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As sword production has continued through these past centuries, there has been a need to outfit these swords with fittings, as well as, older blades are often remounted. The owner has a choice in which fittings to use: old, new or a combination of both. New fittings can be classified into 2 general categories: Modern Artistry and mass production. Modern Artistry is the continuation of hand crafted production methods, bringing the skills of past generations to modern times (Modern times being the current time period that sword was made in whenever that is or was). Mass production skip most of the artistic process and qualities for the sake of cost reduction and affordibility. Stamping and/or casting of metal work, use of cheaper metals, and a general lack of indiviual effort and artistic merit are signs of mass production. Products can range on a scale between these two categories. So, some items could have some mass production properties, yet still have some artistic merit. The point of all this, is that there is a need for both categories and everything in between. All of these fittings can fill a legitimate need.

The problem arises when mass produced items are misrepresented and sold as a purely artistic ones. These misrepresentations are basically for the sole purpose of monetary gain, since an artistic piece can command much higher prices. While a purely mass produced item is much easier to classify as such, a fitting made with the combination of methods can make detection much harder. A newer piece can be passed off as an antique or older item with tricks, such as, rusting. Photos can be manipulated, colored, aged, etc to give it an antique feel and since many objects are purchased via the internet, it is more possible to get tricked. In order to avoid getting caught in a misrepresentation, the student of fittings must become educated in signs of both categories (mass produced vs. hand done) . The reality is that it can take a lifetime to gain this knowledge, if ever at all. One of the easiest ways to know what you have, is to be aware of what is being reproduced. With that in mind I present some of the reproductions available so that you can recoginize it as such and avoid an unwanted transaction. In otherwords, you won't get ripped off, if you know it is brand new, no matter how disguised it is.

DescriptionReproduction Picture
This is a reproduction tsuba from china. From ebay, they are claiming the following Name: OLD JAPANESE IRON TSUBA HIGO STYLE MANTIS & CICADA DESIGN. Making Process : Genuine handmade Material iron Age: Pre-1800 Items are located : BeiJing of China. These are brand new and ostentatious. It isn't very good or gives a feeling of being Japanese, it is more like a sculpture than sword fitting
This is a reproduction tsuba for hanwei?. They are trying for a soft metal look, but the patina is all wrong
Here is a set of reproduction menuki, up close they look faked especially the back is poor. I own this pair.
Chinese, as most of these I don't have any information on them, since I never handled them. This would be obvious however, since the shape is incorrect for a normal tsuba. Just doesn't look right. One of those, you just know. But you have to see many to know that.
1st clue that it is a repro is the guy is holding it upside down. Saw these about a year ago. Poor imitation of a Mino piece from China. Look at a real mino piece, should be obvious, no matter how much doctoring, although you never know.
Now this is dangerous territory. These I think are hand made by a japanese man and he has a special treatment for the the steel to make it look older. I would have baught this in a second. I am curious to see what it looks like in hand, sells for about 18,000 yen. Everyone should check out this website because these pieces are often sold or implied as the real thing (antique piece). My repro radar has missed some of these on occasion. Note: I am not claiming he is selling them as repo's.
This is one of Paul Chen's golden oriole tsuba's. There are a few of them, from reading a review, they look good from afar and in my opinion that's were they should stay- afar!
Akasaka design reproduction. I own one of the "real" pieces (that may be a reproduction but a fully artistic one). I heard that you can buy guard's like this at newspaper stands in japan. They are made for the tourist trade. See next item.
It was my birthday again and I saw a tsuba on ebay I wanted from a seller in japan. emailed the seller and he said probabley Meiji. My wife won the auction and got the piece. She opened it up and could tell that it wasn't even close to being antique. I should say that she isn't a collector at all, but she could still tell. The metal has a paint like coating which I assume is what the above one is just like. Seller gave me a hasle, finally returned it but cost me almost $50 in fees. Also my wife said she would never buy me a tsuba again. So these are one of those that online can fool you, but in hand you can tell right away.
This is a tsuba made for iado practitioners from Looks like a Shiirimono piece (cheap pieces made by Japanese in late Meiji). I could see it being muckhed with and sold as older although I haven't.
This sukashi tsuba is one of the golden oriole tsubas. I'm sure you could tell, it looks cast from the picture. Still, I see these mounted on blades and with a little out of focus, you could go for it.
I think this is another golden oriole tsuba. It also has a fuchi with a mantis on it. I can see this faking out somebody. The picture is hard to really make out details but the fuchi looks real enough.
Another shot from the one above. The fuchi would still intrigue me.
These fuchis started showing up from china. 100% fake. They tried to imitate nanako.
Another fake one from china, can't remember where I saw this one.
Here is a set of fittings with tsuba that are reproductions. Could see falling for it, the depictions of the F/K are good, although I think you can see the casting and the color is off from a real antique piece.
This is another photo of the tsuba which I have seen sold seperately (actually this one was). The casting is rough but when I saw it for sale the first time, made me look twice. I was thinking maybe it had firescale.
The other side of one above.
Can't remember anything about this one
This is made for a chinese "iado" sword. It is made out of brass. They were going for the Mino Goto look on the tsuba. Menuki look decent. Another one would want to see in hand (the menuki that is)
Here is a set of menuki that comes in several base metals. Major issue is this style has been made for a long time, I have seen them papered as old but most on the market are modern. I have seen a set mounted on a gendai. These have been made for a while. I just caught a set being sold as a meiji pair or older. You can tell they are a stamped pair, but I could easily see someone thinking they are from WWII or a bit older. Hard to know and not recommended for the beginner!
This kozuka bothers me. They are definately being currently made. I found japanese Iado sword sites that have them. They look like they are good and are just like antique ones. Without seeing them in hand I won't buy another set of kozuka in this theme. I have 2 sets in this style and this is enough for me anyway, but people buy these all the time. I have no way of knowing how you can tell if this is new or not. I almost want a new one just so I can tell what the differences are.

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