Polishing the Japanese Sword -- SHUDDER!

by Andrew Quirt

I enjoyed Ken Mack's article about polishing, and appreciated his caution to use a "--worn out blade, or one that is damaged beyond retaining value". I was also heartened to read the Editor's caution following the article.

What concerns me is the simple fact that most collectors, myself included, do not have enough knowledge to determine what is damaged beyond redemption. Even fewer can recognize what is quality.

Over the years I have owned any number of swords that have been destroyed by people who "knew what they were doin". "Just makin' em look good -- Hey, I'm real careful." --- EXPLETIVE DELETED! Tadahiro, Tadayoshi, Nobukuni, Tsunehiro, Momogawa Nagayoshi, --- I could give a litany of twenty-seven years of such "once were collectibles".

No, showing it to the local Sensei doesn't work either. There are so damned many who capitalize on a small bit of knowledge; who posture; who wallow in self-aggrandizement; that you can not tell the players without a program.

I clearly remember an old-time collector of some repute; a gentleman frequently asked questions about swords at all gatherings; the successful finder of more than a few unrecognized juto; a man who examined a sword that a friend was thinking of purchasing. "Don't do it", quote he. "Don't you see the mizukage --- a clear sign of retempering". The sale was quashed. All, save the seller, were pleased.

It was at the recent Dallas show that the owner of the sword, a Nobukuni, which is now in the juyo shinsa, had the pleasure of rubbing my nose in my mistake. You see, Nobukuni sometimes have a mizukage, a fact that had escaped me throughout my twenty seven years of collecting.