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Antique reproduction


Torrez
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I have recently come across the term Antique reproduction applied to a tsuba and didn't quite understand it. What makes an antique piece reproduction? Is it the design? but who can possibly know them all? This one looks like being at one point adjusted to a sword and actually used, or is it all just masterfully faked? But why antique then?

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Torrez (is that your first name? If not please sign all posts as requested here),

there is no fixed term like 'antique reproduction'. We see reproductions of originals for different purposes: old designs copied masterfully resulting in a handcrafted item of good quality, and a lot of attemps to produce TSUBA-like items cheaply as souvenirs for tourists or to deceive lesser informed collectors.  

Depending on the design, a TSUBA should show traces of the tools that were traditionally necessary for its manufacture. To see this, you might need some time to learn how TSUBA are made and should look (recommended: .http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/6797-utsushi-and-yugen-ford-hallam-videos/)

The above shown TSUBA has no sharp lines from the chisel work and looks 'dead'. It could be a modern production made in large numbers in molds for use in IAITÔ..

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These were said to be Meiji reporductions, but I am not sure how can one tell an old fake from a new. If both were molded, as suggested by Jean, could it be the metal content? If not molded, but still chiseled in Meiji, the original question will stand...

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Torrez

 

I have been collecting tsuba for near on forty years - but that doesn't make me an expert - There were many copies of tsuba made late Edo through Meiji and beyond, some were 'Utsushi' this at the basic level means 'to emulate' a past masterwork. However many cast pieces were made and these often come in various 'grades' some castings are very detailed, others are poor blurred pieces of junk. A section of cast guards were reworked and some carvings added after they were cast to give more definition to the piece, this is called 'Izarae'  to clear/clean a cast piece and finer carvings then applied.  See "Handbook: Of Sword Fittings Related Terms"  Markus Sesko - 2011. It is my belief that at the beginning of the Western interest in all things Japanese, the demand for tsuba was such that at first, copies were made in a traditional way but as time progressed it was found expedient to cast copies and rework them, however as demand decreased so to did the quality and effort put into these cast works. This in my opinion would explain a lot of variance with some common examples. I don't think your example is cast, the tagane-ato (punch marks around the nakago-ana) don't look cast-in and would likely break the seppa-dai if punched in cast iron. Sorry to disagree with Jean C.

 

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to Torrez

 

What is the tsuba made of - the images are a bit vague, looks like iron but I have seen alloy guards that 'patinate' to look like iron. Does the tsuba attract a magnet? The only metals that are magnetic are Iron, iron alloys eg. steel (generally not stainless steel), cobalt and nickel. I only ask to eliminate the idea that your guard is cast - a soft metal alloy can withstand the impact forming the punch marks evident on your guard, but not a cast iron one. Believe it or not every collector should at least have a magnet in their tool kit! Meiji may get a bad rap from some circles, (not a favourite of mine) but some very pretty works of art were made then. Depends if you collect works of art or practical (often brilliant) parts of a weapon, there is room for both.

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These are all great advices, thank you! I naturally lean towards the older ones, and I consider them still works of art. I also seem to like the ones with inlays and themes the most, but those seem to be among the most expensive at the same time, if combined with age, which is not a surprise. I come from a different area of Japanese art collecting and still have a lot to learn. Getting a magnet is not a big deal, applying it before buying may appear quit challenging, and mistakes may be costly, but I consider it paying for education, which is never free.

With all this being said I wonder if you may further advise me on the age of several other tsuba I have acquired. I was assured they were all from the Edo period and not later replicas. What do you think and what can I do to verify, if further needed? Thank you very much again for your time.

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Torrez,

No. 1 looks like cast iron,  No. 2 seems to have been mounted on a blade with military KOSHIRAE and could indeed be EDO JIDAI, No. 3 looks like a late (MEIJI?) soft metal TSUBA with FUKUROKUJU theme, No. 4 could well be EDO, but the inlays lost their patina while the plate appears to have been painted matte black. No 5 is probably an iron TSUBA with DARUMA theme in KANEIE style (compare: https://www.aoijapan.net/tsuba-yamashiro-koku-fushimi-jyu-kaneie/). The photo is not well focused so reading the MEI is difficult.

To be sure of any assessment, you have to have the TSUBA in hand.

Generally spoken, age in this kind of arts is much less important than quality and good craftsmanship. You can find very good (and expensive) late TSUBA from MEIJI JIDAI and almost worthless TSUBA with 400 years of age.

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Torrez

 

I think Jeans assessment of the guards is spot on. No.1 I have seen a lot of, must be thousands of them out there. No.3 also fairly common - there is what could be a collection series in this type, there is one with a fat faced child sitting atop a emakimona (picture scroll) that has the same 'look' and is also very common. The Kaneie 

(Kaneiye) are a real mine-field nearly everyone has one, but they were one of the most copied and there are a great number of 'Kaneie style' - meaning they have similarities to the works of the three 'Kaneie' masters. There are lots of these that have the signatures added at a later date, difficult field!

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Torrez,

I am sorry to have been wrong in my assessment of your TSUBA No. 5,  (probably signed YAMASHIRO KUNI FUSHIMI (no) JU KANEIE). I cannot tell if this MEI is genuine or not, as KANEIE (three generations as far as I know) was widespread copied or faked, as Dale correctly pointed out..

It is not picturing DARUMA but very probably GAMA SENNIN with his toad. Gama is a benign sage with a lot of magical knowledge about pills and drugs. He is always accompanied by a toad and he can assume the shape of a toad. He could also change his skin and become young again. (WIKIPEDIA)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pietro

 

I think everyones prices are high at the moment! No, really this sellers prices are probably avearage or slightly lower than a lot of the regular dealers - except for this one of his 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Edo-period-Japan-antique-Iron-Pine-Tree-Leave-Tsuba-sword-katana-rare-menuki/324108647768?hash=item4b76617d58:g:po4AAOSwhpleXb3l

 

Now that is expensive for a very poor cast copy, its a common pattern and pops up every so often.

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