I consigned this very interesting tanto for a friend this weekend, and it’s one which offers a bit of a mystery. It is an extremely wild, Soshu-den work with a sugata that is convincingly Nanbokucho. The shape is wide, with a nakago that sells itself well as being a old blade. The tanto has a Hon’ami shumei which is somewhat worn but has a kao which resembles that of Hon’ami Ko’on, one of the earlier and more respected Hon’ami who predated the greats Kotoku and Kochu. Shumei were attributions in red lacquer that were added to ubu blade, as compared with kinpunmei which were given to osuriage works. This shumei attributes the blade at hand to Sa (which could indicate O-Sa or one of his students). The mune is a steep mitsumune which looks exactly like a couple of authentic early Soshu blades I have (Norishige, Kunimitsu and a Naoe Shizu). What is challenging here is that the polish is not very good. The jitetsu appears blurry and it is difficult to evaluate the quality of the jigane. The owner did not send the sword for a new polish, but only gave it to the NTHK for shinsa (papers not yet received). They attributed the sword to the shodai Kyo Tanba (no) Kami Yoshimichi, easily the best smith of the Mishina school. I can see their reasoning, as the long sunagashi running in parallel strands reflects the style of Soshu-den that he made before the school later developed a more rigid sudare-ba. That said, I have owned major swords by the Kyo shodai, both in tanto form and a large katana, and don’t see his hand here. I think that this blade makes a convincing case for being koto Soshu, perhaps Sue-Sa, however it is being sold as a mumei Yoshimichi. I did what I could to capture the really bright nie and pools of nioi that surround them. There is profuse nie throughout and some chikei can be seen in the ji. The blade measures 28.6cm nagasa, with 3cm moto-haba and 6mm kasane. As a lover of Soshu-den I was tempted to purchase myself and put through a shiage and re-shinsa.