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Mumei and Suriage - Open Discussion

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Mumei and Suriage blades – When it is OK and when it is not OK

 

The following post is just my own opinion and open for discussion. If it offends anyone, you are free not to read it 😊

In the Heian period when sword smiths of Japan began making the single edged, curved blade, we now associate with the Samurai they produced swords of massive Sugata, Ko-Bizen Tomonari for example has Ubu Tachi (signed) with lengths of over 95 cm Nagasa. The style of fighting with these Tachi was most likely on horseback as cavalry warriors who also carried Tanto for close quarters combat, of course their arsenal comprised of the bow, etc, but we are discussing swords here primarily.

 

Swords were even greater in the Nanbokucho with evidence that shows swords that are over 110 cm in Nagasa from the Soden-Bizen and Aoe schools. As we all know when the Muromachi wars began swords started to fall in length as we approach the Momoyama period because the style of combat began to change. Samurai on foot were the norm and the introduction of firearms meant that the tactics of combat would call for stealth and in-fighting within castle perimeters meant the shorter Uchigatana was the go to sword length of between 62 and 70 cm Nagasa. This meant that many of the magnificent longer swords from the Heian to Nanbokucho were shortened to the average lengths of use for the time and thus signatures were either lost or in some cases had the old signatures reattached or inlaid into the shortened Nakago, but, in these cases it is important to be very sure of the signature and the sword in question as this method of re-attaching a signature was used to fake works from great masters (another discussion all together). This new sword length was ideal for faster combat styles and those that have studied Iaido in today's martial way understand the significance.

 

The Momoyama saw the Samurai wearing the Katana and Wakizashi, 2 swords which had their own style founded by Musashi Miyamoto, however the immediate application of the long and short sword is most likely one for outdoor encounters and one that was acceptable for indoor use should it be needed. A Samurai should still be identified as a noble warrior even if they needed to relinquish their long sword before entering another nobleman’s abode.

 

Insert: Excerpt from pages 68 and 69 from “The Japanese Sword a Comprehensive Guide” by Sato Kanzan (Translated by Joe Earle)

 

“The most important development in the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century was the almost total abandonment of the tachi and the adoption of the custom of wearing a pair of long and short Uchigatana together. Such a pair is called DaiSho (literally, “big-little”). We may never know exactly when the new style appeared but in the Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa city, there is such a DaiSho once used by the powerful warlord Maeda Toshiie (1538-99 pl 1, 54-55), with scabbards decorated in red and gold sprinkled lacquer (makie) which can be attributed to the Tensho era (1573-92), as can the DaiSho with red-lacquer scabbards wrapped in gold foil given to another warlord, Mizoguchi Hidekatsu (1538-1600), by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (pl. 74), indicating that the custom of wearing two swords first became popular in the late sixteenth century. But these early DaiSho mounts differ from their successors in that they did not always have the characteristic metal fittings, in particular the matching large and small Tsuba, and many of the blades used in them were old Tachi which had been drastically shortened. This was common practice with Tachi of the Kamakura and still more of the Nanbokucho period, and blades formed in this way had a very shallow curve especially suitable for use by soldiers on foot.”

 

1531393716_TheJapaneseSwordaComprehensiveGuideKanzanSatoPage69.thumb.jpg.040bc5f08a8e9fca7d6808e16cbed8af.jpg

 

From here on there were standardized sizes for swords and experimentation began in great numbers. But the point of note is that there was a good reason to shorten swords and a period in time when this was done for the style of combat. The low sori on the shortened swords would go on to form the blue print for the Kanbun based blades where drawing to strike and opponent required a sword perfected to that style of fighting and was achieved around the 1660’s (perfected).

 

So when is Mumei OK?

 

Heian to the Nanbokucho blades that have been shortened are acceptable and, in many cases, accepted so if they present as Mumei that is a condition we are used to. Swords from this period are quite simple to classify (in hand) to a certain style of manufacture according to the Gokaden scale. Pinning them to a school and smith is a whole other skill and no one here is well versed in that. You need to see swords to get to that level, the best Kantei experts such as Paul Martin, Markus Sesko, Darcy Brockbank, Ted Tenold are not on here anymore, that is a loss we have to endure.

 

In the Muromachi onward swords should be Ubu and Signed when collected (if dated it is a great plus).

 

The evaluations that are done by collectors mentally revolve around these changes in Japanese history so there is no real reason to look at a Mumei Shinto or Shin Shinto sword and attempt to learn something from that sword. Due to the amount of experimentation the most you could hope to learn is if the condition is good or not good and if it is from the Momoyama onwards then most swords that did not encounter too much combat are in good shape. You will not narrow down school or smith and you will not have any scholarly information thrust into your internal library. That is also the reason to be very suspect of Momoyama swords onward that are Suriage as there is no good reason for that either. Standardization dictated the lengths and so if we see Suriage swords from the Momoyama onward it is not an attribute of historical significance, it was done for a reason no one can comprehend, we can only speculate and as soon as speculation enters the frame of collecting, walk away.

 

When is Suriage ok?

 

Heian to Nanbokucho – OK

Muromachi onward – Not OK

 

For those of you that own Suriage Muromachi or Suriage and Mumei Muromachi onward, or Mumei Muromachi onward swords, who do not agree with my post, please go to the rack, raise up your swords and feel the comfort you must to ignore good advice. I am no longer giving sound advice for you, you have made your minds up. My only hope is that new collectors do not fall prey to those same mistakes.

 

 

 

 

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My only muromachi sword is signed and dated.

I do agree that I attach a lesser value to later mumei or unsigned but that then opens a whole new can of worms 

Many swords have had an evolution of shape and length as you allude to and I have at least one sword that has" such fine features it surely must be Kamakura” yet it's last shortening for whatever reason was so recent (Historically) that it's nakago is all blade material and clearly so.

Patina has barely begun as it's shortening may have been in the early 1800's.

So kantei is difficult as key information is long gone.

In some people's minds this is probably just tatt but as a study piece in early forging it is still a 46cm nagasa, flawless portion of what must have been a significant sword.

So my value in it is relatively high as it is a great reference item.

Have I gone off topic a bit,sorry.

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Kawa thank you very much for your very informative post. I am still very new to Nihonto and your post was so well written that even a beginner such as I could follow it and learn from it. Along the lines of what Babu said I also believe that anyone interested is Nihonto can learn from any quality blade with the hope of someday having the opportunity to study a Great Blade from a Great Master. Until then I enjoy and learn from the blades that I have. Again Thank You for the time you took in writing a Great Post.

                     MikeR

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And here I come, the fly in the ointment!:)

 

First, I agree mostly to what you say. In a perfect world, there is no reason for a Muromachi > onwards sword to be (ō)-suriage...

 

And yes, other reasons enter the terms of speculation: people wanting to have their swords pass for another, school requirements, height of the swordsman, trends and fashion... possibilities abound.

 

Yet, I think that with this thread, we are back in a way to the fundamentals of the previous one. A non papered, suriage sword of those periods will lose about half of its value. Yet we can find some good quality swords in this category. So for someone with little money, it is a way to acquire fair quality swords, with good Hada, Hamon and hatakari, that the most fortunate collectors will shun because they suspect foul play or are only interested in the finer examples. Once again, the money issue and items for every kind of collectors.

 

Besides, even though this isn’t the subject of the post, let’s talk for a second about Gimei: should we or shouldn’t we have a Gimei signature removed? You will probably say yes, so it can be re-submitted and getting papers. I’m in the camp of "no", because if it is Gimei, this is part of the sword history. So long as you don’t sell it for an original and remain honest, who cares who made it really? Someone cared enough about it to carry it knowing it was Gimei, and it was still preserved in that form. So that’s the other dilemma: reality versus history.

 

Look at Kondō Isami's "Kotetsu" which actually was a Kiyomaro. Should we erase Kotetsu for Kiyomaro? If so, that’s negating that sword's past history.

 

Though again, in a purely ideal world, you are right. :)

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Hello.

 

You have to remember that its easy to put everything in boxes and there are exceptions. You will find long swords from the Muromachi period  that are O-suriage mumei.

 

You will find good swords from the Muromachi period that are mumei and also signed swords that are mass produced low quality.

 

Look at a sword and judge it for yourself

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the discussion, always an interesting one, and at a high level I would have to mostly agree to the points listed above. Instead of a sheer black and white cut off after Nanbokucho, in general I see value and historical importance as a gradual slope that declines primarily based on date, length and mei or lack there of. That being said, I would say to certain individuals, there is still value and significance to mumei o-suriage Muromachi and even Shinto, albeit much less so vs Nanbokucho or Kamakura(assuming all else equal). Likewise a blade that has survived as ubu with mei from the Muromachi period should hold much lower value and significance than one from Nanbokucho or Kamakura period.

 

Interesting questions are how do you compare value and importance between blades when several parameters vary. Take my most recent acquisition below, a mumei o-suriage TH Ko-Uda Wakizashi (59.3cm) from very early Nanbokucho period. Yamato Shizu Kaneuji is a possibility here but attribution aside considering all else equal, would an ubu katana of 80+cm with mei and date have greater value to the average collector? How about a more experienced collector?

https://imgur.com/gallery/VLFNouU

http://swordsofjapan.com/project/ko-uda-in-koshirae/

 

I would also argue that value itself can be a bit abstract from person to person. It is fleeting and correlates with someone's taste and experience as a result of study. Value by definition becomes exponentially more difficult to obtain as time passes assuming the collector continues to grow in experience.

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Are we construing value strictly as investment/resale or value in terms of history and personal enjoyment? They all intersect but value and Japanese swords is a far more complex topic than broad black & white statements on the subject. While I greatly enjoy these topics the underlying message of "everything that doesn't meet X criteria is total crap" gets old quick for those not initiated in the highest levels of collecting. If one person is collecting large bars of fine gold and saying to other people who are collecting smaller 1oz bars that these small bars are totally worthless and a waste of time who is correct? They are both fine quality gold, just different variations of it.

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Hi Ray, just to be clearer with my reply. You stated

 

Heian to Nanbokucho – OK

Muromachi onward – Not OK

 

Cant remember the dates so these are off google

Nanbokucho 1336-1392

Muromachi 1336-1573 (lets just say 1392 onwards)

 

Most people forget (me included) that early Muromachi is EARLY.

 

As mentioned above, there wasnt a time when all smiths got on the phone to one another and agreed from that date on, all blades from now on will be the same length.

 

You will see swords dating well into the 1400,s that resemble those of the Nanbokucho period, o-suriage mumei.

 

I would be interested to read your views with regards early swords that are Ubu, but mumei.

 

Again, horses for courses. If you can afford the top swords with all the bells and whistles then thats great. Saying that though, a lot of us are happy at the cheaper end. There is something in accepting what you can afford and being happy with it, mumei, flaws etc, they dont seem to bother me as much, which is good.

 

 

 

 

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Ray & Jean, I've published this summary several times, & would like to get your opinions on blade shortening:

 

  •   The early regulations relating to the length of blades have been mentioned, several attempts were made at reducing the number of sword wearers, as will now be seen:
  •    In the second year of Kencho (1250), Hojo Tokiyori prohibited ordinary people from carrying long swords.  This regulation was enforced by Akashi Kanetsuna, since then, common people and all priests carried long Kogatana called Wakizashi no Tachi.
  •     In Tensho XVI (1588), Hideyoshi made a proclamation to obtain from common people the surrender of their swords.  Being a cunning man, he announced that it was his intention to build a Daibutsu Temple in Kyoto, and that he required thousands of nails, and he wished people to hand over their swords so that they might acquire merit towards a future life by stopping their earthly fights and contributing towards a religious cause.  But people were less interested in a problematic paradise than in actually protecting themselves, and they did not rise to his bait.
  •     In Genna VIII, the Shogun Tokugawa Iyetada prohibited common people from wearing swords to avoid brawls; the Tachi was called then O Wakizashi.
  •     In Kwanyei XVII (1640), Tokugawa Iyemitsu prohibited the attendants of Bujin from carrying tachi.
  •     In Kwambun X (1670), Tokugawa Iyetsuna issued a regulation making the length of tachi 2'8"-9", and o-wakizashi 1'8", and anyone carrying a longer sword was liable to punishment.
  •     In Tenna III (1683), Tokugawa Tsunayoshi reiterated the prohibition to common people to wear the long sword, but allowed them to carry a tanto; musicians and painters, even when of the Samurai class, were debarred from carrying a big sword.
  •     In Kwansei X (1798), it was decided that any sword exceeding 1'8" should be termed Naga Wakizashi, and anyone carrying such a sword was liable to punishment.  Later, the length was reduced to 1'5".
  •     Finally, in Meiji IX (1877), the Haitorei was issued prohibiting the wearing of swords, except the one sword belonging to soldiers and police when in uniform.

 

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On 8/14/2020 at 6:05 PM, Alex A said:

Hello.

 

You have to remember that its easy to put everything in boxes and there are exceptions. You will find long swords from the Muromachi period  that are O-suriage mumei.

 

You will find good swords from the Muromachi period that are mumei and also signed swords that are mass produced low quality.

 

Look at a sword and judge it for yourself

 

 

 

 

 

That is a valid point but as I said, to judge anything in terms of its quality you must have experienced great swords in hand and I agree that is difficult but not impossible if one tries and reaches out to the members who own great collections to ask for education. The problem is I could place a great sword here and the comments will come from all members experienced and inexperienced alike and in most cases it is a taxing exercise trying to explain quality. Condition is different, a suriage Muromachi sword may have a Nagasa that is in good condition but the suriage has now affected its relevant quality, does this make sense Alex? I am trying to explain the various conduits that make an art piece sit at the level it is supposed to in terms of the scales set down by experts in Japan. So mass production is an effect on condition rather than the quality of the item as a whole, quality is instinctive, when you see a sword of quality it is relevant only to your experience as a collector where as condition can be judged by even the beginner in many aspects because that depends on their education rather than experience.

 

On 8/14/2020 at 7:30 PM, Oshy said:

 

 

Interesting questions are how do you compare value and importance between blades when several parameters vary. Take my most recent acquisition below, a mumei o-suriage TH Ko-Uda Wakizashi (59.3cm) from very early Nanbokucho period. Yamato Shizu Kaneuji is a possibility here but attribution aside considering all else equal, would an ubu katana of 80+cm with mei and date have greater value to the average collector? How about a more experienced collector?

https://imgur.com/gallery/VLFNouU

http://swordsofjapan.com/project/ko-uda-in-koshirae/

 

I would also argue that value itself can be a bit abstract from person to person. It is fleeting and correlates with someone's taste and experience as a result of study. Value by definition becomes exponentially more difficult to obtain as time passes assuming the collector continues to grow in experience.

 

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given by a top art critic in the UK was, "Collect the dealer first, then make a collection" The advice came about after a trip to Japan where I met up with Darcy Brockbank. Darcy had for many years been shouting (in a kind way as he knows how) about how I should be collecting in a different way and that my pursuit of a collection from Heian to modern day needed refinement. To prove hos point he showed me swords that I had never though possible in the world of collecting, items that I could compare to museum grade. It was a shock, I had to quickly calculate in my mind how many items I had that now had no place in the collection, not because of their condition (I pay what a dealer asks, I do not ask for discounts), but because the path was not linear to my goal and needed refinement in quality rather than quantity. Raymond Singer is a good dealer to collect and keep in our list. Therefore the Uda is (for an Uda) a good sword in quality but lacks the merits of condition in size attributes and zaimei (this is acceptable given its age and period in hostory that the shortening happened). Ergo the price you paid was I am sure in line with the item you have received from Raymond. I also have a Juyo Ko-Uda with sayagaki from Tanobe Sensei who pins it to Go Yoshihiro and the Juyo paper is from session 13 attributing it to Ko-Uda, I love these swords, so much activity to admire. I do not think yours is anything to do with Yamato Shizu and nor should you wish that either. An 80cm Nagasa Ko-Uda with mei and in Ubu condition at Juyo would run the price segment of closer to 75K USD depending on the condition (which attributes to its overall quality), did you pay 75K for your item?

 

5 hours ago, Alex A said:

Hi Ray, just to be clearer with my reply. You stated

 

Heian to Nanbokucho – OK

Muromachi onward – Not OK

 

Cant remember the dates so these are off google

Nanbokucho 1336-1392

Muromachi 1336-1573 (lets just say 1392 onwards)

 

Most people forget (me included) that early Muromachi is EARLY.

 

As mentioned above, there wasnt a time when all smiths got on the phone to one another and agreed from that date on, all blades from now on will be the same length.

 

You will see swords dating well into the 1400,s that resemble those of the Nanbokucho period, o-suriage mumei.

 

I would be interested to read your views with regards early swords that are Ubu, but mumei.

 

Again, horses for courses. If you can afford the top swords with all the bells and whistles then thats great. Saying that though, a lot of us are happy at the cheaper end. There is something in accepting what you can afford and being happy with it, mumei, flaws etc, they dont seem to bother me as much, which is good.

 

 

 

 

When we speak in general terms of dates the you may take the Google reference, but we are speaking of swords and unfortunately as much as we want to re-write the standards by Japanese experts there is a very clearly defined date of sword manufacture for each period, in fact we could break the entire spectrum up into even more concise periods but that will take me all night and I am not going to do it. There are swords such as in the 1400 Nobukuni or Mino that still resemble their forefathers Sugata but you will see changes in the Nakago for sure leaning more to one handed use, again, stop looking at the Nagasa only and start looking at the entire sword. Early swords that are Mumei and Ubu are fine, but if they were Ubu and Zaimei the value is automatically higher. It is one of the reasons we see that the majority of Yamoto blades from the Kamakura that are Tokubetsu Juyo have a mei and Bizen Tokubetsu Juyo can be mumei and pass with flying colors, it is about significance in this case, where do the judges place their significance? What about the condition perhaps that plays a role eh, the Yamato swords are not considered to be as well made as Bizen or Yamashiro or indeed Soshu at the time of Kamakura. The founding fathers of Soshu stem from Yamashiro and Bizen and so this holds a greater significance in the history of Nihonto. Buying what you can afford is also relative, if you can afford a 1000 dollar sword this month then I am sure you can up that budget in 6 months, but it is in the waiting, I understand the pain in waiting. 

 

Ken, on your post I think it deals more with the full prohibiting of swords being carried. I am more inclined to assume that the change in fighting styles led to the shortening of well known blades, but I could be wrong and leave that one open to discussion. 

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Ray,

I’m interested in where you place the guy who will never be able to afford a $5000+ sword?

Should he stop studying? Stop collecting? What if he owns a few $1000 blades collected over 10 years, and has the passion, just not the funds?

Where is his place in the grand scheme of things? 
Take myself as an example. I’ll never own a very good sword. Doesn’t matter how much I put away for 5 years. If I ever found myself with $5000+ I’d be obligated to put it on the house. Do some needed repairs. Get better medical aid. A million sensible things. 
A few thou over the years was possible at the right time. But a big purchase will never happen for logistical reasons. I point this out because many members may be in the same boat. 
When currencies sit at 17 to $1, sometimes reality means we will never own really good stuff. Doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it though. Or study it. But where do you place those collectors? 
Those for whom $10,000 is not a lot clearly are able to look at this all from a different point of view. Here, and in many places, $100,000 buys a really decent house. No ways will guys in that situation be able to throw that at a sword.  Or even 1/10 of that, which is a house deposit. 
Should guys like that give up collecting?

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5 minutes ago, Brian said:

Ray,

I’m interested in where you place the guy who will never be able to afford a $5000+ sword?

Should he stop studying? Stop collecting? What if he owns a few $1000 blades collected over 10 years, and has the passion, just not the funds?

Where is his place in the grand scheme of things? 
Take myself as an example. I’ll never own a very good sword. Doesn’t matter how much I put away for 5 years. If I ever found myself with $5000+ I’d be obligated to put it on the house. Do some needed repairs. Get better medical aid. A million sensible things. 
A few thou over the years was possible at the right time. But a big purchase will never happen for logistical reasons. I point this out because many members may be in the same boat. 
When currencies sit at 17 to $1, sometimes reality means we will never own really good stuff. Doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it though. Or study it. But where do you place those collectors? 
Those for whom $10,000 is not a lot clearly are able to look at this all from a different point of view. Here, and in many places, $100,000 buys a really decent house. No ways will guys in that situation be able to throw that at a sword.  Or even 1/10 of that, which is a house deposit. 
Should guys like that give up collecting?

Brian, I really appreciate the situation there. I am not saying everyone is able or should prioritize a collection of Nihonto over the sensible things in life. I cannot control that situation and I prefer if I am not criticized for having my point of view from my situation. We have never met so I cannot advise you on what to do because I do not know where you stand exactly and for me to comment there would be silly. I do find it hurtful that you say you do not have a single good sword, I seem to remembers sending you a papered Aizu to show my appreciation for everything you do for the NMB....where is it? LOL, well it was a gift so you can do with it as you like. I would  sell the Aizu and everything else you have and then see where you stand? Possible? 

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Hello Ray, to quote 

 

 

"That is a valid point but as I said, to judge anything in terms of its quality you must have experienced great swords"

 

For me, thats utter elite bull----

 

Ive been sucked in again lol. Ive come to the conclusion you are not worth the time to reply. Ive read 2 of your recent threads and both look like they are intended to wind folk up. This one starts with "If it offends anyone, you are free not to read it, and the other goes on about something we have been over already

 

I actually agree with most of what you stated above, but your so "elite" you cant see the wood for the trees.

 

Take note, not every "expert" comes here. I know guys that will never own a "juyo", but when it comes to knowing what is what, they are way ahead. To coin a phrase, they wouldnt want to get caught up in "bun fights", like this

 

Good luck with your Juyo collecting, keep the guys in business.

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My guess is Brian is too much of a gentleman to bring up a very nice, appreciated, gift that was privately given and I would assume meant to be kept private... until now when it is publicly thrown in his face.  Well done.  I guess elitism doesn’t always = class... some things money just can’t buy.
 

I guess he was speaking for all those who share in his current financial situation, yet still try to enjoy the hobby of nihonto.

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Ray,

Hope my post did not come across as criticism. I genuinely wanted to speak for others out there in a similar situation, and find out if there is a place for them/us. 
I think it is precisely because I stay firmly grounded that my Jen situation is always under control. Reality guides my purchases. But I think I speak for many. 
And of course you are allowed your (valid) opinion as long as it remains a civil discussion. I enjoy reading these posts. But I speak for the average guy out there too. 
As for the lovely Aizu katana, it remains my only papered sword. It, and a wonderful katakiriha zukuri waki by Tsuguhira from Darcy remain my 2 favorite and best swords. 
I treasure them. When I typed above, I specifically mentioned really good swords, meaning stuff like Ichimonji and Aoe etc etc. those that go for $20k+ 

No, I will never sell these swords. No matter what happens. They are not investments or money storage. They are things that make me happy. 

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I’m curious Rayhan,

 

I'm not asking your salary or anything, but what do you do for a living? 
 

I see some people here, not just you, who seem to buy a new sword every week/month when I struggle to finish the month and can only use lay off payments.

 

No offense meant, but your words remind me of the words of politicians who’ve been living in a sphere so far off that of common, average people that they clearly lose the ties to reality. Your opinions are only sound if you can afford the type of swords you’re mentioning. Art (provided that even exists as I don’t believe in art but just in craft) comes in many forms and at every price. A guy who will collect a page from a comic book artist he likes and paid a few hundred dollars for will probably Be as happy as the guy who just bought a Picasso. Actually, he’ll probably be even more happy because the Picasso buyer will probably put the Picasso in a safe and consider it as an investment (of course, who, with a sane mind could ever consider a Picasso on his wall except if he wants to barf everyday... in case you haven’t understood I HATE modern art :) )


Should this mean that the regular joe be prevented from his pleasures just because he can’t afford the best?

 

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1 hour ago, Kawa said:
On 8/14/2020 at 10:30 AM, Oshy said:

 

 

Interesting questions are how do you compare value and importance between blades when several parameters vary. Take my most recent acquisition below, a mumei o-suriage TH Ko-Uda Wakizashi (59.3cm) from very early Nanbokucho period. Yamato Shizu Kaneuji is a possibility here but attribution aside considering all else equal, would an ubu katana of 80+cm with mei and date have greater value to the average collector? How about a more experienced collector?

https://imgur.com/gallery/VLFNouU

http://swordsofjapan.com/project/ko-uda-in-koshirae/

 

I would also argue that value itself can be a bit abstract from person to person. It is fleeting and correlates with someone's taste and experience as a result of study. Value by definition becomes exponentially more difficult to obtain as time passes assuming the collector continues to grow in experience.

 

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given by a top art critic in the UK was, "Collect the dealer first, then make a collection" The advice came about after a trip to Japan where I met up with Darcy Brockbank. Darcy had for many years been shouting (in a kind way as he knows how) about how I should be collecting in a different way and that my pursuit of a collection from Heian to modern day needed refinement. To prove hos point he showed me swords that I had never though possible in the world of collecting, items that I could compare to museum grade. It was a shock, I had to quickly calculate in my mind how many items I had that now had no place in the collection, not because of their condition (I pay what a dealer asks, I do not ask for discounts), but because the path was not linear to my goal and needed refinement in quality rather than quantity. Raymond Singer is a good dealer to collect and keep in our list. Therefore the Uda is (for an Uda) a good sword in quality but lacks the merits of condition in size attributes and zaimei (this is acceptable given its age and period in hostory that the shortening happened). Ergo the price you paid was I am sure in line with the item you have received from Raymond. I also have a Juyo Ko-Uda with sayagaki from Tanobe Sensei who pins it to Go Yoshihiro and the Juyo paper is from session 13 attributing it to Ko-Uda, I love these swords, so much activity to admire. I do not think yours is anything to do with Yamato Shizu and nor should you wish that either. An 80cm Nagasa Ko-Uda with mei and in Ubu condition at Juyo would run the price segment of closer to 75K USD depending on the condition (which attributes to its overall quality), did you pay 75K for your item?

 

I agree relationships, especially with such knowledgeable and trustworthy dealers such as Ray are absolutely priceless, its a small world we live in, reputation matters.

I was just using my Ko-Uda above as an example but, as you point out, I fully understand its far from say a top quality 80+cm ubu with Norishige mei in perfect condition. In full transparency, and this gets to what Brian brought up, I am 31 and raising a family so my wallet and ability to collect is constrained behind many other priorities that take precedence. When it comes to quality/quantity and buying the best you can afford, I have set my collection to a limit of 5 or 6 blades with a limit on how much I want my total investment to be. The Ko-Uda above was $6k, a great deal in my opinion for what it is, and unless I decide to liquidate most of the collection in exchange for 1 blade some day, I will likely never own a juyo but thats ok, solid TH quality pieces is where I shall happily reside.

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3 minutes ago, Alex A said:

Im reminded of the kid at school whos parents were wealthy, they always had the expensive trainers, but they were the best, because they were expensive.

 

Best  i head out of this one.

Well this is going south pretty fast, lol.  I cannot change someones opinion at all, I am not going to try. If you feel offended or upset at the thought of how I make money or how much people spend on items they collect then you are going to angry with soooo many people. 

 

1 hour ago, Mark S. said:

My guess is Brian is too much of a gentleman to bring up a very nice, appreciated, gift that was privately given and I would assume meant to be kept private... until now when it is publicly thrown in his face.  Well done.  I guess elitism doesn’t always = class... some things money just can’t buy.
 

I guess he was speaking for all those who share in his current financial situation, yet still try to enjoy the hobby of nihonto.

I do not think (from what I gather) that Brian takes offence to my mentioning the Aizu, he has mentioned it himself many years ago and so it is as the title says an open discussion, I am only replying with the same pattern I would should Brian and I be sat at a round table face to face, I tend to be direct. I do not think opening up about what one has in their collection is a bad thing as we are here to discuss swords and people regularly reveal their collections...what is wrong with that? 

 

1 hour ago, Brian said:

Ray,

Hope my post did not come across as criticism. I genuinely wanted to speak for others out there in a similar situation, and find out if there is a place for them/us. 
I think it is precisely because I stay firmly grounded that my Jen situation is always under control. Reality guides my purchases. But I think I speak for many. 
And of course you are allowed your (valid) opinion as long as it remains a civil discussion. I enjoy reading these posts. But I speak for the average guy out there too. 
As for the lovely Aizu katana, it remains my only papered sword. It, and a wonderful katakiriha zukuri waki by Tsuguhira from Darcy remain my 2 favorite and best swords. 
I treasure them. When I typed above, I specifically mentioned really good swords, meaning stuff like Ichimonji and Aoe etc etc. those that go for $20k+ 

No, I will never sell these swords. No matter what happens. They are not investments or money storage. They are things that make me happy. 

But no sir, no offence or criticism as I did not read as such. I just cannot comment right, I have no idea about your situation as you have no idea about mine. I just think that if you were to sell a few swords, gifts or not, then a new memory could be made, I for one would be very happy if the sale of a sword you were gifted would lead to an upgrade, why not? 

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One can be a good connoisseur without Owning/collecting swords  (BTW, it is the same for allart fields).

 

How many Rembrandt experts own one? Same for Van Gogh. Owning swords is a pleasure but can be very reducer. If You want to know early Aoe school, you will have to study many juyo ones to understand the essence of the school, owning one is not enough, you will have to understand the why of the « den » when the juyo is « den »  ko Aoe.ades

 

Study many good swords in hand is probably the key and not owning several Juyo ones. I doubt my friend Paul Martin owns a single Juyo swords and I am not sure that Darcy even has a Nihonto collection BUT their library is fantastic. Our friend Jussi has chosen Nihonto books rather than collecting books. His knowledge will become encyclopedic if he keeps on studying his books, comparing them, making statistics.

 

if you take the NBTHK monthly Kantei challenge, one can strike atari without having seen a blade of this school. 
 

I am going to give you an example: more than 15/20 years ago, Darcy posted a Kantei challenge. I was the only one to strike atari, it was a Miike Mitsuyo juyo, I had never seen, a sword of this school but I did the kantei thanks to Robert Cole Sho Shin website.

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3 minutes ago, Jean said:

One can be a good connoisseur without Owning/collecting swords  (BTW, it is the same for allart fields).

 

How many Rembrandt experts own one? Same for Van Gogh. Owning swords is a pleasure but can be very reducer. If You want to know early Aoe school, you will have to study many juyo ones to understand the essence of the school, owning one is not enough, you will have to understand the why of the « den » when the juyo is « den »  ko Aoe.ades

 

Study many good swords in hand is probably the key and not owning several Juyo ones. I doubt my friend Paul Martin owns a single Juyo swords and I am not sure that Darcy even has a Nihonto collection BUT their library is fantastic. Our friend Jussi has chosen Nihonto books rather than collecting books. His knowledge will become encyclopedic if he keeps on studying his books, comparing them, making statistics.

 

if you take the NBTHK monthly Kantei challenge, one can strike atari without having seen a blade of this school. 
 

I am going to give you an example: more than 15/20 years ago, Darcy posted a Kantei challenge. I was the only one to strike atari, it was a Miike Mitsuyo juyo, I had never seen, a sword of this school but I did the kantei thanks to Robert Cole Sho Shin website.

Absolutely Jean, I agree. to "see" I think one must dedicate the most valuable currency of all, and that is time. It is definitely not necessary to own swords in order to gain an internal library. 

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22 minutes ago, Oshy said:

 

I agree relationships, especially with such knowledgeable and trustworthy dealers such as Ray are absolutely priceless, its a small world we live in, reputation matters.

I was just using my Ko-Uda above as an example but, as you point out, I fully understand its far from say a top quality 80+cm ubu with Norishige mei in perfect condition. In full transparency, and this gets to what Brian brought up, I am 31 and raising a family so my wallet and ability to collect is constrained behind many other priorities that take precedence. When it comes to quality/quantity and buying the best you can afford, I have set my collection to a limit of 5 or 6 blades with a limit on how much I want my total investment to be. The Ko-Uda above was $6k, a great deal in my opinion for what it is, and unless I decide to liquidate most of the collection in exchange for 1 blade some day, I will likely never own a juyo but thats ok, solid TH quality pieces is where I shall happily reside.

Ubu, Zaimei Norishige (Norishige has flaws as a natural occurrence due to the forging technique, but another discussion, they are acceptable to a point), perfect condition and Juyo is now in the 100's of thousands mark. Rightfully so, that would be so special to see,but, I do not think any exist that are Ubu (Katana or Tachi). 

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@Alex A If I wake tomorrow to more insults or provocation like the ones I deleted already, we’ll be testing the penalty system. You said you were out of this one...then be out!

Same goes for anyone who thinks this is a tit for tat insult exchange.   

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Ok, il look for the none elite department in future, cheers Brian.

 

Or at least a department where elitist views by one individual are not forced upon us, as it seems to be lately

 

Guess times change

 

But hey ho

 

 

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EDITED: better use the ignore list than get angry.

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The way I see it, anyone preserving nihonto in good condition is doing a good thing. And even if it’s mumei, suriage, and from the Shinto period, it’s still worth preserving if it’s in polish. 
 

There’s never a reason to judge anyone who is collecting in good faith within their means. If you meet a millionaire who owns 50 mumei chu-saku Kanbun wakizashi, then I think a conversation might be in order. 
 

But we really have no place to criticize the average Joe/Jane who (hopefully) builds a small library of books, sees swords in person when possible, and owns a low grade blade or two. 
 

It’s all relative. There are blades out there that are truly junk, and I think we all know that’s not what we’re discussing. 
 

Everyone has their own collecting journey, and we all learn as we go. I would never judge or fault someone who genuinely loved nihonto and owned a mumei Shinto piece if it was the right investment for them. Owning art of any kind is personal. And preserving artifacts should be commended regardless of their value. 

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30 minutes ago, 16k said:

EDITED: better use the ignore list than get angry.

 

Aye, probably for best

 

Just for the record, Ray not so long ago referred to another member as a c---, but nothing got said

 

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1 minute ago, Alex A said:

 

Aye, probably for best

 

Just for the record, Ray not so long ago referred to another member as a c---, but nothing got said

 

would you prefer I simply left Alex, i see you are upset? Perhaps if you need to have a go at me, start a new thread? Please don't hijack this one

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No, il leave, cant be doing with this, good luck with your future write-ups.

 

And as for the d--- business, always meant with a laugh behind it 🤥 🤣

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Hey guys, the thread started in a civilised manner. Even if you disagree or have misgivings, please post as Brian did, with rhetorical questions which clearly indicate that there is an alternative reality where people spend less, on non- exemplary swords but are still happy.

 

We do not have to demean ourselves with insults, personal conjectures about people’s circumstances, insinuations, etc. 
 

Let us keep it civil and focused on swords please. In this hobby, there is a place for everyone. I do not go and throw mud on the military swords  guys in their section even though I do not believe in them as art. The fact is some people view machined items as art, eg even cars or watches etc - made in their thousands etc they still bring joy to people who collect them.... Hey, in my childhood I used to collect empty matchboxes and cigarette boxes. Probably (well definitely) worthless but I was so happy with my next acquisition. 
 

Alternatively, if someone can collect at the very top of the pyramid, good for them. Clearly a successful person with a successful family who has the disposable cash to acquire top items. 
 

I do not remember 10-15 years on this board people being so vitriolic and slinging opinions and criticisms so much. It was mostly about the swords and content and knowledge etc. We need to become more tolerant all around, and more open-minded and inclusive and civil please. 

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