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Advice on a Potential Purchase (Kashu Fujishima Yukimitsu)

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Hello all, I was looking for some knowledgable general advice regarding a potential purchase I'm honing in on. I have first dibs for a couple of days on a sword going up for sale. Sadly, I have no pictures to offer right now (I inspected the sword in person today) but I will get a few shortly. I fully realize advice without pictures is a tricky gambit, but I thought I'd see what some more experienced people can say based on my information. 

The sword has been appraised by Kantei Master Fred Fimio, head of the Japanese Sword Society of Canada and Canadian Director NTHK. It is of the Kaga Fujishima School, made by the first Yukimitsu (Katana Mei "行光"), second son of Tomoshige and student of Sanekaga (Hawley ID YUK252) c. 1340-1369. Sugata is 71cm, shinogi zukuri with strong toriizori, chu-kamasu kissaki, hada masame dominant with ko-itame. Hamon is chu-suguha and ko-midare. Nakago is perfect ubu with the distinctive pointed kashu nakagojiri.

 

Hada and hamon obvious and bright, no pitting or rusting whatsoever. However, the sword does have several non-fatal kizu, including a ~4mm fukure patch near the base on the ura-mei side and a few surface striations, as well as a small but noticeable chip on either side just south of yokote. Recent auction sales and estimates of similar or later Yukimitsu school and Sanekage blades suggest that they tend to go in the $5-10K CAD range when in better condition than this example. The insurance value stamped for this one by Fred Fimio is $3,500 CAD, which seems to add up in my mind. 

 

I will hopefully have some good pictures tomorrow, but for now, I am most curious if anyone has any thoughts. I am quite interested in this sword, as I have a particular thing for Nambokucho swords, but my budget is not terribly high for now. Most significantly, I would like to know whether anyone has any thoughts on estimating an offer value, considering that the appraised value is primarily for insurance purposes and that the seller, whom I have bought from in the past, is certainly open to negotiation and fond of me. 

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Aaron,

 

Does the sword have an independent appraisal, e.g., NBTHK or NTHK? Is it signed? When I hear descriptions such as Nambokucho, ubu nakago, 71 cm, available for $3.5k CAD, negotiable, all kinds of red flags go up. I would approach this sword cautiously and with a hefty dose of skepticism.

 

Hoanh

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Very difficult to say without pictures. However based on your description I would rather put it in the late 1400's to early 1500's. Most of the signed Kaga Yukimitsu tend to be of the later generations.

 

Here is quite rare signed tachi that NBTHK evaluated as the work of early Muromachi Kaga Yukimitsu.

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1 hour ago, hxv said:

Aaron,

 

Does the sword have an independent appraisal, e.g., NBTHK or NTHK? Is it signed? When I hear descriptions such as Nambokucho, ubu nakago, 71 cm, available for $3.5k CAD, negotiable, all kinds of red flags go up. I would approach this sword cautiously and with a hefty dose of skepticism.

 

Hoanh

 

As I say in my first post, the sword has already been appraised by the NTHK's official Canada representative, Fred Fimio, who is certified by them as a Kantei expert. It isn't "available for $3.5k," that is merely the insurance value that his JSSC appraisal document assigns to it. I still have to make an offer. I have handled and disassembled the sword and seen the mei and the official appraisal documents. 

 

1 hour ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

Very difficult to say without pictures. However based on your description I would rather put it in the late 1400's to early 1500's. Most of the signed Kaga Yukimitsu tend to be of the later generations.

 

Here is quite rare signed tachi that NBTHK evaluated as the work of early Muromachi Kaga Yukimitsu.

 

Jussi, that example you link is very close in profile to this one. As to the dating and most everything else, I am only repeating what was included in the signed documentation by an NTHK kantei expert :) Of course, as you say, without pictures one can only speculate. I'll most likely have pictures to add to this thread tomorrow. 

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You may get some pm's. Personally, I would take a bit of that with a pinch of salt. Especially talk of kantei masters. And I wouldn't be putting a value of CAD3500 to a sword with fukure and not in full polish.
I think a chat with Nick Ricupero in Canada is in order. Or chat with @b.hennick

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This sword actually did come up for sale couple of times already, but the price if I remember correctly was much more significant. I think Kaga Fujishima is relatively straightforward to kantei, and its not the school that comes with a large premium for its name. If the shape is clearly Nambokucho  and the style matches I would not worry too much.

 

Not being a Kantei expert, I'll do a bit more:

a. "strong toriizori, chu-kamasu kissaki" unfortunately does not sound that typical for 1360s.

b. It would be strange if it has much from Kashu Sanekage, usually later Kaga went into different, non-Norishige, direction. 

If I remember correctly, Tomoshige's typical style is periodic gunome with lots of sunagashi, but one also finds in Kaga Choji Bizen-like hamon with coarser hada and stronger hint on nie.

c. If I remember correctly, Yukimitsu was more of a Bizen knock-off guy, as typically all Kaga smith with Bizen like "mitsu" names.

d.  Existing blades attributed to "Kaga Yukimitsu" are far more often Oei rather than Nambokucho.

 

3k USD would be just a bit low for suriage Oei Kaga Yukimitsu, but its all depends on condition/issues. Going price in Japan if I remember correctly is around 350-550,000 yen with full polish and great condition.

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We have had conversations about other swords appraised by Mr. Fimio.  Unfortunately, he was apparently simultaneously a dealer and an appraiser, which can raise obvious issues.  I suggest that you judge the sword without relying greatly on the appraisal by the "Master".  

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Also, worth noting that insurance values/appraisals often are/should generally be ABOVE what the retail market will bear, and are not the right barometer for deal making or negotiation. 
 

To clarify what others mean to say re: the current attribution, they are trying to confirm if the blade has gone through an actual NTHK shinsa, which is not the same as having an opinion from a member of the committee. In any case, for “ubu/signed” Koto work I’d much prefer a NBTHK kanteisho.


And ubu at 71cm seems short to me for the time period you hope for. 
 

And I agree with Brian 100%. 
 

But photos will be helpful!

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Hello again all, 

 

Thank you so much to everyone for your responses thus far. I will be getting into contact with @b.hennick ASAP to discuss this. 

 

I may have done a poor job of explaining the sword's appearance properly. I have been doing this only five years. In any case, I now have pictures that will be worth much more than my clumsy attempts for the senior members here. I will use an exterior link, as the file size is too large. 

 

NOTE: These are not ideally lit, but they should allow them members to judge for themselves and especially for  @Rivkin to confirm that this is the sword he is familiar with. I do not have a picture of the Nakago, but having examined it very carefully in person, I can confirm that the old nakago picture I provide here is exactly the same in terms of nakagojiri, the shape of the Yukimitsu signature, the placement of the mekugi-ana, and the overall shape. I await with gratitude the considerations of those here more knowledgeable than I. 

 

https://imgur.com/a/C67h1oP

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Its a different sword, but if this is the actual nakago shape, its nowhere close to Nambokucho. This is indeed Kaga Yukimitsu, but a very late generation, and the blade is in poor condition. Its more like 1,500-2,000 sword. A very rough work, hard to say without seeing the entire sword, but such rough delaminating masame was practiced mostly by the Tembun (1520) generation or about.

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27 minutes ago, Rivkin said:

Its a different sword, but if this is the actual nakago shape, its nowhere close to Nambokucho. This is indeed Kaga Yukimitsu, but a very late generation, and the blade is in poor condition. Its more like 1,500-2,000 sword. A very rough work, hard to say without seeing the entire sword, but such rough delaminating masame was practiced mostly by the Tembun (1520) generation or about.

 

Thanks Kirill, that follows my growing suspicion that this is a later Muromachi sword. 

In any case, I have been disabused of the notion that any appraisal papers from Mr. Fimio are worth the paper they're printed on. Clearly, there are sharks in every ocean some bigger and more deceiving than others. 

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All the lines in this blade appear rounded. I can't see the yokote line at all. There is pitting and some rust + the mentioned blister. The blade might take a polish but I do not think the restorations costs will ever be recovered. The tang certainly points to Kaga. I do not think that there is much to be learned from the blade in its present condition. Check the blades for sale on messageboard. I have seen some very well priced good blades.

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Hello all, 

 

In case anyone was still concerned, I will certainly not be purchasing this blade. I will continue to save my extra income and keep an eye out for a good "next-step-up" blade of the sort I want. A warm thanks to everyone here who advised me on this matter. 

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I hate to beat on the same drum, but have you taken a few CAD & invested in one or two good reference books to study?

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On 1/13/2021 at 9:28 PM, Ken-Hawaii said:

I hate to beat on the same drum, but have you taken a few CAD & invested in one or two good reference books to study?

 

Hi Ken, yes, I own many of the recommended english-language books and the two-volume softcover Hawley editions. I don't lack for reading on the subject, but I have not yet had a chance to examine very many good quality blades directly. Hopefully as the dreaded plague eases up I will be able to follow up some of my contacts in the local sword societies and attend some shows. As many people have pointed out, there is clearly no substitute for practicing and learning to make judgements in person. 

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