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Spartancrest

New book on Tosogu designs

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Dale, I received the two volumes of books on the Tsuba in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and am very pleased with it.   I have been going through Volume 1 and will head to Volume 2 next.   Even though the artist name is not included for every item, it is for most and the book would benefit from an index.  If I can be disciplined enough, I will try to do that for myself.  

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Hi Robert - I will admit indexes are not my forte, I have heard that there are indexing apps or programs you can get for a price. I always shied away because a really good index would nearly be as big as the book itself. They are already big door stops - anyone interested in doing a good index send me a PM and I will organize the digital information - Volume 3 the index? I did a four volume collection of the Ashmolean Museums collection in Oxford and had some luck that the museum had at least organized its collection into styles and schools. So those books do have a fairly general index of where to start looking. I must say the Metropolitan museum is a bit chaotic in the way they organize their material even daisho are spread from one end of the collection to the other. It was necessary to keep the acquisition numbers in sequence or you got lost. Doing a book to suit every need is not very easy and I have no formal training in it nor any help.

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What is the total number of tsuba Dale?  I assume it is less than 1000 per book.  An index of 1000 entries could probably fit on 20 pages double sided, I would think.  Of course, the value is that one can look up makers of tsuba in their own collection.  It's not an important criticism.  In fact, I love the set and will spend many happy hours with it.  Cheers, Bob

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Robert there are about 810 or there about, unfortunately  more than one third of the Museums collection are not available because of copyright - and those of course are some of the better examples. I would have had some thinner books if Bashford Dean had not been such a collector of what he hoped were Kaneie guards. He must have thought if you get enough you will get a good one eventually. No not bothered by any criticism I know the books are not perfect - I will take criticism more seriously from other authors though, they at least know how much work it takes. I am as guilty as anyone of picking works to pieces, that's very easy compared to doing the work. I have a critique by someone on the works of Helen C. Gunsaulus who wrote Japanese SWORD-MOUNTS IN THE COLLECTIONS OF FIELD MUSEUM. 1923

 

"Late in the seventies of last century [19th C] the Japanese sword became by official ban a virtual drug in the market of its native country and during the next two or three decades was exported wholesale to the West, together with huge quantities of the detachable metal mounts provided for the constructive strengthening and decoration of the blade itself and of its scabbard. These were bought up with avidity by a world eager for the art products of a hitherto almost unknown country, but it is safe to say that in the West (and even in Japan itself) serious research in the wide and difficult field of study afforded by the decorative furniture of the Japanese sword began only in the first decade of the present century. The appearance of the catalogues raisonnes of the Jacoby and Mosle collections, of Hara's annotated list of sword-furniture makers (the collector's Bible, to use a hackneyed phrase), and of the tentative excursions into the subject by Brinkley, de Tressan and a few others, was followed from 1911 onwards by a series of illuminating articles, the result of far-reaching research, enshrined in the Hawkshaw, Naunton, and “ Red Cross " catalogues and other works by the late H. L. Joly, through whose premature death in 1920 the world is still waiting for a comprehensive magnum opus that shall be the last word on the subject in hand.

 

Miss Gunsaulus, who " has devoted more than two years to a thorough study of the entire subject," now valiantly steps into the breach with a handbook based on the collection given to Field Museum by her father, the late Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus.

 

In the preface Dr. Berthold Laufer confidently anticipates that " this volume, by its compact and critical presentation of the material at hand and the addition of novel information in respect to the metal craftsmen, will prove of interest and make an appeal to the students of Japan, as well as the ethnologists and folklorists in general.” And with this we may heartily and in general terms agree. But as one who has studied the subject for over fifteen years — and realizes how much there is yet to learn — the writer may perhaps be permitted to append a few criticisms in regard to details.

 

In the first place, of the two-hundred-odd examples included in the plates, some one hundred and thirty, it is fairly obvious, are given on a much reduced scale — a serious fault, especially when combined with unequal photography, a tendency to bad lighting, and a somewhat woolly quality of printing.

 

Next, it is clear that the author realizes the necessity, in such a work, of accuracy and uniformity in the spelling of foreign words and names, and has made a conscientious effort in that direction, an effort that has, alas ! to a very considerable extent, failed of fruition. For example, the important index of signatures, twenty pages long, contains some fifty mis-spellings, many of them elementary and obvious, but none the less annoying.

 

Lack of space prevents more than a bare recital, in resume, of a string of inaccurate and misleading statements on pages 33-4 regarding constructive details of the sword. The absurdity of most of them will be patent to the tiro and they require but little comment ;

 

(а) The tsuba (guard) is declared to be “ securely fastened ” to the tang of the blade by means of the fuchi (ferrule) !

 

(b) The two menuki are said to come ** immediately below " the kashira and to “ cover the mekugi (rivets)." (Notice the plural.)

 

(c) Sometimes “ other menuki," it is stated, decorate the scabbard, and, if of some size, are called kanamono, in common with the metal ornaments of pouches.

This term, literally " hardware " (sic), is accused of being misleading for objects of a purely artistic nature and quality. (Observe how the question is begged by the mistranslation.)

 

(d) The habaki, says our author, fits into the tang-hole of the guard !

 

(e) The udenuki holes on guards are alluded to as if always found with the (purely conjectural) sword-knot.

 

In short, it would seem as if Miss Gunsaulus has restricted her study entirely to detached mounts and to imperfectly understood written descriptions of the swords as fully fitted.

 

Finally, on page 35 it is implied that " the alloy par excellence ” used in making sword-furniture is karakane (practically bronze), which in actual fact is very rarely found in extant specimens.

 

To Mr. Koop's review I will add a note on Miss Gunsaulus's interpretation (p. 19) of the poem ;

 

Honohono to

Akashi no ura no

Asa-giri ni

Shima-gakure-yuku

Fune wo shi zo omou.

 

I am thinking of a boat

That dimly, dimly

In the morning mist

Of the shore of Akashi

Goes island-hid.

 

Miss Gunsaulus says : ** B. Chamberlain and A. Waley have each interpreted the poem, translating the word shima-gakure ' island-hid.’ It is an old expression meaning ‘ things hidden in the distance of the sea,’ and not necessarily denoting any island.’’ This explanation is based on the Kokinshu Tokagami of Moto-ori (1730-1801) and is not accepted in most modern editions of the Kokinshu. Neither Moto-ori nor Miss Gunsaulus quote any other passage in which shima-gakure has this meaning. The difficulty is that there are no islands off the shore of Akashi.

May not an earthquake have removed them ? A.D.W."

 

A lot to read sorry, but what that all boils down to is - out of a whole book only five points were found to be wrong.

Never seen any publications by the critics though. 

 

I am not having a shot just trying to show its not all that easy to organize a book, these days it is even harder if you are trying to get books out for as cheaply as possible - the middlemen make it very hard!:bang:

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For any Aussies Blurb have dropped their shipping rate for the Chosen-gafu book [matte] to $11.99. So a hardcover copy works out at 

AUD $46.05 and a soft cover AUD $34.05 that includes the shipping.  I have no idea how long the shipping will stay at this price. Give me a pm if anyone is interested.

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Blurb are offering 30% off and free shipping in the US.  The offer reads.----*Offer valid through February 1, 2021 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid only for photo books uploaded to and purchased through your own account. A 30% discount is applied toward your product total with no minimum or maximum order amount. Free shipping is limited to economy shipping up to a value of $6.99 per order for delivery to U.S. addresses only (excluding P.O. Boxes). If you choose faster shipping, we will apply an economy shipping credit toward your shipping total. This offer is good for five uses.

This would apply to the 'Chosen-gafu' gloss paper book only ['Photo book' quality]. You would still have to order through me to receive the discount. 

The code is IHEART30 all upper case, if you want to try it from your own home. As the offer says only 5 uses are available.

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I. Purchased the book and I  am enjoying it. It is nice to see sketches of some of the things I  really like. E.g. Shiachi, Dharuma, flowers etc.

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Hi Dale,

Congratulations on your publishing initiatives. A favorite quote of mine is by Henry David Thoreau, and it goes: 

“There is always room and occasion for a true book on any subject; as there is room for more light on the brightest day, and more rays will not interfere with the first.”

 

 

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