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Tanto with elaborate horimono. Valuable or just flashy?

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Hi guys! Pretty new to nihonto, so asking the amazing experts here for some help. What do you think about this tanto, unpapered, said to be valuable Naomitsu piece?

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Info from seller:

Nagasa (20.5 cm length) with beautiful Masatsugu horimono decorated with partially-gilt floral motifs; SUGURA with NIOI KO NIE; hada: MUJI (well forged); boshi: HAKIKAKE KO NIE; gilded habaki with the same flower; nakago mei "NAOMITSU 1867 - IKKANSAI - MASATSUGU", a mekgi-ana. Horn koshirae with screws, decorated en suite with a flower; the SHURIKEN (mei MASATSUGU) of the saya en suite.

Japan, third quarter of the 19th Century

length 31.5 cm.

Conditions: good

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I don’t like flashy things, so not to my taste. Still, I think for those who like, it looks great. Looks almost as if a kozuka had been inserted in the ji

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Kathleen, that is a very nice looking tanto. Looks like a present tanto for me for a loved person.

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I think this was in an auction few months back. If the seller won it from there you should also be asking why he is getting rid of it. Like said it is very decorative but maybe a bit too flashy for many tastes. Perfect gift blade as mentioned.

 

-Antti

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I think this was in an auction few months back. If the seller won it from there you should also be asking why he is getting rid of it. Like said it is very decorative but maybe a bit too flashy for many tastes. Perfect gift blade as mentioned.

 

-Antti

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Very nice dagger and an unusual Horimono done quite well. Sometimes these are done to hide flaws but this looks purposeful and executed nicely.

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I've previously seen three of these: one in Japan, one with a NJ Collector, and one elsewhere. They were near identical.

The NJ one had NTHK papers and the black lacquer saya was a bit dinged up with a screw menuki. I believe the owner of it has since passed away.

I was interested in buying it, but his pricing was 1980s bubble at about 2x what I thought was fair.

 

Somewhere along the way I picked up mental information that at least 10 were made.

I forget the rest, as it has been close to a decade since I last saw one of these.

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Kathleen, everyone has their own taste but I love it. They say that ‘ You don’t pick a blade- a blade picks you ‘ If you love it and can afford it Go for it. Good luck and thank you for sharing

MikeR

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I, too, have enjoyed seeing this blade and reading the various reactions. This sword was made at an interesting moment in Japanese history. And it is very impressive,. I'm sure there was a reason for doing this in 1867. Still, I have a very hard time appreciating this knife within the great sweep of Nippon-to history. It strikes me as a tricked out customized 5 window Ford with candy apple paint and a Dodge hemi motor.

Peter

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I can't remember if it mentioned the smith, but there was a very VERY similar ko-wakizashi shown on a 2004 National Geographic. I believe it was inlaid as well and the horimono was phenomenol. I remember ir saying how ir sold for a pretty penny.

 

It actually boosted my interest in traditional Nihonto and wakizashi!

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About the description; It took me a while to figure out what the catalogue description was saying. The reference to shuriken completely threw me off, but I guess they are referring to the kogatana in the saya. Sugura is probably a typo of suguba. Also, when I look at the catalogue, I can see a picture of the matching habaki. 

 

Given the matching floral design on the sword, the habaki, and also the kozuka of the kogatana, and the matching Masatsugu signatures on both the tanto and kogatana, it looks to me to be a very interesting ensemble, despite the out-of-the-ordinary horimono. 

 

My biggest question is the identity of the swordsmith. There were two Naomitsu smiths working at this time; the famous Kajihei, and the apparently not so famous Tamateru. If the former, and authentic, I think this would be a valuable piece. I don't know anything about the latter. Regardless, I think it is an interesting piece. Note some faint, horizontal openings near the tip. In this case, I don't think they are much to worry about. 

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I, too, have enjoyed seeing this blade and reading the various reactions. This sword was made at an interesting moment in Japanese history. And it is very impressive,. I'm sure there was a reason for doing this in 1867. Still, I have a very hard time appreciating this knife within the great sweep of Nippon-to history. It strikes me as a tricked out customized 5 window Ford with candy apple paint and a Dodge hemi motor.

Peter

Peter, ouch!

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Kathleen, I saw that blade in the auction and had every reason to believe it is authentic.  I didn't study it though, since they put a starting bid on it at 6,000 Euros, which I thought was too high.  The horimono is very unusual, but I like it.  It may not be to all people's taste.  The blade is a bit short too.  Cheers, Bob

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Kathleen, I saw that blade in the auction and had every reason to believe it is authentic. I didn't study it though, since they put a starting bid on it at 6,000 Euros, which I thought was too high. The horimono is very unusual, but I like it. It may not be to all people's taste. The blade is a bit short too. Cheers, Bob

Bob, I've reached the same conclusion. It's beautiful work, probably intended for a special gift or presentation, but it's way overpriced.

 

Cheers, Kathleen

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The NJ papered one was for sale for $8000 to 9000. I researched it back then, hence how I became aware of the other versions for sale/sold.

 

I thought it worth >= $4000 or so at that time. The koshirae on this one is definitely much much nicer, but the polish not as good.

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You are correct Curran.  One would have to add the cost of buyer's premium (1500 euro?) and polish ($2-3,000) to the cost if purchasing this nice tanto.  That would bring it to over $10K, for which one can get a spectacular tanto....

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