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My First Japanese Tanto


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Hello and thank you for allowing me to join this Forum. I have a certain expertise in edged weapons but not in this sphere,so I lay myself open here as a complete novice. I have just obtained this Tanto and I would like to know your opinions on it.

Ivan

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Dear Ivan.

 

Welcome to the board and to the start of an intriguing hobby.  The good news is that your tanto is a Japanese blade though clearly opinions differ as to the age.  The mounts are of a type that is relatively common for tanto but I suspect they are quite recent, at least the menuki are, (Hilt ornaments).

 

If you want better information then an in hand viewing by someone who knows what they are looking for is the best way forward.  Depends on where you are in the country but I would reccomend either the Token Society, http://to-ken.uk/

or the Northern Token Society.  http://www.northerntokensociety.org.uk Both are welcoming and have considerable expertise among their membership.  (Well the second link isn't working for me but it's easy enough to search.)

 

Enjoy!

 

All the best.

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Hi Ivan, glad you made it here.
Ivan has an interest in the Japanese stuff, and is quite the expert on fighting knives (FS etc)
This does read Sukenao as Guido pointed out. The previous owner made some claims about the tanto that i thought people here would maybe like to comment on.
It's assumed to be gimei, but I am not really convinced that it is Koto/1400's. The yasurime don't say Koto to me.
Shape maybe.
But would like to hear people throwing out some comments and doing the whole analysis thing....c'mon guys...don't make me look bad here :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
 

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I think I am with Jean on this. The nakago doesn't look that old and the Yasurimei point towards shin-shinto or later.

Although I hate making judgement on steel from images the hada looks bright and "hard" which again would point to later manufacture. (This could be a result of polish and or photography)

While maybe not too old it looks to be a good clean and solid example. 

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Most of the analysis above, with the exception of Paul’s, hinges on the nakago being pristine. In fact I have seen various blades with removed gimei where the patina, yasurime etc do not like right for the putative age of the blade and yet it papers to something older.

I humbly agree that the yasurime and patina here are newish. However the worn down hada does not scream shinshinto. It could have been made to deceive but why put a Sukenao signature on it? Given the state of the hasaki and polish, it could have been an earlier blade which has been polished down, and a gimei placed on the nakago (after filing it anew). One should also look at the thickness of the blade and compare it to the thickness of the nakago and also closely inspect the transition between polished surface and tang

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Hi Brian

Gents, I really appreciate your help here. As i say i am a novice, I know how to take it apart but it is oiled and at the moment I have no white (cotton??) gloves to handle the piece, nor any oil to treat the blade with. Will it be ok to go ahead or wait until I have the correct protective gloves. I know not to touch the blade but as I say it is oiled at the moment.

Regards

Ivan

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If you forget the yasurime which are a kantei point, my first feeling was Mino sue Muromachi. The blade caves slightly in as a butcher knife which has seen some use.

 

Now, it will be interesting to have a picture taken from above of the mune machi, nakago included, to see how many polishes this blade has undergone.

 

Otherwise, all is speculation taken from provided information :)

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Jean

As I say I am a total novice, I am trying to learn the nomenclature but I do struggle. Help me out in the most novice way and I will provide the photos you require

Regards

Ivan

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Ivan, the tang can safely be handled with bare hands...just make sure they are dry. The blade can be wiped over with soft tissue gently (one direction)
You should have some form of gun oil or something you use for your bayonets. A few drops will be fine for now, and then clean off with ethyl alcohol 98% and re-oil very lightly with light machine oil later.
You aren't going to harm it unless you handle the blade with sweaty hands or use an abrasive. Otherwise you are good to go. Disassemble, hold by the tang and take the pics. The tang is ok to darken over time with patina.
 

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Ivan, would you have an objection to posting the info sheet you were given with it?
Understand if you prefer not to.
From what I can see there, it hasn't been polished down too much over the years, which means the shape that looks like many years of polishing might be induced during manufacture.
The filemarks (yasurime) still shout Shinshinto to me. But let's see what others say.
Btw, none of the above or any of the info presented is bad at all. Just different eras etc, but none of them takes away anything. A lot of Shinto and Shinshinto work is better than very early work. So you still have a nice piece there, we are just debating who made the nice piece and when :)

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Not positive, but it appears that the nakago (tang) has been shaved more on one side (signature side) than the other implying an altered signature ((looking at the nakago -tang- from the mune -backside- the signed side appears to have been shaved down, which could have been done to remove a different signature).

 

P.S. Very good for a first Japanese blade.

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Thanks for the additional images. I am still in th Shin-Shinto camp. As Brian says there is little loss from previous polishes and the blade looks thick and healthy. I cant see that is shaved down more on one side than the other.

My best guess at present would be shin-shinto. The other point I'd make is that if you were going to the trouble of removing one signature to add a different one wouldn't you make it someone a bit more famous in an attempt to gain maximum payment for your efforts?

Still of the view this is a reasonably healthy late work by a less well known maker. Looks to be an ok thing without being a national treasure.

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Thanks Ivan. I think there are a few things in there that needed mentioning, correcting...or just disputing.
The seller made a few assumptions that lean towards favoring a sale...let's just say that. The descriptions are fair...the assumptions not so much. But then, with Japanese swords, no-one can dispute too much without sending for papers.  So it all comes down to educated opinions. And that's why I have this massive backing team making me look like I know something when I know very little :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

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There seems to be Sukenao 助直 working at the turn of 1800's in Edo. As he probably is lesser smith not much info on him. By google searches I could only find info about the famous one. So unfortunately I can't get you any mei example from this lesser known smith as I don't have mei example of his in any books either. 

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Difficult to agree with the assertion it is from 12-14 century. It has had a few polishes as can be seen from the tapering, but not numerous, and cannot be related to the suggested period. I have looked at Sukenao smiths just to understand what the person who made it / altered it was getting at. A few Bizen smiths, some Osaka, some Edo smiths but not much to point to the workmanship here.

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