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Japanese Blade from Court


Promo
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A most excellent choice of polisher. I'm relieved and happy you decided to go "all-in" without cutting corners. This is the right way to do it. 

 

This is a very technical blade to polish, the shape is complex - numerous carvings, Masayuki worked with complex hamons with soshu flavours. You did right. 

 

I'm excited for the pictures. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just realized that (to my understanding) Tokubetsu Hozon also means the cutting test signature is authentic. So far the discussion was mainly on the smith. Can anyone educate me on this? I've seen where this cut is done, but is the proper translation really "Golden Wild Goose"? And any history on Yamada Gosaburō that is worth mentioning? Plus maybe a bit tougher to answer, how common/uncommon are cutting tests in combination with Masayuki/Kiyomaro blades?

 

Pulling the translation I was given from the very beginning of this thread:

鳫金土壇拂切手山田五三郎


Karigane Dodanbara Kire-te Yamada Gosaburō
Golden Wild Goose [cut through to] earthern mound [platform] - Cutting expert: Yamada Gosaburō
  • I'm not certain as to how the cut is called ... but the kanji 鳫金 do mean "Golden Wild Goose"
  • 鳫金 is the name of the cut. See the red line in the attached image below.
  • The chart abbreviates "Wild Goose" as 厂. Both 厂 and 鳫 mean "wild goose."
  • Usually (today) 切手 [きって ki-tte] means "postage stamp". However, in our context it is read 切れ手 [kire-te] and means "Man of Ability" .... Probably better rendered as "Cutting Expert"

 

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It is a defacto stamp of approval on the cutting test. 

Another way to think of this; a Kiyomaro blade is so precious, what's the point of trying to tart it up with a fake cutting test? 

 

雁金 is indeed literally translated as "golden wild goose". Its just a figurative naming for how the body is splayed out for the test. 

I don't know how common cutting tests are on Kiyomaro blades. Pretty rare, I would think. Maybe Jussi has some information on this?

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1 hour ago, SteveM said:

 

I don't know how common cutting tests are on Kiyomaro blades. Pretty rare, I would think. Maybe Jussi has some information on this?

Cannot find one in all my library and never seen one 

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Here is some info that I have and Yamada tester info is from Markus Seskos Tameshigiri book.

 

Yamada Gosaburō was Yamada Yoshitoshi, and apparently he used Gosaburō early in his life. He was born 1813. You can find more info about him from the book.

 

Yamada family promoted the smith Koyama Munetsugu and all custom made blades by Koyama Munetsugu were sold via Yamada family. Now how this connects to Gosaburō, I was able to find 4 cutting tests by Gosaburō from Jūyō items. All of these 4 were on Koyama Munetsugu blades, and (I believe) made at the same time or very close when the sword was made.

 

I looked at Kiyomaro (45) and Masayuki (25) swords that have made Jūyō and out of those 70 I found only 1 with cutting test. That is a kiritsuke-mei (later addon). It is on Kiyomaro katana made in 1848, and the cutting test is by Yamada Genzō and performed in 1856. Genzō was born in 1839. From Jūyō 25 - Katana – Kiyomaro (1849) - 源清麿 / 嘉永二年二月日 [Kiritsuke 切手山田源蔵 / 安政三年十月廿三日於千住太々土壇払]

 

Unfortunately I don't have any books specifically on Kiyomaro as I don't focus on swords of this period. There can be other cutting tests on Kiyomaro blades that are not Jūyō. I do believe if NBTHK would be uncertain about kiritsuke-mei they will put addon kiritsuke-mei ga aru for it (kinda meaning there is signature XX).

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16 hours ago, Jacques D. said:

Cannot find one in all my library and never seen one 

Sounds weird, but this also (to me) means promising! Jussi though managed to find another one. Seems now there are two!

 

16 hours ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

Here is some info that I have and Yamada tester info is from Markus Seskos Tameshigiri book.

 

Yamada Gosaburō was Yamada Yoshitoshi, and apparently he used Gosaburō early in his life. He was born 1813. You can find more info about him from the book.

 

Yamada family promoted the smith Koyama Munetsugu and all custom made blades by Koyama Munetsugu were sold via Yamada family. Now how this connects to Gosaburō, I was able to find 4 cutting tests by Gosaburō from Jūyō items. All of these 4 were on Koyama Munetsugu blades, and (I believe) made at the same time or very close when the sword was made.

 

I looked at Kiyomaro (45) and Masayuki (25) swords that have made Jūyō and out of those 70 I found only 1 with cutting test. That is a kiritsuke-mei (later addon). It is on Kiyomaro katana made in 1848, and the cutting test is by Yamada Genzō and performed in 1856. Genzō was born in 1839. From Jūyō 25 - Katana – Kiyomaro (1849) - 源清麿 / 嘉永二年二月日 [Kiritsuke 切手山田源蔵 / 安政三年十月廿三日於千住太々土壇払]

 

Unfortunately I don't have any books specifically on Kiyomaro as I don't focus on swords of this period. There can be other cutting tests on Kiyomaro blades that are not Jūyō. I do believe if NBTHK would be uncertain about kiritsuke-mei they will put addon kiritsuke-mei ga aru for it (kinda meaning there is signature XX).

Jussi, as usual excellent archival assitance. You truly are a gift to this forum and all members here with all the excellent information you are able to provide. A big THANKS from my side again!

 

Could you let me know why you think the cutting tests by Yamada Gosaburō were done at the same time or very close when the blade was made? I assume due to a lack of an additional date when it was performed, which might was thought to be not necessary when done when made? If that is the case, would you assume the same for my blade?

 

Edit, found this site here with an excellent and full review of the life of Yamada Yoshitoshi/Yamada Gosaburō: https://www.nihonto.com/koyama-munetsugu-固山宗次/ This one is also interesting in that the blade shown has also a cutting test performed by Yamada Yoshitoshi/Yamada Gosaburō, that one however with a date. If the ones that Jussi mentioned of being done when the Munetsugu blades were originally manufactured have no date for the cutting test on them, I then should clearly assume the cutting test on my blade was done when made.

 

Going a bit further by assuming this is the case, would this indicate my blade was in the possession of the Yamada family/purchased by the Yamada family? If yes, are there any documentation on the Yamada family and their sales which possibly could contain additional information?

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Now I am not sure if my assumption is correct but I thought for those cutting tests on Koyama Munetsugu swords NBTHK did not add Kiritsuke-mei in brackets, so I assumed they were originally signed like that.

 

Just noticed my error as I had by mistake added the 2 Kiyomaro swords in Jūyō 25 in wrong order. The one with cutting test was made in 1854 and not 1849, sorry for my mistake. So the correct line would be - Katana – Kiyomaro (1854) - 源清麿 / 嘉永七年正月日 [Kiritsuke 切手山田源蔵 / 安政三年十月廿三日於千住太々土壇払, I will attach the picture of it.

 

20210407_232313p.thumb.jpg.47a41c8a7229460b9a54e13625fb3d23.jpg

 

Unfortunately I don't have the knowledge to judge cutting tests so I would see what NBTHK states in the Tokubetsu Hozon paper and if they have (Kiritsuke) in regards the cutting test.

 

I think Markus Sesko has probably done the most research about Yamada family in the West and he would know the best what documentation has survived to this day.

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First of all, I mixed up the links earlier. I originally wanted to post this link showing a great summary of Yamada Gosaburo: https://nihontoantiques.com/project/7561/

 

Jussi, good tip. Markus came up with another Masayuki blade that has a cutting test and is shown in the book on the Masayuki/Kiyomaro exhibition - interestingly a Wakizashi, made a year prior to my blade (hence 1840), also in Naginata shape - and very interesting, NO name of the person who performed the cutting test. Plus no date - Markus confirmed that no separate date for a cutting test means it was performed when made. Small side note: would be cool to have both of them - a Masayuki daisho with blades in similar shape where both have cutting tests... But to get back, Markus also told me something I was not aware of (and forgive me if I'm using modern terms/non-nihonto/non-Japanese usual wording): Munetsugu seemed to not think the best of Kiyomaro, what might had resulted in the Yamada family being loyal to their "own" smith and not really worked with Kiyomaro. The lack of a name of the person who performed the cutting test therefore would make sense to me, at least for the first blade where they made a cutting test for Kiyomaro.

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1 hour ago, Promo said:

 

 

 Markus came up with another Masayuki blade that has a cutting test and is shown in the book on the Masayuki/Kiyomaro exhibition - 

 

 

I have this book, no Masayuki with a cutting test. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Congratulations Georg, this has been a thrilling saga to follow from afar.  And well done to you, very few non sword enthusiasts would follow it through this far and this well.  Exceptional!  

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On 4/10/2021 at 2:26 PM, Jacques D. said:

 

 

I have this book, no Masayuki with a cutting test. 

 

It is indeed in the catalog. Item No. 12 (wakizashi), p. 32-33. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Getting to see this today almost felt a bit surreal, though I‘ve been told of it. After all, it is the final proof of the blade being an original Masayuki. Can’t tell how happy I‘m today!

57CEB7BD-EBB3-42BA-9A1F-B6CA18BF0FE6.jpeg

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This story has been so amazing to follow.  I know this is bad form, but, I can't imagine what you've been offered to sell this sword.  I bet some serious collectors in Japan and elsewhere are foaming at the mouth.  Unbelievable.

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3 minutes ago, Prewar70 said:

This story has been so amazing to follow.  I know this is bad form, but, I can't imagine what you've been offered to sell this sword.  I bet some serious collectors in Japan and elsewhere are foaming at the mouth.  Unbelievable.

 

And don't forget the dealers and real " experts " with there opinions that this was a poor blade, worthless in there eyes........and absolutely gimei.

 

Sorry,  but I can't resist.🤣

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Happy to see i was wrong, and i should have checked my library more carefully (2 pages were glued together) :-? 

 

This shows once again how difficult it is to make a judgment based on photos and without adequate documentation

 

 

 

 

Masayuki.jpg

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What is also very interesting is that NBTHK has provided quite accurate dating on the sword in paper even though it is not dated. In the brackets there is (天保十年頃) so they would seem to note it was made around 1839.

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Just thinking out loud, how many swords did Kiyomaro make approximately?  How many of this type that we know about, and how many with cutting tests?  Is this sword the rarest of the already rare?  And if so, how did it end up outside of Japan and at a gov't auction?  I am very much a novice but I do know how coveted his swords are and it just seems so crazy that this level nihonto ended up where it did.  Given its presumed rarity, is it possible to research it's history?

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3 hours ago, Prewar70 said:

Just thinking out loud, how many swords did Kiyomaro make approximately?  How many of this type that we know about, and how many with cutting tests?  Is this sword the rarest of the already rare?  And if so, how did it end up outside of Japan and at a gov't auction?  I am very much a novice but I do know how coveted his swords are and it just seems so crazy that this level nihonto ended up where it did.  Given its presumed rarity, is it possible to research it's history?

 

About 100-200 surviving examples is a fair guess including Masayuki and Kiyomaro (his later signature and style). About half of them are Juyo. Two are Tokubetsu Juyo. 

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I have been in touch with the owner, Georg, and discussed the paper with him, but just wanted to add a few clarifying things here as they might be of interest for those who are following this great success story.

 

So as shown, the NBTHK papers the blade Tokubetsu Hozon and adds in parenthesis that it was made around Tenpō ten (天保, 1839), a detail that is based on the workmanship and signature style.

 

Also, the NBTHK verifies the authenticity of the cutting test and states explicitly that it was added by the smith himself, although at a later point in time (obviously). This is pointed out via the expression jishin kiritsuke-mei (自身切付銘). That is, kiritsuke-mei refers to any inscription added after a blade was made, and jishin means "personally," i.e., by the smith himself. As a reminder, if an inscription can not be authenticated and is just acknowledged that it is there, this would be stated so via the suffix to mei ga aru (と銘がある). 

 

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4 hours ago, Prewar70 said:

Just thinking out loud, how many swords did Kiyomaro make approximately?  How many of this type that we know about, and how many with cutting tests?  Is this sword the rarest of the already rare?  And if so, how did it end up outside of Japan and at a gov't auction?  I am very much a novice but I do know how coveted his swords are and it just seems so crazy that this level nihonto ended up where it did.  Given its presumed rarity, is it possible to research it's history?

Just read the whole thread. I've been made aware of three other Masayuki/Kiyomaro blades with cutting tests. Re how it ended up where I got it from, start reading at this post here:

 

Markus, big thanks for posting in  here the translated information. To me, as a full novice, it sounds really unique that a (undated) blade underwent a cutting test two years after it was made, and then the cutting test among the date was added by the smith himself. At least I have not heard of something like this before.

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Congratulations. There appears to be deep corrosion on both sides of the nakago near machi, that the polisher left alone. The addition of the self-serving cutting test,  doesn't actually,  mean what it means. Also,  it is machi-okuri?   I was wondering from the  very beginning, why Tanobe san didn't move it into Juyo shinsa. This would explain it not going through Juyo.  Never the less, it may well be one of a kind.  Now, be gentle with me it is only MHO.  

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I offer you my hearty congratulations. (I'm sorry about that.)I actually didn't trust the appraisal at all until I saw it. The fact that it not only passed the examination, but was also certified as being "Own kirituke (cut off) signed" is precious.
The act of testing the sharpness of the sword was very costly at the time. The client would have to pay a gratuity to the tester or assistant. And of course, additional gratuities for kiyomaro.
Kiyomaro Minamoto was known for low production, and as far as I have been told, he forged only around 130 swords in his lifetime. That it was found in Austria, and at an official auction, is nothing short of amazing.

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One guess would be that it was at one time presented to a government official in Austria.  It eventually ended up in storage.......and 100 years later, was decommissioned as excess material by the government.   If you look hard in the books, you might find that an Austrian dignitary went to Japan and was given a sword.  

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14 hours ago, Promo said:

Tom, it is going to Juyo Shinsa, but needed to pass Tokubetsu Hozon first.

 

Not necessarily so.  When you have a very rare sword in acceptable condition for the period, it is a given, to be juyo and bypass, first level of shinsa.  You mentioned  showing your sword in full polish,  love to see it.  I hope that it does get juyo. Good luck.

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To sidestep the congratulations, allow me to make an observation and pose a question.

 

On 4/16/2019 at 9:50 AM, Promo said:

I thought that there are collectors for sabres out there, so I went for this lot and got it for € 100 (where the starting bid was at € 50).

 

Best investment of your life right?!

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