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

Bob M.

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Item No. 120 - Copper tsuba with copper , shibuichi and gold inlays   7.93 cm x 7.18 cm x 0.46 cm


Subject of falling Ginko leaves by Ford Hallam 16 years ago.


On the carved copper tsuba there are inlays of three different copper alloys and two alloys of shibuichi - the gold highlights applied by fire gilding.



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Item No. 121   Kozuka in brass with silver and gold , shibuichi , shakudo and copper inlays.


Subject of eels and water plants . Signed Kurowa Katsutoshi + kao ,  late 1700s ? Can anybody find a school for this artist ? Haynes no. H02906 ?


Quietly executed subject , two shades of gold plus silver . More to see with a good look than just a glance. Signature and kao confidently applied - almost worth buying for these alone.






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Kurowa Katsutoshi worked in Yashu, Shimotsuke Province and was well known for his sword fittings made in the Mito-school style combined with that of the Tamagawa school.


Is it the same Kozuka ? : https://www.lotsearch.net/lot/attributed-to-kurowa-katsutoshi-late-18th-early-19th-century-inlaid-41209150?page=3&orderBy=lot-startPrice&order=ASC

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Re Item No. 121


Hi Bruno , 


Thanks for the style/school info - does this mean that he was an independant artist do you think ?


You are quite right - the same kozuka . As you will see , I have used their description as the basis of this post.



Hi Thomas ,


Thanks for your post. I had never heard of Shirouo ( or ice goby, as I found out ) before .


This is the beauty of the Forum , there are so many sources of information and experienced , knowledgeable enthusiasts willing to help....





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Re Item No. 121


Looks like the closest fish to the depiction on the kozuka is the Japanese Ice Fish ( Shirauo ) . New one on me also , wonder if the Ice Goby is featured on tosugu anywhere . From the descriptions it would appear to have the same sort of claim to fame.


Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

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Re Item No. 113


Hi Jean ,


Thanks for your post on the ' mirror makers ' piece.


After looking at the information on san-mai tsuba , this does not look like it is in the top 50% quality wise to me . I still think that it would only be good enough to be paperweight , and not for valuable papers at that. Do you have any thoughts ?


Souvenir grade perhaps...




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Item No. 122 - Iron Sukashi Tsuba with gold highlights  7.63 cm x 7.12 cm x 0.40 cm


Subject of Japanese Quince ? in springtime, unsigned - Bushu ?


Nice patina and feel to this tsuba that a photo cannot show . Delicate in detail and hopeful in spirit .  




Item No. 123 - Brass Mokko Tsuba 7.63 cm x 7.14 cm x 0.80 cm ( 0.93 cm over rim )


Subject of dragons - five in total - four of them with a split tail also clouds and lightning . Mumei , attributed to Hirado Kunishige 18th cent.


This is a real bruiser of a tsuba weighing in at 194grams ( 6.75 oz ) . Featuring carved side panels and split tailed dragons that I do not recall seeing before . The piece has evidence of being mounted on several occasions - but why so heavy ?  






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Item No. 124  Iron Tsuba with gold details   8.41 cm x 8.06 cm x 0.59 cm


Subject of landscape with lake , mountains, boats and buildings. Mumei - Kaneie revival ?


Possibly been mounted - the Nakago Hitsu-ana has been opened out at some time and the sekigane look old - but this could have been done to add a feeling of age to the piece . On the other hand ....    And I know that I am fence sitting here.



Item No. 125  Fuchi kashira in Shibuichi with silver and gold


Subject of young boys squabbling over a game of Go . Signed Chikayuki - Hamano School.


On the kashira , looks as if the boy on the right ( with the hair ) is getting aggressive towards the others , who combine to chase him off on the fuchi . Is this actually a tale or a scene from real life ? One of the lads has a rather elaborate cap in the first scene , but appears to have lost it in the fight .


Lots of detail ,continuing down the sides of the kashira , very hard to photograph.












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Dear Bob, Item 125 shows Karako Asobi (Chinese Children at Play) which came from the ancient tradition of Chinese art of depicting children playing at four pursuits (painting, chess, harp & calligraphy).  This is called kinki shoga in Japanese and was adopted into Japan around the 1400's and became popular in many different types of Japanese art - netsuke, woodblock prints, painting and tosogu.


Here's your Kashira with a popular woodblock print (from the 1700's) - you can see that the composition is identical (hat, hair pulling, grabbing the wrist, etc.).  As you said, the fuchi has the aftermath with two of the children chasing the other whose chonmage (topknot) has been pulled loose.





karako 2.JPG

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Item No. 126   A Tsuba in copper alloy ( sentoku ) with shakudo inlay  8.13 cm x 7.74 cm x 0.36 cm


Subject of oak branches , leaves and acorns in the Umetada style by Ford Hallam about 12 years ago.


A tribute to the Umetada style with finely worked inlays . This can be seen particularly in the veins of the leaves where they finish in a tapered point ( less than 0.2 of a millimetre wide typically ) - simply a tour de force of inlay work. 

The blank started to develop ( or reveal ) a few cracks while being forged ( not uncommon with this alloy ) and Ford has chosen to accentuate these with silver instead of trying to hide them . They seem to have no effect on the integrity of the piece itself which rings like a bell when struck.



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Sorry about lack of new postings - having big technical problems at present .Hopefully will get sorted in the next week or so.


Brian , I did reply to your earlier pm , don't know if you received it or not.



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Dear Bob.


First , thank you for sharing your collection with us, I have really enjoyed seeing them and I know that many others will have as well.


As we are now up to item 126 I am late to the party but....


Your tsuba no. 104, the antlers and insect theme.  I have just been reading the wonderful, "Late Edo and Meiji Sword Guards and Fittings" catalogue form the Sannenzaka Museum and came across a mitokoromono with the same theme and the explanation which reads, "The two Chinees characters for 'bee' and 'deer' can be read 'horoku' in Chinese derived pronunciation and it indicates 'promotion' or 'success'. The design had been favoured as one of auspicious designs since old days". (sic.)


I knew the design from previous examples but had not realised the significance, as must inevitably be the case with so much Japanese art.


All the best.

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Hopefully the technical issues are sorted - the computer ' doctor ' has departed , with money bulging in his pockets , muttering about software that could have been used to design the pyramids and hardware that would grace a museum display. We shall see how long his efforts give us - and so , on to the next fitting -


Item No. 127  Iron Tsuba with copper and brass inlay  8.34 cm x 8.30 cm x 0.52 cm


Subject of ume tree and blossoms . Unsigned , late 18th / early 19th cent.


Nicely made piece with a strong ' rustic ' feel . Appears to have been mounted on several occasions . Maybe older than 200 years  - any thoughts ? I have a feeling that there were a few periods when the country look was in vogue , maybe this was from such a time ?


Bought direct from Japan 15 years ago.



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Item No. 128 - Kozuka in shibuichi with gold and copper details


Subject of the sake drinkers ? ( Can't remember their names ) signed Furukawa Genchin.


Father of Jochin , he was a student of Yokoya Somin and was the founder of the Furakawa school.




Edit - Above information incorrect , transposed with the next piece - this should read: Signed Jowa - nephew of Joi , Nara school.


Thanks , George.




Lots of fine detailing , with one of the drinkers appearing to be laughing uproariously while the other seems somewhat the worse for wear.







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Hi George , 


Sorry !  For some reason I had transposed the information with this piece -


Item No. 129 - Kozuka in Shibuichi


Subject of Shishi or Lion Dog - clear to see the Yokoya Somin connection.


Signed Furakawa Genchin , founder of Furukawa School , father of Jochin.




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Hi Everybody ,


The Thread has now come to a point where we have a number of mainly mumei ,unattributed & sukashi iron tsuba . I have been wondering how to present these and if it is best to just carry on in the normal way , or have a bit of a blitz on them and post maybe three or four at a time over the next 3-4 weeks .


Ideas as to school or age , or indeed , meaning would be much appreciated - maybe something for the Iron Masters out there ?


Thoughts / comments anyone ?



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