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How many swords were made?

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In 2019 I viewed a pair of Daisho swords during our meeting in Munich  from Gassan Sadakatsu  made in the year 1933 as a gift for the newborn emperor. The blades were a tachi and a tanto.

Now is see a Katana made 1933 from Gassan Sadakatsu as a gift for the newborn emperor too.

 

Did you know how many swords were made as a gift?

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Its a known technique among struggling painters - to send president's portrait to the white house, receive back a letter with gratitude, the painting gets hanged somewhere for a week - and then you have a letter "signed" (faximile) by the president himself congratulating you on your painting efforts, which you add to your resume with a cleverly stated phrase how you did portraits of presidents and kings. Not that they asked for it.

There are some smiths in Japan even today who make swords commemorating various events and then selling them  "this was made for the Emperor's birthday".

Gassan Sadakatsu was probably the smart person who started that. He made quite a tremendous number of swords commemorating various events. They are still everywhere.

 

Kirill R.

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However I think Japan is an exception when it comes to governmental recognition of traditional arts & crafts.. not withstanding that it is probably true.

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I ask myself how many swords by gassan sadakatsu were made 1933 as a gift for the newborn emperor.

Maybe it was only the pair of daisho and the katana?

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I don't think this could be estimated accurately without interrogating the maker himself.

However, there are a few things that appear to be consistently discovered with such swords by Sadakatsu.

They are in private hands.

There is no evidence of them ever being part of the Imperial household. There are quite a few blades being sold in Japan that once were part of the household agency, as couple of princely collections were sold out, and the paperwork attesting to the provenance is highly treasured. BTW, the blades in large are not extremely impressive.

Yet with Sadakatsu's creations which are available for purchasing I don't think one ever encounters such documentation.

So the question - were these actually ever presented/accepted by the household? I think the answer is with significant probability strictly negative in a sense the Household never owned those.

Most likely, Sadakazu and Sadakatsu having Imperial appointments they would demonstrate the fact that they made a blade, maybe it would even displayed at some shrine, but then it was to be sold on the market. Quite a few western museum collections (i.e. western sword afficionados from late Meiji-early Showa) has those. Then what limited him to just a single daisho? If it sells, there is no law prohibiting one from making as many as needed. 

On the other hand, I knew a collector who has a large number of recent gendaito dedicated to various events. Usually he asks the smiths how many they made and they tell him - its the only one, or one out of only three. So I think one to three is a typical number.

 

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Dear Kirill, I have seen household agency provenance paperwork on such Sadakatsu swords, so at least some were owned by the Imperial household.   Of course, that doesn't mean that some of the others were not made and distributed as you say... (I don't know)

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