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Identifying an unknown wakizashi and katana (Naotane??)


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Hello all. Brand new here so if asking these questions break any community rules, I apologize. 

 

Recently my father came across a couple swords in antique store. To his untrained eye, they looked legit. I believe they are as well. We are looking for some more input and opinions. Here are the blades with multiple angles.

 

First is the wakizashi and a kogatana (which was pointed out to me that it could be gimei and I'm not too worried about it). I can't upload all of the pictures but I will include links to imgur with albums of both pieces. If interested, the mei is in the album and we believe it says Jumyō.

IMG_1844.thumb.jpg.37f7312c0b9b216275b46e698e901e95.jpg

 

Here is the katana, which we (with some reddit help) deciphered came from Taikei Naotane in 1857. 

 

IMG_1871.thumb.jpg.66aef55d1c01af249c857cd96d3a76eb.jpgIMG_1857.thumb.jpg.56dfbc84a461a64774fa2be33f62d5e7.jpg

 

Here are the links for both albums. 

https://imgur.com/a/UaPLYTI

https://imgur.com/a/4V7qNWd

 

These were sold as a set, and the tsuka on each looks similar which I would assume means that they have been a set for some time. If this makes sense, let me know. 

Thanks in advance for looking, and any input is welcomed as far as what should be our next steps moving forward if these pieces might be worth getting refurbished professionally and possibly papered. 

 

R F 

 

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2 hours ago, StealYourBeer said:

Hello all. Brand new here so if asking these questions break any community rules, I apologize. 

 

Recently my father came across a couple swords in antique store. To his untrained eye, they looked legit. I believe they are as well. We are looking for some more input and opinions. Here are the blades with multiple angles.

 

First is the wakizashi and a kogatana (which was pointed out to me that it could be gimei and I'm not too worried about it). I can't upload all of the pictures but I will include links to imgur with albums of both pieces. If interested, the mei is in the album and we believe it says Jumyō.

IMG_1844.thumb.jpg.37f7312c0b9b216275b46e698e901e95.jpg

 

Here is the katana, which we (with some reddit help) deciphered came from Taikei Naotane in 1857. 

 

IMG_1871.thumb.jpg.66aef55d1c01af249c857cd96d3a76eb.jpgIMG_1857.thumb.jpg.56dfbc84a461a64774fa2be33f62d5e7.jpg

 

Here are the links for both albums. 

https://imgur.com/a/UaPLYTI

https://imgur.com/a/4V7qNWd

 

These were sold as a set, and the tsuka on each looks similar which I would assume means that they have been a set for some time. If this makes sense, let me know. 

Thanks in advance for looking, and any input is welcomed as far as what should be our next steps moving forward if these pieces might be worth getting refurbished professionally and possibly papered. 

 

R F 

 

His later works after the 1820's are of higher quality and more sought after.

This hamon looks almost the same as mine.

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Keep in mind this is one smith that had many variations of his signature so it is common to see different kanji styles through his different periods and schools of sword making.

 

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41 minutes ago, Steven Edmund said:

Keep in mind this is one smith that had many variations of his signature so it is common to see different kanji styles through his different periods and schools of sword making.

 

I feel pretty confident on the katana when compared to his other signatures and with the hamon as you said. We believe the wakizashi says Jumyō, someone told me there’s been many smiths with that name over a large timeframe and it’s drilled over the signature 

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What you have drawn and the pictures, do appear to be Jumyo. 壽命.

 

The katana shows the date. 安政四年五日 (Ansei 4=1857) Sorry I cannot find the 4 line kanji for the #4.

大慶庄司直胤 (花押) = TaiKei ShoJi NaoTane (Kao)

https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/NAO183

 

If this is the correct smith, he is Sai-jo Saku rated. Listed as one of the top Shin-Shinto smiths...If this is in fact one of his works. Please compare the signatures to known examples. I can't say with 100% certainty that the signature is correct. The simple straight suguha hamon is not the style normally encountered by this smith. Beautiful sword though. Hope you can get a good price for the pair.

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14 hours ago, DTM72 said:

What you have drawn and the pictures, do appear to be Jumyo. 壽命.

 

The katana shows the date. 安政四年五日 (Ansei 4=1857) Sorry I cannot find the 4 line kanji for the #4.

大慶庄司直胤 (花押) = TaiKei ShoJi NaoTane (Kao)

https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/NAO183

 

If this is the correct smith, he is Sai-jo Saku rated. Listed as one of the top Shin-Shinto smiths...If this is in fact one of his works. Please compare the signatures to known examples. I can't say with 100% certainty that the signature is correct. The simple straight suguha hamon is not the style normally encountered by this smith. Beautiful sword though. Hope you can get a good price for the pair.

 

So I've found many multiple Jumyo smiths, and looking up the kanji it is defined as "life span." The below site says that these were generally given as gifts to Daimyo.

https://new.uniquejapan.com/a-signed-jumyo-long-life-wakizashi/

I'm at a loss for what to look for next with the wakizashi. How would one go about narrowing down the possible origin without the vast knowledge and resources that Shinsa can provide? There is only signature on one side of the tang,  and no date. Which I would assume means that the blade is older or made by a lesser smith. 

 

As far as the Naotane katana 

18 hours ago, Steven Edmund said:

His later works after the 1820's are of higher quality and more sought after.

This hamon looks almost the same as mine.

Now I'm further unsure of what to think of the hamon as Steven says this looks just like his. DTM I thought that I read that later in life he was partial to thinner, straighter hamon due to their physical qualities. 

 

EDIT: Also I'm aware that these could be gimei of course 

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2 hours ago, StealYourBeer said:

 

So I've found many multiple Jumyo smiths, and looking up the kanji it is defined as "life span." The below site says that these were generally given as gifts to Daimyo.

https://new.uniquejapan.com/a-signed-jumyo-long-life-wakizashi/

I'm at a loss for what to look for next with the wakizashi. How would one go about narrowing down the possible origin without the vast knowledge and resources that Shinsa can provide? There is only signature on one side of the tang,  and no date. Which I would assume means that the blade is older or made by a lesser smith. 

 

As far as the Naotane katana 

Now I'm further unsure of what to think of the hamon as Steven says this looks just like his. DTM I thought that I read that later in life he was partial to thinner, straighter hamon due to their physical qualities. 

 

EDIT: Also I'm aware that these could be gimei of course 

mine goes wide towards the middle of the blade and towards the tang.This smith had various different hamon types. 

The way the light that's hitting the hamon on mine and it's not in a good polish as yours isn't doing it much justice 

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17 hours ago, DTM72 said:

What you have drawn and the pictures, do appear to be Jumyo. 壽命.

 

The katana shows the date. 安政四年五日 (Ansei 4=1857) Sorry I cannot find the 4 line kanji for the #4.

大慶庄司直胤 (花押) = TaiKei ShoJi NaoTane (Kao)

https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/NAO183

 

If this is the correct smith, he is Sai-jo Saku rated. Listed as one of the top Shin-Shinto smiths...If this is in fact one of his works. Please compare the signatures to known examples. I can't say with 100% certainty that the signature is correct. The simple straight suguha hamon is not the style normally encountered by this smith. Beautiful sword though. Hope you can get a good price for the pair.

I have also seen this Kanji at the top of his signature on legit blades

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17 minutes ago, Steven Edmund said:

the drawing you made that the other person commented on.

Well. I haven’t noticed Jumyō on any of his other blades but I also haven’t thought to look. From the beginning of looking at these I figured the wakizashi was much older and hadn’t thought it might be Taikei Naotane as well

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I would be bit cautious about the Taikei Naotane. He is very famous smith and lot of false signatures bearing his name are out there. You can find lots and lots of reference signatures by him, I am not qualified to judge them as they vary a lot in form, style and execution. There are lots of different ones judged genuine by NBTHK that seem very different to my eye, so there is bound to be variation. One thing that makes me bit skeptical is the dating as it is dated to the month he died at the age of 79.

 

I believe there are people who specialize in Taikei Naotane and can give you much better insight.

 

I think the Jumyō might be from late Muromachi into early Edo period. Jumyō smiths were known to do that very long elongated stroke at the bottom character. However on yours it is even longer than on my reference examples. Perhaps that could be a thing to look for if some did longer one than others? I am just looking at the sword in overall and basing my estimation about the age on that.

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22 minutes ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

I would be bit cautious about the Taikei Naotane. He is very famous smith and lot of false signatures bearing his name are out there. You can find lots and lots of reference signatures by him, I am not qualified to judge them as they vary a lot in form, style and execution. There are lots of different ones judged genuine by NBTHK that seem very different to my eye, so there is bound to be variation. One thing that makes me bit skeptical is the dating as it is dated to the month he died at the age of 79.

 

I believe there are people who specialize in Taikei Naotane and can give you much better insight.

 

I think the Jumyō might be from late Muromachi into early Edo period. Jumyō smiths were known to do that very long elongated stroke at the bottom character. However on yours it is even longer than on my reference examples. Perhaps that could be a thing to look for if some did longer one than others? I am just looking at the sword in overall and basing my estimation about the age on that.

We are definitely aware of his importance and that people would want to pass a blade as his. Is the only way to be certain to go through NBTHK or find our own expert first? 
 

also I read that he died the 27th of may, and we read it as “one day in February” for the date so it would have been right before he died. 


Another thing we noticed was that the tang has been squared off, which we assumed would have been done as the laws about length of katana changed. Is that a dead giveaway for anything in particular?
 

I have been looking out for an elongated Jumyō but haven’t seen one. Are there specific reference books you would suggest investing in?

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I think commercially NBTHK is the viable option. However off record I would personally value opinions of various people. As the information would be only for myself. Also NTHK offers shinsa option sometimes in the US, I think that could be something to look into too. Not sure when the next time will be when the team will be able to travel to US in the current situation.

 

Lets see if I can do "tagging", for Taikei Naotane I know forum member Peter @BIG knows a lot. And for Jumyō I know member Malcolm @mecox is a good source. He is the author of English language book Mino-to: http://www.users.on.net/~coxm/?page=our_books you can also browse his website for some references. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of his book anymore as I intended to get one of the big Japanese tomes for Mino swords, haven't yet gotten one.

 

I think this is the most elongated signature I was able to find with quick search: https://www.giheiya.com/shouhin_list/japanese_sword/katana/02-1110.html NBTHK specifies Shintō in brackets so they see this as Edo period work.

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42 minutes ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

I think commercially NBTHK is the viable option. However off record I would personally value opinions of various people. As the information would be only for myself. Also NTHK offers shinsa option sometimes in the US, I think that could be something to look into too. Not sure when the next time will be when the team will be able to travel to US in the current situation.

 

Lets see if I can do "tagging", for Taikei Naotane I know forum member Peter @BIG knows a lot. And for Jumyō I know member Malcolm @mecox is a good source. He is the author of English language book Mino-to: http://www.users.on.net/~coxm/?page=our_books you can also browse his website for some references. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of his book anymore as I intended to get one of the big Japanese tomes for Mino swords, haven't yet gotten one.

 

I think this is the most elongated signature I was able to find with quick search: https://www.giheiya.com/shouhin_list/japanese_sword/katana/02-1110.html NBTHK specifies Shintō in brackets so they see this as Edo period work.

Fantastic, I’ll check it out after work. Thank you

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RF ,I have only handled one genuine Naotane . The mei and nakago on that sword were beautiful , works of art in themselves . I am afraid that the piece you are looking at is not in the same league . I don't think that it has a snowflakes hope in hell of being a genuine Naotane .

Ian Brooks

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I am going out on a limb here...the original post explained that these two swords were found in an antique store. Everyone can say without a doubt that these are 100% nihonto. As Ken said above, focus on the blades features FIRST. They both have nice koshirae and the blades are in decent shape. If you like the blades and can afford them, buy them...signatures be dammed. My question to the original poster is, what is your plan with these two blades? Buy them and hope that they are a well known smith, and flip them for profit? Or are you buying them for your own collection, and just want to know what you will be owning?

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8 hours ago, Ken-Hawaii said:

I don't know why this mei is being discussed, when thee is no kantei of the blade's features! The mei is the last thing that should be considered.  :bang:

As a complete beginner to this, it seemed the logical place to start

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33 minutes ago, DTM72 said:

I am going out on a limb here...the original post explained that these two swords were found in an antique store. Everyone can say without a doubt that these are 100% nihonto. As Ken said above, focus on the blades features FIRST. They both have nice koshirae and the blades are in decent shape. If you like the blades and can afford them, buy them...signatures be dammed. My question to the original poster is, what is your plan with these two blades? Buy them and hope that they are a well known smith, and flip them for profit? Or are you buying them for your own collection, and just want to know what you will be owning?

We honestly don’t know what we want to do, I’m just looking to get multiple opinions and hopefully collect as much decent info as I can. My dad has owned a couple swords in his life but I’m sure none of them have been worth very much or been as old as these could be. We agreed they are just cool as hell and unless somebody could convince us they’re worth getting polished and papered we would probably just keep them as collectors. 

 

4 hours ago, Ian B3HR2UH said:

RF ,I have only handled one genuine Naotane . The mei and nakago on that sword were beautiful , works of art in themselves . I am afraid that the piece you are looking at is not in the same league . I don't think that it has a snowflakes hope in hell of being a genuine Naotane .

Ian Brooks

I can definitely appreciate that, thank you for the input. I’m honestly not sure how often these are “recovered” in the US and if anyone ever finds something that was missed by collectors before and is severely undervalued or historically important. Thats why I posted here:dunno:

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18 hours ago, StealYourBeer said:

.............................

 

also I read that he died the 27th of may, and we read it as “one day in February” for the date so it would have been right before he died. 

 

 

The date on the tang is 安政二二年正月日 - Ansei 4th year (1857), January.

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3 hours ago, Nobody said:

 

The date on the tang is 安政二二年正月日 - Ansei 4th year (1857), January.

Wow ...if this blade is legit it's some of his best work for the date inscribed.

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3 hours ago, Steven Edmund said:

Wow ...if this blade is legit it's some of his best work for the date inscribed.

Just asking, how is it some of his best work? Have you seen some Hozon or Tokubetsu Hozon versions signed 大慶庄司直胤 (花押) = TaiKei ShoJi NaoTane (Kao)? Everything about the ones I have seen, the hada, the hamon, the nakago shape, the overall sugata, far exceed the one we are discussing here. Again, refer back to what Ken said above...The blade sugata should be the #1 item considered. Due to the amount of Gimei out there, you should NOT buy a blade based upon signature, unless you have legitimate papers, or you are well versed enough in sugata and school identification to believe that the signature goes along with what you are seeing. In my post above (post #7) I tried NOT to say outright that the sugata does not 100% match the signature...but as you can read above from others, some things are off.

 

^^All that being said^^ It is a good looking blade. If I were to see it in an antique place for $500-$1000...I'd probably buy it. Keep it for X number of years and enjoy it, then sell it for a better piece with papers. If you were to send this to shinsa, it has a good chance of coming back gimei. Wishing you the best.

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For comparison. Look at the quality of file marks (yasurime)...they are almost non-existent on the subject nakago. He was a master of all five school styles (gokaden) so the sugata of his swords may change, but things like handwriting (mei carving) and the yasurime will not vary much.

Sorry Steven, the subject sword does not appear to be an "important people and clans" with a "quality cutting edge and shape plus resilience." <-- whatever that means.

 

To the original poster. Screw the signature, it is a nice package. Hopefully you can get a good deal on them and enjoy for many years. Wishing you the best.

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31 minutes ago, DTM72 said:

For comparison. Look at the quality of file marks (yasurime)...they are almost non-existent on the subject nakago. He was a master of all five school styles (gokaden) so the sugata of his swords may change, but things like handwriting (mei carving) and the yasurime will not vary much.

Sorry Steven, the subject sword does not appear to be an "important people and clans" with a "quality cutting edge and shape plus resilience." <-- whatever that means.

 

To the original poster. Screw the signature, it is a nice package. Hopefully you can get a good deal on them and enjoy for many years. Wishing you the best.

Thank you for your enlightening and informative posts. I purchased these items knowing virtually nothing about them or this topic in general. I was very certain that they were authentic and old to some degree. The only signature I saw before buying was on the wakizashi, plus some rust and corrosion, and thought why the hell not! I have enjoyed learning quite a bit in just a few days, as has my son. I'm guessing he's probably hooked on the subject now. If there was one major piece of information I've not be able to garner it would be...Is there someone in person that I could find to give me an educated viewpoint that would help me decide whether to move forward on continuing my quest to learn about these blades etc.? I apologize if this question doesn't make sense. Either way, thanks again to you and all who have taken time to respond.

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2 hours ago, RedFinch_Garden said:

Is there someone in person that I could find to give me an educated viewpoint

 

Hello GE, there are some members on this site who have been flagged in Jussi's post #16, and they might be able to offer their opinions. They haven't posted anything on this thread yet, so they may not have even logged in these past few days. (Or, they simply may not feel motivated enough to give us their thoughts yet.) Life sometimes gets in the way of our hobbies. Regardless, there are some dealers and other enthusiasts who post from time to time that might be happy to look at it in hand and give advice. I hesitate to volunteer their names here, but you might also look on the forum's "For Sale" section to see some of the sword dealers and maybe contact them directly. Or, depending on your circumstances, you might bring it to a sword show to show it to one of the people there - the biggest sword show in the US was just held in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. It is an annual affair, so you might consider coming to next year's show (covid-willing). I think there is a show coming up somewhere on the East Coast.

 

In any event, the names on your swords are big names, as you now know. Big names come with big risks, but it isn't completely unknown that a garage sale or estate sale or some such event uncovers a rare item. It happened recently with a sword found in an estate sale: it turned out to be from one of the great masters of the past 200-300 years. The name on your sword is of the same caliber. If you are interested, please read this thread. It may help you figure out next steps. 

 

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