Copyright Robert Cole 2015 - No copying or distributing

About Polish

A pivotal consideration in the pricing of swords is the condition of polish or TOGI, itself a specialized art.

If a sword is to "bring price" it has to be in good polish. This does not necessarily mean the polish has to be new. Swords that have been scrupulously cared for can present an excellent yet older polish.

A sword in "perfect polish" is in new polish, or not differing from new. Seeing a sword said to be in "perfect polish," one expects to find not only a "like new" polish, but a polish of particularly good or better quality.

Another old fact to be remembered: An "in-polish" sword, being without the cumbrance of risk attendant with the polishers' stone, attains its maximum trade potential at market.

A buyer, seeing the necessity of polishing (additional expense aside), faces the possibility of value loss were the stones to reveal hidden flaws (KIZU). Therefore, a sword that is "out of polish" becomes a risk at market and loses 66%, or more, of its figured valuation with additional credits to buyer for polishing.

A drastically reduced asking price offsets risk to regain market potential. This is true for both buyers and sellers.

An important note on collecting
It is perhaps a partial statement but none the less not far-fetched to say that the sword appraisal agencies and sword clubs in modern Japan have made up and created a mind set for today's collectors and have set them like sheep for the polished, papered "Packaged" sword products. - Little notice has been taken that the real Samurai swords, the swords, the Samurai had and used - are being wholly altered, ground up by polshing and re-constructed, essentially ending their specific histories.

When a Temple or Shrine is completely reconstructed; or moved down the street to make way for a parking garage - is it the same?

So one of the aspects for collectors is certainly polished, papered swords; - the other is original, real Samurai antique swords. The two are not the same.

As mentioned, many of the old Japanese collectors would never bother changing, papering or altering their swords at all - of course, the why of this hasn't been loudly stated.


Only an experienced person, very familiar with the sword world can properly decide the course of action with regards to ANY cleaning procedure. Polishing can only be done by personnel actually trained in Japan. THIS CAN NOT BE OVER-STATED: no matter how careful nor well intentioned, THE UNTRAINED CAN RUIN A SWORD.

Important: Value is dependent on preservation of style. If the planes, angles or convexity are violated, the sword is defaced.

Polishing is an art with a ten year Japanese apprenticeship.

Do not forget: A "cheap" polish is a detractor to value and therefore an utter waste. Any polish is expensive. If it becomes necessary for you to have a sword polished, require the better services. You get what you pay for.

DO NOT PINCH PENNIES when polishing.

Your action with these antiques will outlive you.

Thumb Rules

Listed price






Important work ORIGAMI

= KATANA - UBU - "in-polish"

= 1/2 listed price

= 1/3 listed price (read above)

= 100% inflation of individual price

= 1/3 inflation of price

= 1/2 otherwise applicable price

= Value enhancement

UNIVERSAL THUMB RULE FOR EXCEPTIONAL WORK: A value is equivalent to the level of artistic endeavor present in a given work. If a piece is seen to have had twice the labor, twice the inspiration, or if it were twice the size (excepting of the gaudy), or if any amount of the above were to equal twice the achievement, it would then be expected to have twice the value of an otherwise normally valuable work.
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