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Handachi - I recently Picked up


Lareon
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Looks like a nice find.  The hada to me looks more like a masame nagare than ayasugi, but that would still be consistent with Gassan.  Just to be sure, is the cutting edge 32"?   Reference to "the blade" is unclear, as that could be total blade or just cutting edge.  As to it being signed katana-mei, does anybody know if the ko-Gassan signed tachi mei or katana mei?  I look forward to hearing more about this sword.  

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4 hours ago, Surfson said:

Looks like a nice find.  The hada to me looks more like a masame nagare than ayasugi, but that would still be consistent with Gassan.  Just to be sure, is the cutting edge 32"?   Reference to "the blade" is unclear, as that could be total blade or just cutting edge.  As to it being signed katana-mei, does anybody know if the ko-Gassan signed tachi mei or katana mei?  I look forward to hearing more about this sword.  

 

Hi Robert, The cutting edge is 33.38" / 84.8cm   I had the measurement slightly off before  

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4 hours ago, Brian said:

@paulb or @Clive Sinclaire should be able to give you some good advice.
Ultimately you want to get it into expert hands who will tell you if it warrants professional polish. Then you need to decide if you will spend the bucks for polish, shirasaya and maybe papers.

 

I've spoken to Paul at the To-Ken society, he graciously gave me a call and some advice on where to take the sword for an appraisal and then potentially a polish in the future. 

most likely will not be doing anything until the new year with it but will post updates when and if there are any.

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Judging from the photographs its very nice and I personally would have it polished.

Very many would rightly frawn upon kantei by photo, but that's how I buy my blades, so I risk (precision of the method is admittedly inadequate) my own money on the method. I am also not a specialist on Gassan.

But.

 

The style of hada is old - its ayasugi (not too periodic one) mixed with wide stripes, its very similar to Houju and to the lesser extent Naminohira. This is very much what you expect from the earliest Gassan work.

The signature is in the right place, and its executed in the right style. So in my mind there is no doubt its a very early Gassan and in good condition.

Now the sugata can be read twofold - either Oei (slightly before or after is ok) or something very old like mid Kamakura. Could you please measure the width and the height of kissaki (by yokote)?

 

For a while existence of Heian-mid Kamakura Gassan was accepted and you do find reference to those in all books. There are however almost no examples which are papered as such today. Typically the earliest you see in modern papers is from 1350-1370 period. They are exceptionally rare - 85% of koto Gassan is roughly between 1504 and 1535, 10% from between 1535 and 1575, and 5% is the rest.

The signature suggests somewhat early date, the way strokes are, and yes "saku" comes and goes in Gassan, and there is an opinion that between 1504 and 1530 it was not used as "Gassan Saku".

I think realistically the chances of this blade being accepted as pre-Nambokucho are very slim. Realistically you are looking between 1360 and 1430. NBTHK will unlikely indicate the exact date. They'll just say its ko Gassan. Unfortunately I don't think there is much here to guarantee its pre-Muromachi. Thus people will be conservative and Oei might come as a default attribution. 

 

Will it be very expensive sword once it polishes and papers? Unfortunately I am tempted to say "no". There is 5% chance it will be accepted as specifically pre-Muromachi and then its more expensive. There is 10% chance it will turn out to be "dud". 35% chance they'll say its later into Muromachi. etc. etc.

But its a rare, early blade and I think it will be very good looking in polish. I think you will get your polish and papers money back, though sort of barely so. Unless there is a person who will really like this kind of style.

This is one of the cases where the blade is rare, collectible, important, nice and in the long term I hope this gets recognized more and more, but today's market is not very forgiving to anything suspected of Oei-ness. I personally like such blades a lot; to me ubu Houju from Nambokucho or even Oei is a prized sword. To most collectors and books its however sort of provincial sidetrack to real collecting.

 

Just my 2c.

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Chris, 'take a rubbing' or 'do a rubbing' is a casual way of saying 'perform an oshigata'.

You could mix the two and say for example: 'take an oshigata rubbing'.

 

(To tell you the truth, I read his original post in the same way that you did. Always better to clarify matters, and better safe than sorry.)

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Tony,  to get the true curvature, which is most important,if you hold the blade up right,holding the nakago so the mune of the nakago is vertical, this would determine the period.

It appears to be saki-zori, muromachi period. The long nakago, also suggest that period. It is a nice sword, whatever the period it maybe. 

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Quote

Yes I really like it, when i bought the sword the blade was unseen as it only had a single zoomed out picture, i couldn't even see the detail properly on the koshirae.

 

So am I to understand you basically bought this more-or-less sight unseen from a couple of sketchy pictures?

 

Where on earth did you find such a gem?

 

Mark 

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7 hours ago, MHC said:

 

 

 

So am I to understand you basically bought this more-or-less sight unseen from a couple of sketchy pictures?

 

Where on earth did you find such a gem?

 

Mark 

 

It had one photo of the sword in the koshirae. No pictures of the nakago or description of any damages etc. Was sold as unsigned and Shinto. 

 

I've been expanding out from gunto recently and been buying books like crazy. Bought my first couple of fakes the other day due to careless research on my part and expanding into an area I'm not so familiar with. but luckily cancelled the order thanks to the forum.

 

I'd had my eye on a katana in the same auction as the handachi but the size of the handachi and the simple elegance of its shape just kept pulling me in and in the end I bid for that instead of the katana.

 

 

i've attached the image

 

 

 

download (1).png

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I think it is very interesting sword, congratulations on getting it with such limited information in overall.

 

I would agree with Kirill that I think this would be genuine Gassan work from Muromachi period. I am going for conservative estimate with Muromachi as the Gassan swords signed on this side tend to be pointed towards Muromachi period (with the exception of 1 that is attributed as a Kamakura period work tachi and possibly oldest Gassan work I am aware of). Pre-Muromachi attribution to signed Gassan is very rare, and they are few in number like Kirill said above.

 

I am attaching here a sword by Gassan smith Toshiyoshi as a reference, it is described being from 15th century but also put towards to late Muromachi in the description. I feel it has bit of the same wibe with very strong curvature and quite long blade in overall. Notice how this also has very small kissaki (tip) as your sword has. However that brings it toward the next question/point. I am hoping your sword still has boshi (hardening at the tip area). In this reference sword the hamon runs off the kissaki and is very faint near the upper blade portion. It cannot really be seen in the picture I posted but there is an oshigata in the book that shows it better.

 

Token GB route is a good one as they have great members with huge knowledge. :)

20211127_184308.jpg

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3 hours ago, Lareon said:

I can't see the hamon around this area at all 

 

This should top the list of things to do whether it be seeking help (the eye) from an experienced collector or even going so far as having a window opened by a polisher. Confirmation of the presence of the boshi will be the determining factor for what comes next. 

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Congratulations ont his fine purchase! I must admit two things: First I was the person who quickly inquired when ypu made this post because it is a very appealing blade to me ... and I must confess I totally missed it when I had seen it before!

 

Here is what Bonhams did say about it:

 

"A Handachi
Unsigned, Shinto
The blade with one mekugi-ana, midare hamon, leather bound tsuka with copper fuchi and kabuto-gane, copper paddle-shaped menuki, and hammered iron tsuba, in its shuroge-nuri lacquered saya with copper mounts en suite with the tsuka
84.8 cm. blade "

 

When I read Shinto unsigned I just skipped it. Infact it is definately a signed Koto piece. One has to wonder what auction house will often come up with. In this case for the sake of the happy buyer. Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

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I have to disagree that the presence of boshi should dictate what is done.  I think its pretty obvious that its going to be pretty close and probaby hard to say in this present polish.  The idea that an elegant piece like  this would not be sent for polish when hundreds of mumei shinto “also ran”  wakizashis are is simply beyond me.  If you didnt make a single cent on this sword when the smoke clears you will have preserved something of real significance and that would be something to be incredibly proud of regardless.  Easy to speak so freely about someone elses money but I do hope you get this restored so you may see all she has to reveal, best of luck to you and please keep us posted!

 

Doug

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I agree with Doug and Stephen above, don't be too stressed about small things. You have very interesting item and will be taking good route with UK folks giving you guidance along the way.

 

Even though collectors often are focused on intact temper lines etc. The sword I posted above made into a prestigeous exhibition held by Sano Art Museum, Osaka Museum of History and Ichinoseki City Museum. I think there is commonly bit of divide between art vs. history. I am in the history crowd and I think your sword will be nice historical example even if it would have flaws. So I would agree with Doug that I would rather see impressive sword like this restored than lot of "average" stuff. Of course like Doug said there is always the financial factor.

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Well when I first started collecting a few years ago my primary interest was gunto and I knew nothing about nihonto and didn't feel like I knew enough to be a caretaker for them. I liked the beat up old swords and I liked to give them a home. I also don't mind buying unseen a little as theres far less competition and also a bit of a thrill finding something good inside. (Case in point). If it's not then I still have a little piece of history that deserves to be looked after.

 

As my collection has grown I joined the forum and have slowly been sharing a few pieces I have here and there instead of lurking. This has made me want to expand into true nihonto.

 

My goal was to have my gunto collection and a few older blades and find one that would be the centrepiece of my collection.

I told myself I'd sell my lowest gunto and use the funds to buy nihonto but in the end I haven't ever tried to sell one of them.

 

Feels to me like I've skipped a few steps and found something. So in all likelihood It will be polished I don't know who and where yet and I'm not really interested in making a profit from it in any way. I paid more for a couple of my gunto than this. 

 

Since posting this on the forum I spent every day reading up on all the little bits people have spoken about in the replies so feel free. negatives and positives I want to hear them all I'm not worried in any way.

 

Cheers guys

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, dkirkpatrick said:

I have to disagree that the presence of boshi should dictate what is done.

 

19 hours ago, Stephen said:

Rest your fears about boshi and other red flags ppl want to wave.

 

9 hours ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

I agree with Doug and Stephen above, don't be too stressed about small things.

 

My, my, my, did I say not to polish, did I say you don't have options, did I say it shouldn't be sent for shinsa, did I even say it couldn't pass a Juyo shinsa?

Well, did I?

 

Just to lay aside fears and stress and whatever else your wondering minds might conjure up and attach to my thinking, thoughts, I know for a fact that there are juyo swords with a polisher drawn in boshi and hamon (interruptions), but from a collector and sword owner perspective it would be advisable knowing whether there is a boshi problem going in before determining and making choices about how to proceed. 

 

I'm happy to hear that Tony can see a boshi, and if that is in fact the case then it removes seeing if there is a boshi off the top of the list of things to do.

 

Good day.

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