Ask all the questions you wish. Talk to other people, visit the various nihonto and sword fora and ask their opinions of your prospective purchase. Request any photograph's you want, and I'll take them for you.
If you don't see what you want, ask. I can probably find almost anything you want. If you request a particular sword, I will ask my contacts and, if one has the sword you want, ask them to put it on hold whilst I send you photos and details. However, before you ask, be certain that you want to buy the sword if I find the right one. This is not a wish fulfillment service, and the hold cannot be maintained indefinitely. If you are not serious about buying a sword, then don't ask me to find one for you; you will be wasting both our times otherwise. If you are serious about buying a requested sword and you don't respond in a timely manner to my emails, do not be too surprised if you find that the sword has been sold to someone else in the meantime. Also consider that some nihonto - especially gendaito and shinsakuto - appreciate rapidly. It may be some years before a similar sword comes up, by which time it is likely to be far more expensive. Nihonto prices do not go down.
No, I will not send you a sword for inspection
without you paying for it. I wish I could. However, some sword
collectors have been ripped off this way, and they are still out of
pocket. You pay me, I send the sword and you have fourteen days after its
arrival to inspect it (see Returns Policy). If you do not return it after fourteen days then you will be deemed
to now have full ownership of the sword.
You may visit us if you wish to physically hold the sword in your hand before buying. This is advisable. Firstly, if we don't already know each other, it helps to know who you are dealing with. Secondly, you know exactly what you're buying. If you're happy, you can pay for it and take it then and there. Just contact me in advance, and I will have it ready for you, along with a cup of coffee and, if you've come a
long way, a snack. If you need to stop in the area overnight, I can recommend a couple of good B&Bs. Do however let me know in advance if you are coming
round. I might after all be out if you just turn up out of the blue, and that leads to disappointment all round.
If visiting in person is impractical, but you want to talk, email me and we can have a chat on the phone. Alternatively there's either YIM or Messenger Live, our local rural broadband permitting. Just ask and let me know what time you are going to be on.
If it is an expensive sword (i.e. £10,000+), the cost of travel is not prohibitive and time permits, I would consider bringing the sword to you. However, prospective purchasers should, in such cases, be serious about making a purchase. I have no wish to go gadding about the UK, let alone the world, simply because someone wants, just once in their life, to hold a very expensive sword in their hand!
Finally, if we've agreed a price (e.g. part exchange) don't, as some people have done, come back and try to haggle the price down further. I shall be less than impressed. If we agree a price, then that's it.
Above all, only buy when you are totally happy.
Please note; under UK law I can't sell knives and swords to people in the UK under 18. Admittedly I can't think of many in that age group who could afford even a gunto, and credit card companies cannot legally give someone that age a credit card, so they should be lacking the means to make such a purchase. However, for legal reasons I'm supposed to point out that you cannot buy a sword or knife if you are under 18. Since sending funds is an implicit agreement of terms, it should be noted that those terms include an age restriction on swords and knives.
Whilst we are on the legal stuff, I should point out that it is quite legal for UK citizens to buy any sword advertised here, despite the recent change in the law. As the Explanatory Note to the relevant Statutory Instrument says:
"In relation to such swords, this Order also provides for defences to an offence under section 141(1) and section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. These defences apply in relation to certain swords made in Japan or where the conduct which gave rise to the offence was undertaken for the purposes of certain historical re-enactments and sporting activities."
In short, if they are antique, or were made before 1954, or were made after 1954 by a licenced Japanese smith, or are the type of swords used by martial artists, then they are not banned weapons. Furthermore you do not need a licence to own one, nor has such a measure been proposed. I have in fact openly imported swords since the new law came into effect, and declared them to Customs, without any problems.
If you strip out the tabloid headlines and the misinformation that abounds on this subject, the only thing that got banned were cheap wallhangers, and those were never sold here.
On the other hand, if you want to get rid of a Japanese sword, such as that WW2 katana that has been lurking in the wardrobe for several years, I shall be glad to consider buying it from you.
I accept Paypal, credit cards, cash and cheques. I would
advise using Paypal, even if they do charge me a percentage, because a) it is the fastest method and b) they provide buyer protection. Furthermore, you can pay by credit card using Paypal without having to have a Paypal account, and you are still protected. Cheques, on the other hand, have occasionally been known lost in the post, which is frustrating for both parties, and in any case take three days to clear, which delays shipment. Cash, of course, is welcome at any time.
Incidentally, Paypal payments are secure - I never get to see your credit card details, which never leave the banking system. The only information that I see is a) the fact that you have paid and b) the address to post it to.
Whichever method is used, I will despatch your sword to you the moment payment has cleared. If you want to have it polished, I will either send it to one of my polishers, or despatch it to the polisher of your choice. However, in the latter case, make sure that the polisher is ready to receive it.
If you can't afford to pay for a sword all at once, you can pay by installments. You pay a 25% non-returnable deposit, with no interest charges and the balance due by the end of 12 months. The sword stays here until you have made the final payment. One you have finished paying for the sword, I shall despatch it. Sorry about that, but some dealers have been ripped off by sending someone a sword before the payments were completed and further installments weren't forthcoming. If you default, I keep the deposit, return any extra that you have paid, and offer the sword for sale again.
Light items would normally go out by post. Swords for the domestic market can be collected, or I can bring them to you. I would normally send swords internationally by Parcelforce or Nightflight International, though you may choose your own shipping format for any sword. All items will
be insured and trackable. Remember that there are usually customs delays in sending goods over borders.
In addition, unless an item is ex-stock - and I only carry the most popular items - there will be slight delay whilst I get it from the manufacturer. For example, the repro tsuba, fuchi-kashira and menuki are handmade in small batches by a craftsman working on his own. He may have had a run on a particular item and need to make another batch to fill your order. Similarly a lot of the sageo and silk lacings for armour are handmade in Japan. The manufacturer normally has stock, but there are occasions when they will need a few days to make some more. Commissioned pieces from individual artists (e.g. tsuba) will take longer, because they have to work up a design to your satisfaction and then make it.
These are not vast industrial conglomerates producing millions of items; these are small family-run businesses and individual craftsmen and artists, invariably producing things by hand.
With regards to Customs, each item sent outside the UK must have a valid Customs & Excise declaration. I will not falsely declare the contents or give a misleading value 'for Customs purposes', so don't ask me to value a $10,000 sword at $5. I will however be advised by either the carrier or the Customs for the country concerned on how best to word the declaration and the documentation. We have a lot of experience in shipping swords to a wide variety of countries.
You have fourteen days after your order arrives to
change your mind about your purchase. Just let me know within fourteen days that you are
returning it, send it back in a prompt fashion, and return it in the
same condition that you received it. When I receive it, and verify the
condition is undamaged (you are responsible for the return trip), you
will get a full refund, less return shipping costs, sent promptly by cheque or
Paypal (method at my discretion). If, on the other hand, it comes back
badly damaged, you will be considered to have bought it, and you will not get a refund. You'll get the sword back instead.
On the other hand, if you are returning because I've made a gross error - unlikely but I am human - such as saying that there are no fatal flaws when there is one, you'll get a full refund plus shipping costs.
I will not, under any circumstances, issue a refund until I have the sword or other back here. Again, other dealers have been ripped off this way. When I do issue a refund, I will refund only the list price. I will not make allowances for changes in currency rates, ever. My terms are in GBP, and not any other currency; not euros, not yen and not USD. If you pay me a list price of £2,000 and you decide to return it, I will only refund £2,000. I will not refund £2,100 because the exchange rate has changed. If £2,000 was originally worth $3,300, but the value has dropped to $3,000 by the time I issue the refund, then it is regrettable. However, I am not responsible for variations in international exchange rates, and I am not an alternative to international currency speculation.
For the record, you won't find any other business doing things differently. As I said earlier, do not buy anything until you are sure that you want it; changing your mind may cost you money if your currency isn't GBP.
After the fourteen day period is over, assuming that you keep the sword, you agree that
there is no further guarantee or warranty granted, or implicit, in any
way shape or form. The item is now your property, it cannot be
returned, and you have no ability to make any claims, returns, or
expect whole or partial refunds. Therefore please research what you can
in advance of making a purchase, make sure that it is really what you
want, and take full advantage of the fourteen day inspection period to
assure yourself that the item is acceptable to you.
I will always hold swords for serious buyers who
wish exclusive access to a piece while they are considering their
finances, or making a final decision on whether or not to buy. If you
ask me to hold a sword, please do so with the understanding that you
should be seriously considering buying the sword in question. Asking
for a hold is not something that you should do as a wish fulfilment.
I will hold a sword for three weeks. If a sword is
marked as 'hold', other people can still ask me about it or put in a
request to purchase it. If you ask to purchase a sword that someone else has put on hold, you
have an option on the sword if the person who established the hold does
not buy it. If the first person backs out, I will email you.
Selling, Trading and Consigning
If you have an item you wish to sell, feel free to contact me. I am always looking for new swords, regardless of whether they are showato or nihonto. I can pay by cash, cheque or Paypal, whatever is most convenient. Be aware that there is a difference between the 'wholesale' price and the 'retail' price. That said, we should be able to agree a price that is satisfactory for both parties.
Consignment means that I photograph your sword, if necessary do further research on it, create a webpage for it and put it up on my website at an agreed price. If need be, I'll try and interest other dealers or list it on Ebay for you. You however retain ownership of the sword. I charge a small commission for this; 10% of the balance, after the shipping costs/listing prices/Paypal charges for the successful sale have been deducted. In practice, that means that I take the price that you want and add 4% for Paypal, plus an estimate to cover the various other cost overheads.
I will however have to put a value limit of £1000 on items for consignment. It isn't really worth consigning items worth less than that.
For example, consider a showato worth an agreed £600. I get 10% commission, namely £60, which doesn't really cover the amount of time I'll spend on it. On top of which I have to allow for 4% Paypal fees (£2.40) and shipping (£50-£100, depending on destination). By now overheads are about 21% of the sale price and you're up to just over £700; it may not sell because £600 is probably a good price and £700 too expensive. You would have to take a cut in what you expected to realise from the sale in order to keep it within the value placed on it by the market. In this instance you would probably be better off Ebaying it yourself.
On the other hand, the cost of shipping is a much smaller element if the sword is worth, for example, £3000. Paypal costs however will be £120. The costing needs to allow for about £220 overheads. However, the total overheads are about 7% of the sale price. The more expensive the sword, the lower the overheads as a percentage of sale price.
You may get a higher price for your sword than you would by selling it but, on the other hand, it may take much longer before you have the funds in your hand.
By selling your sword, you get a lower price, but you get the cash now. I take the gamble that I can subsequently sell the sword for a higher price, less any costs that I incur for any maintenance, repairs, polishing or shinsa fees. If I get it wrong, then my funds are tied up in a sword for a while or, in the worst case, I make a loss on the sale. Alternatively by consigning it, you take the gamble that the sword can be sold for that price; you also take the risk of making a loss on your original investment in the sword. I simply provide you with a service.
If you are looking to negotiate a trade-up I am willing to consider all offers.
I do my best to determine that a particular item is
authentic. I will have researched everything that I buy. In some cases
I may have asked opinions of those that I consider more knowledgeable
than I. I will also have taken note of any documentation accompanying
each sword, since this will represent the provenance of the item, or
the opinion of acknowledged experts in the field.
If an item is accompanied by authentication papers,
I consider those papers to represent an opinion by experts who have far
more knowledge than myself. You should therefore consider the issuer of
such papers as responsible for their written opinion and its accuracy,
rather than me. You are responsible for making your own decision on the
reliability of the issuer of any particular document. I may give my own
opinion on these documents, but my judgment is open to error. I would
therefore emphasise the need for you to carefully conduct your own
research into any authentication papers and the issuing organization or
If authentication papers are lacking, I will give
my opinion on the item. This is an opinion only, albeit backed by
extensive research, and my opinion is subject to error. It may even
change, since I am continuing my studies in this field, and it is a
vast field in which there are many and varying opinions. Furthermore,
my opinion is not a guarantee past the fourteen day inspection period.
On the other hand, if I say that a sword is a
modern Chinese fake, you can take it to the bank. Don't be upset about
it; quite a few people have been taken in. If you are willing to
listen, I'll tell you exactly how to spot such fakes, and how to spot a
good bargain. You won't get any Chinese fakes here. The swords on here
are 100% Japanese, whether they are gunto, gendaito, modern Japanese
swords or antiques.
I am human. I can and do make mistakes.
The website will be taken by me, and should be
taken by you, as authoritative and canonical. If my email gives one
price and the site gives another, then I'm afraid that the site is
right, and I made a typo. I do however take full responsibility for
incorrect descriptions regarding the condition of the sword, and
historical information, both on the site and in email, provided that
the email does not disagree with the website, and provided that it is
not a subject open to multiple points of view and substantiated by
expert opinion. If, for example, I write in email that the sword is
flawless, and it arrives with a flaw, then that's my mistake. In such
an instance you would be expected to be able to return the sword for a
full refund within your inspection period. In addition, I would cover
the shipping both ways.
I do my best to research and cross-reference.
However, it is a good idea to remember that the authors of the
reference works do not agree on many matters. You should always
research and verify statements made on any site until you are satisfied
about accuracy of the statements. The fourteen day inspection period is
meant to give you enough time so that you can check your new sword and
make sure that it is consistent with the description.
I do not store your credit card information. I
never see your credit card information; it never leaves the banking
I take your privacy seriously. There are no
cookies, no adware, no spyware, no web bugs, no ActiveX controls, and
no lurking script modules designed to spy on visitors' personal
information anywhere on this site. In fact the only scripts here are those that I have written to aid you in navigating the site, or to enable you to email me without me being bombarded by spam.
The only personal information that I have on record
is the information that you provide so that I can send your purchase to
you, and which appears on your invoice. Invoices are kept for
accounting and administrative purposes, as required by law. Information
on customers will never be passed on to third parties, such as data
mining companies, by either sale or rent.