Jump to content

So Many Warning Flags, but Have I Found a Good One?

Recommended Posts

I am once again continuing to trawl auctions and sales looking for cheap Nihonto (not just because budget is limited, but also to help save some unloved history, and I always learn so much, even from failures), and have come across a wakizashi I am personally comfortable buying, but I wanted to sense check a potential purchase first.


However, there are several immediate yellow flags:

1. It is being sold with another blade which is clearly a fake acid etched sword

2. The seller describes both as 1900s+ blades with no other details

3. The seller is also selling other modern swords and fittings as part of the same sale

4. I'm 50/50 that the tsuba is completely fake (if its not, what on earth have they done to it?!)

5. The pictures are bad, incomplete, and not all in good focus


It is signed, although I have not been given an image of both sides of the nakago. However, I've seen rust faked, and I've seen patina faked, but haven't come across both fake patina and fake rust on the same blade - this one looks right to me. Also, the ana seem to have the expected discolouration on the inside which is nice. The shape is good, the file marks feel right, and the signature doesn't look immediately fake to me (although whether it is gimei I have no idea):






The blade itself is very much out of polish, but I can still distinguish a fairly straight hamon - I also haven't seen two bohi like this in a fake blade before. My only concern here is the shape of the kissaki - I can't make out a yokote, and the shape of it makes me think it may have been ground down/polished too much? (Although I am not familiar with all the shapes kissaki were created in). There are what look like ware in several places, again suggesting this is legitimate blade. 






So what do people think? Am I mad for thinking of buying this, or have I spotted a genuinely missold nihonto? It certainly feels much older than the 1900s to me... 


Thanks again, 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yesss, thank you Ray! And with a translation too! :)


I'm also pleased I am ever so slowly getting better at spotting these.


The boshi is a concern though - would $300 be too much to pay for such a risk? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again Ray! The price crept up in the auction today to nearly twice that so I decided to step away - but I am really grateful for your feedback, as I'm definitely feeling more confident at spotting both the good, bad, and ugly with the blades.


Hope you have a great day,


  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Is 300 too much not ? Yes if you’re buying a fake  If you’re looking for a good sword you need to dig deeper in your pocket because your wasting your time





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just for the record @Swords, I do believe genuine Nihonto are almost universally criminally undervalued, especially when compared to other art forms. 


However, to answer your question:

  1. As mentioned in my previous comment, it went to nearly double that value, so ~$600 not $300
  2. I don't have a lot of cash to spare so I have to be very picky with my purchases
  3. Risk vs reward generally - $600 spent here (and there is no guarantee the other bidder would have stopped there), means I can't spend it on anything else, so I have to consider what other things may come up in auction later
  4. Risk vs reward for this individual sword - there was a fair amount of risk with this particular blade that there was damage to the Boshi. Although I'm not looking for the best blades, I would still like undamaged ones (bit of an ask I know, but that's why I do a lot of leg-work looking)


So, yes, if I wanted to guarantee that I find a "good" sword, I would definitely need to spend more money. However, my criteria is likely a bit different from other collectors too - I enjoy the process of testing and increasing my knowledge in the wild by looking at these edge cases, I enjoy a good bargain if possible, but I'm also not too fussed about the current state of polish or a signature, so long as the sword is not irrecoverably damaged and genuine - future richer me can always sort the other issues out.


To be honest, I'm still not over the fact I can actually buy 300+ year old noble weapons of justice, death, and status for less than a used car (and sometimes if I'm lucky, less than a new set of tyres). I'd buy every Nihonto on the market if I had the money, since they are just that fascinating and all worthy of preservation, but again, limited funds mean a limited criteria :)

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...