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Masakado
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:42 am    Post subject: Sword restoration question Reply with quote
An interesting story:

In the summer of '05, my 92-year-old grandmother died, and after traveling to Massachusetts to go to her funeral, I was helping my parents sort through her stuff when I discovered what appeared to be an old Tachi. My parents were going to sell it until I persuaded them to keep it. It's in pretty horrific condition rust-wise, and the tsuka is completely gone, though it still has its saya (relatively) intact. On the other hand, the tsuka being completely gone allowed me to see its signature; it was apparently made by one Muneyoshi. (宗吉) I'd post a picture of it except I have nowhere to host it. Sad

Anyhow, for a long time I had no idea how old the thing was, who made it, or even if it was genuine, but last November I happened to be in Tokyo and I figured I might as well stop by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai and bring some photos of it to see if I couldn't figure out something. After talking with the curator for a bit and showing him the photos, he said he couldn't tell for sure without having the sword in front of him (I figured as much) but he thought it was definitely a koto and at least Muromachi-vintage if not earlier, which was quite a surprise! (I still have no clue how my grandmother happened to get her hands on something like that)

Anyhow, I was hoping to find some place to get it restored, (and fully identified) and by someone reputable. I know if I sent it directly to Japan I'm sure I could find someone who could restore it, but after hearing horror stories about Customs holding people's Japanese-made treasures hostage for months I'm a little leery of sending it over the Pacific. Is there anyone reputable in North America that anyone knows about? The curator of the museum mentioned someone in Canada but I lost the notes I wrote down. Sad
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niitsu kakunoshin
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:49 am    Post subject: Re: Sword restoration question Reply with quote
Masakado wrote:
An interesting story:

In the summer of '05, my 92-year-old grandmother died, and after traveling to Massachusetts to go to her funeral, I was helping my parents sort through her stuff when I discovered what appeared to be an old Tachi. My parents were going to sell it until I persuaded them to keep it. It's in pretty horrific condition rust-wise, and the tsuka is completely gone, though it still has its saya (relatively) intact. On the other hand, the tsuka being completely gone allowed me to see its signature; it was apparently made by one Muneyoshi. (宗吉) I'd post a picture of it except I have nowhere to host it. Sad

Anyhow, for a long time I had no idea how old the thing was, who made it, or even if it was genuine, but last November I happened to be in Tokyo and I figured I might as well stop by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai and bring some photos of it to see if I couldn't figure out something. After talking with the curator for a bit and showing him the photos, he said he couldn't tell for sure without having the sword in front of him (I figured as much) but he thought it was definitely a koto and at least Muromachi-vintage if not earlier, which was quite a surprise! (I still have no clue how my grandmother happened to get her hands on something like that)

Anyhow, I was hoping to find some place to get it restored, (and fully identified) and by someone reputable. I know if I sent it directly to Japan I'm sure I could find someone who could restore it, but after hearing horror stories about Customs holding people's Japanese-made treasures hostage for months I'm a little leery of sending it over the Pacific. Is there anyone reputable in North America that anyone knows about? The curator of the museum mentioned someone in Canada but I lost the notes I wrote down. Sad


Wow, that is awesome! To me that would be like finding a rare jeweled crown for a middle ages king lying on the ground or a suitcase full of money or something. I wish I knew where to find good sword restoration in America myself actually.
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:03 am    Post subject: Re: Sword restoration question Reply with quote
Masakado wrote:
I'd post a picture of it except I have nowhere to host it. Sad


www.tinypic.com
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Masakado
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks! I didn't know about that site before. Anyhow, here's an image (I have better ones lying around somewhere, I'll update it when I get a chance)

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Tsubame1
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Masakado, Bob benson is a good one for US residents
needing kantei/restoration for NihonTo.
One of the very few non-japanese polishers I would
give a good blade for proper restoration.
He's obviously expensive.

http://www.bushidojapaneseswords.com/

Oil the blade (NOT the tang) with mineral oil,
DON'T put it into the saya again but wrap it into
newspapers and make NOTHING other to it.

If you want to share pics you need to put off the
habaki, take *accurate and detailed* pics of
the tang, kissaki, habakimoto, and central part
of the blade *on both sides*.

Noone will give you a definitive answer thru
pictures but they are always welcomed to watch at.
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jdmcowan
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There is a shinsa in Chicago next month. Check out http://www.midwesttokenkai.com/show/Welcome.html for more details. I think you might even be able to arrange to send the sword to them. But I don't know what condition they will accept swords in. The sword has to still have enough of a polish to see the details of the metal.

jieremi
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Masakado
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tsubame1 wrote:

Noone will give you a definitive answer thru
pictures but they are always welcomed to watch at.


I figured they wouldn't do any good, I just thought people might like to see them. Smile

Thanks for the advice though! I can't actually do anything with the sword myself, since it's at my parents' house and technically belongs to them, but hopefully I can send them the info and prod them into getting it restored. Of course knowing my parents I'm sure they've already done something to ruin its value--not that it probably had any in the first place, and not like I was ever planning to sell it anyway. Smile
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Ranger
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Why can’t my grandmother have some old tachi lying around?

From the photos, the sword looks in relatively decent condition. By your initial post, I was expecting the sword to be much worse. Of course, as others have already mentioned, it’s very difficult to assess the true condition of the tachi via photos, but from that one photo, it definitely has promise.

As jdmcowan suggested, the NTHK shinsa is an excellent opportunity to have a professional assess the condition of your nihonto. They can determine the swords authenticity and condition. The NTHK’s assessment will assist you in determining whether or not to invest further into restoration. You can also have others submit your sword for you (Moses Becerra offers such a service).
http://www.nihontoantiques.com/Shinsa%20info.htm

Until then, an excellent starting point is Rich Stein’s Japanese Sword Guide. It’s a great introduction into the world of nihonto.

http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/nihonto.htm

Restoration: If the sword merits polishing and restoration there are several things to consider.

1) It’s not cheap. There is a sizeable investment (over $1000) in properly restoring a sword. Your sword is probably over 400 years old and is probably worthy of a quality polish from a trained professional. This is definitely one of those situations where you don’t want to settle for less. You may pay over $3000 for a restoration, but if polished properly, your sword’s value may be immense.

2) Expect a long wait. A good togishi will have a backlog of swords waiting to be polished. Don’t expect your sword back for at least six months to a year (if not longer). If it goes to Japan, expect the wait to be even longer.

Reputable US togishi

Bob Benson
http://www.bushidojapaneseswords.com/swordpolish.htm

Moses Becerra
http://www.nihontoantiques.com/index.htm
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niitsu kakunoshin
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ranger wrote:
Why can’t my grandmother have some old tachi lying around?


Seriously! If I found something like that in my grandparents belongings I would probably go cross eyed. Shocked
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Masakado
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ranger wrote:
Why can’t my grandmother have some old tachi lying around?


None of us can figure out how the heck she managed to get her hands on it. At first I thought my grandfather brought it back with him in WWII since he was a medic there, but then I learned he never went to Japan--only Germany.

Quote:

From the photos, the sword looks in relatively decent condition. By your initial post, I was expecting the sword to be much worse. Of course, as others have already mentioned, it’s very difficult to assess the true condition of the tachi via photos, but from that one photo, it definitely has promise.


The photo is deceiving. Up closer it looks much nastier. The blade is covered with nasty black rust, and you can only barely make out the hamon. Plus there's a tiny nick in the blade itself, and it's also not even close to sharp. It's been sitting in a warehouse for 50 years--and in Cape Cod, where the salt air can't have been good for it.
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Masakado wrote:
None of us can figure out how the heck she managed to get her hands on it. At first I thought my grandfather brought it back with him in WWII since he was a medic there, but then I learned he never went to Japan--only Germany.


Obviously she must've taken it from the corpse of one of her fallen enemies. Ninja!
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niitsu kakunoshin
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Masakado wrote:
The photo is deceiving. Up closer it looks much nastier. The blade is covered with nasty black rust, and you can only barely make out the hamon. Plus there's a tiny nick in the blade itself, and it's also not even close to sharp. It's been sitting in a warehouse for 50 years--and in Cape Cod, where the salt air can't have been good for it.


Restored or not, it's still quite a find. If I found it... that'd be going in a case at my house immediately. Wink If the man you spoke to's appraisal was correct than wow... that's all I have to say.

Ashigaru wrote:
Masakado wrote:
None of us can figure out how the heck she managed to get her hands on it. At first I thought my grandfather brought it back with him in WWII since he was a medic there, but then I learned he never went to Japan--only Germany.


Obviously she must've taken it from the corpse of one of her fallen enemies. Ninja!


Obviously. Cool

Laughing
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Masakado
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
niitsu kakunoshin wrote:
estored or not, it's still quite a find. If I found it... that'd be going in a case at my house immediately. Wink If the man you spoke to's appraisal was correct than wow... that's all I have to say.


Well, he seemed to know what he was talking about. Of course he was the curator of a sword museum so that would kind of make sense. Smile He asked me all sorts of questions like about the length, what side the signature was on, etc. One of the things that made him think it was Muromachi or older was the way it was signed--It's got "宗吉" and nothing else on it, and according to him, later-age swordsmiths would write out their full names instead of just two characters. He also said it looked kind of like the types of swords that came out of Wakasa, so it's probably not from Bizen or Mino or any of those other places really famous for their swords.

On the other hand, finding out who made it is going to be next to impossible. I remember him pulling out his encyclopedia of swordsmiths and there were like three full pages of Muneyoshis. The most recent one was in the Bakumatsu era, apparently, so if it's genuine it should be at least 100 years old.

Digging around in the libary of the university I live near, I discovered that "Muneyoshi" was the name of one of the Imperial Swordsmiths that Emperor Go-Toba commisioned at the very end of the Heian period; there were like 12 "official" ones, each who was the designated swordsmith for two months (two being assigned to each month) or something like that, and Muneyoshi was the official swordsmith for two of the summer months. I'm guessing that maybe it's an inherited name and whoever made this sword was one of those people somewhere down the line.
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niitsu kakunoshin
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Masakado wrote:
niitsu kakunoshin wrote:
estored or not, it's still quite a find. If I found it... that'd be going in a case at my house immediately. Wink If the man you spoke to's appraisal was correct than wow... that's all I have to say.


Well, he seemed to know what he was talking about. Of course he was the curator of a sword museum so that would kind of make sense. Smile He asked me all sorts of questions like about the length, what side the signature was on, etc. One of the things that made him think it was Muromachi or older was the way it was signed--It's got "宗吉" and nothing else on it, and according to him, later-age swordsmiths would write out their full names instead of just two characters. He also said it looked kind of like the types of swords that came out of Wakasa, so it's probably not from Bizen or Mino or any of those other places really famous for their swords.

On the other hand, finding out who made it is going to be next to impossible. I remember him pulling out his encyclopedia of swordsmiths and there were like three full pages of Muneyoshis. The most recent one was in the Bakumatsu era, apparently, so if it's genuine it should be at least 100 years old.

Digging around in the libary of the university I live near, I discovered that "Muneyoshi" was the name of one of the Imperial Swordsmiths that Emperor Go-Toba commisioned at the very end of the Heian period; there were like 12 "official" ones, each who was the designated swordsmith for two months (two being assigned to each month) or something like that, and Muneyoshi was the official swordsmith for two of the summer months. I'm guessing that maybe it's an inherited name and whoever made this sword was one of those people somewhere down the line.


That is cool. I really hope you can connect all the dots. You're a lucky man.
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shikisoku
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Some pictures of Muneyoshi

Kamakura period
http://sinogi.ddo.jp/syasin/katarogu/1504/muneyoshi/1.html

Edo period
http://www.l-wise.co.jp/super-jsa/auction.cgi?num=5174&mode=detail
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Masakado
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
Some pictures of Muneyoshi

Kamakura period
http://sinogi.ddo.jp/syasin/katarogu/1504/muneyoshi/1.html


Whoa, the signature on that tang looks JUST like the one on mine. Especially how the length of the horizontal strokes of the "士" part of the "吉" seem to be backwards.

However that Muneyoshi is supposed to be from Mutsu, which would kinda contradict it from being in Wakasa, so I suspect they're not the same. That's almost halfway across the country. Smile

Thanks much for the link!
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Tsubame1
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I begin to wonder if Yahya is reading us... I doubt it
He and his companion with the "Honjo Masamune"
would be very envyous of your luck...

Kitsuno knows what to make in these cases...
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