Howard Clark San mai Tanto -- fully mounted as an aikuchi and with shirasaya
Fully polished by Keith Larman, fittings in solid shakudo by Howard Clark,
full Aikuchi mount with a "fluted" saya by Ted Tenold
On Consignment: $4950.00
Here is something you don't see everyday. First some history.
Years ago Howard Clark flew out to California to see the Blade Show West when it was still held in Southern California. He came out at least in theory to "do the show", but in reality it was more about visiting friends, hanging out, and to look over some stuff. He brought a couple little pieces with him that he had been experimenting with -- this was one of them. It was a small tanto, a little over 7" in nagasa, but it was something he was experimenting with. The blade had a skin steel of pattern weld steel made for him by "Grandpa" Daryl Meier (an icon of the pattern weld steel world). Howard used a few pieces of the steel Daryl made for him and welded them to a solid 1086m core. So he had a really very cool skin steel with an incredibly tough and resilient core steel (running the length of the blade along the edge).
He had done these blades not being particularly sure what he was going to do with them in the long run. And I saw the blade and thought it was cool so I bought it. Over the next few months as time permitted I polished the blade, built a small habaki out of solid sterling silver, and then put it in a really nice shirasaya. Finally I realized that I should probably sell the thing -- it sold the moment I put it on my site.
The buyer contacted Ted Tenold of Legacy Swords. Ted is a good friend of mine, someone I've worked with many times, and someone I currently also have a business with in partnership. I've learned a lot from Ted about polishing and mounting as we spent a great deal of time comparing notes, sharing methods, etc. Anyway, Ted was asked to mount the piece. So he contacted Howard and asked Howard if he'd be willing to make solid high grade shakudo fittings specifically for the tanto. Howard agreed and made Ted solid a Shakudo fuchi, kashira and kojiri. This is *lovely* stuff and is a fully traditional soft metal for Japanese swords. Shakudo is a wonderful material in that it will "self-heal" when scuffed. The patina of a deep, rich black *is* the natural patina. And unlike commercial reproductions with modern chemically bonded finishes this patina is simply what shakudo "does" over time. So if you use the blade and rub on the fittings enough they start to look a bit more like copper (shakudo is an alloy of copper and gold). But set it on the shelf and over time it will gradually return to the deep, dark purplish black. Wonderful stuff.
Notice the lovely shaping of the hamidashi tsuba. And also notice how Ted carefully hand-carved a series of ribs on the saya that carry the design of the tsuba into the saya. Really top notch work and incredible attention to detail. This is what custom is all about.
The menuki are fittings Ted was having made by a jeweler for him that were a copy of a really nice set of original menuki.
So here is a tanto worked on by all three of us. Howard made the blade and most of the fittings. Ted did the mount and had the menuki made. I polished the tanto and made the habaki.
The habaki was originally sterling silver but in the end everything was heavily gold plated with 24k gold so the custom made seppa and habaki would match up exactly.
So a rather unique blade with a rather interesting history involving all three of us. And it is available on consignment.
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