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Advice on some options please


FZ1
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Evening folks.

 

Sorry, this is a bit of a long post, but I wanted to set the scene to save you from reposting lots of guidance that I’ve read on the forum about new starters.

 

Some scene setting …………

 

After nearly buying a sword on day-1 of joining the forum, I’ve come to my senses, backed-off, taken advice and read just about every thread on the forum containing advice for “newbies” (an awful word!).  I’ve also spent an unhealthy amount of time reading/re-reading the recommended books and all the advice I can get from the forum and other sources.  I've also been looking at a lot of swords online (I can’t handle at any real-life swords at present, for a variety of reasons).

 

As a result of "time well spent", I now have a much better idea of what I’d like in my collection and why.  I won’t go into detail here, but I’ve collected valuable items in other specialties for many years and I know my own collecting style (and yes, I do fit into one of the groups described by Guido in his “Collecting Nihonto” article!)  Given the above, I have absorbed and understood much of the “new starter” guidance, I know that I will make mistakes, I accept the risks of (and have experience of) buying valuable artefacts that can be forgeries, but I’ll do what I can to minimise that risk.

 

I’m not sure I’m ready to buy yet, but I’ve put links below to five swords that appeal to me.  It’s an eclectic mix and I’m not going to bore everyone with describing what appeals to me in each one, but there are some common elements (e.g. koshirae; papered, etc). 

 

And finally, to the point ………. I’m asking for help and advice with two specific aspects of each of the five swords below:

  • spotting any banana skins that I’ve missed, or waving any red-flags that need to be waved
  • what questions (if any) I should be asking the dealers about the sword in question

 

I’m certainly not expecting anyone to spend their valuable time looking at all five, but if you have the time to look at one or two and maybe help me with the above points, I’ll be most grateful.  Even if I don’t buy any of these, the process of studying/researching and reading your thoughts and advice is a valuable learning process for me.

 

Thank you for staying awake and getting to the end of this rambling request for help, and thanks in advance if you can provide any assistance.

 

Jon

 

https://www.Japanese-sword-katana.jp/katana/2110-1092.htm

https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-kanetsune/

https://www.Japanese-sword-katana.jp/katana/2110-1051.htm

https://www.Japanese-sword-katana.jp/katana/2110-1081.htm

https://www.samuraishokai.jp/sword/20156.html

 

 

 

 

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Hi Jon, 

 

Some variety in that bunch, see your sword must have koshirae.

 

One of the dealers there, imagesi struggle with, blades always look to be in heavy hadori polish even when they might not be, difficult to tell, for me.

 

One of the blades is kanbun shape with little sori, not the most sought after, consider re-sale.

 

One looks tired.

 

All personal opinions and likes, as is what you will find when you ask

 

 

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All good choices - I would seriously consider 1 and 3

If you are asking questions about the Morikuni (4) I would ask if they think it isnt machi-okuri - which I think it is and with Shinto condition is everything, to be the best it needs to be in pristine condition. Regarding number 5 you have to love if for the blade, cause that purple tsukaito has to go! mho of course...

-t

 

PS good on you for taking the time to do your homework and ask advice!

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Hi Jon.

For what it's worth, and that's nothing, here goes.

1 Ubu, nice koshirae. Owari and ranked.  The tsunagi looks woeful and you would probably get tired of the kogai.

2 Sue Seki, like the elongated kissaki but the hada would bother me and the koshirae wouldn't get a second look.

3 Ubu with both mei and date, koshirae is nice.  Interesting group to study.

4 Claims ubu but I think not, koshirae uninspiring.

5 Fujiwara Takada, nice enough but that koshirae!  

 

I think I have talked myself into number 1.

 

Over to you but do let us know how it turns out.

 

All the best.

.

 

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If we are looking at shinto katana with koshirae. I would probably not buy the last two as not ubu, less desirable or re sellable imo

 

I would suggest to keep looking!

Just a couple that may interest you, similar price range to yours

 

Shinto ichimonji style Ishido school. Has nthk papers but will prob paper Nbthk too I would assume

https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-kii-kuni-touichi-yasuhiro/

 

6th gen Hizen Tadayoshi with konuka hada and interesting koshirae imo. Nbthk TH

https://www.samurai-nippon.net/SHOP/N-537.html

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Does not seem so many great deals about at the moment.

 

The koshirae is nice on the Owari (1), 

 

The blade itself is nice too. Ive asked for clearer images in the past with this dealer but it does not seem to go down well.

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of buying swords online :laughing:

 

 

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From the ones on offer so far, I'd be flipping a coin between between Geraint's pick, the Owari blade, and the 6th gen Tadayoshi suggested by Matt.

 

The Owari blade has the advantage of size - nearly 75cm long and it would be easy enough to replace the tsunagi and perhaps fun to track down a replacement kogai if you wanted.

 

With the Tadayoshi there's nothing to not like. It's a little shorter but of the Tadayoshi generations the 6th gen is well regarded and it's a more main stream school than the Owari so it shouldn't be a difficult sell should you ever want or need to. I prefer the koshirae to that of the Owari blade, though it might be thought a little too neat. The mounts on the Owari blade look very functional and have the patina of use which has an appeal.

 

There's nothing wrong with the Ishido school blade suggested by Matt other than you might want to submit to NBTHK shinsa and it might be worth asking the question to see if Aoi will guarantee it passes Hozon. Again it's a longer blade and a sought-after school but I just find the hamon a little busy and prefer the more sedate look of the other blades.

 

Have fun choosing!

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Thanks very much to everyone for the comments; its really helpful for me to be able to see how others look at what I'm looking at, but through experienced eyes.  Please keep comments coming if you have any.

 

At least I had 1 out of 5 that pass muster (and the satisfaction that the owari was top of my list) so I'll take that as an acceptable hit-rate for a first attempt! :laughing:

 

Cheers,

 

Jon

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HI Jon  ,

 

 Do yourself a favour and contact   Ian Chapman and see what he has in stock ,  before you ship something  from Japan ,   Ian is in the  UK , 

 

just my two pence worth , good luck .

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On 7/12/2021 at 2:44 PM, Toryu2020 said:

lwith Shinto condition is everything, to be the best it needs to be in pristine condition.

This has been a great discussion all around to be a fly on the wall for. Jon, good luck with your purchase; they all look gorgeous! 
 

Thomas, could you please say a little more about Shinto blades and why condition is relatively more important for them than for swords of other eras?

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Big no. Wouldn't touch any of these with a ten foot pole. Be careful with Shinto, the slightest flaw, suriage, machi-okuri, or worst offender - mumei, will squash the value of these blades. If you do opt for a mumei shinto/shinshinto blade, wait for a big badass name as attribution on the paper - it probably won't be that guy, but it at least says "it's a great blade". You can get a Naotane, Horikawa, etc, this way. The thing is at the starting stage of your journey, you don't even know what to like. 

 

If you want something for your budget which is nice and priced for fast clearance, go to the least traveled roads. And I don't mean dumpster diving on YJP! either. Go the the little guys without a big western audience. 

 

For example: 

 

https://tokka.biz/sword/ietsugu2.html

https://tokka.biz/sword/suesa3.html

https://tokka.biz/sword/nobukuni5.html

https://tokka.biz/sword/tsunahiro3.html

https://tokka.biz/sword/aoe2.html

https://tokka.biz/sword/sadatsuna.html

 

This dealer specializes in buying lowest and selling low within the 8-10K range. Just refresh frequently enough and inevitably you'll find a nice Aoe, Sue-Sa, Nobukuni, Bizen, Naotsuna school, etc, with once in a blue moon a real koshirae (not made up stuff! For example: how cute is that?). Aim for pre-muromachi if you can. Much more forgiving period in terms of condition and you don't need a microscope and a PhD in Nihonto to avoid getting burned. Once you find one you like, just don't hold the tire kicker and ask a million questions. PM someone knowledgeable if you feel like it, and just buy it. 

 

Just arm yourself with patience and good counsel. Avoid Facebook-Sensei, and especially the type of Sensei that want to sell you their secret blades. 

 

Another great way to find a good blade is to look at the forum offerings, sometimes you'll find great things here. 

 

The better path is to invest into a ticket to Japan for 2022 when the country finally opens up, and good look at treasures there. Train your eye, learn what you like, build you war chest and prepare the fertile soil to grow your bonzai garden (a lot in common between bonzai and nihonto). 

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All of these blades are sort of the same class, plus minus. Ok koshirae, ok shinto works. Bad photographs. Number 1 I think will be a bit more interesting in real life, number 5 is also not bad by comparison.

 Ishido blade is impressive, there is an issue that yes any prospective buyer will bulk at it being mumei, and occasionally you can get ishido mumei for less money. But its a fun blade, and if I had to make a choice between all of those I would definitely choose this one and bite the bullet on potential resale losses. Its a serious style which is worth studying. Tuition needs to be paid.

 

If you want something with ok koshirae, aoi art and a few other sites could be a good place to monitor. You will get quite a few things offered in this price range. I always thought Kambun shinto is the right place to get into collecting. Its bright, has easy to appreciate aesthetics, with plenty of mid-ranking and lesser known names that did good work. 

One can just watch out for something that has nice, bright, consistent hada in itame and the hamon with a consistent foam of nie at its upper portion - and high chance its above average work. Lots of sunagashi, nie spreading throughout hamon will point out even better pieces. Quality assessment for this period can be pretty straightforward.

 

Regarding resale... That's a whole different game. For example, one can definitely buy something quite interesting in this price range, but the maker will have one sentence to his name in Markus's book. Or you can buy a very bottom piece by shodai Hisamichi. There are quite a few of those.  Signed, ubu, papered, everything. It will resale well, but is this fun? 

 

Important to remember - people who write guides on how to collect - usually don't. That's the way society works. You either do it, or have a title and teach it. Take any advice with lots of salt. Trust no one, and most of all yourself.

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If we are heading into blade quality, perhaps better with a wak.

 

For a lot less than that seen blades by Naokatsu, Tadakuni, Nobukuni, Sadayoshi come and go.............

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Thanks very much to everyone for taking the time to look and taking the time to give me your thoughts, views, opinions and alternatives; they are all very much appreciated.

 

As is the case with collecting in every sphere (I used to collect Royal Flying Corps gallantry medal groups 'til I had to sell-up), there are as many opinions as there are collectors!  Someone new to collecting may find this frustrating, but I see it as a sign of a very healthy community. Everyone looks at the same thing from different viewpoint, and I get to learn from the reasoning of each opinion.

 

I have now pulled-the-trigger on my first buy. I'll post again when it arrives to tell you what I went for, why, and I'll also share some thoughts on the process for the next UK new starter.(i.e. purchase, shipping, customs, etc).    However, to quote myself in the original post, "I have absorbed and understood much of the new starter guidance, I know that I will make mistakes, I accept the risks [...]". 

 

This is a learning curve, but in terms of resale value, its like gambling on anything (horses, stocks, dice, cards, etc). I have worked out what I can afford to spend, what the mark-ups are in different countries, what I can afford to lose ........... and even what I would like to buy!

 

Finally, to illustrate the point about "as many opinions as there are collectors", I thought I'd leave you with a list of views, comments and advice drawn from the replies in this thread (no real order, just how I spotted them):

  • "Big no. Wouldn't touch any of these with a ten foot pole."
  • "All good choices - I would seriously consider 1 and 3"
  • "[...] downright appalling for the money asked"
  • "All personal opinions and likes, as is what you will find when you ask"
  • "Tuition needs to be paid."
  • "[...] at the starting stage of your journey, you don't even know what to like"

and finally, my favourite (thanks Rivkin)

  • "Take any advice with lots of salt. Trust no one, and most of all yourself."  

:laughing:  :laughing:  :laughing:

 

Cheers,

 

Jon

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Alex A said:

Another thought, be careful where you show potential purchases, seen one or two get snapped up on sight haha

 

I think you're right Alex, all except one of Christopher's examples were marked as Sold by the time I got to look - NMB has great power; be careful to use it responsibly! :o  :laughing:

 

 

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I admit that if I had the spare funds, at least one of Christopher's marked options would have been gone. :)

 

I would like to think I would have pinged Jon about anything on his list I felt that way about before snagging it, though. :thumbsup:

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14 hours ago, FZ1 said:

As is the case with collecting in every sphere (I used to collect Royal Flying Corps gallantry medal groups 'til I had to sell-up), there are as many opinions as there are collectors! 

 

At the core of the issue is opinions often being not about swords, but rather "what I like to collect and so should you".

For myself, collectibles are also goods. What is offered for sale in 80% of cases is worth the amount asked, adjusted for the given store's reputation. If you can kantei on high level, you can bend the curve at the expense of risks, if you can't - you'll loose 95% of the time trying to do so. 

Aside from that, the only question is what one wants to collect and at what level.

At a cheaper store 750k yen can be a good ubu Nambokucho tanto from a second tier but good school or good+ Tegai mumei katana. No koshirae. Or above average Nambokucho waki (i.e. something severely cut down) like Naoe Shizu grind down to 17 inches with average koshirae. 

Daito koshirae will be 100k for something very basic, 250k for something pleasant, 500k+ for something quite collectible. 

750k can give you a good shinto katana with second/third tier signature with very basic koshirae. Or average shinto piece with average or somewhat better koshirae. In shinto waki you can reach for higher end pieces.

If you go shinto or shinshinto mumei you can get much better names (Naotane, shodai Tadayoshi, Kiyondo etc.). Even Kiyomaro will not be much more.

You can occasionally buy a decent Muromachi daito for this price from a virtually unknown maker (there are plenty of those), but those are rare since they are typically either Oei to Onin or Momoyama.

 

That's about all the options. Straying too far from those, like buying upper second tier shinto name (Yasutsugu?) likely means there is a problem with the blade.

 

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Jon, I know you've already pulled the trigger, but are you aware that Shinto blades, & later, have nothing to do with actual warfare? Doesn't matter to some, but other collectors prefer to know that their blade has (likely) been used in battle.

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43 minutes ago, Valric said:

Here is an example of something good to aim for: 

 

https://aoyamafudo.co.jp/product_en/1134/

 

-Naoe Shizu, an upper tier school of the late Koto period.

-Real Koshirae (not some cobbled-up mess for westerners)

-Some interesting history of ownership which can open up interesting discoveries. 

 

 

Christopher,

 

You've significantly jumped the cost factor on this one. The range we were playing with in on this discussion was in that 700K area...with this you've tacked on another 1M on top of that. WONDERFUL blade, for sure, but speaking as someone who plays in this arena (price-wise), that's not really something in consideration. So it begs the question, do you believe similar blades (meeting the criteria you've laid out) are available in that lower tier of pricing? I don't know about the OP, but while 1.7M Yen might be within reach somewhere down the line, it's not something I'm considering if I'm looking in the 700K Yen area.

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15 hours ago, Ken-Hawaii said:

Jon, I know you've already pulled the trigger, but are you aware that Shinto blades, & later, have nothing to do with actual warfare? Doesn't matter to some, but other collectors prefer to know that their blade has (likely) been used in battle.

 

Thanks for the advice Ken. 

My next buy, will almost certainly be an earlier period blade that may have had "combat experience", but for my first buy, I decided that I'm happy with a "non combatant".

Cheers,

Jon

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Christopher (& Jason),

 

Indeed that is indeed something to aspire to, and I'd love to have something like that, but at 11,000 quid, it'll only find its way to me on the back of a lottery win! 

:flog:    :laughing:

 

It's also really inspiring to hear that 5,000 quid only gets me a "cobbled-up mess for Westerners".  Mind you, quite a few other paupers on the forum seem to get by in my price range, so I think I'm probably in pretty good company.  :thumbsup:

Cheers,

Jon

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Indeed, I did raise the cost factor - but the reality for most of us is that one purchase down the line leads to another. That’s one of the main reason that patience is the king of virtue in the hobby. It’s wiser to wait, study, and buy one wonderful piece than to scatter into many lesser ones. Grow your bonsai garden. 
 

For the cost of two mid grade Shinto blade, you could get a Koto piece with period koshirae, some putatively interesting provenance. That’s a qualitative jump. 

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11 hours ago, FZ1 said:

Christopher (& Jason),

 

Indeed that is indeed something to aspire to, and I'd love to have something like that, but at 11,000 quid, it'll only find its way to me on the back of a lottery win! 

:flog:    :laughing:

 

It's also really inspiring to hear that 5,000 quid only gets me a "cobbled-up mess for Westerners".  Mind you, quite a few other paupers on the forum seem to get by in my price range, so I think I'm probably in pretty good company.  :thumbsup:

Cheers,

Jon

 

You're batting well above my average. Looking forward to seeing what you chose.

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To me this Naoe Shizu is a good example of how subjective koto can be. There is no visible activity within hamon, given the photography angle its pale grey color suggests it could be predominantly nioi based. You can't see sunagashi, or inidividual nie grains.

I would not consider a Soshu blade like this attractive, but people obviously do. Yes, there is utsuri, but from description it seems to be all around the place  rather than well formed as bo or midare utsuri pattern - again someone would consider this a plus, to me its a kind of thing one often sees on Uda Muromachi blades. Basically dark spots in jigane. Jigane itself, masame is a bit too rough for my taste. Can be excacirbated by the photography though. It can be a good blade, I don't know, but definitely not my cup of tea.

 

With koshirae, if you want something really collectible, it has to be: purposefully made, fittings by the same hand, lacquer work underlining the style... none of the blades shown in this thread does that. If its not collectible grade, then for me personally the fittings' quality is the main concern and the basis for cost analysis, whether it was assembled a bit earlier or a bit later is far less important. Average fittings = average koshirae.

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