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Whats wrong with Kunikane blades


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                As I was starting the day this morning, I visited the wonderful Aoijapan page. It is a great exercise every day. It lets you look at a half dozen or so interesting items, practice your kanji, and then toggle to English to check your readings and learn some interesting stuff.

And today I was presented by a signed daisho mounted pair of Kunikane blades FOR AN OPENING BID OF $5500. Holy Cow! With complete candor we were told that they  would get Hozon paper IF THEY HAD THE SIGNATURES REMOVED.

                I am challenged by this situation, having spent thousands of dollars seeking their approval – with ahh mixed result.  But I have many questions

1.       Who gets to say that a) this one is bad and b) that one is good – and how can WE learn those rules – or do we have to once again submit to the tyranny of the NBTHK.

2.       Let’s just say that sometimes those guys are wrong. If we follow their assessment and remove the signatures THEY say are “bad,” are we defacing “good” blades.

3.       Who was making all those fake Kunikane blades? Was that a school of fakers. Did Kunikane train both smiths and con-men? It could happen!

4.       Finally, if any of you have freshly polished signed Kunikane blades in daisho Koshirae, please let me know. They seem to be worth $5500, but I’m a buyer!

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All valid points. Last week there was a blade by Masayoshi that was also very cheap (went for under 5k I think). But the signature was such they didn't recognize it even though it had old koshu tokubetsu papers.

 

I was scratching my head a bit too but I a layman at best..

 

I've also thought about the following hypothetical. Say a blade is the last signed piece by some old smith. Since it's the last one chances are it's not recorded anywhere. In modern  some expert judges it and goes, well I don't know, perhaps some unknown smith but the blade is very good, might go for this big name if we remove the mysterious maker to raise chances with papering. Smith's name lost forever though he could have hypothetically be the origin of certain aspects of say one of the 5 traditions.

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Hey Peter! Nice to see you at the NBTHK meeting. Maybe we can convince Mike and the crew to do a meeting on masame hada works someday :)

 

In regards to these swords, I too am always looking for masame works. Nothing excites me the same as that hada, when well done. Aoi has degraded in both offerings and descriptions as of late, but if they say the signatures are no good, I believe them. A quick comparison shows 1st kanji is not in correct spot and all the kanji are not a match for any Kunikane work I have a reference for. As for the swords, both need a polish and seem to lack any nie which means later works (shinshinto). Not worth your time IMO.

 

Your questions (just my thoughts, which won't get you a bus ride):

1. The NBTHK can be maddening, but they draw from a reference set easily replicated by a collector using Grey Doffin's site and Markus Sesko. Maybe a few deep searches as well for a couple obscure items. Their experience is not able to be replicated. Best we can do is seek out the most experienced people we can to ask an opinion, and use our own judgement. Life is short, so my preferred route is to buy polished, papered blades.

2. Removing mei is tricky, Ted Tenold has covered this well. If a work fits the maker but the mei is off, it's tough. If a paper is only goal, it's an easier call.

3. Oh man, I could write a manifesto on this! How many times here on NMB or anywhere do you see the line "it's not a famous maker, so who would fake the mei?". All have been faked in time. All works. A name like Kunikane is a leader in gimei, it's not that crazy at all. Often local smiths only saw a small subset of "real" swords/fittings, and would emulate them as best they could, then sign them in the name of the piece they saw. It's not some wild conspiracy.

4. If anyone has a validated early gen (gen 1-3) Kunikane blades or a Norikatsu blade, PM me and let's make a deal. They are not going to be $5500.

 

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I find some curious wording here, but it’s hard to say if this is simply a translation issue, or if there is something there. 
 

If you remove the inscription and submit it to the examination again, you will be able to pass the NBTHK Hozon Token.”

 

So, are they saying it was already submitted and rejected…or is this just an English/Japanese language issue?

 

And are they trying to suggest this is an attempt by a modern smith to reproduce a Kunikane blade? If so would they typically inscribe the original smiths name?

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I haven't even looked at the link yet...sorry busy at work. But is this not maybe one of those cases of Kinikane swords signed later as such later.....so they are Kunikane but the signatures are false and they will still paper to Kunikane?
Just throwing it out there

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The price is SO good that it CANNOT POSSIBLY BE GIMEI. HARKEN! The TYRANNY of the NBHTK is getting between us and our TREASURES. Their reign of TERROR with their so-called "SHINSA" has brought nothing but grief and desolation upon our HOLY TROVES. A click of PROFITEERS in cahoot with DEALERS!  How dare they assert our treasures as GIMEI? I have spent decades with MY blades, studying them over the glimmers of moonlight practicing ANCESTRAL UCHIKO RITES. I know what I own better than anyone else ever could. Remember the good OLDEN TIMES OF GREEN PAPERS? Before the adversary's foul plot to spread PROPAGANDA to discredit them and enrich themselves at our COST? We must return to older, purer days.

 

RISE UP! RISE UP NMB! Together we shall issue a new form of paper, a PURER FORM! One born out of TRUE KNOWLEDGE. Down with HOZON! Down with JUYO! Let us issue our own NMB Kanteisho! Down with the TYRANTS! Unite. Rise up. I will show you the truth. 

 

Join my Facebook group. I'll show you some blades, and if you're lucky, I might gift one to you for a fraction of its true value. 

 

1255441820_ScreenShot2021-07-01at11_34_12.thumb.png.67c6022b0fcf5808f065774a41612c2a.png

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I can tell you what is wrong with the Kunikane. According to Tsuruta's description, the katana is not even 1 centimeter wide at the saki ;-)
A roasting spit!

Otherwise... honestly? Uninteresting.

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9 hours ago, Jwrussell said:

I find some curious wording here, but it’s hard to say if this is simply a translation issue, or if there is something there. 
 

If you remove the inscription and submit it to the examination again, you will be able to pass the NBTHK Hozon Token.”

 


I think what is trying to be said is that if the mei is removed, they believe it WILL paper… now, to which school, smith, and age is up in the air.  They are also hinting (in other parts of their description) it probably WON’T be Kunikane.  In reference to the word “again” in the quote, I think it might just be a translation issue and it should be read as “afterward”.  

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I guess the best way to think about this is (putting Kunikane aside), would you like this package enough to spend $5000 US (assuming no one else bids) IF:

 

1) the blades were mumei

2) you like the handachi mounts enough

3) they will paper to ???

4) you like the idea it is a Daisho set enough to overlook other questions

 

I’m not saying the above is right or wrong.  Others might.  If this set makes YOU happy (doesn’t have to make anyone else happy), and you have $5000 sitting in your pocket, and you aren’t worried about the slings and arrows if you show them to others (the usual “you should have saved money and bought better, etc), or if they are not worth as much as you hoped when you try to sell (no guarantees), or they don’t paper as well as you hope, then make the decision that is best for you.  It’s a personal decision and the only person you have to make happy is yourself.  But do go into it with eyes wide open and know what you are buying.

 

 

 

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