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Howard Clark 28.25" Folded 1086 Katana.
Fully polished and Mounted in Top End Fittings.
$10,895.00 USD. On Consignment
This is a Howard Clark folded 1086 katana I polished and mounted a number of years ago. Fuchi kashira and menuki were hand made by Patrick Hastings of Tagane Arts. Just having the fuchi kashira made today would cost thousands. they are made of shakudo with gold inlay and are exquisite. The surface of the shakudo (a soft metal alloy considered the best of the alloys for soft fittings) naturally patinates to a deep purplish black over time and is quite reflective of the Japanese aesthetic. The "knurled" pattern you see on the surface is called nanako. And unlike in the west where that is applied by a machine, these were done by the craftsman striking a small chisel with a tiny hammer 3 times for each of the little dots. In other words, they carefully lay that pattern in by hand.
In the photo above you can also see the delicate and intricate menuki. I hand cut the seppa for this piece and fit both specifically to fit the tsuba, fuchi and koiguchi of the saya. So everything flows in a correct manner.
The kashira of course matches the fuchi and the tsuka is wrapped in purple doeskin ito. The deep rich color of the doeskin plays off of the tones of the deep fittings and black gloss saya. The samekawa (rayskin underneath the wrap) is a full wrap of rayskin with polished and antiqued nodes to give it a more elegant look and feel.
The tsuba was made by craftsman called "Tomoji" who was doing some really nice piercing work back then. I do not know if he is still working and I've not seen his work in a few years. I believe this is called a "bell insect", but I'm not sure. Regardless, it works with the menuki and overall motif. And besides, the look of an old iron tsuba next to the soft metal fittings is simply a classic design.
And now to the blade... This is really quite special. Howard Clark didn't make many folded blades as he found himself focused on his super high performance L6 katana. However, his folded blades could be stunning and this one was no exception. Deep, rich nioiguchi, ashi, and hard to describe shapes in his hamon. The hada is tight, subtle and hard to photograph, but I got some of it in the photos.
In the photo above you can really make out the hada as well as how the hada interacts with the hamon. At different angles you can better see how the ashi pull the hamon around and affect the look of the sword.
This blade is very dificult to photograph, but it is a lovely piece. Howard's forging is so very precise and the steel is so very hard by traditional standards that it is challenging to say the least to polish and balance this out. Please note these photographs were taken under very harsh lights to get things to stand out in photography. In the hand you have to move it around, study it, and really look in to it to really understand exactly how good Howard's forging is on this blade. Also, every little dust speck and small bit of residual oil I didn't wipe off completely becomes visible.
I also wanted to include the following photo even though it isn't my best photography. I originally wanted a good shot of the habaki but the photo also captured some interesting activity in the yakiba near the hamachi near the habaki. The habaki was made by Patrick Hastings as well and was plated to match the tone of the fittings. I made the seppa to fit together with it all and let me tell you matching the color wasn't easy. But I think we pulled it off... ;) In this photo you can also see the reflection of the sword stand in the shinogi ji. I like photos like that because you can use them to judge how well shaped the surface are.
The original owner of this sword had a number of things made for the sword once he got it. He used a gorgeous antique obi from Japan and had a sword bag as well as a sword pillow made for the sword. There was enough material to make a couple extra bags. some of this is pictured below and are included with the sword.
I have privately shown this sword to a number of martial artists. A couple of them almost committed to it. Their "issue" was that they liked the feel of the blade so much they knew they'd have to cut with it and they didn't want to "damage" the sword or finish. I must admit I find that hard to understand personally. Howard makes some of the highest performance blades in the world. And even as a polisher I fully understand wanting to cut with a sword. Sure, it will get scuffed, but so what. It's a fantsatic sword, very rare, and with top notch fittings from top to bottom. It will equally happy on a stand on display or in the obi of a martial artist for important events.
$10,895.00 USD. On Consignment
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