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First purchase, Help with Mei?


NihontoNoledge
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Hi everyone. 

I made my first foray into traditionally made blades. I have a machine made kaigunto but this kaigunto was pretty hard to pass up. I know just a little but i recognized it as ( What I think) is a very well made blade. I posted it on some facebook groups but i always find that specialized forums are the best for this sort of thing.  Anyways, heres the sellers description of the item as I purchased it recently.  Please check out the Mei as theres some questions if its legit. I paid approx 2750$. hopefully ive done well. 

 

Up for sale is a Japanese samurai sword in WW2 navy officer kai gunto mounts.
This sword was probably never taken into combat, as can be seen from the excellent, completely intact ray skin on the scabbard. This specimen is in the finest condition I've seen for kai gunto mounts, and even comes with the original tassel. I purchased this sword directly from a sword dealer in Japan.
The blade is from the koto era, and is made by the Bizen smith Sukesada, as shown on the nakago. The temper line is nice and active as you would expect from this Bizen smith.
The blade has a 21.0" cutting edge. The sakihaba is 0.75", and the motohaba is 1.25".
Don't miss your chance to own such a pristine kai gunto sword with a blade that was made about 500 years ago.

entire sword .jpg

Tip 1.jpg

Tip 2 .jpg

Side 1 .jpg

Side 2 .jpg

Side again .jpg

mei.jpg

Kaigunto apart .jpg

Kaigunto end .jpg

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Sukesada (祐定) is an accurate reading for the mei. Hard to say if this is from the koto era.

There are many, many Sukesadas, and even more fakes. 

But this blade looks good for a first purchase. Caveat for the crack in the shinogi-ji.

Even with the crack, I think I would prefer to have purchased this sword for my first purchase, rather than the dog I ended up with. 

 

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I know you took a beating on FB. But the fact is you got a Naval Kai Gunto which usually contains an arsenal factory blade, but got one with an old handforged blade. The mei isn't too significant. But a wartime sword with an old blade in fairly decent condition....you didn't do terribly.  The tassel is worth $150 or so. The sword is genuine. So whilst $2750 isn't cheap...and maybe a little bit high, you didn't get robbed, didn't get a Chinese fake, and now have something that is partly modern WW2, and partly a few hundred years old. Not the worst deal we've seen. Enjoy it.

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I am not sure why this should have gained a negative reaction on FB (but then again so much does without real justification) But I am of much the same opinion as Brian.

You have an authentic, traditionally made blade, dating I would guess from between 1450 and 1550. While not a national treasure it is competently made and appears to be in good condition without obvious flaws. I am no expert in Showa mounts but these appear to be good quality and condition.

While I don't think you got a bargain I don't think you paid way over the odds for the sword. It looks to be an honest work and to be honest far better than 90%+ of the first purchases most of us have made in the past 

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Thanks everyone. I have a machine made blade in Kaigunto mountings and that is a 2000$ sword because of the rarity of IJN high grade mountings. you can get the laquer sets far cheaper but to find a real traditional blade in high grade mounts means that the actual cost of just the blade was around 700$. Im happy to have this as a first and its opened the door to a ton of research and learning about these ancient blades! 

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Well, I had several "well known" people tell me it was a 500$ purchase, I should return it and hang my head in eternal shame. Im not looking to flip this or make a big sum of cash, I just wanted a ancient blade, that fell in my budget and had great history. To that end, I feel vindicated and will have to take this to a panel to see if I can get papers. If I cant get it papered, Ill see if I can have the mei struck and then papered. Not everyone can afford 10,000$ -200,000$ rung so this is great for me. 

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Hi J.W.

You can take this to shinsa and you will get a paper, but the paper will say Sukesada, which you already know, so why bother?  Depending on the group doing the shinsa they might specify a period of manufacture but it will be late Koto (16th century), which you already know, so why bother?  Save your money for study and swords; in this case a paper makes no sense.

Grey

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Hi Grey, I was told that its a "Chickenscratch gimei" and at that one of the worst they had seen. Because it was Gimei, One person said they wouldnt even buy it under 500$. The second person is an admin on that facebook page and so naturally I felt pretty awful when I heard that but despite overpaying a little I wont be returning this. I have also been told thta the board will not paper a gimei blade which i believe to be true. 

 

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Whoever said the price should have been $500 or $700 is a knucklehead and either had NO idea about the market or is intentionally trying to create controversy.  If that is his idea of proper pricing, I think we all need to track him down and buy some swords from HIM!  We'd get some great swords at unbelievable prices!

 

You have a fabulous kaigunto in excellent condition with a gorgeous ancient blade - puts it in the top end of market price - which BTW has rebounded to pre-COVID conditions and even higher than before.

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Hi,

 

My first blade was also a sukesada for the same price as you, similar age and signature. I bought it from a local dealer and yes most probably the price was higher than it would have been from a collector.

 

The polish of mine is not great, my own assumtion, and would love to have it re-polished.  Still Clueless if it as good as the dealer and paper tells or of it just a mass produced crap sword. Looks to have battle scars so it didnt break , nice sword. I like it and keeps it so far until I know more. 

 

 

 

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👍 you are not alone to take a dive of a cliff. So if you have a inspection time, have a look at it. If it feels good then keep it. Otherwise there are good people on this board that can help you. Grey as an example had a very nice katana for sale recently,   https://www.japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com/store/swords/q452-large-ubu-katana-higo-nobukatsu-kanzan-sayagaki

 

Take your time 👍

 

I was like a need to buy it but already spent enough this month.

 

 

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1 hour ago, NihontoNoledge said:

What is the top end of market price? again, Its not really about price but Im just trying to get an idea.

 

I  (knowingly) bought a late koto Bizen wakizashi with a gimei in a shirasaya from a US dealer and board member for $1,100 IIRC. It’s in similar condition to yours and is a similar length. 
 

I’d guess $800 to $1,200 as the ball park for a generic low end blade in a storage scabbard but it might be wider. Obviously,  yours has the fittings which ups the value and attractiveness as a package a great deal. 

 

Just to repeat others’ comments, you’ve done fine and better than most on their first outing. 

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14 hours ago, SteveM said:

Sukesada (祐定) is an accurate reading for the mei. Hard to say if this is from the koto era.

There are many, many Sukesadas, and even more fakes. 

But this blade looks good for a first purchase. Caveat for the crack in the shinogi-ji.

Even with the crack, I think I would prefer to have purchased this sword for my first purchase, rather than the dog I ended up with. 

 

Others have said its ware from forging, Not neccesarily a crack. but I have no idea

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I wouldn't knock some of the guys on that FB page. I respect some of them for their knowledge and level of collections. Frankly, if I had the funds and a nice collection and papered and polished swords arriving regularly, I would also look down on your sword. We also get accused of being elitist and condescending sometimes. It's what happens when you push for the best constantly. Don't hold it too much against them.
Given the option of advising you beforehand, I would have also said no. And the sword is certainly not a great Koto or worthy of polish and papers imho. They are right that to proper Nihonto collectors, this isn't something exciting. But I also stated that you didn't do terribly and man have done worse. I don't want people to start acting as though this is something sought after either. It is what it is, and we hope you enjoy it. Your next one will be far better I expect.

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Makes a ton of sense. And I certainly tried not to knock anyone there, Although the thread was certainly a mess. I appreciate everyones help, Including negative comments. Im learning. So I do not know it all. as a matter of fact. I know almost nothing. I really need to study and continue learning. 

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A reminder in case you didn't know. Gimei just means some smith or someone put the name of someone else on it at some point. There are many reasons for doing so (check the FAQ in the Nihonto Info section above) and it could have been done at the time of making or later. It does NOT make the sword fake, and in many cases doesn't affect the quality of the sword much) and it does not make a $2K sword worth $500. Judge the sword by the work, not the name. There are apparently more gimei swords out there than shoshin.

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Great points Brian, and thank you. The swords in high grade IJN fittings that are machine stamped sell regularly for around 2000$ (again if they are the high grade rayskin, not the low grade wood laquer) I think thats the majority of the value in this package as mentioned by others. I think I got what I was looking for with this info and still feel comfortable knowing all of this vs what I paid. 

 

Out of curiosity, If its legitimatley signed and not a gimei, Does that change things on value? I am looking through signatures to find if there happens to be a match 

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1 hour ago, NihontoNoledge said:

Great points Brian, and thank you. The swords in high grade IJN fittings that are machine stamped sell regularly for around 2000$ (again if they are the high grade rayskin, not the low grade wood laquer) I think thats the majority of the value in this package as mentioned by others. I think I got what I was looking for with this info and still feel comfortable knowing all of this vs what I paid. 

 

Out of curiosity, If its legitimatley signed and not a gimei, Does that change things on value? I am looking through signatures to find if there happens to be a match 

There are over 60 smith that use the name sukesada from bizen.

Your blade looks like like what others here call a "mass produced crap sword" dont take this too serious. Again others say that this swords are better for battle because they are less likely to break. 

There are different types of Mei Sukesada smiths in Koto times used. 

The Niji mei could mean it was made before they changed to the "bishu osafune sukesada" mei for not ordered swords or that it is one of the mass produced sengoku battle blades named Katzu uchi mono. 

After seeing the pictures on my computer screen, earlier i was using my phone, i think 2nd is the case.

So it is nearly impossible to say wich sukesada made your sword.

 

The other case would be that you have an ordered blade where the smith signed with his real name.

Here i have a nice read for you 

http://www.sho-shin.com/sue5.htm

 

I want to say again that the term "mass produced"  in this case have nothing in common with what we use it today for.

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22 minutes ago, DoTanuki yokai said:

There are over 60 smith that use the name sukesada from bizen.

Your blade looks like like what others here call a "mass produced crap sword" dont take this too serious. Again others say that this swords are better for battle because they are less likely to break. 

There are different types of Mei Sukesada smiths in Koto times used. 

The Niji mei could mean it was made before they changed to the "bishu osafune sukesada" mei for not ordered swords or that it is one of the mass produced sengoku battle blades named Katzu uchi mono. 

After seeing the pictures on my computer screen, earlier i was using my phone, i think 2nd is the case.

So it is nearly impossible to say wich sukesada made your sword.

 

The other case would be that you have an ordered blade where the smith signed with his real name.

Here i have a nice read for you 

http://www.sho-shin.com/sue5.htm

 

I want to say again that the term "mass produced"  in this case have nothing in common with what we use it today for.

 

Great info. Heres a High res shot. Still not a ton better but its better than the last. 

Mei 2 .jpg

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