Friday, February 12, 2010

Iz It IZ or Iz It AIN'T...........Kotetsu

Greetings out there all my Daito Dingbats. Sabaku Samurai has a tale of international intrigue to share with you. This is a story that began to unfold over 15 years ago when I acquired a rusty old sword that came from a garage sale. Most of the fittings were gone, no wrap on the handle and so oxidized that you could barely see that it had horimono. What it did have was a very interesting signature.

The name was Kotetsu. Yeah, yeah I know, I know. 11 out of 10 Kotetsu's are fake. I know that some of the best and most famous sword makers of all times had a hand in faking Kotetsu blades. I know that there were guys who made a living out of carving Kotetsu signatures. He is probably THE most faked swordmaker of all times. I know all this. But, this was DAMN good. I was not the only one to think so. I sent some pictures of the blade and signature to the NBTHK in Japan and got an excited letter saying the signature looked good and I should send the sword for evaluation. I did so quickly. You must remember that I sent the sword to them in pretty bad condition. I figured if they said it was authentic that I would get the best polisher in Japan to do the restoration. After nearly a year I got the sword back with a letter saying that the sword was very high quality but needed further study and they could not issue a certificate. Importantly, they did not say it was gimei. I put the sword away.
Jump forward 15 years. Last year I dug the sword out and gave it to the very talented master polisher Takeo Seki. What I got back took my breath away. Takeo absolutely performed a miracle. The polish was perfect and the sword showed fantastic work in the style of Kotetsu. The sword has the incredibly bright jigane he was known for and the signature secret rough hada also called gourd hada or Kotetsu's secret snowman about three inches in front of the hamachi. I was thrilled to see all of this.

Then I noticed something. The horimono was exceptional but was clearly not in Kotetsu's style. I was bummed. Then I noticed something else. The blade did not have "Hori do saku" on the tang. Kotetsu ALWAYS put "Hori do saku" on a sword that he did the horimono on. Suddenly it made sense. The horimono was put on later by someone else. This is called atobori. If you were gonna fake a Kotetsu you would probably not try to fake his horimono and if you did you would definitely put "Hori do saku" on the signature. So far this all fit perfectly. The nakago (tang) is exactly correct except it is slightly suriagi. The tip of the tang is cut off. There are several swords in the Kotetsu taikan (book on Kotetsu) exactly like this.

So what is the situation currently. Right now the sword is back in Japan being evaluated by "experts" prior to being sent to NBTHK shinsa. It has been there since September. I am still waiting for an opinion. If they think it is fake then I will not submit it for NBTHK evaluation and save myself at least $700. Obviously it must be pretty good or I would have heard something much sooner. I am not holding my breath because we all know that 11 out of 10 Kotetsu's are fake. I am including several photographs of the sword on this blog. Let me know what you think. I hope to hear something from Japan soon. If it papers I will be partying like a rock star on New Years eve in 1999! I must say that if it is judged gimei I will still be happy because it is one fantastic sword no matter who made it. Hit the comment button and give me your worthless opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These pics are great!!! Keep 'em coming!