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Pricing Confusion

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Hello all,


Mostly a lurker, the knowledge here is intense, so I try to be quiet and learn.


What confuses me is the wild price escalation on auction sites (Ebay, et all) for what I would term "project" swords. Bad finish, rust, maybe some level of damage, need of a new polish, old WWII fittings you get the idea. Long time coin collector so I get the games that get played.


I have recently added a nihonto sword to my collection and it's magnificent. It excites me so much. I actually am afraid to touch it much (nitrile gloves) and I don't want to take it apart to study. I was looking for even a Showa sword that was not machine made with full fittings as a project sword to learn from. The pricing gets out of hand so fast, I may as well just go full out for another fine piece.


Is it the featuring of these artworks in films, or what else? Seems many are in on this and not for collection.


Sorry for a somewhat rant, just confused.

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There's a ton that goes into pricing; who made it, when it was made, what condition it is in, the particular market at the time being hard or soft for a certain sort of sword, whether the fittings catch someone's eyes or not, whether it's papered or not, if it has a horimono, is there some special provenance surrounding it or was it a temple sword or something, is it signed or not, is it dated or not...there's an insane amount of variables and none of it is easy to nail down.


There isn't any hard and fast rule as to the value of something in this "world." You can take an educated guess on it based on past and current sales but there simply is no way to predict it properly. We've all seen swords we thought would go for a lot more sell for a pittance and vice versa.


Also keep in mind sometimes ebay sales have shill bidders etc.

Ebay isn't a great place to get a sword but you can find some good stuff there. As a new collector you probably want to go to a respected dealer such as Aoi or similar where you will be far more guaranteed to get what you believe you're purchasing.


Regarding handling your sword; don't be afraid to hold the tang (nakago) with your bare hands. Never touch the blade with your bare hands. Keep a light sheen of choji oil on the blade (but not a ton of it, don't let it goop up on you). Don't use uchiko (the powdered ball) on it please.


If anyone thinks anything I've said is wrong here please do feel free to speak up, I am still in the early stages of learning too.



By the way: show us your sword! I love pictures and I'm sure a lot of other folk here do too.

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Short answer is that many bidders are treasure hunters hoping to buy a diamond in the rough, but more often they will have greatly overpaid after the cost of restoration, shinsa, etc. There certainly are treasures to be found on the auction sites if you know what you look for and have a bit of luck, but those are in the minority. For the most part, papered and restored swords are the way to go.

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eBay is fraught with peril. As people say. Gimei runs a amok, you have shill bidding etc.


Don't feel bad Verm, I also wear nitrile gloves when handling my Nihonto. Just because I treat them as museum pieces.


Agreed on Uchiko. Avoid it. It is too easy for user error and create scuffs on the blade.


I use alcohol and microfiber to clean off old oil and use only high quality choji (made FOR Japanese swords: Bob Benson has good stuff) to oil.

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As Rob & Ray state, eBay is a really mixed bag when it comes to Nihonto. If you know what you're doing, it can be a great source of excellent bargains; otherwise, you can waste your money & be greatly disappointed.


If you haven't already spent some money on reference books to study, Jeremiah, please do so before buying anything else. A quick search on NMB will give you lists of books that are recommended, & once you understand what they're saying, you'll have a much better idea of what you should be looking for on eBay, & elsewhere.


On handling your blade, yes, do be careful not to get fingerprints on it, but remember that they were originally made for battle, & aren't the least bit fragile. I've seen more people drop them while wearing gloves than with bare hands!




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