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ichiku

Please help to identify these sword makers for further research

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Hello!

 

I have been gifted a few signed Japanese swords that seem to be quite old. The swords were all found coated in thick dark wax in a basement that had not been touched for 80 years. I believe the blades were brought back from the battlefield in WWII, as some seem to have been used in live combat. I wiped them down with mineral oil and clean cotton rags (no abrasives/chemicals were used) and the wax came right off, most of them are in wonderful shape. (I hope this was not a bad thing to do, if it was, please let me know)

I brought them to the only local nihonto specialist and his reaction was to want to buy them, but he would not give me any information on them. Fishy. A second inquiry online turned out much the same, so I would think they may be of substantial quality and possibly value. As I don't have the money to send them out, I am looking for any help I can get in translating what is written so I can continue to research them. I have grouped the photos so there are two shots of each signature, from different angles, with three photos of the last sword. I know the last sword is Showa but it has one of the most beautiful structures and hamons I have ever seen, so info on this as well would be greatly appreciated. I am happy to post photos of the blades if it would help.

 

Thank you for your expertise. 

 

Nicholas 

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Hi Nicholas,

Here,s my take on the signatures and please note that not all signatures on swords are genuine(search Gimei signatures)

Sword

1 -Nanto ju Kanabo Hyoejo Masatsugu

2- Norimitsu 

3- Kashu ??? Kane??(need a better photo)

4- Hizen kuni Tadayoshi

5- Showa-to

 

Simon K

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Yes, 3 is 武州於江戸兼定  Bushū oite Edo Kanesada

 

5 is 後藤包平 Gotō Kanehira, and it has a dedication to someone (...求應造之) but I can't pick out the name. I'm struggling with the other engraving on the Shōwa-tō。

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Nick

How sword collecting has changed. There was a time when swords like these would require joyous effort, when someone lucky enough to fall heir to "Japanese swords that seem to be quite old" had to get out books and read discussions about swords. Doing that would provide insights about the history and complexity of Japanese sword production. It also required learning something about Japanese language, geography, and history. Now all a guy has to do is post some images and wait 20 minutes for a world-wide community of experts will tell you what you have.

You have done that part, but I hope you won't be stopped by the success you have had. Dive in farther. Get some books. Meet other collectors. Where is Bushu or Kashu, or Nanto, or Higo for that matter Edo? And whats a Showa-to? Your fun is just beginning!

Peter

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Thank you everyone! Very grateful for you help, I am having so much fun researching these.

 

Peter, I definitely agree, Ive been hunting antiques since I was young and the mystery and research are the best parts. Getting an old box of Japanese swords is a dream come true. That being said, there is so much to learn, and as a chef with a 90+ hour per week schedule, it may have taken me years going through books/online to translate these accurately, so I am very grateful that these communities of experts such as yourself exist. I have studied Budo, Aikido and Iaido since I was young and I love Japanese smithing, I definitely want to learn more. What resources would you recommend? For example, it seems that the "Hizen Kuni Tadayoshi" signature was used by that lineage through many generations and makers. How might one differentiate the time periods? I find any comprehensive collection of this information difficult to find via the Internet. 

 

Does anyone have any (or know where to look) information on Bushu oite Edo Kanesada? I can't seem to find anything aside from a few obscure references to a few different Kanesadas in that area, ranging from 1500-1700.

Also do any of these jump out as being of unusually special provenance? (I don't necessarily trust or understand everything I find online) If so, I want to treat them appropriately. The first one seems to be the jewel, historically speaking. Should any of them be professionally preserved/restored? (there are a few rusty spots on a couple of them) I think I am going to outfit the Showa-to for Iaido practice but not sure about the rest. 

 

Again thank you so much! 

 

Nicholas 

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Nicholas, please double-check with your sensei before you bring a live blade to iaido training! I hold yondan, & my Sensei still only allows iaito.

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Thank you Ken, I appreciate your advice. Only for solo kata, live kumidachi is absolutely not allowed in our dojo, and in my opinion is not necessary outside of a warring environment. :) If I may ask, who do you study with?

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Hi Nicholas,

Tadayoshi was a very important smith/s; a large majority of their signatures are forgeries.  You will find many examples of authentic signatures online which you can compare with yours.  Again, don't try to fix anything lest you do serious damage.  If Richmond is Richmond, VA, consider attending the show early March in Atlanta; not too far away.  See the calendar on my website: japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com

Best advice I can give is go slow.  Take time for study before acting; you'll enjoy the adventure so much more if you do.

Grey

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Yes, some of us would like to see those blades!  Especially the lovely hamon you mentioned.  Don't tease us like that!

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