Anthony, yours is a special case - although probably not a rare one when it comes to cars: surely, it is much easier to find spare parts to restore an automobile engine (original Jaguar racing equipment???!? ) than to find an original menpo nose that fits a different mask than the one it used to belong to. In the same way, skilled car restorers are much more frequent than skilled katchu restorers, which makes the Jaguar metaphor lack comparabality... but it's a good starting point for discussion
David, the only reason there are more car restores is because of demand. Most of them started as hobby restores working for little or nothing. Joseba, you talk about a Momoyama kabuto having broken lacquer and not replacing it because it is original. It may be original to the helmet but is it Momyama? or Eddo?, The same with the Ito? Can you prove the age of the Ito or the lacquer?
You can't prove if the lacquer is momoyama or edo (I don't know if doing chemical tests like FTIR, XRF would help to identify compounds to differ periods), but from the history, authenticity and patina point of view, they don't matter where are coming from... but if the lacquer would be taisho or from nowdays? Would it matter? We know the armours were fixed cause they were functional and always needed to be pristine even in peace time. They used to have armour parts of different times and it was fine. But know it is different cause we arent wearing them and are relics that tell a past. I'm conservator and of course I'm agree with conservation and restoration of cultural artifacts, but when talking about conservation of armours, which kind of standards are we referring to? Which kind of conservation rules are we following? Personal taste? In my case, I'm more romantic with armours cause I leave them to fall apart as a sign of time, something it is going against my profession, but it is the way how I feel the armours.
Joseba, I am sorry I can not agree with you. I am all for conservation when there is little damage and it has not compromised the item in question. But what you like is a distortion of history, it has to look old to prove it is old? That misleads the public as to what things really looked like. A classic example is in European armour. Because most of it was polished in the 1930`s the public has come to believe that it was always polished rather than the exception. This also encourages the Victorian attitude that everything before them was crude and dirty.
For me opt 1 or 2, depending how really bad the overall is. I wouldn't polish it but this is my personal taste. If I would want a sword in a good or better condition cause rush borders me, I would just purchase one that already is in good condition.
I am guessing that Dave is presenting the conflicting options because that is exactly what they are, and people differ in their judgement and choices.
There is no 'one answer', but if you own a sword you have to have a coherent philosophy that following generations will forgive you for.
In Japan people traditionally used uchiko and clove oil to keep their blades bright, but nowadays we are told not to do it so often; it's unnecessary if a blade has settled down, and it causes loss of metal. Blades lose their original shape, too, especially when sent away to the polisher. A good polisher has to try and recreate the silhouette that the original smith wanted. Don't pull your teeth out when they hurt, but try to save them! Don't send the blade away for polishing so often!
I've posted the blade photo on social media, opt 3 is winning by far.
This is why I've made the post, it's all about the individuals wants. The owner decides, however there is another factor that really needs addressing, and that is the opinion of others and what position others regard them to occupy.
A new sword collector will seek advice and guidence from those that are viewed to be more knowledgable, forums like Nihonto Message Board is a prime example. The core of that communities opinion is what dicates others. Should all the NMB senior members suggest that no blade should be polished ever again, then in most cases this will become the norm.
So we must be mindful of what we preach to others as it can alter attitudes and opinions.
The nihonto world is now brainwashed to polishing and paperwork.
Absolutely correct Piers - and in every case the decision will be different. As a former museum curator I fully understand the view Joseba takes, but there are times where I would dis-agree with his view. Rust on a sword blade is a case in point. Rust is hygroscopic, absorbing yet more moisture from the air and growing. Yes you can oil it, but the oil contains water and all you do is slow the growth of rust down, not stop it. In the Royal Armouries we had a situation where a spot of rust started on the breastplate of an armour in store. Over a period of months it grew in irregular concentric bands, spreading across the surface. Instead of cleaning it off, our conservators decided to study it with the result that it spread to other items and seriously etched the original breastplate. All manner of theories were advanced as to the cause, which because of the growth pattern appeared to be either a fungal or bacterial cause. It is now, after several years, under control and yes the cause has been ascribed to a micro-organism. Had the proper action been taken initially it would have saved a great deal of effort and damage. In the case of armour, what is wrong with re-bonding flakes of lacquer back to the substrate? Covering fragile textiles with netting is the approved method of preventing further damage. All these interventions are designed to extend the life of an object. To let something sit and disintegrate whilst doing nothing is not the answer. Ian B