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Atsumori

Nihonto/Gunto/Modern Repro?

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Hello everyone, I've only just discovered NMB after some years over at SFI. Impressive community here :)

 

This was an auction purchase from some time back that finally turned up. I am a Nihontophile but still a novice as far as I'm concerned so thought it wise to consult the more senior Jedi here as to its origins.

 

Overall length: 30.75"

Nagasa: 24.25"

 

I believe that puts it right on the border between Daito & Shoto.

 

The "shira-saya" if you can call it that is in appalling condition with cracks, tired laquer reddening and god knows what else, but inside the blade seems to have reasonable geometry and certainly a hamon. I don't know enough to rule/out gunto or modern production origins myself, but to me the blade seemed to have a little too much sori and erratic hamon for a gunto, and too battered to be post-war. It also seemed like a rather nice habaki for a non-nihonto from what I've come across.

 

There is black & brown oxidation, some opening of the grain and small chips in the edge near the habaki. Blade seems to be sharp all of its length.

 

Will try and get a shot of the nakago in daylight later. Seems to be mumei, with two mekugi-ana. More than just light rust.

 

Thoughts? Nihonto? Era? Shortened? Stubby katana or lengthy wakizashi?

 

kgrhqzhjbqe9qmdgl47bpmh.jpg

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p1000219y.jpg

 

Others:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/151/p1000218f.jpg

http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/5568/p1000218f.jpg

 

Nakago:

 

http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/2088/p1000259k.jpg

http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/7281/p1000262ge.jpg

http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/4284/p1000256k.jpg

http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/3268/p1000258du.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best,

 

Jonathan

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Dear Atsumori,

 

Please sign your name on all posts - it's a rule here. I have put my foot in my mouth more than once, but here goes. Your sword is too long to be considered a wakizashi. It's a daito. It's definitely not modern or reproduction. It's the real thing. I can clearly see the hamon and activities in the hada. It probably needs to be polished to see more activites, but the cost is high (~$100-$150/in). Overall, I like your sword, but there is a fairly long opening. It's not a fatal flaw, but lowers the value of the sword significantly. If you want to get new shirasaya without polishing the sword, it will probably run around $400-$450 (re-using the old habaki, which I think is very nice). Hope my two cents help.

 

Regards,

Hoanh

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Dear Atsumori,

 

Please sign your name on all posts - it's a rule here. I have put my foot in my mouth more than once, but here goes. Your sword is too long to be considered a wakizashi. It's a daito. It's definitely not modern or reproduction. It's the real thing. I can clearly see the hamon and activities in the hada. It probably needs to be polished to see more activites, but the cost is high (~$100-$150/in). Overall, I like your sword, but there is a fairly long opening. It's not a fatal flaw, but lowers the value of the sword significantly. If you want to get new shirasaya without polishing the sword, it will probably run around $400-$450 (re-using the old habaki, which I think is very nice). Hope my two cents help.

 

Regards,

Hoanh

 

Hello Hoanh,

 

Duly noted - I've edited the post to include my first name, I'll keep that in mind in future ;)

 

Thankyou very much for advice :)

 

Yes, I wasn't sure on the length as it's the shortest daito I've scene, even including gunto - and I understand some shoto were deliberately on the borderline in length as chonin and other wealthier non-warrior caste members sought to bend the rules. Modern Iaito seem to be much longer on average by comparison!

 

My hope was indeed to get the blade polished & remounted one day, funds allowing. I've not encountered an urushi lacquered shirasaya before but whilst this one may once have been grand (there is gold paint/laquer at the koicguchi) it is somehwat dilapidated now and probably responsible for the condition of the blade. Could polishing correct the open grain(s)? And if not, are they enough to make repolishing and remounting a bad investment (financially)?

 

I paid about 600$ US in the end, which I felt was a bit steep if it proved to be Gunto, but reasonable for Nihonto.

 

Could anyone offer any suggestions as to age, etc? Or signs of suriage?

 

Kind regards,

 

Jonathan

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Sometimes kitae-ware can be polished away... it depends on how deep they are, and how much material needs to be removed to restore the sword to proper shape. On the other hand, more ware can surface during polishing, so...

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Hi Jonathan,

 

I'm a beginner, too, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I figure if I offer my two cents and they happen to be wrong, the more experienced membership here will correct me, and both you and I will learn in the process - no harm done. No thing ventured, nothing gained, so to speak. Having said that ... since the two mekugi ana are fairly far apart, I think the sword is osuriage. The sword has a very nice suguta (to me anyhow). Since I believe it is osuriage and the shape has some curvature to it, plus the hada is is very active, I would guess koto, but in the past, I have been been wrong more often than right :steamed: The lighting on the nakago is too dark and I can't tell the color of the patina - this is one indication of age. Please weigh in, guys!!!!

 

Adam is an experienced member here, and he is absolutely right about polishing: it could remove relatively shallow openings, but could open up new ones just waiting under the surface. If you are serious about polishing your blade, I would suggest dropping Bob Benson an email (bushidoswd@aol.com) and ask him if you could ship your blade to him for his professional evaluation. All it will cost you is the round trip shipping, say about $100 (including insurance). He will tell you if the blade can take a polish, and if it is economically viable. Here are some numbers for you to consider. The cost of polishing will be around $100/in, e.g., about $2500 in your case. If you polish with Bob, ask him to get new shirasaya and a new habaki. He will coordinate with John Tirado to get things done properly. He will do the initial foundation polish. Then, send it to John for habaki and shirasaya. Then, everything goes back to Bob for the final polish. Habaki + shirasaya for a daito will run about $850 ($400 for habaki and $450 for shirasaya). Add on top of the cost of shipping both ways, about $100. The total cost will be $2500+$850+$100=$3450. I don't think you will get it back out when it's time to sell your sword. So, it's up to you. For $3,450+$600 (your original cost)=$4,050, you can get a decent sword with NBTHK papers already.

 

I hope my input helps.

 

Regards,

Hoanh

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Hi Jonathan,

Having this blade polished might make sense; might not. A properly trained polisher (like Bob Benson) can give you that answer.

I can tell you that it doesn't make sense to have koshirae made for this sword. Whatever you come up with will always be a modern made, assembled by a western collector, jumble of newer and older parts. When the time comes to sell (and it will) you'll be lucky to get half back what you put into it.

If you want a sword in mounts save your money and buy one; easier, cheaper, and better at holding value than plan A.

 

Note to Brian: Every beginner wants to polish his 1st sword and have koshirae made to fit. For a variety of reasons that rarely makes sense. Can't we have a FAQ on this so I can quit answering the question?

Grey

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Good point Grey but there are exceptions to this, had a good gendi in wrecked gunto mounts, wanted as a sort of swan song to get it mounted not in a collection of bits but a full kosherei of my own.

Did this and had ten or so years of pleasure from it,now it is with another collector who see both the mounts as fun as well as enjoying the blade,both being an investment that will pay off in the future.

 

I think most folk would not have a problem with remounting after all it was done many times in Japan.

 

Roy

post-1746-14196834659145_thumb.jpg

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Hi Jonathan,

 

BTW, at $600, it's not a bad purchase. I would guess you can recoup all of it back fairly easily, so don't stress out.

 

Regards,

Hoanh

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Hi Jonathan,

 

BTW, at $600, it's not a bad purchase. I would guess you can recoup all of it back fairly easily, so don't stress out.

 

Regards,

Hoanh

 

Hi Hoanh,

 

Thanks for the reassurance :) If need be I can always sell it on, as is.

 

My thanks to all - I think I've unintentionally opened up a separate debate here through my own poor choice of words. When I said "remounted" I was only referring to a new shirasaya, with/without a repolish! As for mounting in actual koshirae, that was only something I would be considering if I'd decided to keep the sword permanently, rather than an investment. And even if so I would probably go with Fred Lohman for inexpensive restoration rather than assembling odds and ends of fittings myself!

 

Does anyone have any light they could shed on the sword's past? Do signs indeed point to O-suriage Koto as Hoanh posited? I am out of my league here - the condition of the sword made me think Gunto/Edo period most likely, but the decent sori and coarse hada...

 

I had a suggestion on SFI than the sword may have been cut to fit Russo-Japanese war mounts or WWII Naval (Kaigunto?) mounts and since put back in Shirasaya...

 

Best,

 

Jonathan

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Saw this on SFI yesterday, and well I might try to give some beginners points as the experienced members haven't yet shared their thoughts on the possible era. These are just novice thoughts and as I'm at my parents, unfortunately I don't have access to my sword books or bookmarks...

 

My initial thought was/is that this is a suriage late Muromachi blade (this might be way off though...). I think the sword is bit too slender to be an early Edo blade. Also this seems to have shallow sori (it might be just my eyes), but as I think this is suriage with lower ana being the original one, that would slightly increase sori and together with slenderness that wouldn't fit my stereotypic view of Kanbun Shinto or later Edo blade (of course there are variations but I tend to have my own mental image). Also like Hoahn and yourself noted the coarse hada would be one point that I too as a novice would classify as koto feature. Can't see hamon really well but could it be suguha based midare?

 

I would like to hear more experienced thoughts too, and see if even a part of the above was right... :)

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Also like Hoahn and yourself noted the coarse hada would be one point that I too as a novice would classify as koto feature

 

 

No, No, No. Where did you get that idea :bang:

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Looks to be suriage but I don't think I can say from the photos it is koto. The hada looks more shinto to me.....

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No, No, No. Where did you get that idea :bang:

 

Well, I was going to add "maybe" in front of that line. And I know something about hada yet I confess that it's usually way beyond my skill to do any attributions by hada. And I understand koto does not in any way equal coarse hada, there are really fine hada in koto blades too. However I remember reading on several places that sometimes more coarse hada was seen in Muromachi era blades, and Shinto blades tending to have tighter hada. Although it might (and most likely) have been just more usual within some schools than in general during that era.

 

Maybe I'm mixing terms loose, coarse etc. together, and I do not yet understand perfectly the differences in steel itself, soft, hard etc.

 

So period most likely wrong, but at least got the suriage correct. I'm always ready to learn and change my opinions to more correct ones :)

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I'll try and take some better pictures of the hada and nakago when I get home on Monday.

 

Another thing I was wondering apart from the age is that the hamon seemed unusually thin. Is this a sign of a low-quality or tired over-polished blade? Or a poor polish?

 

As an aside, does a thinner/thicker hamon make a sizable impact on a blade's performance, altering the levels of austentite etc?

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Some say a bright hamon is a sign of good steel and proper hardening, but polish can have a lot to do with how bright the hamon looks. As far as performance, you want the yakiba to be hard enough to keep a sharp edge, but not so hard that it becomes too brittle. It's hard to tell these qualities by eye, which is why they put swords through cutting and performance tests in the past.

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Hello all - I'm back with some more photos attempting to show the nakago & hada.

 

Thanks so much for all your guidance so far. Again, I'm looking for any ideas as to age, providence etc :)

 

Hada:

 

p1000273yg.jpg

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p1000275u.jpg

p1000268k.jpg

 

Nakago:

 

p1000267f.jpg

p1000263r.jpg

p1000264f.jpg

p1000266ly.jpg

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