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Japanese sword (hopefully)

Article about: Hello, I'm from Sweden and it seems impossible to find someone here who is competent in the area of japanese swords. I've only been a "reader" at this forum before, but decided to

  1. #1

    Default Japanese sword (hopefully)

    Hello,

    I'm from Sweden and it seems impossible to find someone here who is competent in the area of japanese swords. I've only been a "reader" at this forum before, but decided to join and ask if anyone can help me identify a sword I have in my possession.

    To make a long story short: my mom got the sword from a relative in the 1980's. There's no saya, and the blade has remained remarkably sharp even though my mom got the sword over 30 years ago. I just recently noticed that there's a hamon line on the sword. I've always thought of it as a cheap knock-off, mainly because the very cheap handle and a tsuba that looked like a piece of rusty metal. A couple of months ago I looked around at japanese swords on auction and realised that my swoord look very similar when it comes to the shape of the blade and also the rust on the tang. When I realised that it might be an antique sword I polished it with a wet sponge. It was then I saw the hamon line. I now suspect that it might be an antique blade that has been mounted with cheap parts later in its "life".

    There's unfortunately no signature on the tang, but I hope it's possible to decide if it might be an antique sword.

    I have attached some photos of the sword. You'll have to excuse my lack of photo skills and the fact that I didn't have a white background when taking the pictures! :P

    Greetings from Sweden

    Fredrik
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  2. #2

    Default

    Fredrik-
    You appear to have a genuine Japanese wakizashi. Without an in hand examination, it is impossible to give you more information. It is likely mid 17th c. but that is just a guess from what I can see in the pictures. I doubt it is any older than that.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  3. #3

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    There are good resources here Nihonto Message Board it might polish up nicely, but don't do it yourself!!! David Hofheine is a superb blade polisher in the USA https://www.facebook.com/swordpolish/?fref=ts

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote by BOB COLEMAN View Post
    Fredrik-
    You appear to have a genuine Japanese wakizashi. Without an in hand examination, it is impossible to give you more information. It is likely mid 17th c. but that is just a guess from what I can see in the pictures. I doubt it is any older than that.
    Thank you very much for helping me! It's very intriguing that my sword seem to be a genuine wakizashi. My biggest problem now is that I live in Sweden. I've had a hard time finding anyone with an interest in this subject.I don't think there's anyone profficient at japanese sword polishing either. But thanks to asterperious link I've found some sword enthusiasts that I'll try to contact!

    I'm very grateful for your help!

    I looked at David Hofheine's facebook page, and it's incredible what he can do with the swords he polish!

    Fredrik

  5. #5

    Default

    I am not familiar with Mr. David Hofheine . What are his credentials as a Japanese sword polisher? Was he formally trained in Japan or self trained? When sending a sword for polishing, I know of only three polishers in the USA who went through a full apprenticeship in Japan and he is not one of them. An amateur professional can do much damage that is unrepairable due to a lack of formal training.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  6. #6
    ?

    Default

    I tend to agree with Bob. With due respect to the above mentioned polisher I feel that any sword worth polishing is best sent to either Moses Becerra or Bob Benson if you choose one in the US. From Sweden you might choose one of several top polishers residing in Japan. Keep in mind that a mumei wak might not end up being of sufficient value to warrant the cost of an art polish which runs about 125 USD per inch of cutting edge these days.

    Regards,
    Stu

  7. #7
    MAP
    MAP is offline
    ?

    Default

    Fredrik,

    For an example of what Moses can do, please look at this post. This blade went from one step away from being in the trash heap given its condition, to a beautiful blade.

    But be aware, this is not a cheap (the charge is by the inch) nor quick process but as you will see, it is well worth it IMHO.

    Katana identification

    Michael
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  8. #8

    Default

    Sure - there are extraordinary polishers and plenty of wannabee's, and some in the mi to higher range of the spectrum but pragmatically speaking the biggest names are best used for swords that are likely masterworks or of swords real significance technically or historically. But also don't fall for the myth of 'nativism' with respect to these skills though.

    In this case it is a potentially decent blade that with some professional attention would be nice display piece - does it warrant the cost and wait from someone like Big Mo? probably not. And, the temporary re-imporation of blade to Japan for polish and re-export is a real headache and most polishers in Japan will only take potentially excellent blades for work from overseas customers because of the paperwork with the government.

    Often times too in Japan think of the togashi as a 'house' his name is attached but in the vast majority of cases work is performed by students of varying skill under their supervision. It is also a very insular and closed world of traditional conservative men who are not always fond of dealing with non Japanese. And, let's' face it, they are human too and suffer from shady dealing and fraud and misrepresentation so caveat emptor is a watch-word over there too. Fraud in the sword world has been around for centuries in Japan too. There are many many excellent craftsmen and dealers there but it is a hard world to crack by and outsider and especially if you are overseas. usually you need a go between and this can get tricky and is fraught with peril too with respect to their integrity.

    Polishing is a technique and a skill and it can be learned by anyone willing to understand the materials, process, history and handling and then put in the practice and if they are fortunate they will become very skilled. Most polishers are looking at a several year backlog so that is also worth considering. Many times unless you think you have a potential treasure to ressurect you are better off buying a blade in old polish or in better condition to begin with and conserve it and enjoy it before it goes to its next custodian.

    So if Fredrik wants a 'one off' blade cleaned up for his collection there are a few good tier 2 and 3 choices that are worth considering and I don't think it is fair to discourage options beyond the rock stars. It is by no means easy to be 100% certain of the outcomes either so a fair minded polisher will usually do an examination and a test polish area or two to evaluate if it is even worth spending time and money on a more work and inform the owner.

    In a nutshell I'm not taking a shot at anyone but all I am saying is keep an open and pragmatic mind in approaching this as it is way too common in the sword world to fall into dogma.

  9. #9

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    I can only strongly disagree. I have always been treated well in the Japanese sword world. The respect came from many years of trust by being recognized as a serious collector and student. Due to the condition of this wakizashi, an honest opinion should be obtained before considering putting any money in to it. This can only be obtained by it being viewed by a professional in the sword arts. Some blades are not worth restoration and that is the plain truth.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  10. #10

    Default

    The sword in MAP's link that Moses repaired was fixed beautifully. My problem is that it would cost a lot of money to ship the sword to either USA or Japan (I'm not even sure it's possible to ship it to Japan). Another problem is that it would cost more to polish the sword than what I could gett from selling the sword in Sweden. I'm not interested in selling the blade, but I think it's a bit much to pay 100 dollars per inch to fix it. I dont want it ruined by some crook either. I contacted a group i found on the "Nihonto message board" that asterperious linked.

    Bob, I saw in the thread linked by MAP that swords without a signature are likelly to be mass produced. I can imagine that my sword isn't worth that much since it's unsigned and in pretty bad shape? Anyway, it's nice to know that my sword is a genuine one.

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