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Collecting goals?


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I'm new to the hobby and I've become curious about the topic of Collecting Goals. At first my goal was simply to have a few swords that represented the common designs of Gunto (Type 98, Type 97, RS, Type 95). After months of being involved in the hobby, and now better educated (from my readings, to being educated by NMB members, and from learning from my mentor and Koshirae repair guys), my collecting goals are beginning to evolve. I'm interested in the collecting goals of my fellow collectors. What were your past goals? How did your goals evolve? What are your goals for your collection, currently?

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My goals are to own a DaiSho with insect koshirae and one good insect-themed tosogu piece for each type of fitting (Tsuba, kozuka, menuki, etc)

One good copper N95, a paperable gendaito and maybe a mantetsu. Then I’m done. Will sell only to upgrade. Otherwise, I’ll be broke 😅

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I'm personally into that combination of age and personality with swords.  I also LOVE a beautiful type 94/98 gunto mounted ancestral blade.  I wanted a Mantetsu because it seems the most recent and last militarily/war used Japanese engineering attempt to improve the sword.  I prefer 26" and above nagasa.  Didn't want a wakizashi originally but now have 3 (still not that into them).  Didn't want a yari but now I have one...those make you want a naginata...the classic rabbit hole.  I love non-traditional themes in fittings preferably attached to myth/stories/artistic themes.  I've found I also love different bohi styles on blades and love the different ways to accent/decorate a blade.  I still need an o-kissaki blade (preferably with naginata-hi) and will always be tempted by a blade with a red laquer bohi...always.   Beyond that I really haven't gotten into a strong desire to focus on specific smiths/schools or even hamon styles as I find something to love in each.  Prefer early edo and older.  Would also love a daisho with personality and will always keep my collection at 20 or less swords.  If I ever get to 20 I have to sell one to buy one. 

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Geoff, you made a very important point, once you start on the Gunto journey, your goals certainly evolve with time. 

After starting out with a couple of Gunto, I decided to learn more, and purchased the fantastic publication by DAWSON. 

My goal was then to collect every WW2 variation in Dawson's book, NCO, 94, 98, Late war RS , and KAI Gunto. As well as the tassels and sword belts and hangers. I achieved this, and along the way, found examples Dawson hadn't documented. 

To get to that goal, it took the space of a whole room, and it goes without saying, a bucket load of $$$$! 

A turning point was meeting a local collector that specialized in Gendai-to. It then became "all about the blade". This was further emphasized when I accompanied him to the DTI held in Japan. Whilst there I found a SADAKATSU with AYASUGI Hada made in 1933, polished with Tokubetsu Hozon papers. I was converted to collecting good Gendai smiths. So many collectors around the world have benefitted from my selling off a large part of what I had accumulated. 

So the journey was not wasted by any means. I learned a lot, have made and kept many friends, and importantly sold off swords at basically what I paid for them. So I hope the swords I disposed of, help a new generation of enthusiasts, that in itself is worthwhile. 

So at some time there comes a "life changing moment", like my SADAKATSU, that speaks to you and says, "this is the new direction I want to go".    

 

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Hi Geoff,

 

The safest thing to say is that your collecting goals will evolve in line with your taste and that this tends to be a function of increased knowledge and experience. If you can focus on getting an idea of what amounts to good quality items in whatever area you start off in and pursue purchases accordingly, you'll lose little money and hopefully make a profit if you decide to sell them and move into a different line. Patience and self-restraint are useful qualities if, like most people, funds are not unlimited as it's easy to buy a number of average items rather than a couple of good quality pieces.

 

At the moment I have a bunch of stuff that I feel I've outgrown; the thing that is stopping me from selling these items is knowing where to put the money next, so I'm trying to be patient.

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My path took an unexpected turn.  Like Neil, I only wanted a fair representative of the official Types.  I got there, and wondered "Now what?"  As time went by I developed an interest in the stamps on blades and got into collecting stamps! Ha!  That's mostly complete (though never will end) and my thirst for detective work has chased other paths like RJT numbering.

 

Just didn't see that coming, early on.

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Ahhhh goals....what do I like?  WW2 mounted blades, historical authenticity, provenance (hard to find) and a wild hamon and for me, the exquisite top shelf of hamons is Mt Fuji with, a sun!  Thats my holy grail and thanks to Brian for the attached picture from his 2016 post 👍.

 

But it didn't start that way.

 

2016 I went to the military museum in Darwin NT and was taken by a real gunto (98) in a display cabinet...awesome.  One year later came across another one at the markets .... Koshirae in poor condition ...it had a blade of some description with scratchy writing but they wanted too much US $450 and I was with my wife 🤔 ( it could have been anything...including great!). 

 

But the collector hook had been set.

 

So with interest at a high, I read and researched the internet and decided, on good advice, that I shouldn't waste money on a few cheap guntos but instead, just buy something of value first up.  So with logic rather than heart I bought a beautiful Koto Uchigatana (influence Soshu/Chikuzen school) in nice 98 mounts, mumei from the UK (John Carlin/Bill Tagg). I wont sell it!  Ok been there done that....it was then that I developed a real (maybe my original?) liking for 95's and some leather tassels.  Having been one, like my dad, the NCO's will always have a special place with me. Gathered a modest collection of each variety and I'm very happy with that ✔).

 

Then discovered 98's and bought my first (blind) on Aus. Ebay for a very modest price and it turned out to be a Teruhide with surrender tag and provenance (tsuka not off since 1945 ....I know, I know....but really, that is true).

 

This is a good start to collecting....yes?

 

Started buying real books, listening to people and adding some beautiful swords to my small collection. A greater interest in gendaito is developing but unfortunately and honestly, I have found that the more I think I know, the greater risk I expose myself to (no one from NMB 😊).   For me, a little knowledge can be dangerous so self control and thought are things I need to keep handy in my pocket. 95's were so much easier.

 

Collecting goals? - Like others, my collecting goals have definately evolved.  If I stopped now, I would be very happy.  I haven't sold any of my swords and, at this time, have no intention or desire to buy anything else but I guarantee something will come up.  In the mean time I have started documenting each sword and that is an interesting and very educational task in itself.

 

Happy collecting.

 

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot_2021-08-28-21-28-45.png

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I've really enjoyed the posts here! This is my first year collecting and my initial goal was to have a range of gunto that represented the various types (Type 95's, Type 98, Rinji Seishiki, Type 97). I've nearly achieved that - still don't have a side-latch version Type 95, or the very last variation of the 3rd version "Pineapple sword", or a Type 94. Ironically, I viewed the elusive Type 94 up for bid on invaluable this morning - see attached photo (too bad I'm not in a position to bid, currently). And, strangely enough, I find myself drawn to the Type 97 Kai Guntos - something about the Koshirae. So, I think my current goals are similar to Bruce's initial goals, however, after meeting with my mentor and having my mindset changed, I am now more focused on quality rather than quantity, so I'm moving in that direction (as others have mentioned here with being more focused on the quality of the blade). And, finally (this seems to contradict my previous statement), though I am now more concerned with blade quality and the smith, there is also something about a gunto with damaged/worn Koshirae that peeks my interest. And I believe that's the case because I now know restoration experts who can repair and restore Koshirae, and I really enjoy seeing Tsukas and Sayas restored on formerly damaged swords. Having said that, I don't want to deal with a rusty old scratched, dinged, and pitted blade - the blade has to be in decent shape. 

Type 94 Shin Gunto with Tasseel.png

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My collecting goals started similar to many others, just a representative sample of the different types, and to be honest, I think I have completed that goal, once that was completed I started to think, what my favorite aspects of different gunto there were and that was how unique and the variation of how gunto were decorated. So I set out a big goal of collecting some odd ducks, and a small goal of understanding tassels and collecting mint condition tassels for my gunto. Luck (unlucky for my bank account) those goals were obtained and I was able to put some unusual gunto into my collection and make a very nice tassel display. Now my goals are to sell off a few swords to fund my next big goals in my collection. A nice Lida lock gunto, and a SMR gunto. the SMR gunto will be the center of my display, as before collecting Imperial Japanese militaria I collected and ran n scale trains, it was actually a scale model of an imperial Japanese locomotive that got me onto this track (haha). As for a smaller goal, knowing it will take years for those swords to come up and for the right price, I want to collect the shortest gunto, I know there are some really short tanto/ o-tanto in gunto mounts that I would love to add to my collection. In the meantime I have been working on displaying my items, trying to give them more of an organized feeling. Here are pictures of my tassel display and a display box I have made. . . IMG_20210828_200644.thumb.jpg.9d330b0a69377d1e3ac079e26c1fd6ae.jpgIMG_20210123_114723.thumb.jpg.71de15fdf1b38aa7ce50afaab04b4c2c.jpg

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12 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

My path took an unexpected turn.  Like Neil, I only wanted a fair representative of the official Types.  I got there, and wondered "Now what?"  As time went by I developed an interest in the stamps on blades and got into collecting stamps! Ha!  That's mostly complete (though never will end) and my thirst for detective work has chased other paths like RJT numbering.

 

Just didn't see that coming, early on.

I’m thankful that you do this @Bruce Pennington-helps cement the past for the future

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Great posts! 

Matthew, what is a "Lida lock gunto", and what is an "SMR" gunto? I hadn't heard of these types until you mentioned them in your post. And, FYI, that Type 94 in the photo I posted just sold today for $3400.00 USD. Is that an average price in the current market for a Type 94 in good condition?

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There was a 28% buyers premium as well, important to remember if bidding at auction..... Perhaps it is high considering the blade is likely Gimei, however it is difficult to find completely original Type 94 mounts in that condition. Hard to beat that one if a collector really wanted a single good example. 

 

 

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I used to have a collecting goal of having c. 10 different tachi from Kamakura / Nanbokuchō periods from various parts of Japan from North to South. However realities hit me and I had to tone down that a lot.

 

Now my priorities are getting rare books about Japanese swords and travelling to Japan to see stuff in museums etc.

 

Of course I am open to items if something pops up that interests me and would be possible to purchase, however unfortunately my taste in swords and my finances don't walk hand in hand... so I am not stressing about items.

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10 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

Geoff, you've probably heard of Mantetsu and Koa Isshin blades?  Mantetsu is a contraction of the SMR name.

Thanks Bruce for the clarification, and thanks Neil for the example in the photo. And, yeah, I think I'll have to put a Mantesu on my list for a longer-term collecting goal.

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