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Found an inscription, are these initials, or?


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Making a new thread since the original thread had a ton of images but I just want to ask about a specific new image (see below).

 

When cleaning rust off the nakago, on the back edge of the nakago I noticed what seems to be a small inscription there.

 

What do you make of this:

 

1B9AC7E8-FC06-4AE6-8D76-1BD46007AEF5.thumb.jpeg.c100850bb5a32036a24ebc254de54d75.jpeg

 

4028945E-6F6F-41DA-AD12-B3B3621A48F1.thumb.jpeg.0a250c48200f8c0d3d6a5d096f67cb7f.jpeg

 

 

 

Original thread:

 

Thanks for any tips. 

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Well, you just committed a cardinal sin, NEVER EVER CLEAN A NAKAGO!! You just reduced the value of it considerably.

 

The patina on the Nakago helps determine the age and authenticity, and should never be altered.

 

Prepare yourself for what others will also tell you about this dastardly deed that you have done.

 

Mark

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12 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

The second kanji looks like "9".  Someone else will have to help with the first one.

 

They are on the back edge (mune) of the nakago right? 


Yeah. Maybe it's just a serial number on a mass-produced type sword.

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16 hours ago, MHC said:

Well, you just committed a cardinal sin, NEVER EVER CLEAN A NAKAGO!! You just reduced the value of it considerably.

 

The patina on the Nakago helps determine the age and authenticity, and should never be altered.

 

Prepare yourself for what others will also tell you about this dastardly deed that you have done.

 

Mark

 

Looks like I misinterpreted some advice. Well, that sucks.

 

Now excuse me while I go drink the rest of the rubbing alcohol then find out if it's too dull for seppuku...

 

Sigh

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I understand the precaution to not mess with a nakago.  The depth and coloration of the old rust, patina, helps in determining how old a blade is.  But then, you send it off for polish, and half the time, most of the time?, the polisher cleans the nakago.  I just browsed through Aoi Japan's blades, and half of them had the nakago polished too.  Is there any rhyme or reason to when they clean a nakago and when they don't?

 

And on top of it all, I don't see the harm in cleaning some kanji on the nakago mune.  The entirety of the patina on the nakago sides are intact and plainly useful for dating purposes.  Where am I off on that?

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No, I don't believe for a second that the nakago are polished in Japan.
I think leaving the nakago alone is a trade off for polishing the blade. In most metal collecting, patina is left alone and important to the value and id. Because Nihonto are one of the few items that are allowed to be polished (unlike most other militaria etc) I think the nakago are left to fulfill this purpose. And yes, they are indeed vital to dating and identifying the sword.

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On 1/13/2022 at 6:30 AM, Brian said:

No, I don't believe for a second that the nakago are polished in Japan.

Just seeking clarity, not vested in either side of the issue.  So the polished/cleaned nakago in Aoi Japan sales - do you think they were polished outside Japan?

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Post some links to them Bruce? I don't believe any of them are polished and would expect them to either be newer so that there wasn't much patina, or it is the photography/inverted filters that makes them look polished. But this is a wild guess without even looking at any, so I'm relying on your links to see what we are talking about here.

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On 1/13/2022 at 8:13 AM, Bruce Pennington said:

I just browsed through Aoi Japan's blades, and half of them had the nakago polished too

Bruce can you link some of the swords you are talking about please.  I look at Aoi's swords and have not noticed anything unusual (maybe i am missing something so good to learn).

 

A trained polisher will not "polish" the nakago (other than the inch or so by the machi) but they will remove red, newer, rust and stabilize the patina on the nakago. A good polisher can remove a signature and repatinate the nakago   so are qualified to repair/restore the nakago properly

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Just some ponints to consider here:  Aoi Art works with stock in Japan and in almost all cases these swords have been looked after better than some in the West so the nakago patina is less marred by active rust.  

They also stock swords from all periods, increasingly more recent ones so nakago from Shinshinto might well look very clean, from WWII swords even more so, shinsakuto of course.

Cleaned nakgo are a big downpoint so any swords that had been so abused would have had the patina restored.

 

I have seen clean nakago on the website, but not cleaned, and no Japanese polisher would ever do such a thing.

 

Hope that helps.

 

All the best.

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sorry i didn't mean to hijack the thread so will give my best guess (answer) to your question:

 

From looking at the other thread my explanation for the kanji would be that the blade has always been viewed as a "utilitarian" blade. It may have been part of a castle or arsenal's "stock" of weapons, something stored and issued to someone when needed. The markings may be something used to organize, inventory, track etc the blade.  You see kanji like that on blades used in the Satsuma rebellion in later 1800's

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5 hours ago, Mark said:

From looking at the other thread my explanation for the kanji would be that the blade has always been viewed as a "utilitarian" blade. It may have been part of a castle or arsenal's "stock" of weapons, something stored and issued to someone when needed. The markings may be something used to organize, inventory, track etc the blade.  You see kanji like that on blades used in the Satsuma rebellion in later 1800's

 

Very interesting. Any idea which characters these are? I have no working knowledge of Japanese characters, but I found a website where you draw what you see and it lists possibilities. Problem is, this is some kind of shorthand, a real doozy.

 

This makes it difficult because it would seem that the direction of each stroke matters, but on this size the direction isn't possible to indicate via the normal brushmarks. Then there's the order in which the strokes are made, another factor.

 

I've always wanted to learn Japanese but it was never offered at a school I attended, so I studied German, Greek, and Latin instead. Then in my career, programming languages took over and I kinda forgot about learning Japanese.

 

Until now :D What an intricate and complex form of writing, this. Now I won't stop until I can read it. Thanks, sword.

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On 1/14/2022 at 7:46 AM, Brian said:

Post some links to them Bruce? I don't believe any of them are polished and would expect them to either be newer so that there wasn't much patina, or it is the photography/inverted filters that makes them look polished. But this is a wild guess without even looking at any, so I'm relying on your links to see what we are talking about here.

Here's a muromachi period blade, not Aoi, but relevant:

https://www.Japanese-sword-katana.jp/katana/2210-1007.htm

 

This one from 1864, you can see the careful cleaning around the kanji, but leaving most patina on the kanji:

21600-2.jpg

 

This example to me shows enough corrosion that my impression is that the nakago has been smoothed down.  Not polished, just cleaned up.

https://www.aoijapan.com/katanamumeiyamato-shizu/

 

And Edo period, again not polished, just cleaned:

19494paper-1.jpg

 

A Muromachi one:

21686paper-1.jpg

 

I just don't see any with ugly, corroded nakago.  I guess I'm not seeing any on that site "polished", but I have seen polished nakago.  Maybe it's being done by polishers in other countries?

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Dear Bruce.

 

As Brian suggest the photography has a part to play here.  Just to elaboate on what I suggested above, what we are looking at are swords that have been preserved properly and have then made it through the pool of available blades to papering and are now for sale on commercial sites.  Any sword, unless of great age and importance with what you describe as, " an ugly, corroded nakago", probably would have been selected out by this process.  Set aside the Yamato Shizu which is o suriage and forgetting for a moment that the 'Muromachi' blade is a Hizen Tadahiro and Shinto, what you have are a group of swords that have been properly cared for over their lives.  

 

The Tadahiro as an example would have been a very expensive sword right from the start and would have been treasured as such.  The Shinshinto example is showing the classic signs of what happens in the right circumstances, what Nakahara describes as, "..the natural patina (from handling) has been preserved and is gradually spreading like moss growing on the surface of a garden.  Eventually, the entire nakago will become evenly covered in a deep patina".  In this context the rust around the kanji are the beginning of the process, not the result of cleaning.  He suggests that this deep smooth patina is the result of handling and provides a protection against agressive rust.  

 

The nakago of the Yamato Shizu has that patina but also some pitting, we don't know when it was shortened but essentially all the nakago we can now see was originally blade.  The uniform patina, which you see as smoothing, is the original surface after suriage with some subsequent pitting.

 

All the best.

 

 

 

 

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Definitely an interesting discussion. I have also always heard "DO NOT TOUCH THE TANG".  My question is, what to do about "active red rust"?  This type of rust tends to progress.

 

Most of my experience with corrosion is with Cars and Antique European swords, and generally if it's active red rust you want to either get it off or treat it with something that converts it into a more stable form of oxide.  I'm definitely not advocating that type of treatment for Japanese sword tangs, but with the years long wait list for Togishi currently, what can be done to stop the rust from progressing? 

 

With antique swords that have a bit of surface rust, we usually just apply some WD-40 and let it sit for a while, which causes the rust to turn black, and it doesn't seem to progress after that point. However that's definitely NOT something suitable for Nihonto.

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Just a drop or 2 of oil on the fingertips, while handling the tang and rubbing a little will stop the active rust. Nothing more than that needed unless the rust is thick and flaking (unusual)

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So what I did was to take a "Magic Eraser" (fine sponge from Walmart that's good at removing grit from objects without scratching—I use these for removing yellowing from my 1980s Apple Macintosh collection) and some rubbing alcohol, and scrub the tang for a minute or so, until the red dust (which was covering most of it) was gone and some of the underlying brown/gray buildup was visible.


I didn't scour it all the way down to the bare metal, or anything. Also, the Magic Eraser was literally red after the cleaning. 

 

I can accept that I might have gone overboard and used too harsh of a method—lesson learned.

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On 1/15/2022 at 10:52 AM, Bruce Pennington said:

I just don't see any with ugly, corroded nakago.  I guess I'm not seeing any on that site "polished", but I have seen polished nakago.  Maybe it's being done by polishers in other countries?

Oh, you can certainly find blades with ugly corroded nakago. My latest acquisition speaks for itself:

 

2D578285-6AA0-46A8-BE0F-362F8964204B.thumb.jpeg.10dc63a33a615a6286508652f1b85537.jpeg

It is from Aoi-Art. NBTHK Hozon attributed as Mino Senjuin (美濃千手院). 

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