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Toku Hozon Katana 32" Nagasa Opinions/Observations Please


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Greetings all,

 

So I'm negotiating on this blade to see if it's something I will purchase and wanted to ask opinions.  It would be my biggest purchase yet and looking for perspectives so I don't make a bad choice.  I defer to the compendium of collectors.

 

Been on a quest for an o-kissaki blade with naginata-hi and this mostly hits all my check boxes and a 32" nagasa doesn't hurt.  I'm unable to read the toku hozon papers or the sayagaki but from the description I believe it's saying that a daimyo or person of esteem worked to make the blade along with a sword smith in 1813.  Is this a "cool" factor on market or something that could be a negative? 

 

Also do the papers actually mention co-attributions to any specific smith or just the name of the guy who worked on it alongside a swordsmith?  Perhaps there is mention of a smith on the sayagaki?  Or perhaps he made it himself just under supervision?  Lastly anyone heard of something published named "Token Gikai"?

 

Attached below are the photos of the blade and here is the description:

 

*the sayagaki photos show in my gallery as upright but can't seem to get them to post that way.

 

Katana in Shirasaya (NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Token)
Signature : Numata Naomune
Bunka 9 8 Gatsu

Explanation: This sword was made in Bunka 9th August.

(We divide 4 sections for each sword as Saijyo saku, Jyo-jyo saku Jyo saku, and regular saku)
This sword belongs to Jyo Jyo Saku ranking.
The blade was polished.
Habaki: copper single Habaki.
Blade length: 83.3 cm or 32.8 inches.
Sori :2.6cm or 1.024 inches.
Mekugi : 2
Width at the hamachi : 3.4 cm or 1.34inches.
Width at the Kissaki: 2.6 cm or 1.024 inches.
Kasane : 0,88 cm or 0.346 inches.
The weight of the sword:1105 grams.
Era : Edo period Bunk era. 1813.
Shape: The blade is very long and wide and thick
with deep sori and also long kissaki,
Jigane: Koitame had and Mokume had mixed with jinie attach
Hamon: Nie deck Gunome midair and Togari Gunome Midare with Ashi work.
In Hamon, many Sunagashi and Kinsuji work active temper line.

Special feature: Numata Naomune was working at Higo who was very healthy Taimyo 6000 koku and loved Japanese sword, He decided to work under the Suishinshi Masahide and published (Token Gikiai)
probably the sword was made by different high-ranking swordsmen which is Nagusami Uchi.The sword was engraved Tachi Mei,
some daimyo made sword by himself as called Nagusme chi.
Some Daimyo tried to make Japaanese swords like Mito Rekko and Ichige Tokurin. This sword is almost same as Nagusame chi.
The sword is named as Tachimei is qute few.
and also Nakago style is almost Motohira style. The nakago line is small reached different place like Motohira and masayuki.

From Aoi Art : At glance, the blade looks like Masao and Naokatsu Soden Bizen high ranking sword. according to the sayagaki, he was working as Hosokawa family’s chief retainer. I think he loved swords and decided to make himself with his sword makers

NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Token
Aoi Art estimation paper: whole Oshigata

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4 minutes ago, Shugyosha said:

The kissaki looks odd to me. Seems too small in proportion to what is a large blade. 

 

It is signed with a tachi mei, so I think my calling it a katana above is incorrect.  So if the maker went for a tachi shape that makes a proportionally smaller kissaki make more sense.   I do aesthetically prefer katana proportions over tachi.

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Here is info from Markus Sesko about Numata Naomune, the smith who made this sword.

 

Quote

Higo – “Higo no Kuni kishi Numata Fujiwara Naomune saku” (肥後国騎士沼田藤原直宗作), “Higo no Kuni-jū Naomune” (肥後国住直宗), real name Numata Hideki (沼田英記), he was a retainer and cavalryman (kishi, 騎士) of Higo´s Kumamoto fief (熊本藩) and received a salary of 1,000 koku, he studied under Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀) and dealt like Masahide also on a theoratical basis with sword forging, he wrote among others the books Kenkō Dan (剣工談), Tōken Zusetsu (刀剣図説), and Tōken- Gkai (刀剣疑解), it is said that he also signed with the name Arimune (有宗), we know date signatures from the Bunsei era (文政, 1818-1830) to the tenth year of Tenpō (1839), he died in Tenpō 13 (1842), mostly an elegant and slender sugata combined with a suguha

 

I am not familiar at all with this smith but here are some reference items for you.

https://www.seiyudo.com/wa-070316.htm

https://www.e-sword.jp/sale/2009/0910_1089syousai.htm

https://www.nipponto.co.jp/swords5/KT330787.htm (Arimune)

 

I think one notable thing about the blade at Aoi is the early date too, and of course the great length and shape.

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I'm definitely no expert but I've seen better kissaki, seems like it's doesn't match style for some reason. 

 

However, I think length is a big yes and overall a very nice piece. Gamin is also really popping in the photos. Just kind of wish o-kissaki was a little bit longer.

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Jussi,

Thank you, that info was wonderful and loved seeing some other examples of his blades.  I actually think its quite cool that he got into the art/technique of swordmaking to the point of publishing works.  Thank you very much!

 

Marco,

Yeah, this is literally the first tachi I've seen with a naginata-hi ever.  It's an odd pairing.

 

David,

I never knew that.  Thank you for sharing that.  I just looked up all the toku hozon blades they have currently and they all use that "blade is polished" verbiage.  Does he polish himself or just have a "guy" for it?

 

Shogun,

Been looking for quite a while and besides one Gray had at the last Chicago Sword Show (and I wish I bought it) and one on eBay with kizu-ware I dont remember running across many naginata-hi blades.  I did haggle and the price would be less than listed and weirdly the dollar is really powerful right now into yen.  Good time to buy.  I will keep researching and try to further find more price comparisons for naginata-hi and other late edo toku hozons blades before I move forward.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, JakeNYC said:

image.png.ba81bd657428a8627d90c7713103a0cf.png  Not exactly sure what the deal is with this

 

Jake, yeah not sure what's going on down there.  You can see on one of the pics below the end of the nakago is cut at an angle for some reason...can't imagine why.

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Surfson, I cant read the sayagaki at all so have no clue.  Was hoping someone could clue me in on what it says for reasons like you mentioned.  If it doesn't match that's odd at best. Turned the sayagaki pics the right way up, added all the sections to one photo and sharpened them as best I can to hopefully help anyone that can read it.

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Baba, sadly more like 6.2k after all said and done.  Personally, I expect something special (to me at least) and of a high quality for that amount with a sprinkle of pizzazz.  6.2k is a number range that average Joe and Janes would think you're crazy for spending on an antique Japanese sword.

 

This one I will say has that bit of pizzazz but what interests me most of all is actually the maker.  I love that it was a guy who rose the ranks starting as a cavalryman to some notable prominence under an Uta Daimyo whose history I can research.   Kind of feel like it's a special order blade by Naomune for Naomune.

 

Then the aspect where he studied nihonto, hounded swordsmiths for education, learned all he could and then published works on the craft of nihonto and metallurgical theories is really cool to me.  No idea how good he was at any of this but he had the heart!   There aren't that many surviving works by him and to me a guy like that is the exact kind of guy that would try putting a naginata-hi on a tachi.

 

I wish it wasn't a kesho/hadori polish (will die on the sashikomi polish is better hill), wish the kissaki was bigger but what can you do and some more age would have been nice, but if it had all those it might be out of my budget.  

 

Would have felt amazing about the buy if I got it with the toku hozon papers in the 4k range and at 6.2k I feel I paid a "I just want this premium" and have no idea if I'd be able to get what I paid back if need be.  That's the collectors gamble and accepted risk.     

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It is always important to buy what you like, collectors on the outside of your specific interest will invariably look more at the practical aspects of the blade (cost/polish/market value). You could arrange to have a Sashikomi done while it's in Japan? 

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John and Chris,

 

Oddly I never thought of that option.  I will ask Aoi if they can arrange that and check out costs.  In the end though I can still enjoy it as-is and I can feel my nihonto wallet fiercely tightening at the moment.

 

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Hi Adam,

 

It looks like the blade, although still quite young, has already had quite a material demanding polish (or polishes). Since the monouchi area usually takes the brunt of the damage with use, the noticeable tapering there and the relatively narrow tip could be the result of a repair. It would not be surprising, because especially in the Bakumatsu blades were used again with pleasure, and such huge swords were enormously popular just in the time.

 

The shape of the blade makes sense given the length. The Shinogi-ji sloping through the Naginata form from the Shinogi to the Mune saves material and weight. Personally, I would advise against asking Tsuruta-san for a different finish. The blade wouldn't get any better because I'm afraid he does it himself, whereas the current appearance of the Kissaki polish already looks a lot like him. Besides, with the blade length, it would add up to a pretty penny.

 

Especially in the Shinshinto, samurai swordsmiths were nothing unusual. It was quite in keeping with the spirit of the times, partly out of necessity, partly as a hobby. Tsuruta-san already mentioned Mito-Rekko, the sword-forging daimyo. But also his aite like Katsumura Norikatsu, Masakatsu, Nagakatsu etc. had samurai status. Norikatsu studied with Hosokawa Masayoshi and was apparently even adopted by him. The Hosokawa school was known for its swordsmiths with samurai status. Kawaii Hisayuki also studied at the Hosokawa school. Hisayuki is probably the most famous samurai ( he was Hatamoto of the Tokugawa) who forged first in his spare time, and then in retirement. According to some sources, he was also a master and teacher of yari and naginata. Unlike many of his samurai colleagues, he seemed to have no financial worries and could choose his clients. Thus he forged a nearly 3.7 meter long nodachi for the Atsuta shrine in Nagoya, which was certainly not cheap.

 

There are many other examples from the late Edo.

 

In any case, enjoy your new blade!

 

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   Thanks for the feedback everyone!  I appreciate learning what others see, both the good and bad.  In the end I went with it because it's something that fills some example gaps I wanted in my collection and I strangely wanted to get behind Naomune.  When the sword was made it was still 65 years before Japan got electricity, still attempting to be closed off from Western Civilization and during the last generational breaths of the "old" ways before the outside world irrevocably changed Japan forever.  I like that its an example of those just pre-Boshin War era's Samurai swordsmiths (thanks for sharing on that Thomas) , especially one that got into the publishing/writing end, living while the samurai roles were also slowly irrevocably changing.  I have always had a strong interest in societies/culture, politics, governments, academics/intellects and my degree is in International Relations with minor in History (which speaks to what pulls at me) so I'm not shocked aspects of a maker like Naomune bleeds into my purchasing decisions.

 

As to the blade itself, I definitely bought what I like.  Then again I like a lot of things =|:^)  I can love a tachi with naginata-hi and 32" nagasa in shirasaya with mystery writer sayagaki.  I will keep the polish as-is and I can already tell you if you bring that blade out to non-nihonto fans it will give an impression.  So I have a gateway piece to share with people that will catch an eye more easily like art does.  

 

Still with aaalllll that said, the logical side of me really hopes I'm not too far underwater on it =|;^)

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When needlessly staring into the dark abyss of buyer's remorse, remember the wise words of Nakahara-san:

 

"To begin with, when purchasing a sword, it should be judged on its own merits, not on the kantei-sho it holds . . . However, if both dealers and enthusiasts come to really understand swords and their actual quality, I believe the current deplorable kantei-sho-selling economy will eventually cease to exist. When this happens it will be a satisfactory state of affairs, and collectors and dealers will no longer need to use certificates. 

 

The next time you buy a sword with kantei-sho, remember this story. A man was buying a sword from a dealer. The dealer said, 'As this sword has kantei-show, I cannot reduce the price at all.' So the customer joked, 'Actually, I don't need the kantei-sho, only the sword. So just take off the price of the kantei-sho and I'll be on my way.' The sword dealer was not amused."

 

I personally think your decision making is spot-on! When I manage to scrounge together enough for a fine quality blade (prob. around Stardate 47457.1) my first consideration will be the quality of the blade, second the history the blade saw from forging to now, third the story of the smith, and a far, far, distant fourth consideration will be the resale value. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, waljamada said:

Baba, sadly more like 6.2k after all said and done.  Personally, I expect something special (to me at least) and of a high quality for that amount with a sprinkle of pizzazz.  6.2k is a number range that average Joe and Janes would think you're crazy for spending on an antique Japanese sword.

 

This one I will say has that bit of pizzazz but what interests me most of all is actually the maker.  I love that it was a guy who rose the ranks starting as a cavalryman to some notable prominence under an Uta Daimyo whose history I can research.   Kind of feel like it's a special order blade by Naomune for Naomune.

 

Then the aspect where he studied nihonto, hounded swordsmiths for education, learned all he could and then published works on the craft of nihonto and metallurgical theories is really cool to me.  No idea how good he was at any of this but he had the heart!   There aren't that many surviving works by him and to me a guy like that is the exact kind of guy that would try putting a naginata-hi on a tachi.

 

I wish it wasn't a kesho/hadori polish (will die on the sashikomi polish is better hill), wish the kissaki was bigger but what can you do and some more age would have been nice, but if it had all those it might be out of my budget.  

 

Would have felt amazing about the buy if I got it with the toku hozon papers in the 4k range and at 6.2k I feel I paid a "I just want this premium" and have no idea if I'd be able to get what I paid back if need be.  That's the collectors gamble and accepted risk.     

 

Oh, I got ya and agree safe is smart. It's a buyers market for swords right now and I don't think you will lose money, or that much:) I've lost, I've made, I've lost, I've made. It's how the hobby turns and this one is pricey. 

 

Good Luck

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