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Tokubetsu Kichio

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Hello:

 I have been watching for circling boo-birds since the posting of a Shinkai wakizashi yesterday for $34,000.00 on nihonto.us, the site of Andy Quirt, a very senior American dealer, as the blade sports only a Tokubetsu Kichio. I believe that was a US based NBTHK shinsa, not sure, but prior to the era of Hozon and Tokubetsu Hozon. I recognize that bad papers were issued prior to the "new era" but the statistical likelihood of encountering one has to be quite small IMHO.

 Arnold F.

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Hi Arnold

did the NBTHK ever do a US shinsa? I thought they were always Japan only and only the NTHK did overseas shinsas, but as often the case I could well be wrong.

I agree with you that the number of bad papers may well have been a very small percentage. Unfortunately there were enough for confidence in all earlier papres below Juyo to be regarded assuspect.

While I have no doubts at all regarding Andy Quirt who I have regarded as a friend for many years and bought from in the past very happily I wonder why he, or the current owner havent sent it for new papers. I know it is hassle but  some might think essential if they want to achieve  that level of pricing.

Of course it maybe they believe the sword speaks for itself and therefore new papers unnecessary but in the current market many people spending on high ticket items don't have the experience of earlier collectors and rely on the paper to give them confidence in what they are doing.

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Hello:

 The NBTHK, Dr. Sato in charge, did two shinsa in Dallas and one in Coronado, California. I attended both the California shinsa and those were the days we got roped into doing oshigata so it was lots of fun for sure. I can recall in one of them at there were cops all over the place and I thought wow what great security, however the VP was visiting the hotel at the same time.

 Arnold F.

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fantastic.

I wish they would consider doing more now. I guess they are fully occupied with submissions in Japan and therefore don't need to consider carrying out overseas events.

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Hello Paul:

 Yes those were fantastic, at least the ones I got to. R.B. Caldwell was helpful in pulling it all together as was John Yumoto and I believe that was the first time any major shinsa was held in the US. Wakayama sensei was doing the tosogu; I remember him clearly as after some indecision he bounced one of my tsuba. "Working" in the shinsa rooms gave first hand observation. There were of course a lot of other highly qualified people from Japan but I have no notes and that was quite a while ago.John Yumoto also organized one in San Francisco in 1976 in recognition of the Bi-centennial, it being conducted by Murakami sensei of the Toen-sha, quite a worthy group which did not survive his passing. I believe Dr. Fukunaga came over two times, not sure as I wasn't there, but I believe one was in Birmingham, Alabama and the other in Azizona (?), again with John Yumoto playing an intermediary role?. Yoshikawa Koen was to do a number in the older NTHK days, and I think he first visited Chicago in the late 60s, but my impression is that it was more localized initially than the NBTHK shinsa which had large draws. At  least one of the Texas shinsa was quite colorful with Dr. Compton flying back and forth to Elkhardt, Indiana in the corporate Alka Seltzer jet with John Harding of London Galleries in tow and advising him on this and that, and it was there that the Book of the Sword was presented by its authors. When one counts up the number of shinsa that have been held in the US - I believe another is upcoming for Tampa in 2019 - it is more or less amazing that they fill up as they seem to continuously do.

 Arnold F.

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I'll comment because this is disavowed papers are OK propaganda.

 

"Encountering bad papers is quite small", is a misinformed statement. Or, a misinforming statement. 

 

The NBTHK has disavowed all these papers now. They gave about 40 years for people to upgrade them.

 

Say you have X papers in total. Y papers out of that total are bad, that means Z = X-Y are good papers. 

 

Every year that one old bad paper gets upgraded into a hozon paper decreases the number of Z. That means every year your chance of meeting up with an old bad paper increases. 

 

It was a bad enough problem on the day the NBTHK withdrew them and told its membership that the papers were not trustworthy.

 

But literally, every month after that, the problem becomes worse.

 

If you don't understand the basic math, you can understand this.

 

You have a bag full 900 diamonds and 100 rocks. Consider that the old status of the unreliable papers. That's a 10% bad rate.

 

If you grab into that bag at random your chances are 10% of getting a bad paper.

 

So if you buy 100, at random and send for papers, you will have 90 diamonds and 10 rocks. The 90 diamonds go on to Tokubetsu Hozon. The 10 rocks go back into the bag.

 

Now, the bag has 810 diamonds, and 100 rocks. 

 

So now you pull 100 at random in the next year. You get 89 diamonds and 11 rocks. The 89 diamonds come out of the bag and a re now Tokubetsu Hozon. The 11 rocks go back into the bag.

 

The bag now has 721 diamonds in it and 100 rocks.

 

You pull 100 at random in the third year. Again, by random pulling you have a 100/821 chance of pulling a bad rock, this gives you 12 rocks on the pull, and 88 diamonds.

 

The 88 diamonds come out of the bag and become Tokubetsu Hozon. The 12 rocks go back in.

 

The bag now has 633 diamonds and 100 rocks. 

 

In the fourth year you pull 100 at random. You pull out 14 rocks and you get 86 diamonds. The diamonds leave the bag and go on to Tokubetsu Hozon and the rocks go back in. 

 

The bag now has 547 diamonds and 100 rocks. Now you pull your 100 again and you get 15 rocks and 85 diamonds. 

 

Rocks go back in, diamonds come out, the bag now contains 462 diamonds, and 100 rocks. 

 

The fifth year you pick 100 at random, you get 18 rocks and 82 diamonds. Diamonds come out, rocks go back in.

 

Bag now contains 380 diamonds and 100 rocks. 

 

Sixth year you pick 100 at random, you get 20 rocks and 80 diamonds. Diamonds go out, rocks go back in.

 

Bag now contains 300 diamonds and 100 rocks.

 

Seventh year you pick 100 at random, you get 25 rocks and 75 diamonds. Diamonds go out, rocks go back in.

 

Bag now contains 225 diamonds and 100 rocks. 

 

Eighth year you pick 100 at random, you get 31 rocks and 69 diamonds. Diamonds come out, rocks go back in.

 

Bag now contains 156 diamonds and 100 rocks. 

 

Ninth year you pick 100 at random, you get 39 rocks and 61 diamonds. Diamonds out, rocks in.

 

Bag now contains 95 diamonds and 100 rocks.

 

Tenth year you pick 100 at random, you get 51 rocks and 49 diamonds. Diamonds out, rocks in.

 

Bag now contains 46 diamonds and 100 rocks.

 

11th year you pick 100 at random, you get 68 rocks and 32 diamonds. Diamonds out, rocks in.

 

Bag now contains 14 diamonds and 100 rocks.

 

12th year you pick 100 at random you get 87 rocks and 13 diamonds. Diamonds out, rocks ins.

 

Bag now contains 1 diamond and 100 rocks.

 

...

 

This is a comb filter algorithm. If you continually skim the best items out of a pot and throw the garbage back into the pot, eventually the pot only contains garbage.

 

Every time you skim the best items out and remove them, the next attempt, the chances are HIGHER that you will encounter a bad item. 

 

With 1000 items, 10% bad, 100 filtered on each iteration, it takes 12 iterations to get to only 1 good item left. From there on, it is forever that it's just bad items left.

 

This is exactly what the NBTHK did to get rid of the bad papers.

 

Every year people submitted their old papers to get new papers, and the good ones came out clean and were removed from the pool. Every year the concentration of bad ones increases.

 

So, not only is it wrong that "it's rare to encounter one" (it's not), but, with every passing month, your chances of encountering one increase. It cannot decrease. The problem gets worse over time. 

 

Failure to understand this, is a failure to understand 8th grade mathematics. 

 

Now, people's ongoing inability to understand the problem makes them fall into a fallacy. In each of those interations, until the very end, there are still good items left in the bag. So what we hear is this:

 

"I found a green papered blade and it papered Tokubetsu Hozon no problem, therefore this problem is overblown."

 

And it's not. It is just one of the good samples left in the bag. Furthermore, it reinforces what I have said all along, that every time you do find one good one, you leave behind a greater concentration of bad ones.  The  fact that you just found  that  good one  doesn't  make it BETTER for  the other guy it  makes it WORSE for  the  other guy. Because  you drained one more diamond out of the bag that he will reach into next. But  this  anecdotal evidence fallacy people use to try to prove there is no problem  is still something people throw out there.

 

When the concentration level got completely radioactive, the NBTHK completely pulled the plug on the papers. That took 37 years. 

 

Please stop spreading this misinformation that there is no problem with the disavowed categories of papers.

 

1. It flies in the face of 8th grade math.

 

2. The NBTHK specifically warned people about these papers years ago

 

3. The NBTHK pulled the papers in the end and they have no utility at all now in the papering process. 

 

That doesn't mean that they are all bad. It means that the chances that any given one is bad increases every year.

 

The solution to this is the same as always: realize that with every year of pieces cycling through the market, your chances get worse. Not only do they get worse, it is an accelerating curve. In the example above, you can see that in the first couple of years your chances were still good and any particular year is not so different from the one before. As the process picks up steam though suddenly it's all rocks.

 

This is very close to where we are now.

 

It's almost all rocks.

 

That's why you ask for a guarantee. It is the only responsible advice to give people. 

 

Old experienced collectors who try to deny this either:

 

1. didn't learn from experience

 

2. have a lot of green papers in their collection

 

3. are too old now to handle 8th grade math

 

Sorry for the harsh words. Sorry to have to post here again. Not going to get into a pissing match.

 

But when you deny these basic facts of mathematics, you are setting up an environment for new collectors, who do not know that you are posting a line of crap, to get defrauded by someone who is actively buying and selling pieces with disavowed papers, who does not care, who wants to make a quick buck off of someone who is new and thinks they can beat the system.

 

And it is a line of crap.

 

Anyone trying to sell anyone on this idea that the disavowed series of papers are reliable, and bad ones will not be encountered in the field, is spewing a line of crap. It is crap. 

 

Arnold, your idea is a big ball of crap. I'm sorry  but that is what it is and  older collectors should  not  be promoting this idea.

 

Is this paper good or bad? I don't know. It's not the subject of my post and I didn't study the item. But anything that is not one  of the modern  accepted paper levels,  is something I would insist on having a guarantee  as  a  buyer (and  that  guarantee just saved me again this summer when I bought a  blue  papered item).  And I  won't  sell them  as a dealer  without  saying these papers are worthless -or-  I guarantee Hozon or Tokubetsu Hozon  or  your  money back.

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The fact that a sword "only" has "old" papers does not mean that those papers are BAD. It simply means that it is the papers a sword has. I have a couple of nice old green papered blades. I'm sure those blades are fine and nobody from Yoyogi has ever contacted me asking for the papers to turn in. They are what they are. I see no evidence of any comb filtering.

Lets see, what is it the big boys always tell us, .  .    . buy the sword not the papers.

Peter

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In fact the equation is easy to solve. Are old NBTHK papers still valid? According to NBTHK itself, no. So these old papers are nothing more than TP. If people don’t want to send their blades to Japan for new papers, they can submit them to NTHK shinsa.

 

Nobody right in his mind is going to pay any amount of hard earned cash on an invalid certificate furthermore 34 K$.

 

In other word, at the opposite of what is often said, you buy the paper (at the lowest level i.e. Hozon) for the guarantee you are not going to be cheated and pay the right price, meaning the one you are ready to pay for the real thing.

 

In Japan, this blade will be considered non certified and nobody would buy it at this price.

 

There are certainly old papers valid but nowadays they are obsolete, we are in the 21st Century.

 

 

The « buy the sword  and not the paper » only means that you are willing to buy uncertified blades at uncertified prices, because noone is going to take the gamble when several k$ are at stake

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Always wary of these discussions, emotions run high.

 

My own 2 cents and that won't even get you a bus ride:

- There is zero, as in absolute zero ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_zero), reason to NOT send this for new papers, and high ones at that, if this is a real Shinkai. The sell price difference would swamp any added hassle or time delay

- In my study I have seen numerous "rocks" as Darcy explains with the old papers and a rare "diamond". This adds weight to the comb theory as discussed. If you have only seen old paper swords that are good, you may have a biased example set. I see a lot of bad ones. A lot.

 

The sword in question may well be a good example with a bad nakago, but I am not going to spend that kind of money to find out at a later date.

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Bottom line: any dealer selling items with disavowed papers who does not guarantee the item in question will pass a modern NBTHK shinsa should be approached with extreme caution. Caveat emptor. Period.

 

Even Aoi Art is clear about this. They guarantee some blades with old papers will “re-paper”. And the ones where they say nothing about a guarantee? Well, you know what that means.

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Guest Rayhan

"Buy the sword not the papers" is a great oxymoron. Any dealer charging high prices should be willing to go through the effort of certifying the sword themselves before putting it on the market.

 

For beginners sake; buy the sword with proper papers and don't risk otherwise

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Hi All,

 

It must be nice to live in a country that has the ability to have shinsa every year, where here in Australia they are few and far between. Basic mathematics with a bag of rocks justifying the upgrading/changeover of certificates works well for dealers who can value add the cost to their products they sell. However, I am only a small time collector who did purchase items with green and blue papers that were considered OK at the time prior to the "recall". I no longer purchase items that don't have the acceptable certificates (except one, oops!) due to the information supplied by NMB.

 

It would be nice to send my cherished swords to Japan to obtain Hozon+ but does that mean I will enjoy my blades any better? 

 

However, for me the "basic mathematics" is that the additional cost to send an item to Japan, engage an intermediate, shinsa costs, posting it home and the possibility of GST tax is not justifiable. I will just have to hope that in the future there will be another shinsa in Australia to up grade my old papers.

 

I think that if you happy with the items in your collection it doesn't really matter if it has no papers, old papers or current certificates, the important thing is to ENJOY them.

 

Regards

 

John C

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John, yours are all valid points regarding oneself. The issue usually arises if one is to divest the items to another person or entity. If that buyer is savvy, but of up to average experience and knowledge, they normally want new papers.

 

Of course, if we are talking about a very experienced and knowledgeable buyer who can take a bet on a sword AS THOUGH it was unpapered (as Jean explained before), then it does not matter. That buyer will not care if the item is unpapered or papered with a (potentially) fake certificate. He or she relies on his own assessment.

 

Most of us look to validate a signed sword and we tend to be a tiny little more relaxed about unsigned swords. The latter get validated of course and there are fake certificates associated with them but the boundary and margin for related (eg the wider Uda group or broadly Yamato den or den something else) judgements on an unsigned sword is sometimes quite wide.

Now, on premium (ie expensive) swords, signed or unsigned, one does not usually take chances. Because there, even if one is knowledgeable, there could be big swings in value: eg Sadamune vs Takagi Sadamune might be a close call or Naoe Shizu vs Shizu Kaneuji vs Yamato Shizu or Shizu vs Masamune vs Yukimitsu or KoAoe vs KoBizen vs Hoki or one Kanemoto vs another Kanemoto or one Tadayoshi vs another Tadayoshi and so on and so forth.

 

At least in the U.K. if we can prove that we owned the sword and it was labelled properly on the return package something along the lines of “returned after restoration in Japan”, we have not had issues with it being taxed again.

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I think for most collectors disregarding older papers or 'buy the sword not the paper' is really only feasible for a certain level/price of sword. Say for a run-of-the-mill shinto wakizashi it may not feasible to send to a shinsa given that the rise in value would not be substantial enough.

 

However, if you are the market to buy or sell items say on the level of Darcy's stock then it would be imperative to get up-to-date papers 

- as a seller it would mean you could ask for substantially higher sales prices

- Potential buyers will take you seriously. Most buyers would be uncomfortable in taking a punt on a high-price mumei blade with old papers. 

 

Obviously the price threshold would be different for everyone but once a blade reaches a certain value most collectors would probably want the piece of mind of a recognised paper imo

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The nakago condition is horrendous for Shinkai. That is really unfortunate and greatly devalues the sword in my opinion, after all this is not a very old sword. There are lots of wakizashi by Shinkai and getting one in top notch condition would be priority for me if I would aim to collect swords around this period.

 

I would think that the nakago condition would limit this to Hozon level. There are just so many Shinkai wakizashi still around and I'd think Tokubetsu might be too much to ask for as the state of preservation is not high.

 

I was about to post as there was wakizashi few cm shorter (if I remember correctly) for sale at IidaKoendo, it was signed to same year & month, in excellent condition and had Tokubetsu Hozon papers. Asking price was 5M but it probably sold over the weekend. I still have the page in browsing history on my phone but the item is gone now. Some good items sell really fast. Personally I think Iida has had many swords over the last year that I would rather go for at that price range but people have so different taste which is a good thing.

 

As Matt said above I feel the same way. If you have a sword of signifigance then old papers just don't make sense financially. I guess I might step on few toes here but I'd dare to say that current NBTHK papers are only ones that make sense financially. That is why generally you see that pretty much all high end swords have modern NBTHK papers. Yes there are some amazing swords still without papers. I read some time ago that some collectors in Japan do not want to paper their swords as it makes them commercialized items. It was on some public sword group discussion as I don't have facebook. Buying expensive items without papers is a gamble, and I am not experienced nor rich enough to take it. Of course it depends on the situation but I would not like to spend many thousands on gamble while few thousands might be ok. :laughing: If a sword I'd really like would not have papers or just had old papers I wouldn't really care if the price was right. I saw one really nice unpapered sword at Utrecht but it was way above my budget. I am sure it will paper nicely and get a decent attribution, would have been nice to get it papered. But it was already in the second - of Matt's post, you could already get a decent mumei Tokubetsu Hozon of similar age for the price of that unpapered sword.

 

But in short even if the sword in OP would have modern papers I would strongly dislike it due to condition of nakago compared to other works by Shinkai.

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If your sword is worth $34,000 US, you get new papers before you sell it.

 

otherwise, you devalue it trying to list it with the now worthless papers. The worthless papers affect the resale value and diminish the pool of buyers who will seriously consider that purchase. To then offer the worthless papers as still GOOD and unaffected by the disavow (because they were good before) diminishes the seller.  Having only the worthless papers is a huge red flag for any quality sword that would benefit in price and value with new re-certified papers. 

 

If people can't understand that, then they shouldnt buy or sell Japanese swords. 

 

my post is in general and not responding to any particular post or poster.

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My two cents is that nihonto.us is a trustworthy source and Andy Quirt a fine gentleman. He usually gives his cheap oppinion on a validity of a signature for what it is worth. I keep his oppinion in high regard.

 

If this paper - while officially declared invalid - is from one of the two US based Shinsa take it for what it is worth. An old oppinion by some knowledgeable people who are now no longer around. Personally I would add more confidence to it, than to the old green papers coming from a local Japanese NBTHK branch. Those are the ones the most questionable.

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Any previous interactions, opinions and vouchings for the dealer must be put aside for simple facts. For 34K & Shinkai you need current papers. Bad Kicho were for high end names & swords. Darcy has put it as clearly as anything, the odds are against you.

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