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An excellent shakudo tsuba signed, Shigemitsu with an atypical kanji. 7.55 cm x 7.24 cm x 1.51 mm. Wonderfully deep, rich, blue-black shakudo with gold, silver, shibuichi, and shakudo takazogan, and stylized waves in keibori. The gold inlay is solid, not a wash over a copper inlay, and the shakudo has a very high gold content. The normal gold percentage for good shakudo is 4% to 6%, and this would be on the high side of that. See an iron example TS0373.
New information: This was part of an order for the Kiku Daimyo.
Shigemitsu was a samurai who worked for the Matsudaira Daimyo. He was a student of the second generation Yokoya Soyo. (Haynes, H 8953.0). Usually his pieces are not signed, however Robert Haynes opined that since this is such an expensive piece, and the gold could only be procured through the Daimyo, that this was probably a special order for the Daimyo, and so he elected to sign this tsuba. He confirmed that he thought that this was probably the work of Kato Shigemitsu, explaining that the design is pure Nara school, and the Kato came out of Nara. However, he added in a letter, "There were so many Shigemitsu that I can't be absolutely sure". Interestingly, this artistic rendering of "Shige", is not in any dictionaries. I had hunted in both Nelson and Koop and Inada, and poured through Tosogu Meiji Taikei, and The Index of Japanese Sword Fittings and Associated Artists, then asked help from Robert Haynes and Harry Watson. Harry Watson wrote: "I have looked through the Kinko Jiten, Kodogu Meiji Daijiten, a 15,00 kanji dictionary, and two dictionaries of seal characters, and cannot get any closer than Shigemitsu". Never submitted to shinsa.
This was apparently part or a larger order, as I saw another example at a Japanese online auction, and here is a catalog reference showing a dai-sho of the same theme, but slightly different design.
Shigemitsu With An Atypical Shige Kanji. Left, the above tsuba. Right, From the Tokugawa catalog below.