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What’s wrong with German resellers

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If he even actually sold it for the prices. What I find hard to believe.
But whether or not, I would be more than embarrassed.
He didn't even bother to remove the spelling mistakes from Tsuruta's text. And that he has the copy right of Tsuruta, I don't believe that either.

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The whole shop is muppet show. Low quality every where and the owner has no clue what he is writing about. But on the other hand it seems he sell that crap stuff 😂


If it works why not?

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I think Nihonto world has a much larger hidden problem - its aversion to auctions means most higher grade items are being sold privately for unknown prices. Which means potential for huge fluctuations and no clear guidance on how much what is worth.

I knew a sword which a collector sold in the US for 70k to a dealer, dealer sold it to another dealer for 120, he sold it to a collector for 250. How much would he get if he were to sell it today? Who knows. There are quite a few higher end dealers supposedly selling for investment, whose goods are one way ticket. You physically can't recover what you paid.

We already saw collapse of TJ level items by 25-50% across the board in 2000s, and will likely see another one sooner or later.



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No, every sword is at best what you get in the market if you have to sell it again!
@Kirill: a sword that originally cost 70K, and later increased in sales value, must have had a certain quality and level. People who spend that money on a blade like this should know what they are doing.

Collectors who are currently bidding up for the Muramasa from 1.45 million yen to 2.0 million yen at Aoi must also know what they are doing. Even if I cannot understand that, because a name and not quality is offered here.

But if someone pays 15K for an unsigned, suriage Shinto Takada, I'm convinced they don't know what they did.
And that's what this scene suffers from. How many times have I seen someone proudly present a sword for which they paid insane money. And then you don't know how to gently teach him that he was basically betrayed. That the sword is nowhere near the market value. And then there is bad blood, hardened fronts and certain people to be avoided ...

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I think it is understandable that dealers & resellers need to make profit in order to keep doing what they do. I know it might be bit harsh but I will personally put a lot of responsibility to buyer too. Why are you buying something, if you don't know what you are buying?


That being said we have a great board in here where people can ask for assistance, many clubs & communities around the world, other good places in the Internet too where you can ask for help. I do think people might often be afraid that if they post something someone will snatch it in front of them. While that is of course a possibility I still think it will be better to ask if feeling uncertain than to jump in to what might be too deep water.


I know many people like auctions and on the other hand I am personally not a big fan of them. I much prefer the current field where you mostly see items in the hands of other collectors or dealers. As I don't actively buy or sell items the initial price won't matter that much as long as it feels good for me. I would much rather pay a "premium" on an item I like than get better deal on an item that I don't like. Of course the higher you go the financial risk will be higher, just losing 10% of value is quite a bit more drastic if the item is 10x the price.

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My point is a tad bit different. How do we "know" the buyer of shinto Takada made a "mistake"? We have Aoi Art website which lists thousands of swords together with the prices they went for.

A unique feature, which by itself made Aoi Art quite popular, but also extremely hated by many dealers. They are tired of telling their customers that their Sue Sa is much better than the one on Aoi Art and that's why it costs more. They can't openly say Aoi Art is a relatively affordable place and its unfair to compare its prices against someone who invested decades of labor into cultivating the image of a true expert in charge of a unique boutique. Most of all, such singular price record prevent quite a few swords from appreciating. If it says out there the sword was sold for million yen twenty years ago, it's what people will want to pay for it today.

And that's part of a greater problem - nihonto does not have more or less transparent price formation, almost all deals being done privately. Its not suitable for real investments, as even the most experienced dealers simply don't have the full price dynamics on their hands. Compare it to fine art market where you get lists of virtually all sales for the past century, because 90% of it goes through public auctions. Unless you deal with once a lifetime find, you can reasonably guess the acceptable valuation for an auction of certain level, and going from there can guess a retail value as well.

But  when you buy an expensive nihonto at best your guidance is about some friend who sold something similar for say 20% more, and generally knowing such swords are "in demand". When you decide to sell it, suddenly it turns out to be much more complicated. Its great if you bought a sword for life. But as an investment nihonto I feel plainly is a bad option. The market is too opaque to have a comfortable long term prognosis.


Otherwise I am in the camp "blame it on the buyer". I can't imagine selling anything without inspection period, even if its not specified outright, unless its outright specified not to be the case.

But after that, its on the buyer. That's more freedom than you get in a stock market.




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I think here in Europe we have quite high prices in overall for Japanese swords. Sadly I must confess that I look European dealer offerings less and less as I feel you can get much better quality for the money from Japan (note that this does not include unique high end items). It is just a personal observation. I understand multiple factors that go into making these items available in for the public here where there is relatively quite little demand.


Might have been bit harsh on my comments about putting most of the risk for the buyer but basic research should be fairly easy and recommended if someone is investing 10,000€+ on a sword. Just typing Fujiwara Takada and/or 藤原高田 to Google will get you results you can start going through. You'll probably find multiple Fujiwara Takada attributed swords being sold at any given moment in Japan. Then if you decide to dig bit deeper you can dig up some of the sold ones too.


I know I have tracked the prices for the swords relevant for my interests for several years, and I believe (and know) many others do similar things. Unfortunately I haven't really looked into swords like the one in the example as they fall outside my interests but I can say without even looking deeply to it that 400,000 yen (c.3,200€) that Aoi has it for is reasonable for NBTHK papered mumei katana with koshirae. However 15,700€ (c.2,000,000 yen) Is not a reasonable price at all for that particular sword in my opinion.


The sword seems to have old NBTHK papers to Yoshimitsu (賀光) which would mean a Muromachi Bizen attribution. Seems like it was fairly recently put through the new shinsa where they gave the current attribution. While bit harsh comment I don't feel it has financially too much difference if the sword is mumei Muromachi Yoshimitsu 賀光 or mumei Fujiwara Takada 藤原高田 from early Edo period.


Kirill I agree on your view that Japanese swords are not a good investment. I feel they should be collected because of the passion for them, and not stressing too much on the monetary value (of course that is totally unreasonable in real life as they are expensive luxury items). I cannot comment on comparisons for different fields of fine art as I have 0 interest in them. However I would assume (maybe wrongly) that those involved with for example extremely expensive paintings are also doing research and not just buying expensive stuff as it has been sold by huge amount previously?


I personally think Aoi Art is fairly good sword shop. 1 of my 2 swords is from them and I am very happy with the deal I got from them. Made me feel like I "beat" the market, while in reality they of course made profit too and I got a feeling of great deal. So total win - win situation. Of course they deal with huge number of items and there is very large variety in quality. You can get very good deals and you can get less favorable ones (of course lot of that is opinion based).


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translation from his site


"Imported from BladeShop from Tokyo Japan on October 2020 with NBTHK Hozon papers and NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho papers."

So aoiart price is not that old in this case.

He use aoi description and only left the little negative tsuba part. Also saying he can provide better picture what i assume would be also from aoi.

I check the nihonto he sold from time to time and thats not the first one but the first that rise like bitcoin in price.

Ofc he always took a few thousand € what is ok, not selling them every day.


His shop is sponsored at google always at first or second place when you search for something "katana" related, so he wont be suffering.

Maybe someone without knowledge buying something for so much money wont suffer from it too.


For some people that can not read english or Japanese and trust their friendly german seller its hard to find information.

Even for the nihonto is an investment guys thats a bad thing. To increase the real price their must be a higher demand and you wont grow enthusiasm by taking advantage of the newbie knowledge.

The people who think this is a hobby should think what other hobbys cost ? Not making profit is pretty normal for a hobby.

Its hard to belive someone likes something if he wont accept to pay something for it. Driven by their next purchase.

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You have my fullest agreement, Christian. Many here have obviously also already been born as experts. No one started small and had to trust what the seller told him.
Even if hardly anyone here can imagine it, there are definitely people who do not know Japanese and English, who do not trust themselves to make a purchase on the other side of the world, who do not know how to get the purchase through customs.  When I started in 1990 there was no internet, literature mainly in Japanese. If you could not see swords in person, you had to rely on photos and descriptions. My first purchase in Japan had to be made via postal money order. The postal worker had no idea how to do it. It took a week for the payment to arrive in Japan. 
Today, many things are so much better. There is plenty of literature, the Internet, forums, and any housewife with a credit card can buy anything in the world with one click.
And although so much knowledge is so readily available, many are too lazy to study it. Whether here in the forum or on Facebook, there are constantly new topics like "please information ..." and bad photos to go with it.
It is also so much easier this way than to do research yourself.
I am convinced that the buyer was not an expert. Perhaps a martial artist who wanted to fulfill the dream of a historical original and has long saved up for it. Clearly, from your point of view, the dealer did everything right if he made such a profit.
But personally, I would never buy anything from this dealer again.



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