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katanako

Ebaysword KOTETSU

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I'm such a neophyte, I am almost embarassed to ask this question.

There is a Kotetsu being offered on ebay Japanese SWORD KOTETSU CUTTING TEST WITH PAPER VERY GOOD...$7500 by fwic2803 in Tokyo. His ebay rating is 100%. Now, I heard that a real Kotetsu would go for $100K plus, and I can't imagine a Japanese sword dealer would knowingly offer such a sword starting at $7500 with no reserve!

It comes with a BNH Ninteisho papers which probably is as worthless as the paper it is written on.

So for my education, what is your opinion on this?? It has to be a fake because it is too good to be true!

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Name please ;)

 

As you said. A dealer in Japan with every chance and opportunity to submit something for papers is not going to list a Kotetsu on eBay, or even sell it if there is even the slightest chance it is shoshin.

 

Brian

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There is at least something of value to be gained form the images of the horimono though.

 

The evidence of the chisel marks in the outline of the dragon is a very reliable give-away that this is a very recent addition. The authentic style of carving, and finishing, will have no trace of the chisel marks. This is not Kata-kiri bori :roll: The sloping inner face of the outline should be polished and burnished smooth...but that takes a long, long time. :roll: The dragon is also just very poorly drawn and shaped in general. It all seems very basic.

 

So this particular horimono is an excellent example of what a carving in a blade should not look like.

 

I make this comment because it seems to me that we are seeing more of this sort of thing ( carvings and mei being added ) and they may easily fool the unwary.

 

Ford

 

never the less, I won't be surprised to see this sell for 10's of thousands of dollars :crazy:

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Hi Ford,

 

You are refering to these "carving marks" that have been left?

They do appear very rough and close-ups don't do the horimono any justice in this case. Would this be by an amateur horimono carver, or by a metalworker that doesn't have experience with Nihonto, or just a total faker?

 

Brian

X098.jpg

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Hi,

 

Kotetsu always refered when he engraved a blade by the following mention:

 

Horimono do saku - Do saku horu kore . No mention = false horimono and probably gimei blade.

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Hi Brian,

 

it's not utter crap in terms of general metalwork, after all it does take quite a bit of skill to get to even this standard....but on a Japanese sword it simply does not pass even at the lowest level. My feeling is that this is the work of a deliberate faker. An amateur horimono carver would, I think, at least make some effort to do it right. His lack of skill would be the give-away. In this case it's very clear that time was the deciding factor in how far the finishing was taken.

 

That image you've posted is a great example for us all to study to try and understand the difference between this sort of fake and the real thing.

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And to conclude, the best in show ......and the winner is :

 

A production period Muromachi period, 17th Century.

 

:lol: :laughabove: :rofl:

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I also thank everyone for their comments and the detail and information on the horimono is very good stuff to know and look out for.

 

That said I have bought from FWIC 2803 and although much cheaper items - they were as stated and could it be a case where he is giving too much credence to the BNH Ninteisho papers, and not on his own knowledge? One would think a seller with that many positive comment would know late muromachi is 16th century.

 

He has a couple of swords on with NBTHK papers and I would assume that these are not forged but ? As we all know buyer beware but is there not any trustworthy sellers on e-bay? IF not we should just stop looking at the items. I know there are some that are right off the deep end as fraudulent and crooks - but it does take some of the fun out of looking if NONE of them are trustworthy. :roll:

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He isn't a fraud or anything..he is a decent seller afaik.

The thing to remember is that Japanese sellers nowdays are well aware of how we Westerners are buying low to medium class stuff, and they are all taking full advantage of that.

The stuff we see on eBay is mostly the stuff that isn't easy to flog in Japan. Items that are mediocre to fair, items that are gimei (they know we all believe that maybe, just maybe, one shoshinmei slips through the cracks) and items that have done the rounds there and aren't easy to sell.

There is tons of low to medium class swords and fittings in Japan. They don't sell easily because it is so easy to verify there, and there are so many others items that are better. But it is easy to sell these to the West, and with the internet, it is a simple process.

 

Make no mistake...we are a great market for this stuff. It doesn't make them bad sellers at all (some of them are very nice to deal with indeed) but we are feeding this phenomenon and it isn't at all surprising that there are more and more Japanese sellers online.

 

It's not like here in the West where a sleeper can sit on a table untouched since the war. In Japan these guys know the market and list the items that would sit forever on a dealer's table.

Note that I am indeed generalizing, and not every dealer is like this, but it is what we see predominantly.

 

Brian

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Not to question anyone - but here is a photo of a tanto horimono and when uploaded and magnified I would appreciate any comments as to the engraving. I can see the chisel marks around the circumference "I think" but it may be crooked pixels! !

 

As you can see if you look at the link after the picture you may be surprised as this is supposedly a $38,000.00 Tanto

 

 

 

 

This is I believe a fairly reputable seller and so what is a dummy like I supposed to do? :freak:

post-539-14196748190011_thumb.jpg

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Dr B,

 

I daresay there is a world of difference between them once compared. This should demonstrate closer. Pay attention to the "flame" and scales. As Ford said, it isn't terrible metalwork, just not up to the level of expected quality on a blade of this caliber or of a decent horimono.

 

Brian

machiue.jpg

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Of course you're correct but it requires a lot of comparitive study to be able to see it.

 

I guess its like any art appereciation, I look at it all in amazement as I can't paint a door let alone a portrait - so as "rough" as the less quality one is, I couldn't do it with a gun to my head! It tends to cloud ones judgement and I reiterate my comment about not having access other than through books and the internet to both information and swords for sale because of location makes it tough!

 

Another 10 years or so it should start to make some sense- and I guess the better pieces I own are as much good luck as good management !

 

As always thanks for the learning experience - thats as much fun as the aquisition of blades

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I've been looking at this sword as well and as has already been pointed out, the horimono is naff, and glaringly so.

That, to me, doesn't prove a fake or a gimei straight away. It looks like a recent addition so that suggests it's covering up a flaw, although I'd rather look at the flaw than that horimono...

 

So with that said, what else about the blade suggests gimei?

Ignore the horimono.

Ignore his dodgy English; that maybe why he wrote 17th century Muromachi, doesn't really matter, who reads the blurb? (Apparently it's Nagahisa as well, not Hisanaga, so it would seem his Japanese isn't top notch either.)

Ignore the papers; I thought they were fake until it was pointed out to me they weren't NTHK or NBTHK.

I also have strong reservations about the seller from some of his earlier ebay introductions. I'd swear I've seen a couple of 'non Japanese nihonto' in his beginning auctions but I could be wrong, so ignore that too. :D

 

I'm curious as to the sword and what about it suggests gimei.

The nakago is well finished and the mei looks to be well struck.

The tameshimei appears to have been struck at another time from the mei, which I'd expect.

It looks to me like a very well made blade, although the polish/geometry around the yokote area seems somewhat rough.

 

I'm not looking to buy it, I'm just very curious as to its 'pedigree' aside from the horimono, and the fact that it is a cheap Kotetsu coming out of Japan.

Instinct says fake, I'm wondering what about the sword says the same?

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Hi,

 

My guess.

 

The nakago jiri doesn't match, the yasuri seem too slanted (in spite of they were more slanted in his earlier works than the later's). The Tameshi-mei is engraved although it must be kin-zogan mei. Concerning the way of engraving, the whole shows differences (specially the ji sone and ko).

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Thank you, Jacques.

 

Having reread my post, I hope I didn't come across as aggressive, I'm just curious as to why people think it's gimei.

The horimono is not a valid reason, in my opinion, and whilst the fact that it is a 'Kotetsu' coming out of Japan is a give away, I'd like to know what it is about the blade that says gimei.

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What Lee brings up is a good point for someone with such limited experience in this. The sword itself doesn't look terrible, like one would assume with a fake. Is it common when finding those too good to be true blades that don't have glaring signs of a fake to actually be what they say, However they have done something to cover up a fatal flaw of some sort? Perhaps not worth the asking price, but this blade doesn't look like a cheap chinese forgery either. I would love to know where the truth is in this blade, certainly it may not be what the seller claims but maybe it isn't such a bad blade either if price was lowered.

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I'd like to know what it is about the blade that says gimei.

 

Honestly, I cannot tell a genuine Kotetsu from a fake one, provided that they are not the obvious fakes.

 

The evidence in this case, I am afraid, is entirely circumstantial. A genuine Kotetsu should have a good NBTHK paper and not a paper from an obsecure organization. It costs time and money to have a blade papered by NBTHK, but given the high value of a genuine Kotetsu, no dealer/owner in Japan would hesitate to get that paper. And with a NBTHK paper, a Kotetsu blade should easily sell in Japan for $20,000 or more. The lack of a reliable paper, in my opinion, speaks volumes.

 

Those who are trained in the art (and the science) of kantei would have the eyes to judge whether the blade is genuine, but for the rest of us, we have to rely on the papers issued by experts. So, lacking a reliable paper, it would be safe to assume that it is gimei.

 

But debating whether a signature is genuine often misses the point in evaluating swords, I believe. Asking whether a blade is genine is asking a black or white question, a dichotomy of genuine versus fake with nothing inbetween. Instead, I see the swords as somewhat of a continuum, resting somewhere within the infinate shades of grey. So the question I ask is where in this continuum the sword is located. An obvious ww-ii Showato blade with Kotetsu inscribed in an ammateurish hand would be located toward the "fake" end, whereas a nice shinto blade with all the characteristics of Kotetsu and a signature that conforms to his styles would be placed near the "genuine" end, and so on. In my opinion, the one we are discussing here sits on the better side of the middle, in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. It is good enough to give the owner the bragging right to say that s/he has a Kotetsu in his/her collection, yet it didn't cost him/her as much as purchasing one with a good paper. I am sure the buyer is happy, and no doubt so is the seller. I think that's all that matters in the end.

 

I personally prefer mumei blades in good condition over blades with famous signatures. No gimei among the mumei, and you are assured an attribution when submitting it for shinsa. Mumei blades can often be purchased for less than signed ones, and if attributed to a popular school, you end up with a very marketable blade. And best of all, you are freed from the fake/genuine debate!

 

 

Kaji

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Sir,

 

Interesting comments on mumei. Other schools of thought suggest and recommend purchasing signed papered blades only (if financially possible). Not necessarily by famous smiths but decent average or above average smiths. I've read on posts here that a mumei blade is a disadvantage since there is no signature but rather an attribution and you can never guarantee who the smith was.

 

However, I do tend to agree with you that mumei does solve a lot of immediate problems. No worries about a false mei and perhaps a more appropriate price for the consumer. However, in my opinion, one of the things that make Japanese swords so unique is that they are signed. This is quite rare in non-Japanese swords and adds a sense of character, tradition and even dare I say, "life" to the blade.

 

But let me ask this: Why would a smith not sign a blade?

 

I can think of a few immediate negative reasons such as flaws, ware, and not up to the smiths standards. Perhps the smith wasn't famous at first and thought that mumei would be more desirible than an unknown mei. Perhaps the reasons are external, limitations by government on signatures, etc.

 

But I find it tough to explain to someone why a sword was not signed. Does anyone know of other positive reasons why a smith would choose to leave the signature blank?

 

Thanks.

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Paul,

There are many theories as to why unshortened (ubu) swords were not signed by the maker. As to the validity of each I am not in a position to judge, however some of the most common are:

1. Smiths working for temples (as in Yamato smiths) were producing blades for their own temple and a signature was not needed or thought appropriate.

2. Smiths working exclusively for a patron would not sign a blade as it was regarded as disrespectful

3. Smith working to an order might make several swords for his client to choose from. He would sign the one chosen and sell the others unsigned.

4. Smiths only signed blades when they were purchased.

 

As a result of some or all of these there are a number of mumei ubu blades in existence.

However do not beleive that unsigned blades are necessarily inferior to signed ones. I would certainly disagree with the idea that a signed blade by an average smith is a better buy than an suriage mumei blade by a good smith. What counts is the quality of the blade. If its signed great, if not enjoy the workmanship. The best blades I have seen and lusted afte have almost all been suriage, mumei swords from the Kamakura period. Unfortunately many others with deeper pockets than mine also lust after them!

regards

Paul B

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Paul has written :

 

I would certainly disagree with the idea that a signed blade by an average smith is a better buy than an suriage mumei blade by a good smith.

 

To stress what has written Paul, there are a lot more Tokubetsu Juyo koto mumei suriage blades than signed Shinto/Shinshinto. The quality is in the blade and not the mei.

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Jean,

 

For investment :

 

- no suriage blade after Nambokucho

- Avoid machi okuri blade with several Mekugi ana on and after sue Koto

- Shinto/Shinshinto blades : pristine condition, no ware at all

- Buy a representative blade of a school (signed and papered)

 

You made this comment in another thread. Could you please explain your last item, it seems to contradict the opinion here.

 

Thanks..

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Guest reinhard

Honestly, I cannot tell a genuine Kotetsu from a fake one, provided that they are not the obvious fakes.

Asking whether a blade is genine is asking a black or white question, Instead, I see the swords as somewhat of a continuum, resting somewhere within the infinate shades of grey.

 

When it comes to signed blades, there are no "infinate shades of grey". It is black or white. KOTETSU is very well documented and his superb workmanship speaks for itself. He is the most copied/forged smith in the history of NihonTo, BTW.

Unlike many other fields of art, NihonTo is an area of very well-defined criteria. There seems to be a desire to "soften" these sharp edges and to make "quality" a democratic judgement, even related to "market-value", but this is bulls....

 

reinhard

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Unlike many other fields of art, NihonTo is an area of very well-defined criteria.

 

Thank you for the stimulating discussion. :clap:

 

When a potential Kotetsu is presented to a panel of evaluators at, say NBTHK, I wonder if all of them are 100% certain of their judgement. Unless you witness a gendaito made and signed in front of your eyes, who can say with 100% certainty whether an item is genuine? I am sure the evaluators, based on their years of experience, are 99% certain, but that leaves 1% doubt. If that is not good enough, then would 99.99% be good enough? Even that leaves 0.01% doubt. Okay, how about 99.9999% certainty? That is mathematically as good as 100%, but still leaves 0.0001% doubt. I am suggesting that we may get as close as possible to the 100% certainty but never to an absolute certainty. And this is where I see the infinite shades of grey.

 

Sorry, I tend to argue for the argument's sake. A current NBTHK paper is as good as 100% certainty in the market place, at least for now ;) , and that should be good enough. :lipssealed:

 

Kaji

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What about what the blade actually is, regardless of mei? Even if it's not what it purports to be, wouldn't it at least be a good exercise to try and figure out what it really is? Wouldn't the ultimate determination of gimei be, "it can't be a Kotetsu, because it's obviously by X"?

 

Just thinking about the adage of the mei just being confirmation of what the blade is telling us.

 

cheers,

/steve

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- Buy a representative blade of a school (signed and papered)

 

I am talking about value/investment

 

After Nambkucho, period was peaceful for a few decades, you can easily find swords dated and signed, During sue Muromachi probably Hundred thousands were forged, no problem to find typical signed blades by listed smith. Get away from the charecteristic from a given school and the blade will lose money.

 

I don't even talk about Shinto, shin-Shinto.

 

Now, it is very easy to verify, go to Dr Stein's commercial site and check the prices

 

what is worth a Tamba no kami Yoshimichi wakizashi unsigned and not in Sudareba??

 

Now, why papered? because I don't speak Japanese, I am not amei specialist and I don't want to buy a Gimei blade. I buy/pay a mei, only if certified

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I've been watching this discussion with some interest.

 

While I can agree to a point with the comment that this blades has been judged a fake on only circumstantial grounds I think that this was simply done because it is all so very obvious. If we take the time to actually look at the blade then you can in fact find ample evidence to support that judgement, and that's without even going into the details of hamon hataraki and hada, as the images make that impossible.

 

The most glaringly obvious of those clues is the yasurimei. They are really very poorly done. Compared to the genuine article the difference is chalk and cheese. If you look closely at the area where the yasurimei meets the machi area you can see clearly how the original surface as left by the maker of this blade has been filed into leaving a rather abrupt line. Yasurimei are cut before the polish, in this case it is clear that these file marks are added after the last polish. On a shinto blade one would expect at least a little softening of that area. The colour of the tang is far too fresh, raw, bare, new...and the nakago jiri seems far too hard edged compared to genuine examples.

 

The boshi looks nothing like that of Kotetsu, which is actually very characteristic This hamon is pretty sad looking to my eyes, a bit wishy washy, if you know what I mean. Kotetsu made powerful blades, and they look it.

 

The last Kotetsu I saw ( and held :glee: ) sold for £ 117 250 at Christie's, London 2004. That's a quarter of a million dollars :shock: ...so the idea that we should take this poor specimen with it's butchered horimono ( I use the word very loosely :badgrin: ) seriously is too funny to me :laughabove:

 

Exposure to more fine quality blades will make this sort of assessment far easier. One really can't learn much on ebay ;)

 

Sorry if I sound a bit elitist here but if we're talking about the sword as art then we are talking about very expensive items. Not every sword is a great work of art and unless you have a clear idea of what the top level of quality looks like then you're trying to assess lesser work without any reference point.

 

In this case it's a bit like comparing a :freak: fairground donkey to a :bowdown: thoroughbred Arabian stallion

 

Anyway, hope that didn't sound like a rant :D , ...just my opinion.

 

regards, Ford

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There is at least something of value to be gained form the images of the horimono though.

 

The evidence of the chisel marks in the outline of the dragon is a very reliable give-away that this is a very recent addition. The authentic style of carving, and finishing, will have no trace of the chisel marks. This is not Kata-kiri bori :roll: The sloping inner face of the outline should be polished and burnished smooth...but that takes a long, long time. :roll: The dragon is also just very poorly drawn and shaped in general. It all seems very basic.

 

So this particular horimono is an excellent example of what a carving in a blade should not look like.

 

I make this comment because it seems to me that we are seeing more of this sort of thing ( carvings and mei being added ) and they may easily fool the unwary.

 

Ford

 

never the less, I won't be surprised to see this sell for 10's of thousands of dollars :crazy:

 

 

Indeed. I have seen swords on Ebay by a very prominent and prolific seller for rather high prices show signature marks that have been chilseled in 'tap fashion" - almost surely fakes - from China. The Chinese forgery business has picked up in orders of magnitude over the past 5 years. It includes saya, blades, and fittings of every type and description. The worst part of the situation is that younger people without any background and experience with the real thing are easily fooled by these fakes and waste their money collecting garbage.

 

There is no substitute for "hands on" experience and intensive study of blades and the methods of production. Unfortunately, both books and blades are becoming scarce and forgery is winning the game as strict knowledge is diluted and replaced by fantasy.

 

All we can do is educate.

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