• Iron tsuba of mokko form decorated with encircled family crests in low relief carving; niku from 3.0 mm in the centre to 4.0 mm at rim and full 1 mm raised uchikaeshi-mimi. Nobuie [信家] signature (hanare-mei) to the left of nakago-ana; on the reverse, to the right of nakago-ana, the inscription reads “62”, which may be how old the master was at the age of making the tsuba. Pewter or lead plugged hitsuana. In a wooden box, in a custom pouch. Size: H: 80 mm, W: 75, Th(c): 3.1 mm, Th(r): 4.0 mm Weight: 103.5 g

    Signed: Nobuie [信家] / 62

    Probably the work of Shodai Nobuie (c. 1580).

    Tokubetsu hozon certificate № 2002993 of the N.B.T.H.K., dated January 15, 2016. NOBUIE TSUBA by Steve Waszak The iron tsuba made by the two early Nobuie masters are regarded as the greatest sword guards ever made across hundreds of years of Japanese history.  Only a small handful of other smiths' names are even mentioned in the same breath as that of Nobuie.  Despite the well-deserved fame of the Nobuie name, virtually nothing is known with certainty about the lives of the two men who made the pieces carrying this name.  They are thought to have been men of Owari Province, with the Nidai Nobuie also spending time in Aki Province at the end of the Momoyama Period. Two Nobuie tsubako are recognized.  The man whom most consider to have been the Shodai signed his sword guards with finer and more elegantly inscribed characters than the smith seen by most as the Nidai.  The term used to describe the mei of the Shodai is "hanare-mei" or "ga-mei," while that used to characterize the signature of the Nidai is "futoji-mei" or "chikara-mei."  These terms refer to the fineness and grace of the Shodai's signature and the relatively more powerfully inscribed characters of the Nidai's.  The Shodai is thought to have lived during the Eiroku and Tensho eras in the latter part of the 16th century, while the Nidai's years are considered to have been from Tensho into the Genna era.  This locates both smiths well within the Golden Age of tsuba artists -- the Momoyama Period. Nobuie tsuba are esteemed and celebrated for the extraordinary beauty of their iron.  The combination of the forging of the metal, the surface treatment by tsuchime and yakite married to powerfully expressive carving, the masterful manipulation of form, mass and shape, and the colour and patina of the iron makes Nobuie sword guards not only unique in the world of tsuba, but the greatest of the great. The sword guard here is a Shodai-made masterwork, done in mokko-gata form, a shape the early Nobuie smiths mastered to a degree unmatched by any others.  The expanding of the mass of the tsuba from the seppa-dai to the mimi, increasing by 50% from the centre of the guard to the rim, creates a sense of exploding energy, which is then contained by the uchikaeshi-mimi, yielding a lightning-in-a-bottle effect of captured energy.  The hammering the master has employed to finish the surface is subtle and sensitive, achieving a resonant profundity, and the deep blue-black colour -- augmented by a lustrous patina -- leaves the tsuba to positively glow in one's hand.  In this piece, Nobuie has used a motif of several kamon, or family crests, each carved only lightly on the surface in a loose ring around the nakago-ana.  Due to the shallow depth of this carving, together with the tsuchime finish of the plate, the effect is to leave the kamon with a sort of weathered appearance, recalling the prime aesthetic values of sabi and wabi, which had great circulation in the Tea Culture so ascendant in the Momoyama years.  However, the effects of sabi and wabi expressed in the treatment described above are amplified and deepened by the color and patina of the iron, thereby adding yet another aesthetic value -- yuugen -- which is linked with the abiding mystery of the universe and one more — mono no aware — which alludes to the pathos of life's experiences and transitory nature.  In short, this Nobuie tsuba joins poetry with power and therein exemplifies the unrivalled brilliance of Nobuie workmanship.
  • Iron pliers painted black and outlined in gilt lacquer, with wooden handle and bronze seals, "Ex Libris Comte Tony de Vibraye", L17.1 x W6.9 x H7.5 cm. Provenance: Antoine Henri Gaston Hurault de Vibraye [Comte Tony de Vibraye] (French, 1893 – 1951). The book with such a stamp in this library: [LIB-3243.2023] Crébillon fils. La Nuit et le moment ou Les Matinées de Cythère / Illustrations de Sylvain Sauvage. — Paris: Au dépens d’un amateur, 1924.  
  • Coin purse, or porte-monnaie, made of patinated copper alloy, full-grain brown leather outside and purple inside, with a clutch and a hinge, and an oval miniature bust portrait on each side, painted in colour with gold and silver, by an anonymous artist after Franz Xaver Winterhalter, inscribed NAPOLÉON III and L'IMPCE DES FRANÇAIS, respectively, under glass. Dimensions: 97 x 67 x 18 mm. Contributors: Napoleon III [Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte] (French, 1808 – 1873) – character/sitter. Eugénie de Montijo [María Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y Kirkpatrick] (Spanish-French, 1826 – 1920) – character/sitter. Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805 – 1873) – artist.
  • Iron tsuba of round form decorated with eight roundels – circular emblems of flowers and/or family crests (mon) made of cast brass, pierced and chiselled in kebori, and with flat brass inlay (hira-zōgan) of vines or leaves all over the plate. Both hitsu-ana are trimmed with brass. Nakago-ana of trapezoidal form. A distinctive character of this tsuba is a mon at 12 hours, depicting paulownia, or Kiri-mon [桐紋] – a symbol of the Toyotomi clan, led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537 – 1598). Kiri-mon was also used as fuku-mon (alternative family crests) for the Imperial Family and Imperial Court. Another important emblem at 6 o’clock is the Katakura clan [片倉氏, Katakura-shi] family crest. Katakura Kagetsuna (片倉 景綱, 1557 – 1615), a retainer of Date Masamune (伊達 政宗, 1567 – 1636); Kagetsuna was operational in Hideyoshi’s Odawara campaign in 1590, which ultimately ended the unification of Japan. Unsigned but may be attributed to Koike Yoshirō Naomasa or his workshop (Yoshirō, orKaga-Yoshirō school). Dimensions: Diameter: 85.5 mm; Thickness at seppa-dai: 5.0 mm.



  • Iron tsuba of almost round form with a brass outlined circular opening (sukashi) in the bottom adorned with the Myriad Treasures [takaramono, 宝物] and winter motifs inlaid in cast brass (suemon-zōgan); hitsu-ana possibly cut later, both plugged with shakudo, nakaga-ana fitted with copper sekigane. According to Merrily Baird*) (2001), the symbolism of Myriad Treasures “is associated with the Seven Gods of Good Luck, who carry them in a sack”. Among the treasures, which are said to ensure prosperity, long life, and general good fortunes, are (reading clockwise from the top):
    1. Sake set [shuki, 酒器], namely flask, ladle, and cups
    2. Cloves [choji, 丁子]
    3. Purse of inexhaustible reaches [kinchaku, 巾着]
    4. Magic mallet [kozuchi, 小槌]
    5. Key to the storehouse of the Gods [kagi, 鍵]
    Then, Pine, Moon, and Bamboo (see below);
    1. Rhombus, or Lozenge (hosho, 方勝), with the second ideograph meaning victory.
    2. Sacred (or wish-granting) gem, or jewel [hōju, 宝珠]
    3. Hats of invisibility [kakuregasa, 隠れ笠]
    The Myriad Treasures is carried by the Seven Gods of Good Luck (a.k.a. the Seven Lucky Gods or Seven Gods of Fortune [shichifukujin, 七福神], who are transported by the Treasure Ship [takarabune, 宝船] during the first three days of the New Year. Pine, Moon, and Bamboo: bamboo [take, 竹] and pinecones [matsukasa, 松笠], or pine [matsu, 松] – two of the Three Friends of Winter [shōchikubai, 松竹梅] – symbolize fidelity, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience. The third ‘friend’  – plum, [ume, 梅] – in this case replaced by the Moon [tsuki, 月] – large (11 mm) circular opening at 6 o’clock; the three small carved dots represent the dewdrops. The other side is decorated with an arabesque (karakusa) of cloves and vines, with carved dots (dewdrops) along the rim. The overall New Year / Winter connotation of the tsuba is clear. The prominence of the Moon conveys purity, coldness (sadness/loneliness), and slenderness – the inherent qualities of a samurai. H: 93 mm x W: 90 mm, thickness 4.2 mm at the centre, slightly tapered towards the rim. *) Merrily Baird. Symbols of Japan: Thematic motifs in art and design. — NY: Rizzoli international publications, 2001. Seller’s description: École Heianjo - Début Époque EDO (1603 - 1868). Nagamaru gata en fer à décor incrusté en hira-zogan de laiton de tama, choji, jarre à saké et des attributs de Daikoku (maillet, chapeau d'invisibilité et sac de richesse) et de branches de choji de l'autre côté et ajourée en kage-sukashi d'un cercle. H. 9,2 cm
  • The so-called Yoshirō-tsuba [与四郎鐔] with an iron plate of mokkō form densely decorated with floral arabesque and adorned with eight pierced, chiselled and inlaid brass roundels and signed on both sides 'Koike Yoshirō Izumi no Kami Naomasa'. Four of the roundels are pierced and have geometrical designs representing flowers (e.g. wood sorrel) or snowflakes. Four others are solid and represent family crests; on one side: Mulberry (kaji) – mon of the Matsunaga clan [松永氏], Bamboo Grass (sasa) – mon of the Takenaka clan [竹中氏]), Wild Geese (kari) – mon of the Shibata clan [新発田氏]), and Pine Needles (matsuba); on the other side: Nine Stars (kuyō) – the Hosokawa clan [細川氏], Paulownia (kiri) – the Toyotomi clan [豊臣氏]), Bamboo Leaves (take) – the Minamoto clan [源], and Seven Treasures (shippo) – Izumo Genji clan [出雲源氏]. Hitsu-ana obliterated with a nanako-treated pewter plug. Brass with rainbow patina. Artist: Koike Izumi no Kami Naomasa (Japanese, active late 16th – early 17th century). The Momoyama or early Edo period, end of the 16th to the first half of the 17th century (1574-1650). Size: 81.7 x 78.8 x 4.3 cm. Provenance: Dr. Kazutaro Torigoye. Special thanks to Markus Sesko for providing the translation of hakogaki. Hakokaki lid (outside): 小池与四郎 – Koike Yoshirō Hakokaki lid (inside): 銘曰小池与四郎 – Mei’etsu: Koike Yoshirō – Signed: Koike Yoshirō 和泉守直正 – Izumi no Kami Naomasa – Izumi no Kami Naomasa 木瓜形 鉄地 – Mokkōgata, tetsu-ji – Lobed shape, of iron 真鍮据紋象嵌 – Shinchū suemon-zōgan – with brass suemon-zōgan inlay 縦二寸七分横二寸六分 – Tate ni-sun shichi-bu, yoko ni-sun roku-bu – Height 8.2 cm, width 7.9 cm 右正真也 – Migi shōshin nari – Above described object is authentic 昭和廾九年八月十一日 – Shōwa nijūkyūnen hachigatsu jūichinichi – August 11, 1954 草堂「花押」– Sōdō + kaō – Sōdō [pen name of Torigoye Kazutarō, 鳥越一太郎] + monogram Ref.: (1) Tsuba Geijutsu-Ko by Kazutaro Torigoye, 1960; (2) Tsuba. An aesthetic study. By Kazutaro Torigoye and Robert E. Haynes from the Tsuba Geijutsu-kō of Kazataro Torigoye. Edited and published by Alan L. Harvie for the Nothern California Japanese Sword Club, 1994-1997, p. Yoshirō, 4. See also Yoshirō tsuba.  
  • Iron tsuba of a round form (maru-gata) pierced (sukashi) with two six-petal flowers at 6 and 12 o’clock and modified lozenges at 3 and 9 o’clock, and inlaid in brass (suemon-zōgan) with tendrils and flowers (chrysanthemum, cherry blossom, Chinese bellflower, paulownia); openings outlined with scalloped brass wire. The plate is slightly concave with traces of lacquer on the surface. Nakago-ana plugged with copper sekigane. Some elements of inlay missing. The rim with conspicuous tekkotsu, quite worn. Measurements:  Height 92.0 mm; Width 86.3 mm; thickness at seppa-dai 3.2 mm, at rim 4.2 mm. Time: Late Muromachi (1514 – 1573) or earlier.
  • Iron tsuba of round form pierced with the design of slanting rays of light (Christian motif, Jesuit’s IHS symbol) in positive silhouette (ji-sukashi). This design is often called “tokei” [時計], or “clock gear”. Nakaga-ana fitted with copper sekigane. Rounded rim. Unsigned. Higo school. Early Edo period, mid-17th century (1632-1650).

    Size: 78.3 x 77.0 x 5.3 mm

    For information regarding this type of tsuba see the article 'Kirishitan Ikenie Tsuba by Fred Geyer at Kokusai Tosogu Kai; The 2nd International Convention & Exhibition, October 18-23, 2006, pp. 84-91. School and age attribution thanks to Bruce Kirkpatrick. . ​

    IHS emblem of the Jesuits

  • Iron tsuba of a spindle shape (tate-itomaki-gata) pierced and inlaid in brass suemon-zōgan with bellflowers, vines and foliage, and a dragonfly in the upper right corner, on both sides. One of the hitsu-ana plugged with grey metal (led or pewter), nakaga-ana fitted with copper sekigane. The shape of the tsuba may be interpreted as  four saddles connected to each other by horse bits. Such a design of sukashi and zōgan is usually attributed to Kaga Yoshirō branch of Heianjo school, active in the second half of the 17th century (c. 1650-1700). Size: 95.9 mm diagonal; 4.1 mm thickness. Tokubetsu Kicho certificate № 332 issued by NBTHK on October 12, 1965.  
  • A shakudō kozuka decorated with equestrian tack inlaid in raven black shakudō, gold uttori and a silver alloy on a nanako ground. Unsigned. Attributed to Goto Joshin (Japanese, 1513 – 1562), 3rd generation Goto master. Late Muromachi period, Tenbun era (c. 1550). Size: 96.7 x 14.4 x 4.9 mm. Tokubetsu Hozon certificate № 2004230 issued by NBTHK on May 10, 2017. For a detailed explanation of terms see: Sesko, Markus. Handbook: Of Sword Fittings Related Terms. Germany: Books on Demand, 2011.
  • Iron tsuba of the round form (丸型, maru–gata), decorated with brass flat inlay (平象嵌, hira-zōgan) of bellflowers, leaves, and vines on both sides, inlaid brass is carved in low relief; wide rim (dote-mimi) also inlaid; the plate is pierced with hitsu-ana (probably original); nakago-ana plugged with copper sekigane. Dimensions: Height: 84.1 mm; Width: 82.0 mm; Thickness (centre): 2.8 mm; mimi is 11.8 mm wide and 4.7 mm thick. Produced at the end of the 16th century, in the Momoyama period (1674–1703).  
  • A ko-tosho tsuba made of iron, of the round form (丸型, maru-gata), pierced in negative silhouette (文透, mon-sukashi) with the design of Shingon Buddhism symbols of vajra [金剛杵] (kongosho), Sun, Moon and Star [月日星] (tsuki-hi-hoshi) – three sources of light [三光] (sankō). Round rim. No hitsu-ana; the shape of nakago-ana may suggest use on naginata [薙刀. Muromachi period (1393 – 1573). Height: 94.4 mm, Width: 93.4 mm, Centre thickness: 3.1 mm. Another possible explanation for "The element at the 11-o’clock position is in my opinion a kemari ball for the courtly game of the same name (picture attached)" [Markus Sesko].

    Tsukioka Yoshitoshi [月岡 芳年] (Japan, 1839 – 1892): Tokugawa Yoshimune [徳川 吉宗] (1684 – 1751) playing kemari [蹴鞠]

  • Iron tsuba of the round form (maru gata) with a grey patina pierced with the design of slanting rays of light (Jesuit’s IHS symbol) and a pair of ginger symbols [茗荷] (myōga) at top and bottom, in positive silhouette (ji-sukashi). This design is often called “tokei” [時計] or “clock gear”. Rounded rim, large hitsu-ana, copper fittings (sekigane). Unsigned, unpapered. Owari school. Early Edo period, early 17th century.

    Size: H 71.9 x W 71.1 x Th (centre) 5.5 cm.

    For information regarding this type of tsuba see the article 'Kirishitan Ikenie Tsuba by Fred Geyer at Kokusai Tosogu Kai; The 2nd International Convention & Exhibition, October 18-23, 2006, pp. 84-91. ​

    IHS emblem of the Jesuits

    茗荷 Myoga or Japanese ginger

  • Small iron tsuba for a dagger (tantō), of quatrefoil form (mokkō-gata), with raised rim (mimi), decorated with flat brass inlay (hira-zōgan) to form an abstract design alluding to the mushroom of immortality (reishi). Opening (hitsu-ana) to the left of nakaga-ana probably cut later and fitted with shakudo sekigane. Maker's signature on seppa-dai: Koike Naomasa (小池 直正).

    Momoyama period: End of the 16th - beginning of the 17th century. Dimensions: Height 53.7 mm; Width: 45.5 mm; Thickness at centre: 3.5 mm; at rim: 4.9 mm. Other examples of signed Koike Naomasa work in this collection: TSU-0346. Reference: The closest example in literature is in Compton Collection (II): №11 with the description: “A Koike School tsuba, Edo period (circa 1625), signed Koike Yoshiro. Sheet-brass flush inlay of cloud forms and wire inlay creating the same shape. Koike Yoshiro Naomasa worked from the Keicho to the Genna periods (1596-1623). He arrived in Kyoto from Kaga.” [Japanese Swords and Sword Fittings from the Collection of Dr. Walter Ames Compton (Part II) / Sebastian Izzard, Yoshinori Munemura. — Christie's, New York, October 22, 1992]. See: Yoshirō tsuba.    
  • Iron tsuba of round form (maru-gata) with 8 openwork petals outlined with brass wire (sen-zōgan) and decorated with brass dots (ten-zōgan), on both sides. Seppa-dai and hitsu-ana outlined with brass wire. Late Muromachi period (Ca. 1514-1573). Ōnin school. Unsigned. Dimensions (mm): 80.4 x 79.8 x 3.6 (center) 3.2 (rim). Similar tsuba in this collection: TSU-0374.2018
  • Iron tsuba of round form pierced (sukashi) in a chessboard fashion and decorated with linear (sen-zōgan) and cast (suemon-zōgan) brass inlay, including symbols of the swastika, flower-lozenge, maple leaf, pine needle, etc. on both sides; rim and openings outlined with brass inlay. Nakagō-ana plugged with copper fittings (sekigane).

    Momoyama period. End of the 16th - beginning of the 17th century. Dimensions: Diameter: 75.5; Thickness: 4.5 mm.  
  • Iron tsuba of round form, slightly convex, decorated with persimmon (kaki), simplified Genji-kō (incense game symbol) and halves of plum blossoms (ume) in brass inlay on both sides, and with part of bellflower (kikyo) in openwork. Outer rim, seppa-dai, bellflower openwork, and kozuka-ana outlined with brass inlay; traces of lacquer to surface. The symbolic meaning alludes to Chapter 20: Asagao (朝顔, the bellflower or "morning face") of Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (11th century AD). The events take place in the 9th lunar month (Nagatsuki) and involve the following poetry by Prince Genji: saku hana ni / utsuru chō na wa / tsutsumedomo / orade sugiuki / kesa no asagao [I would not have it said / that my heart has turned toward / a flower in bloom — / yet how hard it is to pass / without plucking a “morning face”!]. Measurements: H: 76.6 mm; W: 76.3 mm; Th.: 3.6 mm (seppa-dai), 3.0 mm (rim) Time: Late Muromachi (1514 – 1573).
  • Tin-glazed earthenware footed lidded cup decorated with winged creatures and grotesque paintings, Bachus and Cupid inside. Minor losses Diameter: 16 cm; Height: 18 cm. Attributed to Deruta, Italy, c. 1600.