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Katana Kurihara Chikuzen nokami NOBUHIDE

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Note that 2.5M is right into the danger zone. Not top tier and rare enough to elicit deep interest by big collectors, not affordable enough to have a exit market. 


Nobuhide, while a respectable jo-jo saku smith, isn't very recognisable either. 

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Thank you! 


As always need to study more 👍


Dangerous price intervall, do the sellers take that into account? 


As usuall when you finally saved up a good chunk you start to glance to the next budget step and then the next budget step... 




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On 6/5/2021 at 10:53 AM, Valric said:

Note that 2.5M is right into the danger zone. Not top tier and rare enough to elicit deep interest by big collectors, not affordable enough to have a exit market. 


Nobuhide, while a respectable jo-jo saku smith, isn't very recognisable either. 

I’m curious can you explain a bit more about being in the danger zone?   I see plenty of juyo priced  close to this in Aoi too.  What are the different segments of pricing as you see it?

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On 6/5/2021 at 4:53 PM, Valric said:

Note that 2.5M is right into the danger zone. Not top tier and rare enough to elicit deep interest by big collectors, not affordable enough to have a exit market. 


Nobuhide, while a respectable jo-jo saku smith, isn't very recognisable either. 

Luckily, I’ve never had enough money to creep into the danger zone. :(

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15 hours ago, Prewar70 said:

I’m curious can you explain a bit more about being in the danger zone?   I see plenty of juyo priced  close to this in Aoi too.  What are the different segments of pricing as you see it?


The ides comes from a dealer who has a nickname "one way ticket".

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I have always wanted a Nobuhide, but they only come up occasionally.   My interest is to find one "in the wild".  I was underbidder on one with okissaki on ebay that looked good.  This sword is a beauty, but I agree that the price is full retail, and more along the lines of what a mounted juyo blade might be at the entry level.

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I agree with what others have said. This blade isn’t going up the NBTHK ladder any further (otherwise it surely would have being in Japan for a long time). So unless you’re head over heels in love with it you can do better. If you love it and you’ve got the scratch no one should judge. 

I have great respect for the proprietor of this shop, but his prices are fully retail on a good day. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

if you plan to resell in 10 or 15 years it's a good buy to admire till you sell later.

I would only suggest the purchase for the love of the sword and your heart felt passion on the maker and the history hence the danger zone.

He or she ...the seller wants top market price or value which is why I stated if you want to buy to sell this will be a long stretch for you. 

Every one including and more so Steve being one of the most knowledgeable and helpful on here has the right idea with todays market.

(enter Top Gun soundtrack here) ....  " You're on a highway to the DANGER ZONE !!!!! "  


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Danger zone refers to the liquidity in the market and the time horizon needed to conclude a sale. Liquidity concentrates at the bottom (0.5-5K blades) and at the top (ultra desirable rarities), the bottom of the ladder of each categories (e.g. "CHEAP" JUYO or "CHEAP" Big Name) and the roulette blade (no papers, green papers, etc). 


The reason for the top categories is that there are a couple of big whales in Japan with museum-level ambitions that will gobble up the top of the inventory of each dealers and leave the rest for them to "sort it out" with broader retail. Sometimes the whale leave something precious behind, sometimes someone doesn't want to deal with the whales, etc. They aren't gentle whales, but rather great whites one could say. 


At the bottom you have constant demand due to the collectors who focus on having a lot of blades and new entrants in the hobby. There will always be a market there. This is self-explanatory. 


Then you have the bargain seekers who see a Juyo blade for 1.5M yen and think it's mispriced and will jump on it immediately. Often the blade in question will end up being something like a Juyo 21 Yamato Shikkake Wako which is fugly and unremarkable overall, with no chance of passing Juyo today. Cheap Juyo is a very liquid market in the West because what you're doing is essentially sending signals that you're undercutting Tsuruta, and since everyone uses Tsuruta for price discovery, it works very well and sells fast. 


Danger zone is when you're not anywhere near any of these three categories. A good shinto smith like Nobuhide with TH paper is right into the danger zone. Too expensive for new entrants, too expensive for the bargain cheap juyo hunters, and undesirable by the whales. The only way out is to flush is by taking a substantial loss, or sell it on consignment and wait for eons. 


The roulette blades also appeal to a broad range of bargain hunters. In some cases, it's even advantageous to toss the hozon (small name) in the bin and to put up the green papers (BIG NAME) in the auction alongside with some dubious old provenance to get the apes to gamble. Especially for things like HIROMITSU (green paper) / Shimada (hozon) or MASAMUNE (green paper) / mumei shinto (hozon) etc. These generally find a good home on Yahoo auction, but you'll find them sometimes in big auctions in Europe. Most important is that the blade needs to look somewhat like an old thing. Add a coffee-stained "honami origami" and a fake Sayagaki and you're in business. I wouldn't recommend going there...


And there is nothing wrong with collecting the danger zone. if anything it's the honorable pond to fish in because it's born out of love and not greed. Just know what you're getting yourself into. 


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On 6/7/2021 at 12:19 PM, Rivkin said:


The ides comes from a dealer who has a nickname "one way ticket".


Lol funny. It's kind of the street hucker's go-to move when they're holding out the Rolex in the back alley. Today's your lucky day we have gold for the price of silver here so why go anywhere else?


I'd suggest though that you're answering a question with a direct ad hominem and not contributing anything toward bringing the idea to its knees if you disagree with it as you seem to.


I would pose the question to you:


In the case of an artist famous for his horimono, given two works A and B which are otherwise identical, though B has the addition of a first class horimono by said artist, why would they be held up as equivalently precious examples of his handicraft?


If an artist is famous for a particular technique, an excellent example of that technique that makes him famous, will always carry a premium both in value and in interest among knowledgeable collectors.


Juyo and Tokubetsu Juyo track this idea. But a huckster exists by promoting the idea that all of this is equivalent because that's what creates arbitrage opportunities for the huckster. This is why the green paper idea won't die in the west. Because there is a community that profits on this kind of confusion. Japanese dealers dismiss these concepts because they are practical and pragmatic and won't try to promote to an informed buyer that green papers are reliable. They similarly will not mix up concepts like Sue-Hosho with Hosho or so on. But if you can conflate these ideas in someone's mind that's what lets you profit.


So you tell the buyer that silver is equivalent to gold, and today they are lucky because you're selling silver which is really gold at the price of silver, and they will be smart then to buy the silver.


Now silver on its own has its own merits: it's not useless and it's not valueless. But if you promote the idea of conflating the two, then you take advantage of the conflation of ideas by getting the buyer to buy on the idea that they're placing smart money by buying at a discount.


So these green papered junkers in Japan that go through the dealing community precisely as this, as junk, are those that get scooped up by western dealers and promoted as papered authentic and reliable masterworks. Those that want to shoot the idea down usually turn to this kind of ad hominem above as their go-to form of persuasion and to continue telling the story that Santa Claus is real. There is always apetite among people to believe this because they want to believe that they will beat the market. This is again, never to say that there are no works among green papered blades that are without merit or won't be promoted to a modern paper. But the idea that it's reliable and problem free and that you should always hope and be positive when you see these things is what the huckster desires to promote in order to keep the market for them alive.

It's all about whatever idea you want to carve into the buyer's mind, and those that are concentrating on value, you want to show them that this is the doorway to value.


The mint condition 1965 Ferrari Daytona with all original and matching serials then is the same as one that has been slapped together out of spare parts bins, and so the smart buyer should go for the spare part bin item. Or the antique firearm that has modern milled replacement parts is just the same as the one that is all original... or the cracked porcelain is almost as valuable as the same one that is in perfect condition. Or this rare coin with a bit of wear is the same as the one that looks like it came from the mint.

Even fractional changes in those things cause great devaluation and increase disinterest among collectors. It doesn't make them bad or valueless but it makes them less precious.

If you want a Tadatsuna or a Nobuhide with top flight qualities and you add excellent original horimono to that package, the value and the interest will always go up.

That is *specifically the reason* why con artists and hucksters have through history added fake horimono to those works. Exactly because people are more interested in them with the horimono. Exactly because the value is higher with the horimono. This is exactly why good advice tells people to be careful of fake horimono. This is exactly why the smiths added "hori dou saku" to their works, to prove and attest that they themselves made the horimono.

Proposing that this is a bad idea without merit because you don't like someone is disingenuous and in fact it's harmful and misleading to people and at the very, very minimum if you want to float that kind of transparently silly claim you should always add a slight bit of support to what you have to say.


Otherwise there's only two alternatives, one of which is hucksterism which purposefully misleads people and the other of which is a failure to understand the topic and so spreads disinformation by way of ignorance.

These smiths are not just swordsmiths: they are horimono artists and to dismiss the horimono as unimportant, is just one of those two ideas above. Similarly you cannot praise a work with excellent horimono and poor manufacture, but I don't think those really exist because they won't go to the considerable extra effort to make a "one way ticket" of carving a horimono that will kill the blade if one mistake is made.


Also you may let Gassan Sadatoshi know that his works featuring excellent horimono are of no particular added interest in the community nor should he charge much more for them than one without, which he does, because you have stated that everything is the same.

I'll add at the end of this as well that there are some collectors who do make a living by scrounging through the junk drawers and occasionally find gold. When they hit gold then it proves to them that the method is reliable. I have looked at some of these collections, in which the vast majority was fake and had something less than a 1 in 20 hit rate of authenticity and it's disheartening.


Some of it is purposeful, because they are fed this stream of garbage by a junk dealer and every now and then the dealer inserts a nugget of gold. That hit is what sustains the collector because they both love the thrill and risk involved in discovery and that positive hit is confirmation.


When they get confirmed by the NBTHK they hold it out as a victory and proof of the method because this great agency has told them that they decided correctly.


On the other 19 out of 20 that are pure losses, they wave their hands and say, "What does the NBTHK know? How can they make so many mistakes?"

They never see that the two ideas are mutually exclusive that they cannot both dismiss the expertise of the judges while simultaneously basking in their confirmation that one time out of 20 that they hit.


Such a collection is a huge misplaced expenditure of money. The one hit does not make up for the 19 mistakes. So this is not about collecting or about art or anything of the sort, it's about the fun of the roulette wheel or fun of blackjack or fun of prospecting for gold. It's gambling and gambling has its own merits and benefits but usually the house wins. You can do the same with penny stocks, you can buy them all day long for years and 1 time out of so often you will hit and win huge, get your 10 or 20 or 100 bagger. But the vast majority of penny stocks just expire as dead companies and no value. You can wave your finger at the person who bought the boring blue chip expensive stocks all along and promote the idea of gambling or that penny stocks are a wise investment choice.

At the end of the day the person with the boring porfolio always did well. They didn't beat the one gambler out of 100 that sold their house and dumped it all into GME one year ago, but they didn't take the risk either of losing everything so as a whole, that group, made great decisions and gets to sleep at night and doesn't have to micro manage their assets.

Anyone who invested for a long time knows the pain that one bad call on a high risk stock that goes to zero neutralizes 10 good decisions on boring, solid, reliable investment decisions. There is a parallel in art and collectibles always. The Honus Wagner card that raised eyebrows for being the first over one million dollars is now 4 million or so. It's a blue chip among baseball cards. You would have been better off speculating if you made all the right decisions on day one about rookie cards as they came out, but mostly people don't do that. But if you bought the best one, you never did badly and you also got to relax in the idea that you have the best one.

Such is a Nobuhide of first class manufacture plus first class horimono. It's the blue chip among the smith's works and anything that detracts from *any* aspect of the smiths' repertoire causes a degree of disinterest and that degree of disinterest reflects directly in the value.


And so the worn out coin that a dealer tells you is as good as mint one, or the shiny rolex on the street corner that they're going to tell you is just the same and also tells time the same way. They are not equivalent even if they appear to be equivalent to the uneducated eye.

In the end, these claims you make of equivalence between a work with top class horimono and one without, or say of a drawer full of reliably papered Masamune at Tokubetsu Hozon that do not impress you, these are very, very, very simple claims to substantiate without having to rely on sophistry.

You simply can produce the examples in question.

Please find and sell a work of Nobuhide with high class horimono for 2.5 million yen, or to hold your nose at the unimpressive Masamune at $60k, buy those and put them on the market at these prices for those of us who want them, to buy them.


I will buy them from you, any day of the week. I am waiting here with my money in hand, holding it out, and waiting for my great horimono Nobuhide and my unimpressive Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune. Please endure the assault on your senses by such needless unimportance as a great horimono by a great horimono artist or a Soshu work so unimpressive as both to qualify legitimately as Masamune and yet not possess the qualities of being able to pass Juyo. I will buy from you, I am absolutely serious.

I will buy a great sword from the ghost of Hitler if he will provide it to me, I will buy from the sensei of Facebook if he has a great sword to sell. I will buy from you or anyone, I do not care because I am absolutely a pragmatist and I don't conflate the work or its greatness with my personal feelings about the person providing it. I would also advise my customers to buy from my arch enemies who hold the only thing important in their lives to hold a 15 year old grudge to try to attack me personally. I will say go straight to them and buy the masterpieces if you can get them. And so will I.


As recently as two weeks ago I told a customer on this board to withold payment due to me for an existing purchase, because another dealer presented to them a very nice item for acquisition that will fit in his collection. Others can testify as well that I have recommended blades for sale by other people.

All I care about is greatness. Not conflating green papers with reliable things, and not telling someone that there is no significant difference in appreciation of works of a great horimono artist regardless of the presence of said horimono.


Some of these ideas, if you proposed them in the company of top flight dealers in Japan, that the horimono is not an important component of these smith's works that are famous for horimono, or that Masamune are a dime a dozen with Tokubetsu Hozon papers laying around in quantity, nobody would challenge you on it. They would just look at you and if you were viewing such a work with great horimono they would just quietly put it away and bring you one with none. Afterwards they would tell jokes among friends. The same way that they do when a beginner complains about a kitae ware on a Heian blade and they put it away and bring them a Shinsakuto. They are pragmatic. They will not rattle your cage or disabuse you of these notions unless they care about you. And they primarily want to sell. Unless you are blessed with a great relationship with some of those guys you will just be allowed to believe what you want to believe.


Anyway I want you to just bring these to market. Find it if it really exists. Post it here for sale and I'm ready to buy either these Masamune and I will take my chance on your tastes being equivalent to mine or not. I will buy all Nobuhide I can get with great horimono by the smith provided they are authentic in the 2.5-2.8 million yen range that you can find the katana without. I will also accept Mitsutada or Go. I'm flexible. Just don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining with these conflated ideas. Mumei Sue-Bizen is not the same as Kamakura Bizen though they are both Bizen, Tokubetsu Kicho is not the same as Tokubetsu Juyo though they both say Tokubetsu and Nobuhide without horimono is not the same as one with though they are both by the same maker.


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I'll also say, I don't win when I tell someone that the pricing scheme and preciousness of a Nobuhide is different based on the presence or lack of presence of fine horimono. I don't have either to sell anyone. I would love to sell those with the great horimono. 20 years I have never had one. I will never have one. The reason for that is that they are simply too expensive in the Japanese market to procure, document, and then sell. They are already priced where Japanese buyers will support the market and foreigners will not.

Foreigners will go for the 75 cm one with no horimono in the belief that they are getting one discounted and not factoring in the horimono. Very few will instead get the 63 cm one with the best horimono and pay the premium price for it.

I don't get anything by telling people that there is hazard in buying a $10,000 Masamune with green papers. That buyer is not going to come to me or someone like me for a legitimate one because they won't be in the market for a legitimate one. The guy who is going to buy that one off of Yahoo auctions will not be buying a Tokubetsu Juyo Kanemitsu or Shizu or anything like this from me. I don't save myself anything by trying to inform people on this.

I get rocks thrown at me for doing so by the cottage industry in selling dreams to those who want to believe that these have the legitimacy that people want to believe that they do. Every time I say it, I am worried and I have to always say that sometimes yes a green papered anything will end up being OK but the odds are against you and by mathematics they will only get worse every time a diamond is pulled from the mud and promoted to Tokubetsu Hozon, it just leaves behind a greater and thicker concentration of mud.


I get nothing but smears for trying to at least tell people and warn them to not get burned by these things. I'm not a seller of shinto in mass quantities and I have nothing but praise for a great work of Nobuhide or Tadatsuna or Sadakazu with one of these great horimono. If I can get them I will but generally I can't for the reasons stated.

All I am doing is actually supporting the market for those who *do* have them and can sell them and provide them by vouching for their importance and I don't completely dismiss one without, but when you do buy one without you are missing a great deal of the point of why a Nobuhide or Tadatsuna is held in high esteem. If you're going to buy a muscle car you should get one with a high powered engine or you miss the point of having a muscle car. If you buy a bottle of champagne that's been open for a week you miss the point of buying a bottle of champagne if you buy a Kobe beef steak you miss the point to get it well done. Even if you like it well done with ketchup on it, it's missing the point and in fact you need some education if you think that's how to have it. There may still be some merit in all of these things, which is what sustains the value that they have, but they are not to be conflated with each other or held as equivalent.

I get nothing from pointing that out.

People get things by telling others that silver and gold are both shiny metal so they are the same.

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I am sorry, my mind always slips after the second paragraph. We proletarians are like that.

There are however couple of things I personally dislike. One of them is - generalities.

One example - If I can't kantei the school, I don't comment on the blade. 

So I cringe when instead someone asks about a blade on ebay and gets "ebay is full of scammers". Its a generalization. Sort of true, but sort of irrelevant when a very particular blade is being presented. Can easily cross into slander when the subject is actually a reasonably honest offer.


1-3mil territory being the "danger zone" is one of such generalities. Its a natural price range for myriad of things - H Kaneuji probably starts at 1.2 and goes comfortably into 2.5, H Ichimonji katana of any school starts at 2, H Aoe, H Ayanokoji can be anywhere around 1,2,3. There are tons of Juyo that start at 2 million - most Yamato schools, including Yamato Shizu today start at 2. A lot of upper grade names, but shortened to wakizashi start at 1.6-2 with H (Saburo Kunimune), or 2.5m at Juyo, especially if they are from 20X shinsas.

Such items are sold and bought every year. Is it particularly hard to resell those? Someone who actually collects/deals in this price range could be a reference point, but I can't say I noticed any particularly tragic issues this far.


Can you get burned, i.e. buy something priced well above its resale value? You can get that at absolutely any level of prices. Can easily happen at 0.7,1.5 or 7 or 15 mil. Each case, each blade has to be considered individually rather than painted over with broad strokes. I was personally burned at one time or another at every price level I ever tried. As a result, there are some practices (like polishing) that I try to refrain from, but those usually involve actually cheaper to acquire but intrinsically higher "pure risk" items. Otherwise, its a tuition everyone needs to pay, hopefully not too often.

One has to also add that different sellers/collectors/dealers also operate at intrinsically different price level and with a different clientelle. So what falls into supposedly "danger zone" for me, same Ichimonji katana will sit at Mr. Saito's shop with the same papers at 3-6mln yen. Well, at least it gets out of this menacing "danger zone". There is nothing unfair here - Mr. Saito has certain level of expenses, advertisement, appearances and service that come with the item. 

The problem - if Mr. Saito starts arguing that shops selling blades at 2mln yen are well, "in the killing zone". 


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15 hours ago, Rivkin said:

I am sorry, my mind always slips after the second paragraph. We proletarians are like that.


I think it's more to do with the former than the latter.


I think you have misunderstood what the poster was getting at. It is an issue of ending up in these kinds of tweener blades that carry a high enough price that they are out of the range of most sword collectors that represent the bottom part of the market in terms of budget, and they do not carry the most important attributes of the smith that are appealing to collectors who can afford to buy the top examples.


If you go out and you buy the worst possible Chogi for instance, congratulations, you have got yourself a very expensive sword, that 95% of people cannot afford and the remaining 5% will tell you "please find me a better one."


That blade is in the danger zone.


It means you have nowhere to turn if you want to sell it. You thought you were damn clever with your budget and it was your lucky day to buy this wonderful piece but when it comes time to sell, now you need to find someone who has the exact same high budget as you did to buy the blade in the first place, but also has no sensitivity to quality and so hasn't said he will pass on that example in order to find one that has the best characteristics of the smith.


This kind of Chogi can be Juyo and can be 8 million yen. That is far in excess of what a normal person can buy. And, the vast majority of people who CAN enter the market at that range, their potential goes much higher than this and they will pass on that one and say find me a 20 million yen type https://www.tsuruginoya.com/items/f00293.html that exhibits all the features of the smith.


The 8M one is in the danger zone. It is bought because it's thought to be thrifty but it is in the end not the kind of blade that people will fight over who are capable of buying a Chogi. The only reason to buy that Chogi is because you absolutely must have one and this is your threshold of pain. So it is this, or none, and you decided that it will be this. In which case you made 100% the right decision... but you did so because you were informed and understood. Not because you were driven by the thoughts of being rewarded for being thrifty and buying the equivalent blade as the 20M one for a lot cheaper. That's the wrong decision and that is how you hurt yourself.


If you go and buy a suguba type Ichimonji with many problems, again it can be accurately judged or even signed, but a lot of buyers who are in that price category will also have the type of discretion to say I don't want that one, show me one that has flamboyant activity all up and down the blade and I will pay more.


That is the danger zone.


Or a blade that is by a low ranking school or low ranking smith but barely qualified for Juyo in a weaker session, someone may buy that blade because it's Juyo and because they made the mistake of buying the papers over the sword. Well they celebrate that they bought "a cheap Juyo" but that is not what they have done. They have bought a weaker example of a weaker school or weaker smith than what exists in the market. If it is expensive enough, again, they have crossed out the bottom of the market when the time comes to sell and they have crossed out the higher part of the market.


That is the danger zone.


There is nowhere for that blade to go, you cannot make the sword better to appeal to the upper part of the market. So, lacking finding such a value conscious and thrifty buyer as yourself, you have only one place to go and that is down, down, down until you hit the point where there are enough low budget buyers that they will pick your blade up based on what attributes it does have.


That is how you end up escaping the danger zone which is by setting yourself on fire.


That danger zone as mentioned with the Chogi example is going to vary based on the smith and the quality of the pieces in question. Chogi can go very high, I saw one at 40 million yen and even though "only Hozon" I saw one that the dealer quoted out as high as 25M yen because every time someone agreed to his price he thought about it a bit and then declined to sell it and the next guy who asked got a higher price. That is his prerogative because he has to decide at that point in time what he would rather have, the money or the sword, and in each case he thought about it and said to himself I think I'll keep this sword.


These tweener pieces though what is in common is not the papers or the actual price but that they exist on the low part of the spectrum of expression of a particular smith's work. i.e. "the worst possible example". As you ascend higher in the scope of the smiths work you will enter into an acceptable gray zone and from there pass out. At what pricing level those are depends on the smith and the support in the market for him, and the quality of the work at hand.


Going back to the reference example it is possible for a Nobuhide to be quoted out over 12M yen and I've seen seen it, blade was not even offered for sale but it was indicated that the price was over this part. This blade of course had the top class horimono possible for the smith and the entire blade was made beautifully. Subtract the horimono and the price on the same blade falls by 50-60%. If you get into the type of quality that cannot pass Juyo (again, it's not the paper that leads it it's the sword, and the papers follow the indications made by the sword and are not the cause), then you can end up with this class of "nice sword" type of Nobuhide that is in the 2-3M yen range. The market will support those, they are still good swords.


The entire problem comes in when someone misguides a buyer and tells them that horimono or special features of a smith have nothing to do with the price and conflates everything together. Thus, such a buyer may see a Nobuhide on the market at 2.6M yen and see another at 6M yen and then year of this one I speak about in the 12M+ yen range that the owner will not even sell.


Now he buys the Nobuhide @ 2.6 not because it's the right sword for him, or because it is great, but because he doesn't know the fundamental differences between the 12M+ one and the 2.6M one, he conflates the two and then thinks he's got himself an amazing deal for getting a Nobuhide so cheap.


No, he got a Nobuhide of average make and quality sans horimono at the market price for that kind of sword. It is not a ripoff and it is not a steal, but he bought it on the perception of being thrifty by price comparing but not having access to all of the information that drives those prices.


Precisely because ... people just don't have the information, or when someone asks in a place like this, someone like you launches an ad hominem and implies the information is bad based on the source (in itself a fallacy) and so invalid (in this case the wrong conclusion) and so that there is no difference between the two (false) and then leading this person to bad guidance that they should indeed recognize the 2.6M yen one as a bargain.


It's not. It's just like anything else, floated at what the market will support for that kind of sword. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less, because it's an art not a science but that's what's going on.


Now that owner of the amazing will happily turn over any number of the 2.6M yen type of blade. They are, as they would say over there, "business swords", or as dealers would say over here, "merch." They will turn those over many, many times but they will hold that precious one for themselves or else to reward a special client (and so reward the relationship which is beneficial to themselves). But that thing is just not going to leave for no reason and at 2.6M yen like the commercial grade ones.


The vast quantity of what is bought and sold on the market are these "merch" or "business swords" as they are obtainable and they are also what people think of as being high value for the dollar when they do not know that there is NO equivalence between a blade with all of the smith's special features and one considerably lacking in them or lacking one of the most key elements.


Like the example of a suguba Ichimonji, it is of scholarly interest for what it is, especially if signed it can be of historical interest, but the buyer for that is a man who has a significant collection of Ichimonji and wishes to show all of the spectrum of their work. That kind of collector and their means is not someone that we encounter on a daily basis and that sword is for his collection.


The average collector, even one of significant means, will want instead to pursue the archetype as closely as they can, and where sacrificing, will attempt to sacrifice in areas away from where the archetype is affected. One example of this is a blade being suriage because the rest of the work can be perfectly healthy and in perfect keeping with the school, but the nakago is gone. This is a tradeoff that reduces the value of a blade considerably vs. ubu but preserves almost all of the essential aspects of the school. This is why indeed this is the biggest part of the market because it allows most mortal people to buy them and doesn't push things into the million dollar range.


And this all goes back to great horimono in a Nobuhide because that is part of the archetype and why a blade lacking that is valued less on the market in money terms, and also considered less precious by collectors. Absolute dollar value and preciousness do not necessarily go hand in hand, because you could have something like extremely precious wonderful Ko-Mino tosogu and have them outpriced by a Shinshinto sword quite easily. And preciousness will really depend on your point of view.


This whole thing about assigning prices to papers is, again, wrong and I credit Bob Hughes for talking about this with me at length and he named it "ladder theory" and went over all the reasons he felt it was wrong. I have always been in 100% agreement with his feelings on this and renamed it as ladder fallacy to try to get more to the core of it not being a valid theory to follow.








1-3mil territory beig the "danger zone" is one of such generalities.


Its a natural price range for myriad of things - H Kaneuji probably starts at 1.2 and goes comfortably into 2.5, H Ichimonji katana of any school starts at 2, H Aoe, H Ayanokoji can be anywhere around 1,2,3.



Now herein are some major logical issues.


The first is that you have dismissed generalities above and then you immediately enter into several generalities of your own. So, the question I pose here is: what do you actually believe? That generalities in general are wrong as you first claim or is that generalities are right but only when you use them?


Generalities are just what they are: they are a guideline, nothing more. There is no way of attacking someone offering generalities, other than if the generality is completely off kilter.


You seem to be reaching for that magic drawer of swords again but not only does it hold a large number of accurately papered Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune of insufficient quality to impress you, but now contains a substantial quantity of Shizu Kaneuji at $10k a pop.


I beg you, please, open that drawer and shake it out to the bottom because I think almost everyone here would be happy to stand in line for the contents of this drawer.


Now, it is entirely possible to get a Kaneuji that is all core steel and as a result is priced so low as $10k, but trying to generalize things to the point of saying that this is the market or even dealer price guideline for good Kaneuji or even mediocre Kaneuji by the rules of Kaneuji is really simple to prove if you want to prove it. Just get one and put it up for sale.


You need to qualify your generalities you offer as truths otherwise rather than with the term "Hozon starts at", instead with "the worst possible example of XXX can be obtained at". This will decouple the proposed idea that Hozon is an inferior or entry cost blade, which it is not.


Said Chogi example above was "only Hozon" and I have been offered a blade at 50 million yen a long time ago that was "only Hozon" and the fact that these were Hozon simply indicated that the blade was authentic. They underscore the bottom line of expectations as a guideline. They say nothing about the top end. So you cannot classify price ranges by papers.


You can classify price ranges by smith and by blade quality though, because those are the causes of the price.


At the end of the day the price is a factor of the quality of the blade and the reputation of the smith, and the attribution to a top level smith is a function of the style of the blade and the quality of the blade. It is inappropriate to classify a poorly made sword to a top level smith.


Thus the prime mover in all things is the quality and the style of the blade at hand and those feed into all the other aspects which then at the end of the equation pumps out a price. Independent factors are history, provenance, etc. which make something desirable outside of the attributes inherent to the blade.


It then comes back down to the drawer full of cheap Masamune and Kaneuji and how they obtain these attributions to top level smiths, which imply top level properties, which would normally imply as assessments to Juyo without major problems of condition factoring in.


I still suggest that you have got yourself an absolutely willing market to take some problem Masamune and Kaneuji off of your hands, if you can buy the Masamunes at $60k then you have an easy 10% to make, I will pay you more than 10% profit, and if you buy all the $10k Kaneuji I am sure we can divvy them up on the board at $12k a pop. So possibly your self assessment as a member of the proletariat is because you are simply missing these wonderful business opportunities and instead pursuing muromachi mumei tanto at higher price ranges.


So you are welcome to upgrade your class status as soon as you take advantage of the magic drawer.





There are tons of Juyo that start at 2 million - most Yamato schools, including Yamato Shizu today start at 2. A lot of upper grade names, but shortened to wakizashi start at 1.6-2 with H (Saburo Kunimune), or 2.5m at Juyo, especially if they are from 20X shinsas.


Absolutely there are blades that are Juyo that are in these price ranges, but again you are entering into the fallacy that because two blades are Juyo that they are equivalent, or that a blade that is Juyo is necessarily more expensive than one that is Hozon. That does not follow in either case, the only thing we can say is that making a blade Juyo offers an opinion that the blade is falling into a spectrum that has removed the lowest category of blades available by the school or maker, unless the bottom category for the school or maker is already Juyo. In which case it can occupy that bottom slot already.


But a Juyo Sadamune and a Juyo Ko-Mihara are not equivalent by being Juyo and you cannot assign prices to either based on them being Juyo. You cannot say a Tokubetsu Juyo Mihara is more expensive than a Hozon Sadamune based on simply examining the papers.


The attribution is far more important than the level of the paper, and the level of the paper only makes sense within the domain of the attribution of the item.


So, a menuki attributed to Goto Yujo that is Juyo, the most important part of that assessment is the attribution to Yujo. Yujo is Juyo and Juyo is Yujo already, it's its own form of Juyo just to be attributed to him. That one also accompanies Juyo related properties is what makes it more expensive on the market, and that it passes Juyo is confirmation that it does possess those properties.


But two informed buyers looking at the same unpapered Yujo already have it in their head about what those properties are and so ultimately the assessment as Juyo is meaningless to them. The passing of this kind of item to Hozon only serves to confirm what they believe and eliminate risk of an error. If one of those buyers is also one of the judges making the Hozon paper you can completely understand the secondary nature of the paper then. Once you have an uninformed buyer entering the equation now the papers take on a factor because the papers stand in for the uninformed buyer's incomplete knowledge. He can then hope or assume that the Juyo paper indicates what he believes and then there is room for discussion between him and the informed buyer.


Juyo is itself still a category with a wide, wide range, since it only mentions something about the bottommost assessment and says nothing about the top. For example there is at least one Juyo Bunkazai blade (Kaneuji oddly enough) that is also Juyo Token but not Tokubetsu Juyo Token. If a buyer attempts to say that such a blade should be less expensive than a Tokuju example just based on the papers they are mistaken. Even if you take away the Jubun status, you are still left with a signed Kaneuji at Juyo.

Nobody who knows anything can come to a conclusion that the correct assessment is that any particular Tokuju example should be more expensive based on it being Tokuju vs. a Juyo one. It doesn't even apply in the domain of a smith let alone between two smiths.


In terms of access to "cheap" Juyo, I believe I sold a Juyo at the lowest price being $14k or maybe $12k. I recently declined to buy a Juyo blade at $10k. The fact that they are Juyo does not mean that they fall into any particular band. At $10k, you can look at the cost of papers, polish, habaki, shirasaya and you can in fact determine that the value of the blade alone now is zero since all of those other properties are commodities with known values. The closer you get to that absolute case of zero value for the blade, the closer you get to the real bottom line. Surely there are instances of swords that have negative value but in practice with a Juyo class blade it should not fall below zero.


This illustrates why Juyo is not a useful data point in and of itself to discuss valuation of anything. Because the absolute bottom line conclusion is a sword with zero or negative value, you are actually not saying anything of any relevance whatsoever.


For me, if I price something, I am pricing based on the sword. I am pricing based on my understanding of where the sword lies within the spectrum of work of the smith and its desirability. It can be Juyo "at Tokuju Price" which is as mentioned, a fallacy. Such a person is welcome to buy a Tokuju blade by a lesser smith and of lesser quality and less interesting style than the Juyo example under consideration and we can applaud them for their savvy expenditure of money based on the color of the paper rather than the example of the work at hand.


I've tried to say to people before that those kinds of examples are "already Tokuju" regardless of where the paper falls in to better get the point across. When a seller has told me he wouldn't sell me a rusty blade because "it might pass Juyo as Yukimitsu" I simply responded with, "charge me your Juyo Yukimitsu price" then because I knew what I was looking at and what it was and I didn't really think it would end up as Yukimitsu (it did not) and it did end up as exactly what I thought it was. I am not worried about it not being papered or anything else if I know what it is.


That is my money to risk of course and if I am wrong I take the hit.


If I judge something like that thing to be able to qualify as Tokubetsu Juyo it's because I think the attributes of the sword are in keeping with that. The NBTHK may disagree with me and I may be wrong. In which case I can say try again but in the case they refuse several times I have to admit that we have a disagreement and the chance that I am right and they are wrong is smaller than them being right and me being wrong. So I've taken to giving people a guarantee that I back with my own money to indicate that this is my feeling and this is where the thing will go. So this way they don't have to use my feeling, if they do not trust their feeling, the guarantee is that an arbitrary judge will feel that way and they can rely on that assessment above mine and I will take the responsibility of being wrong.


So far I am right about 80% of the time when I do this. So it's not perfect but it is better than a coin flip and it's being offered only on certain blades which means it is far, far better than a coin flip on any given blade chosen at random. That's what people should hope to hit or improve on if they can mentally assess something and know where it will land.


The Chogi that passed Tokuju for me in the last session is a blade that I chased after for 8 years trying to buy. With no papers. I had no problem paying whatever price the seller wanted to sell to me at. I had no doubts about what it was or where it was going, all of that I knew would be confirmed.


There is no way to say that blade should be cheaper without papers, or cheaper at Hozon vs. Tokubetsu Hozon or Tokubetsu Juyo.


It is what it is.


A perfect diamond is still a perfect diamond and when the papers for that diamond come out they are confirmation beyond doubt. In that sense it can elevate the value of the diamond to the general market because that provides information that is lacking to the general market and so removes risk. But it does not do anything to two perfectly informed buyers and sellers who can assess the diamond directly without the need of the papers as crutch.


If they are both perfectly informed then one is being disingenuous to assert to the other that the price of the diamond should be less before a paper or after a paper because it's the information that's the critical part. The other way to make that assertion is then to not be perfectly informed in which case you can be sincere about it. To say I believe this to be true, however, I mistrust my judgement or that the judges will agree with me, in which case the risk expands the spectrum of possible prices and the papers have to arrive to bring the bottom end of the spectrum back up or else implode it by confirming the worst possible case.



Such items are sold and bought every year. Is it particularly hard to resell those? Someone who actually collects/deals in this price range could be a reference point, but I can't say I noticed any particularly tragic issues this far.


Can you get burned, i.e. buy something priced well above its resale value? You can get that at absolutely any level of prices. Can easily happen at 0.7,1.5 or 7 or 15 mil. Each case, each blade has to be considered individually rather than painted over with broad strokes. I was personally burned at one time or another at every price level I ever tried. As a result, there are some practices (like polishing) that I try to refrain from, but those usually involve actually cheaper to acquire but intrinsically higher "pure risk" items. Otherwise, its a tuition everyone needs to pay, hopefully not too often.


"Can you get burned" is not a useful statement of any sort. It's like saying "can you die in a car accident" and the answer is yes, you can. Any statement like that, like "can I go to outer space?" the answer to that is yes I can. I could get lucky and get picked at random because I submitted to join a commercial space flight or I could really try hard to become an astronaut.


If the question is "Can I get bitten by a mosquito" the answer is the same: yes.


Can you find a Masamune in a garage sale? Yes.


What matters though is that you have to consider what is the likelihood of these things happening and why are they happening if the frequency of them happening is high. The fact that something is possible doesn't mean it is probable, and in fact this kind of phrase, "it is possible that..." is one of the famous propaganda techniques. It is possible that I will spontaneously combust before I finish writing this and it is possible that aliens are among us. Possibility does not tell you anything about probability other than that it is non zero. But in practice 0.000000000001 is close enough to zero that it is zero in the practical sense.


If you keep entering the market and keep getting burned, whether that is the sword market, the stock market, or the crypto market, it indicates a failure to understand the basic principles involved. It indicates that you should try to understand them better.

It means that if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and it results in bad results, than you need to change what you are doing.


If you are burned in swords then you need to reassess how you are entering the sword market.


I was a collector in various other fields and I applied what I learned from those fields to sword collecting because some things pass easily from domain to domain.


For instance, I was a hobby jeweler and I would buy gemstones on ebay for my projects. I would say oh look at this lovely spinel. Well spinel is not quite as good as ruby but it's a nice, red, glittering stone. Just... not as desirable but it's still good. Well, the cut on this one is not so good but the price is really good so it's got high value. This major flaw in the table, well from this angle I think it's ok... and so on. Finding an excuse for the item at every level and I would buy myself a $400 spinel.


I still have that $400 spinel.


I cannot ever sell it.


The reason why is that there are ten billion other problematic spinels just like it on eBay and they are being loaded onto eBay in vast quantities by companies of ill repute (possibly man made) and certainly if your choice is to find something filled with problems then you have a lot of things to choose from.

Now I bought that $400 spinel thinking well, low risk, doesn't cost much, no problem right? Wrong. The problem is in the mentality that this is actually reducing risk. It's not. If I look at the collection in terms of total amount spent, I could say have bought one paraiba tourmaline or a fancy colored diamond or something quite special. Or, I could spread all that money over these $400 flawed spinels. I chose the latter.


I still have them.


No way to sell them. No way to go to the effort, if I tried to sell them all maybe I'd get the notice of people enough to get 25% sold and I'd be going to the effort of selling 100% of them and the only argument I could ever make with my little teardrop in the ocean of spinels was on price. So, the only way out of the danger zone is by setting yourself on fire. With a $400 gemstone it means probably selling it at $25 or something. People just won't care enough and the commercial bulk dealers can just keep dumping quantity onto the market, everything is automated, they have no cost and no care in the listing and the items are of questionable quality but nobody knows the difference. In the end it's not worth it to even try.


I will instead give them to my nieces.


Now if instead I did buy that paraiba tourmaline I have to just sell that one. That's my total effort. The same amount of money is at risk but by spreading it over junk I increased the chance of complete wipeout. I certainly increased the effort level. If I got something held precious by everyone in the community, not just the bottom part, I no longer have the problem of trying to catch someone's attention by offering up my absolute mediocrity into a sea of mediocrity.

The question becomes, who is willing to afford it. And, within the spectrum of paraiba tourmaline... did I buy the *** worst possible example ***. So did I again price myself above the bottom of the market, but not get something significant enough to catch the interest of those who can afford everything? I could get myself into the danger zone.


I didn't go down that path but I understood that path from these cheap gemstones that are essentially valueless and commodities.


From this sense I look at the collector who has collected 100 tsuba of $300 value and I think of what a mess that is and how do you even sell that off. You put them all on a table and people will come by and cherry pick the top half and the bottom half you will be left with for years to forever. That is like my flawed spinels.

So in this sense it is far, far better to take the $30,000 one spent on 100 tsuba, it's the same amount of money, that you can redirect into a Natsuo if you are lucky and patient you will get one. Nobody will ever refrain from telling you that Natsuo is no good. Natsuo may not appeal to the tastes of all buyers but everyone will vouch for the talent involved. You have insulated yourself by going into a blue chip item. And when time comes to sell, you can choose how fast or how slow you want to be out, and at what price.


If you bought the right one you can be out at double your money or more. This market evolves, as more participants enter and the number of Natsuo cannot increase but can only decrease, the numbers are all on your side.


Can you get burned on a Natsuo? Yes you can get burned on anything but it's about what the probabilities are not on whether or not it is possible, like aliens being possible but not probable to be around us.

There are Natsuo out there I passed over at a price that now I wish I could go back and get, and those same ones have entered the retail market at more than double the price at which I had the opportunity. And, Natsuo unlike a stock is not going to ever go to zero. There is of course no guarantee you will get everything back but based on your timeframe you are better off sticking to great artworks if you are an art collector.


In the end, it's an art market. I have my own money in the stock market and the art market and I learned with my spinels and penny stocks that quality is a quality that is important.




One has to also add that different sellers/collectors/dealers also operate at intrinsically different price level and with a different clientelle. So what falls into supposedly "danger zone" for me, same Ichimonji katana will sit at Mr. Saito's shop with the same papers at 3-6mln yen. Well, at least it gets out of this menacing "danger zone". There is nothing unfair here - Mr. Saito has certain level of expenses, advertisement, appearances and service that come with the item. 

The problem - if Mr. Saito starts arguing that shops selling blades at 2mln yen are well, "in the killing zone". 



Where to begin with this.... the fallacy of false equivalence or the straw man picked at random...


I think that what you did here was to grab a dealer at random, put a noose around their neck, string them up, and then stick a yari through them and then claim this is some kind of argument. It's a straw man, one that is unfair to him in particular, as he is a reliable and kind guy who absolutely does his best for all of his clients. I count the man as a friend and so do many in the community and I haven't ever heard anyone say anything bad about him, but really this is a weird statement to break out at this point. Amongst your failed arguments this one ranks highly.


There is this ongoing theme of false equivalence in things that you say, like where two Juyo need to be assessed against each other with the most critical aspect being that they are both Juyo. Or in this case, that since these swords are both Ichimonji in your example that somehow they are equivalent and it is unfair to criticize the cheaper one and you are with your chosen pillory of a Ginza dealer implying in true propaganda style that the 2M yen Ichimonji must be superior to the 3-6M yen one which is padded up based on the Ginza dealer's expenses.


In reality the swords are priced based on the sword. It's a point that continually slips as you get into these things about Juyo or two things being Ichimonji.


If you have a gold coin for sale, and I have a gold coin for sale, my gold coin is not going to be priced higher than yours based on me being in Ginza. Your profit will actually be larger than mine if you can sell yours and you do not have my expenses. But, I don't get more for it than you do.


The market decides what we get for it.


I have had people tell me in the past, go find me an Ichimonji, I want one in great state of preservation, flamboyant hamon, wide mihaba, ikubi kissaki, and strong utsuri and nice jigane. Mumei is ok. But don't worry about it being Juyo.


That statement again comes down to this fundamental misunderstanding that the paper is going to drive the price on such a piece. The attributes they have described are in keeping with assessing such a blade to Tokubetsu Juyo. They are obvious on its face to anyone who understands what they are looking at. The statement to "don't worry about it being Juyo" is a way of saying "I want it really cheap" because they have misunderstood the factors that drive the price.


I responded to this with, "I won't worry about it being Juyo because it will be Kokuho."

The guy of course did not like my joke very much and he chose to never speak to me again but I digress.


This fundamental misunderstanding and false equivalence between two Ichimonji because they are Ichimonji or two Juyo because they are Juyo or two Juyo Ichimonji because they are both Juyo Ichimonji glosses over almost all of the attributes that make something desirable.

In the end the guy who has an Ichimonji for sale is going to price it to the market, as long as he is rational, self interested, and has access to information.

So will you.


If you go and find one of these magic drawer Masamune at $60k that finally impress you, you can buy that and what will you sell it for?


Are you going to take a 10% commission? Sell it to the next guy at $66k?

No you will not. I assume you are a rational person with access to information. That you do not buy these Masamune that have reliable papers ... makes me question some of this but if I were to completely assume that, would you do this?

The answer is: NO.

Any more than you would buy a lottery ticket that wins $100 million dollars and then sell it for a 10% markup over the price that you paid to buy the lottery ticket. You would float that lottery ticket at the market price.


You wouldn't sell a gold coin that you found on the street laying there, to the next person, for free if you are running a gold coin business. You might do it as a gift, but you would not give it away if you're running your business on that model to randos who walk in the door because you like the cut of their jib. You might cut a discount for your best customer but you are still self interested and motivated to take care of your own interests and selling to your best customer at a discount gives you an increased chance of selling more to them down the road. That is relationship management 101.


But you don't sell your gold coin to a random for free because you found it for free.


So the magic drawer filled with reliable Masamune that you will not touch, this has a huge market far above the price that you mentioned. You are not taking advantage of that market which means you are not self interested, and I would observe what you do and say you are as self interested as any normal human being among us is. So that just leaves behind not having the capital to buy them (just connect me with them and I'll pay you 10% so I can use my capital) or that they don't exist. Because the market is there and instead you are marketing  Muromachi Sue-Hosho at higher prices than what you claim you can acquire Kamakura or Nanbokucho Shizu Kaneuji. In which case it just looks like an inability to pick your inventory items to me.


Or ... whatever someone can drive their own conclusion.


The point being: you are not giving any free lunches on your Sue-Hosho and you won't on a Masamune either. Nor would anyone. They will float for what the market will take.


With that point made ad nauseum I can look back at your 2M yen Ichimonji and say the most likely reason for that price is not because that dealer is nice, or stupid, or has lower costs... it is only because this is what the market will bear for that particular sword. Regardless of it being Ichimonji it implies a strong chance of inferior qualities associated with that blade. Or else the rational, self interested, smart and knowledgeable person running a sword business would float it where the market will support it.


Regardless of their expenses and their costs.


If it is an ass kicking Ichimonji with flames bursting off of it it will receive an ass kicking Ichimonji with flames bursting off it price.


If it is a neutered sad depressed specimen of something that used to be wonderful a long time ago and is genuine, but has one foot in the grave now, that's the price it will take.


If someone cannot tell the two apart, it comes back to the issue of silver and gold coins having the same intrinsic value to someone without knowledge because they are both shiny metal. Nobody should be conflating the two. The constant conflation based on one attribute such as the name of the school between all such blades attributed to that school, or between all examples at a level of paper, only indicates an inability to assess any difference between the individual items especially when the papers are taken away though they can be dramatically different.


So given all variables, probably a 6M yen Ichimonji is a better sword than a 2M yen Ichimonji. The person who wants to tell you they are the same is the vendor of the 2M yen Ichimonji. Also he would sell it for 6M if he could but he can't, that's why it's 2M yen and that's why he's telling you that they are the same sword you're just coughing up money for Ginza rent because it won't sell based on what it is.


In all it's a useless example of anything and is just mud in the water.


I really do suggest grabbing those Kaneuji though and the Masamune, you're sitting on a real gold mine not a silver mine.

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This topic is very interesting to me and something I've thought much about in my short tenure with Nihonto.  I think Darcy and Rivkin both make good points and are both correct, but coming at it from different angles.  I cannot articulate it like Darcy, but here's what I've concluded, and am curious if you agree.


Nihonto is art, and therefore not a commodity and prices are what the market will bear.  The top 5 highest prices paid for a Monet ranged from 50M USD to over 100M.  Now they are all Monets, and without being too presumptive, all are very desirable.  But even at those prices, there is a different pool or "class" of buyers for a 50M painting v. 100M.  Is the Water Lilies in the so called "danger zone" because it sold for half of the most expensive?  Diamonds, Rolexes, gold, silver, these are all commodities, with very set prices.  Art is not a commodity.


SO the danger zone in my opinion is overpaying for whatever level you buy at.  Chances are with 8 billion people on this planet there will be people and a market for the Juyo sword that barely passed in a weak session, as long as you didn't overpay.  Is it the tired Kaneuji worth less than a healthy one, of course.  But if my budget only allows for the tired one and that is all I can afford, then I will buy the tired blade.  I don't have unlimited funds to build a museum collection so I want to enjoy what I can afford.  And if I didn't overpay I can sell it to the next person that is also in a similar situation.  There's a big spectrum of swords and collectors that keeps the collecting of nihonto moving along.  

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An Oscar Wilde quote always comes to my mind when considering art - 


“We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.” Oscar Wilde, The picture of Dorian Gray.





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I don't know much about Monet, but nearly all Renoirs offered in the past 40 years were trash. Etudes, studies, his weird period of imitating artist who should not be, etc. Major galleries, minor galleries - the name carries, the substance is bad.

Its easier to talk about someone like Cortes. Very consistent, repeatative, not liked by the critics, but attractive and very predictable when it comes to quality/style/size/condition. At a provincial auction - 15-40k. Christies - 40-60k. I have a gallery next door. Not the best example hangs at 100k.

Its a "super-retail" price level. They also offer better works, better names, and buying those maybe makes sense - you are unlikely to find the absolute top, ready to purchase outside of super-retail places. But buying Cortes at a super-retail place is not a stellar investment.

This being said, a dumpster diver who gets Cortes at 25k does not really pay 25k. He paid with the past mistakes for the education, and he still pays for the fact that he buys based on photographs and there is a chance of flaw, or he simply does not bond with the piece. So its really 30-35k. Not counting the time spent. Best in the world Durer expert hits 25-50% success rates when buying online. The rest are later prints/issues, where you could instantly loose 25-40% of resale value because of the auction fees.


In most arms and armor positions, you can acquire top of the world collection never having to deal with super-retail. You just need really good understanding and decent means. Mamluks are exception, the total market is like 100 pieces altogether, so one has to bid against people with 10-20B at their disposal.

Nihonto is different - because of papers. Yes, Sadamune needs to be acquired at super-retail, it needs to be TJ, and there is nothing to do about it, the chances of pulling this one out are just too small. Shizu Kaneuji -  completely different game. There are really exceptional quantities of nihonto in the world. More so than any other historical blades. And papers are double edged sword. They created peculiar system where a lot of experts and dealers can't kantei. Can read papers though. On the other hand I can't, without study materials.

So there is a space for dumpster diving, not as wide as with continental chokuto for example, but it does exist. Being a dumpster diver you get to brag about things you pulled, skipping the part where you had to take 50% price cut after seeing the item in hand.

No, 16K Kaneuji is actually more than that, considering the fails and education investment, but if one can kantei, can see quality and is willing to put in the hours, its above what one would find on average on display at a gallery. Does not mean he is willing to invest more time in having it polished/sayagakied/Juyoed etc. Frankly, what's fun in that process compared to finding cool stuff. Plus you need to learn the whole different set of skills, like arcane secret nagasa formulas for what makes a slam dunk TJ. And somehow learn to tolerate the process of interaction with religiously arrogant folk that forms the bones of nihonto marketing/fixing-upping.

Still does not mean owning such blade is a crime, or there is anything horrible about this price segment.

Again, you can buy something at 15mil and then have a whole bunch of issues reselling it, or you can have the same at 2mil level. Yes, in these two cases you will be selling to different kinds of collectors.


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12 hours ago, Toryu2020 said:

The other cost of dumpster diving is you spend all your time in the dumpster, I'd rather spend my time at a well lit sword shop or the sushi bar!



That's probably the very core of the issue. While do we discuss so much the generalities and so little - any specific blades. Supposedly the ones we like...

How much of the current nihonto scene is social and how much is blades. Feels like 90/10.  Happened in all collecting communities in the past xx years. Lots of drinking, near zero interest in arranging for rare blades to be seen. Decease that every museum board and staff member caught as well (or did it come from them? would not be surprised), rare exceptions granted. 15 years ago when I was younger, after five years of paperwork I got to see what used to be Pergamon's stuff. The door had to be kicked open, and then wonderful three weeks with pneumonia from inhaling the dust everything in site was covered with.

Everyone's just too damn busy. So many titles and medals to acquire, so many meetings to attend, so many things to promote. The standards of proletarian worldview need to be satisfied.

Bigelow, Stone, Compton. Bygone era. Finished. Now an advertisement for a recent American book on tsuba is a pagelong author's genealogy and personal stuff joined by a photo of a few examples, frankly suitable for a beginner.

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