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Thoughts on this o-kissaki late muromachi blade?


waljamada
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So at risk of perhaps of someone else snagging it I'd like some opinions on this blade.  An o-kissaki blade has been on my check list for a long time now.  This one has caught my eye, love the length, age, the filled mekugi ana, wish it was signed but its been shortened quite a bit so that's way gone now if it ever existed....it has a kantei by Mr. Matsui Fujishiro Masamitsu which I'm not sure the weight it carries but better than no papers.  In full koshirae with no shirasaya....polish looks good with some flaws...but there she is...thoughts on the sword as my potential o-kissaki purchase?  Also anyone purchased from this company before?

 

https://www.nipponto.co.jp/swords7/KT334374.htm

 

For convenience photos are also posted below.

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I checked it when it appeared on the site few days ago. I like the size & shape and of course the treasure hunter mentality peaked and I was toying with the possibility if it could be bit older. However I would think the Late Muromachi and Mino is sounding like a very reasonable origin, I do not have the knowledge of picking individual smiths.

 

Interesting feature to me is that when you look at the sword both sides side by side the 4 peak portions kinda mirror each other. I could not find reference examples by this Kanesada (兼貞) quickly so I don't know if it is a trait seen in his work.

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Jussi, thank you for your thoughts.   Have you perchance purchased off this site before and had a good experience?

 

I've been told that (living national treasure) Mr. Masamitsu's kantei is one that carries weight/respect so I will defer to it but I'll keep studying to feed/hone that treasure hunting eye.  Never heard of his kantei paper before this. 

 

It also caught my eye that the hamon of the two sides aim to mirror of a sort.  I have seen other blades with that feature and always liked it aesthetically.  I also like hamons that have some suguha that spikes into other activity and back to suguha.  It would also be my longest blade at over 28" nagasa and my one and only o-kissaki example I'd purchase.  I'd have to sell this o-kissaki katana (via my own self imposed rules) if I was ever to purchase another so don't want to make a mistake.  Lastly, I know it's muromachi which can have a reputation for quantity over quality but this appears a nice blade.

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Blades in these shapes were not mass produced as far as I am aware. Another probable case is that this is an early momoyama period work, made mumei later to pass off as Nanbokucho. Seki at this point would lead us to someone associated with Daido, who made blades with O-kissaki in Seki during the early momoyama days.  

 

 

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Can't speak to much other than that as a beautiful sword. Had I not just spent $4000 on another beautiful sword that I wouldn't trade for the world I would have already bought it

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Chris, interesting to know.  I will do a little digging into o-kissaki muromachi era blades.  Same with any Kanesada versions from the eras.  See what I can find or if it does lead me down the Daido road.

 

Nick, yeah it's very very tempting.  I just put an offer in on a new house today so working out how to sneak this purchase in.  Also just got a new blade a month or so back but it was a really amazing deal that I couldn't pass up. 

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Honest opinion?

Yes, the Toushin and the dimensions look impressive. The Hada very soshuesk, but also fits for Sue-Seki. The strong Hadori makes the blade very showy.
But the reflection photos make me think and do not fit the first, exuberant impression. The nioguchi seems very thin and powerless and has no luminosity. Also, the Ji seems quite dry, as if hardly Ji-Nie is present.
I may be wrong based on the photos, but I fear the blade looks more than it really is.

Also the mount seems typical to me that it was last used in iaido....

 

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Thomas, I appreciate the feedback.  Honesty is why I ask.  I am grateful for a good eye taking a look at it as I make a decision.  Your feedback helped me look at it with a finer eye.   My impression of muromachi has tended to be that you will typically find a functional over supreme quality make to many of the blades.  So I always kind of saw that looking at it.   In general old o-kissaki blades come with a price premium so this one even if not a supreme make seemed to have pretty decent health and even features for the price.  But the price alone was enough to let me know it's not a top tier example as nihonto prices go.  Plus it is mumei.  This sellers photos are always kind of dark and feature lite so another reason I was hoping to hear someone's experience with the seller.  I even find it difficult to see much of the boshi in the photos.  The koshirae is pretty plain and I don't see any real age in it but it's clean looking. 

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In my opinion (for the 1 penny it’s worth:)) the seller’s prices are at the top end of the range of what the blades are worth in many cases.  Not saying it’s a bad thing, it is what it is.  They are experienced and know what they have and what the blades are worth… so not a lot of room to recoup any polishing or Shinsa expenses should you someday sell and probably not an opportunity for treasure hunting.  But I also understand that this isn’t always important if you really like it and will be happy no matter what.

 

There was a tanto that sold a while back I wish I would have bought but waited too long because I wasn’t sure.  There was a yari that just sold I thought was interesting but did not know enough about and thought was priced on the high side for that type of yari.  There is a wakizashi there now that I find the unique shape interesting, but once again do not know enough about and think is priced on the high side for the package as presented.  

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John, yeah not totally spaced correctly with different sizes on the tsuka ito "diamonds".  Noticed it more thoroughly after you pointing it out.  Thanks!

 

Mark, this would be my first sword purchased from a dealer.  I've always found, as these things go, that dealer prices are almost always at the top of the market value for a sword.   The mentality I've fallen into is at minimum I would want to buy a blade that I should be able to make my money back (+-$500) if selling which honestly knocks many dealer blades out as potentials.  Also, I of course only know the little slice of things that I see so I keep an open mind that my impressions aren't correct likely as a whole and I play in the lower levels of the nihonto market.

 

I know a blade on ebay now that an original seller offered me at 2.8k.  A dealer bought it and sold it to its current owner in the 5k range.  Now current owner is trying to sell it because he needs the funds; went all the way down to 4k for a time and still couldn't move it.  I only share this to typify what I really want to avoid.  Also this really isn't me dealer bashing as gooddealers offer curated options to purchase backed by knowledge and expertise and have to sell for more than they paid so a premium is to be expected/respected.  Also when consigning they aim to get the best price for a seller the current market sustains.  All fair game.

 

The sub 4k market is the least risky for me to operate in with it getting less and less risky the cheaper you buy a good piece.  I've still never spent over 3k on a katana and have a toku hozon, one hozon I paid 2.6k for and two hozon blades that were at 2k or less.  So what I'm really getting at is the market, if I'm being honest, should make one very cautious because I see what things sell for outside the dealer market and inside and there can be a 20 to even 40% difference.   Hence the "buy what you love" because you have to be ok perhaps losing a bit to own an item you love for a time if you ever need to sell.  Also I agree it can be worth paying a premium to get an item you love as most likely if it sells your chance at it is gone forever.

 

 I do feel like the o-kissaki blade I posted above is a a "safe" 2.5k to 3k sale on the top end in my opinion.  So $3,800 is a bit high but I have honestly struggled to find an o-kissaki blade in the 3k+ and under range in polish (doesn't have to be perfect) that has some age and a kantei...so maybe it's not a bit high...I go back and forth on it.

 

When it comes to sending a blade for togishi and shinsa I can only see it when you find something special and hopefully bought very cheaply to have a chance and covering expenses.  A somewhat diamond in the rough situation which does happen.   I've still never even come across a nihonto for sale "in the wild" so my real life treasure hunting opportunities are essentially 0.  Online I'm too scared to fully gamble a purchase with the goal of polishing/shinsa etc...plus there's already smarter people than me doing it.  

 

In the end I did decide to pass on the blade mostly because I'm buying a house now and the old fashioned decision to be more patient.   An o-kissaki blade is one of the last things on my "I really want to own one" list.  Furthermore if I buy one more blade I will need another katana kake as I have the exact amount of blades as kake spaces currently....so thats my kakes telling me to stand firm with what I've got.

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Two different types of collectors #1 has a bunch of swords that aren't really anything special but has a decent amount of them. #2 has high end Nihonto but only has a few of them, some of us are quality guys and some of us are quantity guys. So this purchase depends on what kinda of collector you are personally simple as that:).

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Edward, yeah I know what you mean.  I at least aim to be in the middle of the two.  I can fully admit that (just for examples sake) if I spent 20k total on a collection over time I'd rather have say 8 swords/examples over 1 20k blade.

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I agree I would put myself in the middle as well, in my opinion and of course it just my opinion neither is the wrong way to go. The high end collectors with just a few do have the better Nihonto but the the lower end quantity collectors have more to study so....

To be honest I do like this blade it's not a hidden treasure by no means it seems priced accordingly but then again I'm a young gun in this realm.

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Honestly, for us young guys Adam, being that we have so much learning to do, I think that it makes sense for us to stick to the low-middle end of the spectrum to increase our knowledge as best we can while being economical. Buying books is a very important part of that learning, and I am not saying buy blades that are considered poor buys, but sometimes you just have to have "hands on" learning. Holding and looking at something up close can teach things that learning from a book cannot.

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Edward, same I'm a young gun in the hobby and sometimes shoot from the hip.

 

Chris W., I really agree.  The experience of owning, holding, staring into the details, looking at the parts, how it all goes together, learning how to handle it, how to care for it, comparing nakagos and even rust colors...all of it...no reading does the visual and tactile knowledge gained that way and it's integral to the spark that grabs hold of someone or throws wood on the interest fire to keep it burning.  Then to have multiple blades to compare makes the difference of features so much more evident...same with having blades of different quality as your collection evolves.   Also, on the life advice front, I would never suggest a young man building a life toss 8k at a sword unless they truly can afford it.  Like any hobby I also wouldn't ever suggest using large debt to pursue this hobby.  Buying comfortably within your means is important, and for beginners pieces don't need to be perfect to enjoy and just try and get the best you can with what you can afford.  There's honor in the hunt/quest even with lower end pieces.  They still have a history.  One can always trade up later when you're tastes/interests evolve and have more "fun" money. 

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Adam, I can understand you completely. I was no different. There are always a lot of emotions involved in purchasing decisions. But emotions must not cloud the view.
Even today, after more than 30 years, I am not free of them. If I am extremely enthusiastic about something, I leave myself a few days until I have cooled down a bit. Often one sees then things, for which one was blind in the first enthusiasm. 

 

I like the shape of the sword. The blade has a proud, confident shape. And if the shape is good, that's always a good sign for the rest of the blade's qualities. That's why I was surprised myself that the Nioiguchi presents itself so weakly on the reflection pictures. It just doesn't fit. Sue-Seki smiths in particular usually have a dense, strong nioguchi hardened - even if not always in luminous appearance. 
But with this blade, I can't shake the suspicion that the strong hadori is meant to cover up the weakening hamon. Why this is so, I do not know. Possibly due to external influences, such as heat. But this is speculative and can not be judged only from the photos.

And as I said, I think that this blade, especially with the existing Koshirae was used by a Iaidoka and I fear that this sword is essentially aimed at clientele in this area.

 

Finally, a word of advice, especially when it comes to the high cost of appropriate quality!  Why necessarily Katana? With a little patience you can find for the price of this presented Katana quite a very good Wakizashi from a possibly quite well-known smith or school.

 

 

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It has been mentioned many times before but seeing really good quality swords in hand will certainly make you think twice about what you buy afterwards. On the otherhand sometimes impulse buying a sword is better as they usually hold their value, all too easy to piss the money away on other smaller things.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Adam, thanks for sharing your post. I am younger collector and new to the hobby, with limited knowledge. Started having interest as a child and for whatever reason only got around to start collecting this year. That said, I really like this blade and think it has an attractive hamon and hopefully the price is OK.

 

Good luck on the house and everything.

 

Best, 

 

Brian

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  • 2 weeks later...

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