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

Bob M.

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Item No. 158 - Iron Tsuba   8.23 cm x 8.15 cm x 0.53 cm


Subject of horse


Acquired some 13 years ago - partly because it is my birth year sign , partly because I like it...

The thickness varies between 5.3 mm over rim , to 4.5 mm inside the rim  , rising back to 5.3 mm at the seppa dai


My first thoughts with this were that it is like an oversize Yagyu style tending towards Owari.  Any views ?




IMG_1507.JPGApologies - First two pics much too blue...



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Re Item No. 158


Looking at this post  again , I find that in my haste to post this tsuba to the thread , I missed some of the most important facts about it namely , that it is approx. 25 years old  , and is an early example of Ford Hallam's work .


Sorry about this - I was late , going elsewhere , and knew I would not have access to my computer for a few days...

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Item No. 159    Iron Tsuba with brass inlay  7.65 cm x 7.38 cm x 0.45 cm at centre , 0.22 cm at rim.


An intricate mesh pattern in brass , with a couple of small sukashi of chidori ? Unknown age , guess at mid to late 18th cent.


The patient workmaship shown in this piece testifies to the Japanese spirit and will of the skilled craftsman to produce the best that he can. As with many Japanese works , there is a   ' hidden ' treasure that in this case , shows in sunshine or bright light , when flashes of a multi coloured iridescence are seen. The plate has been shaped to show this by thinning down at both the rim and the Seppa Dai.


Purchased direct from a Japanese dealer in mid 2007.



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Dear Bob, 159 looks like very good work.  I think the two sukashi are two Matsukawa-bishi Mon (family mon in the shape of pine bark with three diamonds which stand for reliability, integrity and success).  The inlay looks fantastic.  I've always wondered about the potential for galvanic corrosion when joining metals like brass/copper and iron (even without strong electrical or magnetic fields), so I've asked many "experts" and craftspeople but never received a satisfactory answer...  Your tsuba does not appear to have any such corrosion, so I guess that it's not a problem or they had some way of addressing it.

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Thanks  , everyone for your kind comments.


Re Item No. 159


George , my understanding of the galvanic corrosion effect is that in this case , the brass would tend to cause corrosion in the iron . This would be very limited and slow if the piece is kept dry , much accelerated in the case of damp conditions . There is actually some evidence  , in the form of rough spots , on the tsuba rim of minor iron corrosion . 


Years ago , when I was working for a company installing infrastructure pipelines in the middle east , we used to use large sacrificial anodes of Magnesium on the steel fittings ( tees , bends , reducers etc. ). These would help to give many years of protection to a pipeline especially where there was also the inherent risk of corrosion due to cavitation .

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Item No. 160 - Iron Tsuba  7.46 cm dia x 0.58 cm


Subject of lobster or crayfish ? signed Yamashiro Tadatsugu - could anyone please verify this and also age - looks maybe late edo .


When I look up the name on google , there are various references , some to sword makers , others to tsuba and one to a Christies auction in 2001 for a smaller tsuba by Yamashiro Tadatsugu from back in the 17th cent - cannot see an illustration , though . Could it be the same maker ?


Striking piece with good , almost black , wet look patina . Cannot find any reference to this artist - maybe Haynes has an entry ?


Perhaps caused by an over active imagination after too much coffee , the rear of the tsuba reminds me of the 'face hugger ' from Alien - maybe an early example of Manga in a Tsuba ?



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Hello @Bob M.


Yes the signature on the tsuba is 山城国之住 忠次 

(Yamashiro-kuni-no-jū Tadatsugu)


Wakayama (p.456 of the Japanese version) says this signature (without the 之) belongs to Tadatsugu of the Shōami school, and that this metalworker is from the late Edo period. 


When I do a search on this name, I get some hits from auction sites that suggest the artist is from the Umetada school, but nothing in Wakayama says Umetada. 


The image is an Ise-ebi, which usually translates into English as "spiny lobster". It is a symbol of long life (and therefore good luck).  

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Item No. 161   Iron Tsuba with silver and gold detailing 7.82 cm x 7.58 cm x 0.65 cm


Subject of geese and moon  unsigned , feels mid 19th cent.


Clever design of a popular subject with thin gold lines representing mist or high , thin clouds . The shape of the wings echoed in cloud tops , the whole scene illuminated by a full moon.



Item No. 162   Iron Tsuba with gold detail   7.18 cm x 7.58 cm x 0.45 cm


Subject of Carp leaping above turbulent waters . Signed Eiju with gold seal . 


Acquired 5 years ago as part of a large auction lot.





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Item No. 163   Iron Tsuba with copper    6.22 cm x 5.85 cm x 0.43 cm


Sukashi Tsuba in iron , small wakizashi or tanto size unsigned.


Very nice smaller piece in iron with good carving and finishing. Very dark brown patina in fine condition.


There are four copper inserts to the top and botton of the seppa dai - can anyone suggest a reason why they would be placed where they are ? Whilst being used to seeing linings in the Hitsu ana , I don't know what function these would have performed.



Item No. 164   Iron Tsuba    76.9 cm x 74.8 cm x 0.70 cm


Heavy iron tsuba with beautiful semi gloss patina . Any ideas as to subject matter ?


Attributed as Sado Sanzaemon . NBTHK papered.









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Dear Bob.


I love the Sado tsuba!  The copper inserts on the other one are surely there to 'plump up' the seppa sai to fit a particular koshirae, I havew seen this on one side of the seppa dai before but I think this is the first time I have seen it all round.


All the best.

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Geraint beat me to the punch on BOTH points!


For the first one, you can see someone tried to push out the metal at both ends of the seppadai with a chisel at first, then realized they couldn't stretch it far enough, then resorted to adding in the copper inserts to get a perfect fit.


The Sado one with the cross and four crescent moons is an eye-catcher for sure :thumbsup: Nice patina on it too. Don't know if the motif gets any more complex than what it is at face value.


I also think your Eiju carp and wave tsuba is a nice design that is well carved. 

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Item No. 165    Iron Tsuba with silver and gold highlights   8.45 cm x 7.85 cm x 0.37 cm on plain , 0.56 cm at thickest point.


Subject of old plum tree in spring with blossom just starting to break out. Mumei . 18th Cent. ?


Nicely forged mokko gata plate with good natural feel . The ancient tree is well carved and inlay presented to herald a new beginning to the year.



Item No. 166   Iron Sukashi Tsuba   7.61 cm x 7.57 cm x 0.44 cm


The inner walls of the cutouts are actually chamfers rather than straight sides.


This came with attribution - Ko Shoami Senmen Sukashi  - which would place it as pre Edo ; does this make sense ?










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Dear Bob, I really like the modeling of the tree on 165 too - has a great, ancient feel.  Does 166 have a faint checkerboard pattern or just vertical lines?  I think I remember a very nice tsuba in this shape with a faint checkerboard pattern in one of the famous old collections.  I'll try to find it.  I've been on vacation, so I'm really looking forward to looking back at all the treasures that you've posted while I was away!

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Item No. 167    Iron Tsuba with copper , gold and shibuichi inlay    7.25 cm x 6.93 cm x 0.54 cm


Subject of Kanzan and Jittoku , unsigned , thought to be an early Soten piece , dating to late 18th cent.


An unusual treatment of a common subject with lots of painstaking detail . Another piece that looks far better in hand.



Item No. 168   Iron Tsuba with Brass inlays  9.08 cm x 8.98 cm x 0.34 cm ( over inlay )


Large , thin tsuba with many different brass motifs . This sort of piece is often attributed as Heianjo , but would appear to be Yoshiro dating from the 1500's .


In exceptional condition for its age , a tsuba that rewards some study to appreciate the different elements of inlay ( I count 14 subjects or types ).


Ex Clarence McKenzie Lewis Jr. collection





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Hello All ,


Just a few lines to say that from today onwards  , until the start of the new year , I will be restricting new postings of Tosogu to perhaps one piece at the weekends. This is mainly to do with pressure of work and other commitments at this time of year . I will be restarting ' at full speed ' in early 2022 .


Please keep watching / commenting and help keep this thread alive - Many Thanks !


Best Regards


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Thanks for the support !


First of the weekend offerings - 


Item No. 169   An associated pair of Iron Tsuba with Lead / Shakudo plugs  8.00 cm x 7.94 cm x 0.63 cm  ( Indented Octagon )   &   7.78 cm x 7.60 cm x 0.55 cm  (Straight sided Octagon ).


Two tsuba , presented as a pair , first with lead plugs and arabesque type engraving , the second with ornate Shakudo plugs and engraved pine needles with stamped or engraved ume blossom . Signed Nobuie .  18th/19th cent. ?


Possibly Myochin Nobuie ? Both show evidence of mounting . Even patination.


Anybody hazard a guess as to what we have here ?









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Regarding the tsuba with the thick tree trunk and plum blossoms like #165, they sure come up often...

These must have been a really popular design at some point in the middle and late Edo periods. None of them ever look to be terribly old or rusted much at all, suggesting a more recent production period.

I have yet to see one that is signed, and if there's ever an attribution from the seller, which is very rare in my experience, it has always been stated as Aizu Shoami.

But who knows who made the "original" that then essentially became a tsuba meme to be made individually by so many nameless tsubako.

Don't get me wrong though, most of them are really well done :thumbsup:


Here's a thread form July with a bunch of examples (some unusual one too):


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I don't usually go for later Nobuie works but I love both of these, the octagonal one especially. I would venture these are "Akasaka Nobuie" since they did unusual shaped Hitsu-ana and then plugged them with soft metal. I believe the shape of the ana on the octagonal piece is "Oni-gawara"...


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Second weekend's offerings -


Item no. 170   Iron Tsuba with silver and brass inlays   8.47 cm x 8.00 cm x 0.55 cm  up to 1.09 cm on Rim


Big Tsuba with Nobuie style Kanji , Hitsu Ana as Daikon? Heavy forging to Rim , Signed but indistinct , deep brown patina.




Item No. 171   Iron Tsuba 7.63 cm x 7.33 cm x 0.75 cm


Iron Tsuba very solidly built, very dark , almost black patina . Sado school ?












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Item No. 172   Iron Tsuba 7.48 cm x 7.02 cm x 0.67 cm


Subject of Four Seasons - Akasaka possibly mid to late 18th cent.


Nice subject  , good condition with deep even patina


NBTHK papered



Item No. 173   Brass Tsuba with gold highlights  7.30 cm x 6.83 cm x 0.50 cm


Subject of dragon in clouds , signed by Hirado Kunishige? with kao.


Heavy piece with good carving and detailing. The segment of scaled dragon tail shown on the reverse looks almost silver against the brass background. Also there is what at first looks like a tigers tail included in the image , but this must be from the dragon ?  is it another allusion to the relationship between dragons and tigers ?


Any help pinpointing the likely age of this would be gratefully received - is the artist from Hizen ?





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