? NBTHK explains this in quite easy to understand manner. That is probably the reason why I among many others will rather trust NBTHK than this mysterious Hizen smith code that must be kept as a secret. I'm not trying to pick a fight I'm just trying to say that you need to explain your smith code in way that people besides yourself also understand what you are talking about.

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I don't think Sukehiro would fool anyone into thinking his work was koto Yamashiro. He made suguba and it is very good. I had one by the first generation. Osaka shinto usually makes itself stand out very much in the bright and tight jihada and hamon, and thick nioiguchi. It's hard to state it all in text but the effect is very sparkly and beautiful but it's not something that you would confuse with Rai. It gives an impression of newness throughout.

 

The Umetada argument... honestly I have no idea where you guys are trying to come from like this. If this is shodai or nidai Tadahiro it is coming with a huge gap between the time that shodai Tadayoshi learned under Umetada. If his signature was going to follow or be influenced by the signing habits of Umetada then that would come from his time immediately under Umetada. Not suddenly out of nowhere at the end of his life.

 

This is the classic case of putting the cart before the horse. You're starting with the conclusion that this thing is legitimate and then arguing for ways that it could possibly end up being legitimate. This is not how the game works. We start from a conservative or at best neutral position and then allow the sword to speak, and then follow Occam's razor where it leads us.

 

Every time the sword does something awkward or unusual in its conversation with you, you are presented with a fork in the path. Each time you have to take the path with the marker that says "unusual" the greater the chance you end up at the destination "gimei" and this increases exponentially. One is a pass it's probably ok, two is uh oh and three is: bzzzzt. You have to let the work lead you, and if you insist on leading the work you will almost always end up in the wrong place because you can make up arguments for almost anything. 

 

I have a Norishige for sale on my site which is a good learning experience because it too has an unusual signature. However, this one is dead on knockout for Norishige work. The NBTHK makes a point of hammering that one home. The signature passed their examination for being the correct period. What is left is just one unusual thing and that is that the style of signature is somewhat unusual for Norishige. Now, if the work were not correct and looked like Yukimitsu and the tanto were 32cm and not correct for Norishige and then the mei was the wrong style, now you have a problem. You've quickly moved into very shaky territory. But since everything else is bang on what it does is argue to expand the definition of what the signature styles of the smith are. It helps that there is another just like it in the Juyo so it's not standing alone. 

 

If you had to bet money on the Tadahiro (and honestly you are betting money on these when you buy them) then over the long haul your money is best played with the odds not against them. If every time a sword comes up that is not right, that has a big name on it, and you consistently side up with the "buts" and "maybes" 3-5 times in the conversation with the sword then you're going to end up being burned 19 times out of 20. 

 

It's not an opinion it's just math. 

 

I don't see any reason for cautious optimism even. All I can say is that none of us have a record of being uniformly correct and I am not above the NBTHK or NTHK and so maybe they would disagree. That is just butt covering boilerplate and stating the obvious, that I'm not a top scholar or a perfect judge. But I don't see why anyone would find there to be a reasonable hope that this one is correct. 

 

All there is is a real outside shot because the mei has some serious mistakes in it and the quality is not up there with what it should be for Shodai or Nidai Tadahiro. It's not a bad sword but what is going on here is exactly why they made these things. It's just enough to confuse someone into believing it when they want to believe (in my opinion). 

 

Hope is just not a good way of doing analysis. If this were a dead ringer for Shodai work and the mei were closer and stronger and more ducks lined up then there would be more hope.

 

If this was a smith that we had 20 good signatures of then there would be more hope for edge cases.

 

But Hizen swords have thousands of available works to call on. So when one doesn't match the book, you have a serious problem and arguing but and maybe is not as strong a stance as when you have a really old koto blade. Starting to overlap and I think I stated the case, what I had to say is to absorb or discard at this point for what it's worth.

 

(Also please note that the hope card on these unpapered "edge case" blades is what creates a market for them. Some of the "sensei" have put stuff like this on ebay and their websites and littered the ground with sparkly glimmers of hope, but careful parsing of their descriptions reveals all kinds of legal back doors that they have carefully engineered to say, "well I never explicitly said it was good" ... but they have created an environment which was crafted to give hope that it was good and in these cases, especially when or if they have easy access to papering services, it leaves it an open question about why they would sell such a thing with no papers when papering it removes all doubt and would let them sell it for much more... perhaps they just like the cut of your jib or the look of your face or feel like donating a few thousand dollars or more of value to you today because it's sunny out... then again maybe they know it's no good and carefully craft an environment where you can believe and they can have a back door to escape down... however they do it it's actually a misunderstanding of how fraud laws work because you don't have to explicitly make a fraudulent claim to be guilty of fraud... purposefully withholding information or letting someone lead themselves to the wrong conclusion based on partially sharing information or putting such an item within the glow of authenticity is fraud. Some of these guys have histories of quietly distributing bad stuff that would surprise you. This one not Nanbokucho as stated. This one not sho-shin gendaito as stated. And so on. But each time someone played the hope card on themselves and fell into the trap.

 

We have all been there, and when I got started I bought a sword with a sayagaki by Kanzan to Sadamune... sold to me by someone in my city who I thought to be a friend. I thought Sadamune would be too much to hope for especially at the price of $10k as offered, but I could hope for someone Soshu and in the Nanbokucho period and the doors were open for something good. Well after I bought it an expert in Japan (and a real expert) said the sayagaki was a forgery. It eventually came out that the guy who sold it to me submitted it for papers. When I had come back to him with it being a forgery he defended it by saying look, this is a good blade because it received Tokubetsu Hozon papers when I sent it in.

 

To Kaifu school.

 

Which the guy deliberately held back to create the impression that it might be something better than Kaifu.

 

Though he made no lies, he presented this in the air that it was something that it was reasonable to have an open question about, and he figured he could sit on the mental fine print of me not asking if he actually had papers for it or not, and that he could hold them back and let the sword sell as the potential for something more. He knew something that I didn't and let me speculate that it could paper to something better. A lot of sword guys think this is OK and it's not. They think it's paying your dues. But its fraud and victimizing someone.

 

If you have a gold coin and find out that it's copper, and then turn around and sell it to someone as this coin you found and it sure does look like gold, you're defrauding him by letting him believe that it might be gold when you know it's not. And this is how a bad signature sword goes around and around and around. Because every time someone finds out it's actually no good they are the one that's burned and instead of eating it and removing the signature they will feed it back into the market and try to recover their money. There is an Ichimonji that I keep encountering (though not for a while) that has been to the NBTHK god knows how many times and a Rai Kunitoshi with no boshi that people keep submitting to Juyo.

 

Condell was tired of people asking him about this Rai Kunitoshi by the time I saw it first well over a decade ago. I got tired of seeing it jump from table to table and people asking me about it. I told one friend who asked me about it who wanted to buy it that it had no boshi and Condell knew about it long ago and the blade had been tried a million times at Juyo and kept failing because it has no boshi. But it wasn't enough to squash the hope and he bought it anyway. Pretty sure he sold it again some time after when it failed to pass Juyo, because it has no boshi.

 

What people fail to understand is that an otherwise fatal flaw is dealt with in stages depending on how important the smith is. If you have something that is like Ko-Hoki Yasutsuna it could possibly pass Juyo with no boshi provided it is ubu and zaimei because it is an incredibly important thing and the age gives it a pass on no boshi. This same thing won't work if the blade is end of Kamakura and mumei. But that blade could get Hozon or Tokubetsu Hozon considering. Move to the Shinto period and no boshi is now a horrific situation that will stop all papers. Go back to the Koto period and but a no boshi on a Kozori work and it's not going to fly at Hozon either. This is what is out there and what they have arrived at based on the relative importance of the work though I can't say for sure they would do the same thing today. 

 

The point I am hammering here is that hope is somewhat close to greed in that the combination of the two makes people take chances they otherwise wouldn't take. Hope is not an investment strategy (so people usually find out) nor is it a gambling strategy or a marriage strategy or a kantei strategy. Sometimes it turns out OK just because it was the 1 time in 20 that the stars aligned. And often that's enough for people to take the chance again later on. Hope is not your friend though, it's your enemy. That's why we don't listen to it and start from the position that such and such a blade is sho-shin and then argue for ways for it to be sho-shin. Because there will always be a way. 

 

Maybe this week Masahide broke his hand and Naotane was sick and so Masahide had to get his grandmother to come in and finish the sword for him and this is why the quality is not so good and the hamon is unusual and the mei is not right, but I'll sell it to you for cheap and if it papers then you really come out on top. Hook line and sinker someone will take the gamble because they want to believe and they want to win and it's more exciting than actually going out and spending the money on a legit one.

 

I cannot for the life of me understand why people would go out and buy fake Omori work for 30% to 50% of the price of legitimate Omori work. Everyone wants to say, well, the signature is not legit but it's really Omori school work. And probably it isn't. It's probably just someone later on down the road faking it and cloning the style, and if you had real Omori in your hand beside it then it would look like a laughable POS. Absent the real thing it's just close enough to get by and someone will buy it thinking 30% is a good price for Omori school... but if you look at a fake Ferrari vs. a real Ferrari the price is not 30%. A fake Rolex vs. a Real rolex and the price is not 30%. A fake Micheal Jordan rookie card vs. a real one and the price is not 30%. So why are people going out and spending 30% for the fake Omori and presumably making this decision over and over again and building these collections based on hope while they let a real one sit there unbought? Because it's too expensive relative to the fake one?

 

All other examples in the world indicate that the fake one at 30% of the price of the real one is the one that is REALLY expensive because it needs to be compared not against the real thing but against what it is: anonymous mediocre work by someone who couldn't get by making his own stuff so he made a cheap knockoff. 

 

It's the same as buying SONNY from Shenzen instead of SONY from Japan. That's what it needs to be compared against. 

 

Tell me what you see. 

 
sonny.jpg
 
This was a pretty random stumble to find, in this case they are both reflections of the same thing but they're done at different skill levels. The top one should not be argued as work of the hand of the bottom one though in any way shape or form. Though they look the same and are the same design, it's not right to say that well, maybe but then possibly in this case blah blah. It's just not the same guy no matter how you cut it and getting confused between top and bottom examples means that you'd need to learn more and see more. 
 

Trying to put a spike through the heart of the hope argument here. Maybe and but and hope are enough to submit something for papers to make sure that you're not wrong. That's about as far as they take you. And this sword in question, if the belief is so strong that it's masterwork, then there should be no question about spending the money to send it in for papers. 

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Darcy - what can I say? Thanks so much for your in-depth post above - you've given me a lot to think about and at the end of the day (if anything) I guess you have brought me back to where I was at the beginning when I bought the sword in the first place (or in my case traded for my old katana and 2 tanto). I'd be lying if I said that the mei means ''nothing'' to me - but in reality I bought this sword the same way I bought every other sword in the past - because of the sword herself - the overall look and ''feel'' of the sword - she ''spoke to me''. I would not claim that she is a ''masterwork'' but to me she is definitely a fine sword.

 

Would I like it if she had already been through shinsa and had passed it and had some papers ? Of course I would. But in reality if I do send her for shinsa in the future my expectation is that she will not pass and that the signature will be found ''gimei''. In a sense that is not even my focus - because I believe she was made by a better than average smith for the time so I guess my curiosity here is, more than anything else,  to know who actually DID make her.

 

I've read a few things about the Hizen School and the early work of the Shodai and of course - not unlike your pictorial comparison above - I recognize that there are features of the work in my sword that is the sort of thing the Shodai himself did in his early years. Does this *make* my sword the work of the shodai? No, not necessarily. But of course, as you have said already, this is where the ''hope thing'' comes in.

 

I do not ''definitely'' know anything about my sword - all I can say is that I have ideas - I believe she was made in the early 1600s, I believe she was made by a better than average smith and is a fine sword - I know she is longer than the average katana for the time (77cm nagasa) and that looking at her in sunlight you can see more activity in that hamon than many. There is great sunagashi and kinsuji all over the place and she is a most enjoyable sword to sit with and study and to have. Wonderful jigane, wonderful hamon, great activity.

 

Beyond that, she is a mystery - but for me (as a small time collector who seldom has the money to ''own'' more than one or two swords anyway at any given point in time) she is a wonderful sword and one that has given me immense pleasure to study and get to know so far.

 

What can I say? Food for thought - my journey continues :)

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