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Professor Zhirinovsky

New Shishi Shakudo Tsuba

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Novice purchase here. 

I'd intended to buy an inexpensive but nice-enough entry-level quality tsuba for the civilian-mounted Showato I'm using as a learner piece. This was inexpensive and I liked the shishi imagery, but of course it was visibly flawed. In the photographs it looked to be rather lower-quality than it looks in-hand. Now I can actually see it with my eyeballs, I'm reconsidering using it because I think it might be too nice for the blade. I assume it is genuine; it has the look and feel of quality, but again...novice judgment.

It does have a couple of issues. It has some wear, scratches, and couple of light dings. It also has a very small rim crack at the 6-o'clock position, mostly visible on the blade-side. Maybe this is why it went unsigned? How bad does this hurt it in terms of appreciation value?

Also, it is 7 cm wide...I know sizes vary, and at times smaller tsuba on katana came into fashion, but I don't know if this is such a piece. Maybe intended for a larger wakizashi?

I've got a set of matching themed fuchi-kashira on the way, but right now I'm inclined to just leave these off the sword and just keep them as they are. Maybe set them aside for a nicer sword in the future. 

Opinions?

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Craig,

there must be a reason that nobody responds. I find it difficult to give a relevant assessment.

At first sight, your TSUBA looks late but o.k. to me. But then, I have an uneasy feeling about the execution which in some places looks a bit too much rounded and smooth. Maybe that is different when you hold it in hand, and with the use of a magnifying glass, you should be able to see the TAGANE traces more clearly than I can see them on the photos.  
The crack is a severe issue in my opinion, and others may judge if the alloy used is really SHAKUDO (or blackenend copper).   

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Hi Craig ,

 

Mount this on your sword , leave it for a few days and then decide.

 

The problem is that sometimes you see too much  , the previous modifications for other blades , scratches , loss of patina , etc etc. Once mounted , a lot of this will be concealed and the tsuba will look a lot calmer and less ' busy '.

 

I have always believed that a piece that looks better in the hand than in a photo is the right way to go and , if it enhances the blade and / or its other mountings then great !

 

Regards

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Thanks Jean and Bob! All of this is learning experience for me, so any input, even based on personal opinion and privately-held value, is worth something to me. 

For my part, I can only judge the craftsmanship by my limited experience, having never held more genuine tsubas in my hand than there are fingers on that hand <does quick count>, "yup, six." At this early stage, I would hardly know tagane if it hit me in the face; all I can say for magnification is that the lines themselves have crisp sharp edges, and include intentionally-placed details that I wouldn't otherwise notice (the tiny dimpled texturing on the shishi's paw pads, for example, totally escaped me until I looked at them under a looking-glass, just now). 

Assuming the crack is a true issue of some degree that will forever bar it from the upper shelves of a collection, and on Bob's suggestion that doing so isn't completely idiotic, I think I'll put this back in the Mounting Option A category, and wait until the fuchi-kashira arrive to decide once and for all. 

I'm just trying to be careful here; I'm cognizant of the limitations of the blade I'm working with, and trying to make sure that what I build is honest for the period, circumstances, and economics of it's original owner. I don't want to be the kid that couldn't afford a real sports car, so he buys a Honda Civic and then tacks on a bunch of high-priced aftermarket crap.
 

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The crack had me intrigued for a moment, wondering how it had formed. Obvious that when the Ten-zogan was put in, the punch was applied too hard. If this is the case it is a construction issue not a later fault or accident. [ I  can hear the scream of the maker when it happened! ]

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I thought this might be the case too, or that maybe the hole wasn't quite wide enough when the inlay was hammered in. I assume this would have been nearly the last thing done...and so after all that work, the maker just left it unsigned. 

Fortunately it is really only very visible on the blade-side. It doesn't really go too far into the obverse, and where it does it is camouflaged by the shishi's feet.

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3 hours ago, Professor Zhirinovsky said:

I'm just trying to be careful here; I'm cognizant of the limitations of the blade I'm working with, and trying to make sure that what I build is honest for the period, circumstances, and economics of it's original owner. I don't want to be the kid that couldn't afford a real sports car, so he buys a Honda Civic and then tacks on a bunch of high-priced aftermarket crap.

 

Okay, -usually I ignore threads like this-  ...

but your are from Eugene OR and I've had a good day.

 

So:  short version. Get up to Portland and try to see if RKG can show you some good stuff. Maybe some day Haynes and E. Long will be open to a show n tell picnic once this Covid is more in the rear view mirror.

You have some very fine tsuba collections within spitting distance from you. I forget how long it took me from Eugene to Portland, but it was a heck lot easier when the in-laws lived there than when they lived in Coos Bay.

 

You are off to a decent start, but don't buy tsuba that are this badly cracked. A small crack at a thin sukashi point, or an oxidation crack from age => it happens. Sometimes it has its own beauty. This one is more like a broken front tooth on an otherwise decent looking person. Too much front n center. I did like your Honda Civic comment, having once lived on a street where the kids would friday night race their cars with a bunch of high priced after market crap tacked on.

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Thanks Curran. Not sure who those folks you're referring to are, but I'm hoping to get a better opportunity to see some stuff in 2022, when the Oregon Knife Collector's Association does its show in Eugene. They usually have a number of nihonto tables; in the past I didn't have enough knowledge to do anything but briefly "ooh! aah!" at them. By the time this Covid thing is done, I hope to have a better grasp of what I'm looking at.

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2022! Why not go to the San Francisco Japanese Sword show this August? It’s the largest in the US and there’ll be plenty if temptations.

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San Fran is a bit far of a drive from Eugene and an awkward flight, unless things have changed in recent years.

 

Still, he is in a fairly good place to start learning. Both San Fran and Portland have some A+ grade collections, which it might take a few years to appreciate some of the pieces you may see.

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12 hours ago, Curran said:

it might take a few years to appreciate some of the pieces you may see.

That is one of the best pieces of advice aslo collectors should take to heart. 

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