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An unfortunate looking scratch or hagire?


AntiquarianCat
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So I will preface this by saying the dealer I obtained this sword from is certain it’s not hagire, has an excellent reputation here and elsewhere so this absolutely isn’t a case of someone like Monkey trying to fleece me. That said, I noticed while examining my sword with a lamp that there was an edge scratch on both sides, perpendicular to the hamon, and that provoked the sword hypochondriac in me so here I am hoping it’s not a crack.

 

The “scratches” in question are almost impossible to see with the naked eye unless you have strong incident lighting, if so they’re visible depending on angle. With a phone mounted microscope, they are more notable, one is an interrupted scratch with no depth whereas the other side seems to have a very shallow gouge. Again, not very visible under some lighting and noticeable under other angles. Also, there is no apparent depth to the scratches, I ran a nitrile glove covered fingernail against the scratches and never could feel any sort of depth or catch like true cracks and gouges have. Oil also did not seep or sink into the scratch or linger there; being as easy to wipe off from the scratch as any other part of the edge.

 

My dealer is sure that the appearance of the the scratch along the the lack of any depth, and his not observing hagire while selling means it’s just a scratch? Would other experienced eyes agree with that? I hope these photos under different magnification and lighting help.

 

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Also, here is a photo taken without a microscope and with a lighting angle that yields maximum scratch visibility.

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I also have a YouTube video of the scratches, it’ll need to be viewed at maximum resolution to discern them   


I am including the video because I think it’s the most representative of what the scratch looks like under the naked eye: near invisible unless you’re hunched over and looking at the edge with good lighting.

 

 

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Juan, 

in my understanding, a scratch will be straight or almost straight. What I see in your photos does not look like a scratch.
If this phenomenon is visible on both sides in exactly the same position, I don't know how to call it otherwise than HAGIRE. 

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Juan,  Do you have access to a blade with a scratch?  If not, perhaps someone can post a photo of what a scratch looks like.  When you compare the two, you'll know the answer.

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I would not say it’s symmetric as it’s interrupted on the other side, but yes it’s present in both.  That said my dealer was adamant that it could not be hagire.

 

I do have blades with scratches, and from a naked eye (the video) it does resemble some shallow scratches (invisible unless angled right with light), which is why the dealer insisted it’s a scratch. I would say this one is a bit different from deep scratches in that I can’t notice depth. It was my understanding that there would be some depth in a hagire and oil would adhere. Is it possible for hagire to also exist in a seemingly depthless form?

 

It would certainly concern me if it is hagire. I’m not certain what to do next.

 

If it means anything the “scratch” isn’t apparent unless I have great lighting. 

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That would certainly be terrible news, I’m fond of this sword and I wouldn’t know the first thing to do if I was inadvertently sold a hagire sword. And only now, about two months after the sale have I gotten down to studying it and noticed the flaw.

 

The dealer doesn’t think it is hagire and says he observed no hagire. Could have just been missed since it’s so hard to see? Could this have happened during the shipment (I see no damage to the sword though and the polish is good)? What should I say if he’s certain it is a scratch?

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I have 2 questions for you. 

1. Does the blade have papers? Blades with hagire typically do not have papers. Yes this may have happened after the blade was papered. 

2. If the blade is not papered, did the vendor tell you that it would receive papers? If the answer is yes, you can submit the blade. If it does get papers - no hagire. If it doesn't get papers and the reason is the hagire, then you can ask for a refund. Depending on the vendor's policy, it might be too long a time has passed since you purchased the blade. 

 

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The blade in question was an unpapered mumei, although from a reliable dealer. The vendor never explicitly promised papers but regarding the condition, he said the blade was very healthy and “in full very clean polish, just very-healthy with no Kizu/flaw. ”

 

Papers weren’t mentioned, but a hagire is certainly incompatible with the description.

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The simple odds of there being any kind of "scratch' apparent on both sides of the blade, at exactly the same location, are beyond minimal, better luck with buying a lotto ticket I'm afraid.

 

Additionally, in the magnified views, you can clearly see the anomaly following grain patterns. That would be as very cleaver hat trick for a scratch.

 

Mark

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If the dealer is respected and prominent they should recognize & acknowledge this is a Hagire and either:

 

-offer full refund

-offer substantial refund on purchase price should you wish to keep it

 

Link them to this thread if they are not already active here, this is clearly a Hagire and not worth the cost of their reputation to deny it.

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I had a sword go thru shinsa passed with high score...saying it was a very good koto blade. The show organizer knew that it had a crack and came in and told the team that has crack they're going to leave the papers at that score but when I received them in the mail they turned pink.

Btw the other shinsa team called it Gendaito...

Mistakes happen i hope he gets to see it in hand to realize he missed a crack. If he refuses a refund or any satisfactory compensation I think maybe we need to know who he is.

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A possible course of action you could propose to the seller is for the two of you to settle on a mutually agreeable polisher, and then send the blade to him.  
If the polisher determines it to be a scratch, you agree to assume all of the associated costs of having shipped the blade to the polisher, and of having the scratch addressed if you choose to do so (since it seems like the scratch, if that’s what it is, was factored into your purchase price).

If the polisher determines it’s an hagire, seller agrees to pay all the costs of having shipped the blade to the polisher, as well as giving you the option of a partial refund or return, along the lines of what John proposed.

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Sadly that looks like a hagire. Stress crack?

 

If the dealer says its not a crack then return it and get money back and the dealer shouldn't have any problems if it's not a crack right?

 

Also be very careful with it at this point. It seems solid but even a tiny jolt or hit in the proper spot could crack the sword in half in that area. I would leave it alone and send back if possible

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On 7/19/2021 at 6:43 AM, Stephen said:

I had a sword go thru shinsa passed with high score...saying it was a very good koto blade. The show organizer knew that it had a crack and came in and told the team that has crack they're going to leave the papers at that score but when I received them in the mail they turned pink.

Btw the other shinsa team called it Gendaito...

Mistakes happen i hope he gets to see it in hand to realize he missed a crack. If he refuses a refund or any satisfactory compensation I think maybe we need to know who he is.

 

The papers turned pink? Why?

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Hello everyone, 

I would like to take the time to thank you all for your advice. What I think I will do is ask my dealer to inspect the blade in person, he’s very honest and well regarded here and if he can guarantee that a shinsa/polisher will say the sword doesn’t have hagiri, then it is okay.

 

I wonder if there is any chance the crack/scratch could be spidervein rust damage, it seems that some time after the last polish,  the sword suffered minor surface rust damage on the ha, which was treated but left depressions and colored spots on the ha. I’ve seen spider vein rust in the past and wonder if this could be the case since some parts of the scratch/crack are interrupted (as in no crack for part of the length of the crack)  and depending on the light angle it’s invisible. I hope these photos show that.

 

Regardless I will be contacting my dealer.

Thanks again everyone,

 

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A jewelers loupe or good  magnifier will help clarify matters, but i have not seen rust damage mimic cracked steel. Unfortunately, it only takes seeing a few hagire in one's own work for recognition to occur. A polisher can use uchigumori hato finger stones to eliminate a scratch; hagire will remain.

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42 minutes ago, SAS said:

A jewelers loupe or good  magnifier will help clarify matters,

That would have been the first thing I would have done anyway.
But from the photos alone, it's pretty much a Hagire.

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Juan, letting this drag out with the dealer doesn't help your case. I would send him a certified letter, that requires a signature, that specifically addresses what you want to happen.  Then follow up, every day, if needed.

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If he's one of our regular and known dealers, then I don't see any need for that. Most of our guys have decent reputations and I think we need to let this play out and see if there is a suitable outcome before we start dragging anyone into this that is likely trying to do his bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One important question is whether the hagire/crack was present at the time of purchase or arose after.  If you can find it on the original photos from the listing or that the dealer sent, then you have a strong claim for a refund, in my view.  If not, then the dealer can take the position that it had no hagire at the time of sale.  Sorry if I missed a detail in the thread as I skimmed it.

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Yes I think it’s being resolved. To add context the seller is indeed one of us and a long time seller so I see no reason to assume any dishonesty.

 

I received a verbal and written guarantee that the sword does not have hagire and will be submitting it to shinsa to confirm. I’m told the sword was last polished by a Fujishiro family member (I should have listened better but was told son) who also appraised the sword as from Kaga and said it was healthy, without fatal flaws. So assuming that I will submit it for shinsa, keep my fingers crossed, and hopefully this saga of a sword with those ugly looking marks will have a happy ending.

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