Japan. Iron and steel.
Private collection, England
The tang is signed but very little of the first character is discernable. What can be seen of the first character suggests it might be: 實-Sane- giving a signature 實光 Sanemitsu. There was a smith using this name working in Osafune in the province of Bizen circa 1490. The use of –mitsu was common among Bizen smiths, but the date of 1490 –1500 or thereabouts, whilst possible, seems a little early. In all probability this blade was made by a son or pupil of this smith.
Of hira sankaku shape swelling slightly towards the point and towards the shoulder giving the blade an extremely elegant form. The base is cut with a single narrow polished groove. The shoulder, shio, is of considerable length indicative of an old blade.
The grain is a very tight itame (wood grain) of the highest quality. The hamon is a narrow sugu ba (straight) with small martensite crystals (nie) that branch off in wisps above the hamon (sunagashi). A very active and elegant hamon.
Size: Length of blade 45.7 cm / 18 in, Length of tang 40.6 cm / 16 in, with a single hole at 29.2 cm / 11 ½ in