Copyright Robert Cole 2015 - No copying or distributing

Placing Price

Once a piece is confidently attributed as the work of a given smith, a system of division of sums is levied as to condition.

It is extremely important that one understand the importance of condition in the pricing of ANY ANTIQUE. The relevance of market price has always been to correctness of style and state of preservation. Prices for swords (as with coins, stamps, furniture, automobiles, any antique or collectible) drop to the degree that condition departs from "Showroom Quality."


Note: Included as an aspect of condition would be any inflating considerations such as a known or special history, unusual shape, gold or lacquer inscriptions, unusual inscriptions, carvings and their comparative worth, excelled or unusual work or any definable attribute of value.

Prices for Japanese swords are deduced from a premium quality, mean-value figure. All books set this value on a KATANA of approximately 271/2", "in-polish," without flaws, and in original condition (without alterations to blade or tang). A tang or NAKAGO without alteration is called UBU or "original." Swords longer than 27 1/2" are enhanced, swords that are stronger are handsomely enhanced. Value is always tied to the strength exhibited as a function of its vality as a weapon. Similarly, swords lacking in size, health or strength from an expected or technically correct example, of a given smith's work, are less desireable and carry a correspondingly reduced market.

Making up only 10% of the population, SAMURAI were by law, the only carriers of long swords. WAKIZASHI (companion or short swords) were the swords of the masses. Since there are so many and since it was always taught that long swords were much harder to make, the value of WAKIZASHI has been approximately 1/3 that of a KATANA by the same maker, and in the same condition. However, this may soon change. It is lately pointed out that the work load these numbers of WAKIZASHI provided, allowed a far keener development at the making of WAKIZASHI as compared with their longer counterparts. Hence, we often see in WAKIZASHI a far greater proportion of the intricate aspects of YAKIBA hardening, INAZUMA, KINSUJI, SUNAGASHI and the like. Weigh value, carefully.

The TANTO are fewest.These were kept, for the most part, by SAMURAI. TANTO were the most carried weapon as a feature of dress in the KIMONO by SAMURAI women.

The famous rites of SEPPUKU, known to the world as HARAKIRI, was done with either a short sword or a TANTO. Men cut the HARA, or lower-abdomen and women, the neck.


-A true DAI-SHO inflates individual values by 100%.

DAI-SHO Note: The first Yakiba for Tachi was Sugaha and this fact reserves for sword appreciation the core or ultimate reverence. This is bone marrow for swords.

Also, A long sword is hard to make, the complexity in Hamon is always better in short swords and Tanto because of control. Therefore the natural way for Hamon is grace and simplicity in long swords and complexity in the short.

So the most natural artistic form for Daisho is Sugu in the Dai and a complex and even "fun" Yakiba in the Sho.

-A TACHI or a long sword of three SHAKU (approximately 36"), or more, is 1/3 greater in value than that listed for KATANA. Prices are scaled upward as to size from the listed standard, UBU, 27 12" KATANA.

-If a sword has been cut down at the tang (not UBU) it is SURIAGE and loses 1/2 its otherwise figured value.

-ORIGAMI of the HONAMI, or the appraisal awards of JUYO TOKEN, TOKUBETSU JUYO, JUYO BIJUTSU HIN, BUNKAZAI or of KOKUHO significantly enhance sales value. (See APPRAISAL PAPERS)

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