Stolen Sword Reports
There have been more in the past and I forecast more thefts. It is very difficult to update this site without additional reports.
4/12/01 Katana Stolen at Washington DC Dojo Contact: Fred Little at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The sword was taken from closed weapons bag at Saotome Sensei's Cherry Blossom Seminar Saturday night or Sunday morning this past weekend at the Aikido Shobukan Dojo. Because the bag had not been opened, nor had anyone been told the sword was in the bag, as one friend put it: "Whoever did this obviously knew enough about the aikido scene to know that he had a reasonable chance of finding a sword at a major aikido seminar." This was clearly not an instance of a moment of weakness in the face of temptation, but an intentional and calculated act. Another individual found his weapons lying on the floor, sans bag, so the likeliest scenario is that my blade left the dojo in the bag that he lost. I would guess that this blade will soon find its way to market, and would ask that you post this description on the your web site and perhaps forward it as appropriate if you would be so kind. The theft was reported to the Washington DC police yesterday.
In the few years that I have practiced, I have seen our arts grow greatly. The downside of this is that it is no longer possible to know everyone on the floor, even within the organization with which one has trained, and one must exercise more caution in some areas than in previous years. I hope that others will not have to learn this in as harsh and immediate way as I have. Should the blade be returned to me, an unrestricted gift of $200 will be given to Saotome Sensei's Aiki Shrine in the name of the individual who returns the sword, or if it is returned anonymously, the gift will be made accordingly.
I ask that anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of this blade contact me directly at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I can also be contacted by mail at:
PO Box 614
Palisades, NY 10964
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Description of the Mounts and Blade follows:
MOUNTS: Since purchase, the handle has been rewrapped in black, with application of a full same wrap with nodes showing and the substitution of two waterdragon menuki for those which came with the blade. Black lacquer Yagyu-style saya with grooves cut into the surface at one inch intervals along its length, steel tsuba with a tiny bit of gold inlay and matching fuchi and kashira (which may be coppered and patinated brass), tsuba rust/patina is worn away at 10 and 2 o'clock positions from use, very unusual copper habaki with a heart shaped cutout on both sides (blade showing through cutout) are as they were when the blade and mounts were purchased from David McDonald. Small chips of enamel missing above and below kurigata, kurigata is inset tightly but not glued in place. A heavy black cotton sageo was on the kurigata at the time of the theft.
BLADE: Approx. 28+", tori-zori, chu-kissaki, iori-mune Smith's signature "Takakane" on tang. A relatively light blade with a narrow profile. No bo-hi. Likely date of manufacture, somewhere between 1670 and 1720.
As purchased, no grain or hamon was visible and blade presented significant areas of blackening and clouding. Following several years of daily uchiko and washi-gami treatment, two major blisters in the steel remain on the left face of the blade, at the one third and two thirds points, one on the right face, and there is a fourth blister which appears to have originated as an impact indentation on the mune. Cleaning has also revealed a scratch roughly parallel to the mune at the tip, less than one inch in length, tight grained steel and a highly irregular hamon -- it almost looks as if it were a demonstration piece intended to show the several varieties of hamon which were available from this smith, or perhaps it was an apprentice's practice piece. Profile of tip and faceting is sharp and clear on one side, I believe the left, and dulled on the other. I should have an oshigata in hand within a week or so, and will make that available as soon as I do.
8/19/98 Tanto Stolen at SF Show Contact: Harry Afu Watson email@example.com
The SF Show was great, as it always is, but there was one sour note for me. Someone stole a small tanto from my table. Now this was not a great tanto, not even a good tanto, but it was kind of neat, and I liked it.
This tanto has a mei of BISHU OSAFUNE JU SUKESADA or some such, is about 8 inches long, and has a serious forging flaw about 1 inch long, about 2 inches from the tip, in about the center of the blade, when you look at the blade with the edge to the left. The saya has a sliver of wood missing from the tip. Also, it has been polished so much it looks like a boning knife, however, a sliver of hamon remains. There is a faint sayagaki. This tanto has little artistic and commercial value.
If anyone shows you this blade, and I doubt that there is another one like it, please tell them that it is stolen property, and should be mailed to:Harry Watson
P.O. Box 630
Cisco, TX 76437
I am not saying the person that shows it is the thief, but they would know who they got it from, and if there is a thief among us, we need to know who it is.
7/8/98 Convicted Sword Thief again at-large Contact: Lisa Housen firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: I took some references to specific names out of here to mitigate any possible liability. This guy uses various aliases, so it may be a moot point anyway.
I appreciate your efforts in setting up that page on Fred's web site for the stolen swords! A very sincere "thank you" from someone who has had a sword stolen from her. If you remember a while back, there was some discussion over Mr. E.Y., who was taking in swords from collectors under the guise of being a "restorer" of Japanese swords; tsuka rewraps, saya repairs, and even blade polishing. He was keeping the swords, breaking them down and selling the menuki, tsuba, blades, etc. as separate items. Once he had a number of swords accumulated in Wisconsin, he left the state and went to Oregon, where he began to sell items on the internet auction site, eBay. This man scammed several dozen swords and related items from people across the United States and even Canada. He was caught due to the diligent efforts of several members of our nihonto discussion group (better than the Calvary!).
He was convicted of a Felony and ordered to return all stolen items or pay restitution for things he no longer has in his possession. Many swords were taken into custody when he was arrested and these are presently being redistributed to their rightful owners. I am lucky, mine was one of those that was still in one piece, complete and easily identifiable. It is being shipped back to me, and I am indeed very thankful. Others were not so lucky. The point of this long and rambling story is that E. Y. was released with "time served" since his arrest. He is again a free man. Free to steal and scam someone else. He is "out" and will very likely repeat his previous activities. When he was selling swords on eBay, he was selling swords that were "nonexistent". These were merely pictures taken off other web sites with phony descriptions and made up stories as to their origin.
I feel that a warning of some sort should be posted about this man. Perhaps some type of description of his previous activities and convictions. Fellow collector Mike Matthews has seen this man personally and can describe him, and another collector, Kurt Eustice, a law enforcement officer in Levenworth, can provide a long list of prior convictions in other states (a LONG list I might add) and a list of his aliases. Both these men have also expressed a strong desire to keep this man from conning others.
Its is a fact that he will never get another one of my swords, but how many other new collectors out there might fall for his slick stories? He is dangerous in that he is a very convincing con man. The detective in charge of this case, Steve Koeke, with the Madison Police Dept. said that all his victims were met over the internet and within a 6 week period of time. He took in swords from experienced sword dealer as well as the new collectors. Shocking and very disturbing.
If I can be of any assistance with this, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks again for providing the space and for donating of your time to establishing a page for stolen swords.
7/1/98 Stolen Wakizashi and Tanto (California) Contact: Robert.DeMont@ejgallo.com
I am new to Japanese swords. While I've had an interest for some time and done the introductory reading, I've not had anything but pictures to study until a recent inheritance of two swords from my grandfather who had brought them back after the war. The unfortunate part is that my two swords were recently stolen and I am writing to alert all on the outside chance that you encounter them in your travels.
Unfortunately, I had not yet taken them apart to discover the smith etc. I had only examined them from the outside. I'm learning the terms so please excuse those not properly used.
One was Wakizashi length with black, latitudinal quarter inch ridges on the saya. I believe it was missing the kojiri. It had menuki, but I'm not sure of the design (I've enjoyed the recent discussion of these.) It also had space on either side in the saya and tsuba for accessories but one was missing, the other was a kogai with a rectangular handle. The design on the kogai and on numerous other parts had a downward pointing arrow feather in black and gold color(not the whole arrow, just the feather) surrounded on either side by semicircular feathers also alternating black and gold. It is missing one kurikata (which I have-it was loose and fell on the floor)
The other is tanto length. The saya was a reddish brown with a gold lacquered design. I don't remember that it had menuki. It was very complete in its parts and very beautiful.
Both blades were in very nice (though not flawless) polish with a very clearly evident hamon. The sugata(cross section?) on both like shinogi zakuri (as gleaned from www.meiboku.demon.co.uk/guide/form/zukuri/index.htm).
I know this is a very superficial description, but my study had not taken me deeper yet. I've filed a police report and scoured local pawn shops with no luck. I believe these and a sony discman were the only items taken.
If anyone encounters something resembling these I would appreciate an alert. Thanks for your patience and please continue the excellent discussions.
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