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A series of fittings ( or how not to build a collection )

Bob M.

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Re Item No.86


Some photos of the box as featured .


This is made from over 1000 year old Japanese Cedar and still has the classic cedar fragrance.


I understand that trees of this sort of age are classified in a similar way to ancient monuments. It is illegal to use any wood from them unless it is as a result of storm loss or natural death.


This means that the wood is greatly sought after...






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re #35 signed shigeyoshi


Here's some more, signed: 'YAMASHIRO KUNI JU UMETADA SHIGEYOSHI' and another Umetada Shigeyoshi... I get the impression from Haynes and Long that there were several Shigeyoshi at Umetada:  regarding the image on the left "Which Shigeyoshi this is, we do not know."




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Item No. 87 - Iron Tsuba with shakudo , gold and silver inlay 7.15 cm x 6.90 cm x 0.52 cm , 0.90 over inlay


Subject of the sea and beneath showing an octopus and a grouper type fish under the waves . Early 19th cent. ?


Very difficult to see and photograph , but there are numerous silver dot inlays spread amongst the waves , the octopus and grouper both in a lustrous black shakudo.


Acquired 3-4 years ago as part of a larger auction lot.



Item No. 88 - Iron Tsuba with brass inlay  6.85 cm x 6.56 cm 0.39 cm


Subject of vine leaves and tendrils on a hammered ground . Tendrils possibly gilt.  17th/18th cent ?


Heianjo type tsuba on relatively thin plate. Inlay appears 100% intact.


Bought at the same auction as Item No. 72 ( buffalo ) , for a pittance - nobody else interested.



Will try to post some better photos on both of these.







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This is a bit like selecting a favorite music track for me this could change every day


The problem I have with your collection is finding one I don't like

I will have a look back over your previous posts but I can't see me coming up with a gold, silver and bronze

What if I asked you which three tosogu you would take if the house was on fire I don't think you could give me an answer and would rather perish in the flames!!!!!!!!


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I like the octopus... don't seem to see that very often. I also really like the 3D depth on that one :thumbsup:

And kuddos on having a 100% complete Heianjo. The dimple-textured plate also seems unusual. 

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Hi Bob,

Reference Tsuba #83, Goto Tsujo

I also have a ‘Goto Tsujo’ shippo tsuba(see pics) that I have posted previously.  Mine came from the Albert Newall collection, a dealer whose collection had been in store for 30 years after his death.  I have also found several other examples on the internet, so a popular design.  The Ashmolean museum has one (Church Collection EAX.10899, shibuichi, misidentified as ‘Mitsunaga (probably not Tsujo)’.  The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has another (11.5433,shibuichi) and one was up for sale at Bonhams, NY recently (24 Sep 2020, lot 966, brown patina but described as shakudo).

Points of interest are:

The colour of your pics appears to be shakudo (as you stated), but the other examples have a brown colouration (mostly based on photos) and appear to be shibuichi.

The kanji and kao on the examples appear to differ in detail, so are some fakes, student works or just variations with time?  I’m not expert enough to judge.  I just take the view that any tsuba that I acquire with a famous signature is likely to be gimei and concentrate on the quality of the workmanship.

Most people seem to read Goto Tsujo’s personal name as Mitsutoshi however references I have seen stated that Fukushi reads him as Mitsunobu and the Toso Kodogu Koza says that the kanji are commonly read as Mitsutoshi, but Goto documents list him as Mitsunobu with furigana reading aides by his name.  One example I have seen listed has the signature as Goto Mitsutoshi (後藤光壽) and another as Goto Mitsunobu ((後藤光寿).  As the little square at the bottom of the left side of ‘toshi’ appears on one tsuba, but not on the others, perhaps the artist used both names, changing the kanji.  I believe that both forms of the kanji can be read as both ‘toshi’ and ‘nobu’.  Japanese artisans were great at using different names; Tsujo was also known as Shirobei, Gennojo and Mitsuo according to Sesko.

Stats of my tsuba: Height: 7.05 cm.  Width: 6.65 cm. Thickness (rim):  0.35 cm.  Weight: 152 g

Best regards, John


Hi Bob, the titles on my pics for your tsuba #83 do not seems to have copied over.  They are: 1. My tsuba  2. My signature.  3. Boston, 4 Boston signature.  5. Church Collection.  6. Bonhams . 







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Hi Bob, the titles on my pics for your tsuba #83 do not seems to have copied over.  They are: 1. My tsuba  2. My signature.  3. Boston, 4 Boston signature.  5. Church Collection.  6. Bonhams .  Regards, John

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Hi John ,


Re Item No. 83 - looks like your tsuba and #83 could be a daisho pair between them .


To me there is some variation in quality with the other examples you have posted , most obviously in the Boston and Bonhams where there is some misalignment of the punches - not great perhaps but noticable.


Interesting research on the man behind the signatures - possibly a fitting that needs to go to shinsa.


Thanks !


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Hi Bob,

You could be right about your tsuba No. 83 and mine being a daisho pair.  By a strange coincidence my tsuba is number 84 in my collection!


best regards, John

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Item No. 89 - Kozuka in shibuichi , with gold , copper and shakudo


Subject of a Nio temple guardian in typical pose ,  signed Katsuhira


A well crafted kozuka featuring a ferocious Nio warding off evil spirits . The nanako in regular pattern and spacing , the inlays ( including the teeth ! ) all well executed. Tree engraved to rear.


Bought from auction about seven years ago.












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Re Item No. 89


Have had some discussion  ' off board ' about this piece and the thinking is that it is probably right for workmanship and signature - I was not really expecting this.


Any thoughts or comments from Board Members ?





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Hi Glen ,


Thanks for the link to Darcy's page , I had never seen that tsuba before or the fact that he put a link to the Utsushi video .


This is the bit where I come in, as it was me who commissioned Ford to make a replica of the missing piece and get the process documented for future interested parties to see.


I don't know if you have had a chance to see the documentary , it is only about 25 minutes long - perhaps it is even something that might be worth using in school ?


There is also another video - called Yugen , which documents in a slightly different way , the making of another tsuba with a millet theme. I commissioned that one from Ford several years after the tiger...


Give me a shout if you want or need any more info.




P.S. to find the relevant  videos ( Utsushi parts 1 & 2 ) and Yugen , just go to Ford Hallam's You Tube channel.



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I agree.  I have watched that video more than once - it is magnificent.  Also, you might well have the largest collection of original Hallam work around.  Do you actually own the two tsuba in those videos?  You are a true patron of a great modern artist. 

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