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Mumei and Suriage - Open Discussion

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Jeez, cant get over this

 

For the record you thick **$$$%%. I said Muromachi Uda with attributions are rare!!!.

 

This site has reached a level where i no longer want anything to do with swords or people like the muppet above

 

A disgrace ruining genuine sales, especially when im out of a job, you%%%%

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How are Muromachi mumei "rare" The muromachi was a great period for the Uda school and plenty of signed examples are available and I stated that their Muromachi tanto are far better to collect if one requires a Muromachi Uda

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Only to a bad sale, I am sorry you feel I am not complying with bad items for sale but there is a risk that someone who would become a valued member of the collecting community will be hurt by bad practices and I think that it is worth protecting them if possible

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It is not about it being a Katana, better to buy a good quality Wakizashi or Tanto in this case which has a good Ji and is a confirmed Muromachi Uda

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Ray,
Your advice is not being seen a good thing by anyone. And the idea of ANYONE "vetting" sale items is flawed in so many ways I won't even discuss that.
I really, really, wanted to find a place for you on this forum. But I just cannot. Your collecting level is just too high for most of us, and the fact that you think it is ok to call out items people are selling is ridiculous. Do you go through Aoi's stock list and post all the items you think they should not be selling?
You can educate people. But THEY need to decide what they want to buy or sell. I won't allow this forum to be brought down by this attitude.
So really sorry...but you can't do this to my forum. It is far from perfect, but I need to make it better....not worse. And nothing you demand is going to bring advanced guys back. Many of them feel the whole internet discussion thing is beneath them. So I choose my members and will back them to the hilt.
Again, sorry. But I tried. I'm putting you on post moderation, so each post needs to be accepted. It's that or a ban. I really am sorry to everyone that it went this far. I'm asking guys not to resort to insults either, and let me handle this.
 

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Apologies to the 99.9 % for my loss of temper.

 

Im sure most will understand, selling swords is seldomly easy, even without all this.

 

Best.

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My first nihonto was a machine made kyu-gunto blade. I've learned with it how to distinguish machine made from gendai, types of army/navy/police swords, and even made I think 10$ when I sold it.

So overall a very good purchase for this stage in collecting,

 

I would add also I repapered probably a dozen blades from generic Muromachi attributions to good Nambokucho names. There is a lot of ambiguity in sunnobi tanto attributions from the period.

 

Kirill R.

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Kirill, interesting about the repapering. Please tell us more details. 
i am particularly interested in learning if this was Kicho to NBTHK Hozon or Kicho to NTHK? 
 

My first ever blade was a papered (NTHK) ubu zaime Shinto blade with en suite koshirae and papered tsuba (NTHK). I suppose I am in the minority as I waited for over 10 years to gain the confidence and knowledge to buy. 

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Repapering from NBTHK to NTHK is both straightforward and predictable. Current NBTHK will never paper tanto with thicker kasane to Nambokucho, it is more or less automatically papered to Muromachi, with no regards to other features. Neither of NTHK does that, so if the blade is good and shows clear kantei points to Nambokucho, one will get a Nambokucho judgement.

NBTHK green to NBTHK the rules I think are also relatively simple. Green had a lot of optimistic judgements which go down in name, but it also has a large portion of strange random opinions where a good Soshu blade is given a third grade Keicho name in Horikawa+ school. If the blade has thin kasane and it looks like a good Soshu blade, it will repaper high.

 

I attempt modern NBTHK to NBTHK repapering only if the blade matches formal kantei. The current team uses kissaki sori, size, blade sori, kasane as sort of a checkpoint. If they are not a match to period X, there is almost no chance it will paper to X, even if the blade otherwise is 99% match. I think current NBTHK is extremely good in Kamakura blades, but Soshu judgements is a whole different bag of worms.

 

This being said, I did submit a number of high names to see how alternative/random the judgements can be,  and the results were diverse.

 

Kirill R.

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Good move Brian.  I hate to get dragged into this, but feel the need to express my opinion about posting and style.

 

Kawa San, please go back and read the thread.  I read it, and it is clear that Alex bought a decent sword from a reputable dealer and is selling it at a deep loss because he has lost his job.  Which part of that is not clear to you?  Why would anybody with a shred of empathy make a concerted effort to undermine that person's ability to recoup some hard needed money at a very unfortunate time when many have lost their jobs?  

 

And yet, even after he told you this hard situation, you continued to prattle on hard-headed and completely tone deaf to Alex and his situation, arguing trivial points about taste, which should always be respected as a personal choice.  At some point, it is no longer about your opinion about the rarity of a school, it's just about ego.  When it gets to that point and you are clearly not listening to Alex, I don't think that anybody cares about your opinion about this small sword issue any more.  You have turned what should be a light hearted and informative thread into a painful experience for Alex and anybody else who has the misfortune to read it.  

 

As a matter of respect, we should never get between buyers and sellers on this site, unless done in a non public way.  There is an unwritten rule about this.  If you did this at a sword show - walked up to a seller trying to make a deal with a buyer - and started talking crap about the sword, the deal, the seller etc., you might well be challenged to go out into the parking lot and settle things with the seller.  This is just not cool.

 

Just as importantly, Brian has given you a "cease and desist" order.  There are at least a half dozen recent threads where you, using a variety of different names, have turned them into bitter personal nasty affairs.  Frankly, I am surprised that Brian is even giving you rights to still post through him.  

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2 hours ago, Rivkin said:

Repapering from NBTHK to NTHK is both straightforward and predictable. Current NBTHK will never paper tanto with thicker kasane to Nambokucho, it is more or less automatically papered to Muromachi, with no regards to other features. Neither of NTHK does that, so if the blade is good and shows clear kantei points to Nambokucho, one will get a Nambokucho judgement.

NBTHK green to NBTHK the rules I think are also relatively simple. Green had a lot of optimistic judgements which go down in name, but it also has a large portion of strange random opinions where a good Soshu blade is given a third grade Keicho name in Horikawa+ school. If the blade has thin kasane and it looks like a good Soshu blade, it will repaper high.

 

I attempt modern NBTHK to NBTHK repapering only if the blade matches formal kantei. The current team uses kissaki sori, size, blade sori, kasane as sort of a checkpoint. If they are not a match to period X, there is almost no chance it will paper to X, even if the blade otherwise is 99% match. I think current NBTHK is extremely good in Kamakura blades, but Soshu judgements is a whole different bag of worms.

 

This being said, I did submit a number of high names to see how alternative/random the judgements can be,  and the results were diverse.

 

Kirill R.

Thanks, Kirill, but this still does not answer the question directly. 
My inference from that generalisation above is that you have papered Kicho to NTHK, mainly green papered putative Soshu? 
I agree some green papers were very optimistic. But also some NTHK judgements are confusing. The NTHK does not have the same credibility, especially now. Pity really as it is the older organisation actually.
I suppose one could play the game “submit until get desired judgement” as many times as one wants. 
 

Now, you also say you attempt NBTHK repapering only if a blade matches the formal Kantei points. But is this not the point of attributing blades? Does this mean the NTHK does not follow the rules of Kantei? Also, Soshu is really Kamakura and early Nanbokucho and then we are into Sue Soshu, which is really a couple of levels down. 

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I missed what was the commotion with Alex's blade, but unfortunately I can guess what it was.

I can only speak of my (limited) experience - I did repaper "up", including substantially "up": green, modern NBTHK and NTHK papered blades to higher class attributions. Including modern NBTHK to modern NBTHK, green to modern, modern to NTHK, and NTHK to modern. Without repolish, which is a whole different game altogether. In all cases these were SINGLE attempt successful repaperings. It was not a random, repeated lottery. Obviously there were a lot of failures, especially when photographs were misleading and thus the purchase itself was not as enticing as it seemed.

 

Basically what you deal with is there is a set of kantei features in the blade, which is then multiplied by some table of weights. Which is specific to particular shinsa or sayagaki writer. Different shinsa and different sayagaki writers have very different weights assigned to different points.

 

My observations:

Modern NBTHK assigns the score 10 out of 10 to geometric measurements. Kasane for the given mihaba, shape of kissaki etc. The problem with that is existence of well established exceptions where in period with characteristic kasane x we occasionally see a signed and unquestionable sword with kasane 2x. Or a kissaki which is unusually small/large for the period. Or a rather honest copy of something made earlier. Giving geometric measurements weight 10 will box those out. It also means you attribute a lot of blades based on geometry + one more single criteria, for example hada. So you end up with attributions which have "wrong" nakago or boshi, but kasane is right. Example - early Hasebe attribution with NBTHK nearly always begins with the recital that kasane is thin. They will tolerate non-tapered and highly abnormal nakago, they will even tolerate hamon in suguha (and yes, there are signed Hasebe that do pure suguha), they will tolerate hada in fine itame, or lack of masame towards the mune, but they will never tolerate thick kasane. The blade will be send flying to Muromachi schools (Shimada etc.), even if the rest of work is 100% match for Hasebe. They will say its a very good Muromachi copy.

I am not saying by any means its wrong - its just a filter they apply. Its their choice.

My guess it has much to do with green papers, during which time this filter was NOT applied and this made a lot of judgements subject to large changes. When you apply a very specific number-based filter this brings greater repeatability to your judgements - at the expense of filtering out potentially good candidates based only on their measurements being off. Another problem is that even modern NBTHK do not apply this filter uniformly. It somehow consistently fails for "Kamakura" Masamune, Yukimitsu and others. One does need to speculate - just to read their magazine stating time after time in kantei section "many understandably went for Nambokucho, however as this is a Masamune which knows no equals, Kamakura period it is".

 

Both NTHK give geometry something like 8. If boshi is right, the work is right, nakago is right for school A but kasane is atypical, there is a high probability they will say its A. Or they will find a smith close to A who is known for atypical kasane. So one can take such a blade and almost immediately know that NTHK and NBTHK judgement will be very different. Which one of them is right basically means comparing their set of weights against what one believes to be "right". Its easier to comment those on the case by case basis.

 

Repapering green to modern with an improve in grade is difficult, modern papers are more conservative. But there are a few areas where its not uncommon. Green to lesser known Keicho+ Horikawa+ school names can be spurious. They had great confidence in Horikawa's ability to reproduce Sa, Shizu and others. It is not the level of confidence shared by modern NBTHK. You can get many grades better name out of such repapering. Uda attributions sometimes are spurious.

 

Repapering modern to modern NBTHK with a grade improvement is very challenging because the matrix is similar in both cases. You have to do technical work - do the measurements and confirm the results do match the attribution "you want" or "you believe is right". You have to then guess why it has the attribution it has, what was the kantei point that drove the attribution. You have to then convince yourself this kantei point is not as important as others you see in the blade. You have to convince yourself that to see these points one does not need a microscope, but even a minute observation suffices. And one CAN get a different judgement.

 

To the point of this discussion - one can get good, artistic and even good artistic and early swords from among the mumei blades with Muromachi or even early shinto attributions.

 

Kirill R.

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11 hours ago, Surfson said:

As a matter of respect, we should never get between buyers and sellers on this site, unless done in a non public way.  There is an unwritten rule about this. 

 

Absolutely 100% correct! 

I strongly believe that no one has the right to publicly interfere with a forum sales thread unless there's a very good reason, for example warning others of a fake item or fraudulent seller. Even if that were the case, there's still a right and wrong way to go about it. The right way would be to write something along the lines of "I have concerns about this item and/or seller" and then asking Brian to step in.

I personally think it's outrageous that a sale was interfered with simply because that sword did not meet that particular persons standards, criteria, benchmarks or whatever you want to call it. That was more than not cool, that was unacceptable and I'm glad to see that the comments were removed. 

 

I've suggested this before but why not just ban all replies on the sales section of this forum? (unless it's to warn others as I wrote above)

That goes for all the "beautiful blade!!" and "what a bargain, wish I had the money" replies as well. 🙄

Get rid of them all and we will have less drama and a quieter life for Brian which can only be a good thing.

 

 

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While I think Ray offers some very interesting and rarer insight into the top levels of collecting, this business with Alex is nothing short of disgraceful. Everyone can have their own opinions about items for sale but we all have enough dignity and respect (if the item isn't a true stinker) to not actively sabotage sales simply because they don't meet our delusional collecting zeniths.

 

 

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I feel something has to be said.

 

I think there is more to this than meets the eye. 

 

I dont get involved in Rays threads usually because i dont like the way he has been with people in the past with his opinions, condescending from his soapbox. I see enough of that in general life, people on the news etc thinking its only their opinion that matters and if you dont agree, then well.

 

Ive seen Ray over recent years state publicly that a well known and reliable dealer here sells junk, even though they have done business in the past. Ive seen him ruin a thread where a well respected and knowledgeable collector bought a sword that does not meet his criteria. Ive seen him call another experienced collector a ****. I could go on, but wont.

 

Several months ago he was being his usual self and i stated that i wasnt so impressed with his collection (being honest)

 

I listed the Uda, then low and behold a few days later Ray starts this thread (?)

 

At that time i thought thats a bit strange and wouldnt have got involved in this thread but felt i had to. 

 

I made my point about sword transisitions at the beginning of the thread. 

 

Personally, i think its idiotic and again condescending to state that that folk should not collect suriage Muromachi swords 

 

Its an expensive hobby and not all of us have the luxury to shop for valuable swords

 

Saying that though, i have owned  and do own some very good quality swords by some great smiths and have been collecting long enough to know what i like without someone dictating what i should buy.

 

The Uda for the money is actually a very great sword to own, see what else that gets you in the UK.

 

Every sword i buy (should i buy another), no doubt will eventually be sold, no one should have to put up with this kind of Trolling.

 

Ray is simply a troll. 

 

 

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Kirill,

thank you for your detailed answer to  Michael's question which I found very informative. I think you make some interesting observations which to some extent are confirmed in the various kantei exercises the NBTHK run in their monthly magazine. I have taken part in this for more than 10 years and certainly I have learned to pay particular attention to specific aspects of shape such as thickness and the presence of saki-zori.

I think your post also highlights another aspect of shinsa although not mentioning it specifically. At risk of being boring the shinsa exercise is an attempt to arrive at an attribution based on what is in front of the panel. That attribution, as in all other fields of art, is based on comparison to known authentic pieces (or at least those where there is a high likelihood of it being correct). one is looking to see if the blade in hand complies to what is expected for the work of a given period/school/smith. As soon as the study blade deviates from the norm it starts to raise questions. The more aspects that deviate the greater the doubt. I have often said to someone who I thought may be being over optimistic in their appraisal that the more complicated the story you build around what you are seeing the less likely it is to be correct.

I think we sometimes have an over complex idea of how a panel reaches a decision. In a very short time they look at a piece, does it conform to the known work of a particular smith, if yes the likelihood is it is by them. If there are some minor deviations it may still be but there are some questions, if there is greater differences then the doubts increase.

This means that as I think you suggest it is possible for some pieces that for whatever reason do not conform are wrongly attributed. The truth is we will never know for sure. However by definition these are a very small percentage of a smiths portfolio of work.

Regarding your other point I absolutely agree there are some excellent examples of the craft from all periods, signed, unsigned, ubu and suriage. It has often been quoted by scholars knowing much more than I do that every school and every period produced master works (some far fewer and some many more than others) Which is why you have to look at what is in front of you and make the assessment on what you are seeing.

People mostly get caught up in argument about the commercial aspects of collecting, whether a piece is a good investments or not. When this take over they lose sight of the main reason they (or at least I think they) collect which is a sword is an interesting and in some cases extremely beautiful artefact which is worthy of study and appreciation.

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Folks, it is considered done and dusted. Please don't comment about members who are now unable to reply. This thread is a train wreck. It has been dealt with, and now it's time to pick up the pieces and move on.

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Kirill R. @

 

Quote

Modern NBTHK assigns the score 10 out of 10 to geometric measurements. Kasane for the given mihaba, shape of kissaki etc. The problem with that is existence of well established exceptions where in period with characteristic kasane x we occasionally see a signed and unquestionable sword with kasane 2x.

 

I must disagree. At shinsa, kasane is mesured but NBTHK dont' know how many times the sword in question has been polished, so kasane is an indication of what it is at instant T and not what it was when it was made, thus not that a criteria for attribution.  

 

Last comment on this topic where there is too much digression.

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Do I?  Dare I??  I don't at all think this thread has been a train wreck, at least not entirely.  As a modest level collector of no great knowledge or skill compared to some I have learnt much by the Shinsa discussions especially.  For this the thread has been valuable and IMHO gives newer collectors a perspective base to further their studies and collecting.  Through numerous of these discursive threads I have restrained myself from pointing out immutable truths of the World of Nihonto that would highlight the elements discussed at length on the Board AND ruffle feathers, but sadly without being able to offer any resolution to what is essentially an existential problem to all areas of collecting.  A Nirvana has been shown that is not at all achievable to most here, yet most here do enjoy wherever they are "at" and strive to advance themselves, otherwise they would not be "here".  To conclude, Nihonto is one of the most difficult fields of study and collecting for Westerners and this Board under Brian's and Moderators' guidance is the place to be.  For native Japanese collectors it is no doubt a completely different experience and I would love to hear that side of Nihonto in the Homeland.

 

BaZZa.

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Bazza the world needs more good blokes like you mate, well said.

 

Alex sorry about your job, I really hope things look up for you asap. I only read this thread now and it was very frustrating to see the comments about your sale.   Unfortunately some people that have an abundance of cash have a lack of people skills, character and even less heart.

Brian thanks for turning this thread in a better direction. Threads like this make it very obvious how difficult running Nmb must be. In my job I learnt you cant keep everyone happy unfortunately. 

 

 

 

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Re: papers

There have been people claiming their personal judgment is better than the NBTHK since the founding of the NBTHK.

Just write your own papers and see what people think of them if your judgment is superior to the NBTHK.

Re: op opinion of suriage

Yes
 

Re: zaimei Norishige tachi

 

$500k+

 

Re: blades I showed above for education in above anecdotes

 

Juyo Chogi and Masamune, both of which passed Tokubetsu Juyo in the following shinsa and listed in the top 7 of the session.

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