Fake Marukas

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by Mr.Tee, Mar 8, 2017.

    Been creeping around at jnats l on ebay too for a while just cant seem to pull the trigger, for the same reason you stated

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
  1. Yeah, they mostly spook me as well. The sensible thing to do is buy from Alex or Keith or one of the other usual suspects. My experience with this particular seller has been positive. Mine has been a really pleasant surprise so far. Everything that I have honed so far has come off the rock really smooth but with a lot of sharpness to back it up. It's more balanced than I figured it would be, especially out of the gate. I think my preconceived notion was that it was going to yield a really boosted, highly strung edge I would have to be on guard with.
  2. I would not advise people to buy on ebay. There are a few good sellers though. If you are just starting on JNATS definitely buy from someone like Alex or one of the usual trusted sellers sites. I have stones from both Alex and Keith and others. That is how I figured some of this out. If you don't have a base point from a trusted knowledgeable source whose brain you can pick a bit to know what you want and like and figure out what the stones nuances are you won't know if you or the stone is the problem if you get a bad stone. Plus it helps to have a return policy if it isn't what you are looking for. Unfortunately for me what I am now looking for is difficult to find and can be very expensive so I had to take some educated guesses and chances. I took a long time watching what may have been great deals go by, but they may have been duds too! You just can't tell till you try the stone. It takes a strong stomach and a willingness to know you could lose out. I was sweating till I got the stone and tried it. I figured at worst I would have a new knife stone so I would be ok either way.
  3. Sounds like you got a winner here in the iromono. The days of samuri developed steels that just might have been similar to your 1790 razor, hard steel but not overly hard, hand hammered, plenty of impurities that add character that allows the steel to give instead of break. It is the same with a stone like yours iromono, and a few of mine that are similar, they react and join in the process of sharpening as opposed to commanding over the process of sharpening.

    Level 5+ stones provide level 5+ slurry, crisp and sharp. Comparing hardness levels over the internet is problematic but another stone on your bench in your estimate of 5 or 5- you will find the slurry to be slightly more flexible.

  4. Alex

    You maybe right about the steel. I had thought of this before, which is why I love these old blades. I had not thought of this while shaving this last time though. I was wondering if this stone was able to make the blade as sharp and smooth as it did partially because I had previously sharpened it on a level 5+ that I got from you. It took closeness to a new level. The keeness from the 5+ edge by itself is not my preferred finish. The iromono side of the 5+ stone allowed the cutting power to remain yet smooth that edge to the feel I like on my skin. Some how this iromono was able to enhance that same edge feel and max out the effectiveness of the blades closeness. Either that or I some how slightly changed the angle of the edge increasing this. I will try some different methods down the road to see what I can figure out. It seems to be a very versatile tool though. Trying different methods and progressions on these stones is fun and can yield great results.

    Did you have any idea on the old vs new kanji stamp for the Narutaki? It isthe warehouse/wholesaler in Japan who stamps them. So the seller could not answer this question. Would they still be stamping a stone today with the old
    Pre 1946 kanji? If so would they do this for stones cataloged in the warehouse as being pre 1946?
  5. Tom & others

    To answer your question, there never really was a stamp for the Narutaki mine, the mine pre-dated the use of ink stamps by mine owners.

    About the use of ink stamps in general and specifically about Hatanaka Toishi Company.
    The mines in the Umgahata valley of the Narutaki region of Kyoto have been producing for about 800 years, the use of ink stamps for about 75 years. The main proponents of ink stamped stones were the wholesalers to begin with and then in somewhere in the 1960s the miners began to market some of their own stones and they added their own stamp signature to some stones. Kato-san did this among others and was by all accounts was the first. Ink stamps did not act a provenance but only suggested that the holder of the stamp handled that particular stone. At one point all of the members of the Kyoto Miners Union supported the private use of ink stamps and each member created their own personal stamps and they were registered with the Union as theirs. The actual stamps were held by the owners for their own personal use and by Gentlemen's Agreement and they all cooperated with each other member to maintain a form of copyright within the union regarding the use of these stamps. To seal the deal, so to speak, each member at one point actually physically used their own stamp blocks to stamp a page in the Kyoto Miners Union membership book which acted as an offical record. Below is one of the several pages that the prolific Hatanaka Toishi Company created in the Union's archives and printed for the use of their members. About 10 years ago Ishihara-and, the then owner of the Ohira Mine printed out from his copy many of those pages.


    As required at the time Hatanaka-san himself brought in his box of stamps including all those that he used that were passed on to him from Kato-san, and with an ink pad and the original stamp blocks applied them to the Union archives paper as his recorded images. Each miner did this on as many pages that they needed depending on how many stamps they brought with them to the union meeting. In the above you see those exact hand carved block impressions and their unique stamped form. The physical stamp block and the indelible image it left was considered to be special and the property of the rightful holder of the stamp. Stamps like these were the normal representative signature used for most legal transactions in Japan, the use of stamps, instead of a brush or pen drawn signatures dates back hundreds of years and was continued to be the mode well into the last quarter of the 20th Century for banking are official forms.

    The only Stamped Image that all of the miners held in common, and each was issued their own edition to use was that of the Kyoto Miners Union logo stamp. Only members of the Union were allowed to own or use this stamped image, seen below and each Union member was issued a ink block of such.


    The membership to the Kyoto Miners Union required that the applicant be either a digging miner or a holder of legal mining mineral rights within the Kyoto area, which as it turn turns out to mean that area within the historic city limits of Kyoto as it stands now. Some miners in the Kameoka or Saga area were included or excluded but if they held mineral rights closer to the Kyoto city limits as in the case of Ishihara-san and the Ohira mine did, they could be included. There may be other exceptions that I do not know about but my information came directly from the president of the Miners Union and he did not elaborate.

    Back to the Gentleman's Agreement part of all this. There are currently only 5 members of the Union, and they do still cooperate with each other and have yearly board of directors meetings, but everyone is old and there have not been any new members in many, many, many years. There are no Russian members, or American or Brazilian members, and these old guys of the Union are not going to chase the world around enforcing some code of ethics regarding Fake Maruka or other ink stamps.

    With the passing of Hatanaka-san, he has defaulted on his mineral rights in Umegahata and no family member has any current rights to harvest from the property through default. Hatanaka-san did not have a child who was willing to continue the Toishi Company, a nephew apparently has some stake in selling the old locked up stock but he is not a Union member. The famous ink stamps created by Kato-san are in limbo with no Hatanaka family member willing to guard their use by others. In fact the Hatanaka family has withdrawn from contact with the public. It is not clear to me who retains the stone stock of Hatanaka, for all I know it could be Google or Facebook or Sony Pictures. No one has publicly stepped forward to claim ownership outside the family, and no one is talking within the stone community. I have met with the last remaining son of Kato, and not even he knows, or cares for that matter. To him stones are not a viable business so there is nothing to talk about or report.

    There is no one to regulate the use of an ink stamp block that looks similar to the original Kato Maruka stamp, and no one to prevent an exact duplicate using laser technology in creating another from being used. There are few who have the background or the interest in grading stones for the market regarding if they are actually from the Nakayama Mine.

    Up into the 1950's all sharpening stones were marketed on their own merits, and they were tested against the tool it was intended to be used with and favored or rejected. A stone seller allowed you to test the stone, there were no ink stamps to be worn off and not harm to the stone if it was tested. Craft persons demanded particular levels of sharpness from their stones, the degree of sharpness needed was not "the sharpest" but instead a balance between sharp enough and how long the blade will retain that general level of sharpness under normal use.

    The finest sharpening stone has not yet and never will be found in nature, it is elusive and no single man deserves to own it by himself. With the passing of the Kyoto stone culture we all have to learn on our own as to what sharp enough is and what we need. In the near future we cannot depend on that Gentlemen's Agreement regarding ink stamps to guide us, they will begin to become more and more a sales tools or ploy. There will be an onrush of bright and fresh looking ink stamped stones, there is no reason not to test them with your own tools, but let you hand and your eye be your guide. This forum and other forums like it I hope will continue to act as a helping hand.

    Alex Gilmore
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2017
  6. Alex,

    Thank you. This is kind of the conclusion I had. I think my problem was I was looking at and thinking about information from the past and was not sure if or how much of it was still relevant to how things are now. This was a great bit of info and you have helped me with my interest and understanding of these stamps now. Prior to this I had never owned (other than Anso stamped nagura) or paid any attention to stamps so this peaked my interest in wanting to understand them more.
  7. Sorry to bring up and old thread... But I've also purchased from this guy... from one of his multiple accounts. Can't purchase from him anymore because I've been blocked from bidding for retracting one of my bids, which is completely within my rights as an ebay user, but whatever, that's off topic.

    I do have a question however, and Alex seems to be the most qualified, so maybe he can answer this if he's still around... I've noticed that on a lot of these stones he mentions "stains and smells of oil refining products," question is, could the colorful patterns on most of his stones be faked. Something similar to the methods used to stabilize wood? Food for thought.

  8. The colors aren't faked, the stone has been used with a honing solution that's probably some kind of oil based product. The odor is unpleasant to me and I have successfully removed it by soaking the stone in isopropyl alcohol overnight. The honing solution changes the colors slightly (some more than others) but does not create any colors.

    Cheers, Steve
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  9. I don't know about those few that he states the smell and unworthy storage on (at least he states it), but the ones I got have no issue and are 100% natural color with normal Jnat smell and feel. I will say he is the shadiest seller. He is definitely shill bidding then if he blocked you for retraction. A lot of his ebay sales have the same few bidders with very low activity running up the bids early then retracting 48 hrs before it ends. Over and over again. So knowing that he blocked a real retraction tells me even more about his shady activity. His stamps are also not worth anything. Some are correct mine, but a lot are incorrect. I got a great deal on a old stock Ohira. It is 100% Nakayama. It is an old stock stone though. One of my stamps wiped off with water. Again the stone was great, but his stamps are rubbish. I never bought stones with stamps in the beginning and after learning about stamps and the state of the market and how stamps are used now I would ignore stamps and lap them off. If you know the stamp is real or correct based on the stone characteristics take a pic then lap. According to him he has a wholesaler in Japan at a warehouse who stamps these stones. I don't know how he decides what to stamp or how, but I don't think those are original Maruka stamps. They are new. So even though they can't be called fakes because there is not a copyright. He words his listings as them being This was used by Hatanaka, the circled ㋕ "Ka" character paid homage to Kato-san, the previous owner of the mine. Stones with such a stamp are considered tested by the Hatanaka and are the considered suitable for the to fine finishing straight razors. So I would consider them fake because I hightly doubt they were tested by Hatanaka. They probably are suitable for razors though.

    I am curious about this color faking method you speak of though. I think if this worked this well the market would be flooded with these types of stones. I also don't think you would be able to get the layering effect. These stones sometimes have a specific way the stone layers formed over time with say a Karasu or Iromono in the middle of a stone.
  10. He's shill bidding for sure, but at least Steve seems to think the colors are real. The few stones I've picked up from him were good quality, but yea, stamps are iffy, all the same color, all perfect. Thanks guys!
  11. Well, just for the record, the image colors may be 'real' yet look nothing like the stone, aka Photoshopped. The stone's appearance can also vary dramatically depending on the lighting, whether or not it's wet, and so on. So while the oil based honing solution typically darkens some colors, Photoshop can do just about anything you like.

    I just finished 'de-oiling' some dark grey almost black waxy looking naguras, wasn't sure what they were, but lo and behold, they are indeed shiro mikawa. And the alcohol bath was yellow, as usual. BTW, the alcohol doesn't alter genuine stamps, at least none so far and I've de-oiled more than I like.

    One strategy may be to offer him a low price for a smelly stone, it's not hard to fix. The oil-soaked wooden stand is another story though.

    Cheers, Steve
  12. eBay sellers love to alter the quality of images to get higher bids. Lol. And not just jnat dealers. Where does it end? Thanks for the chat, Steve.
  13. Good luck on the hunt!

    Cheers, Steve
  14. The over enhanced colors of most stones for sale are way to common. Even good reputable dealers that people speak of on here do it. Wet and eye popping yellow or other colors. Once you get the stone it is more of a light brown. Alex is the only one I have seen that just shows the stone the way it is. I think all of the stones sold by this guy are pictured wet and enhanced a bit. They are still very colorful when wet, but not like the pics.
  15. One last bizarre thing about this seller is his naming of stones. Is Suita an Asia layer. I didn't think so. Sunashi according to him seems to mean a lot of things and can be any stone not just Suita with no Su. I talked with him about some of this and asked others about what he meant and it seems very odd. One thought it was 330mate from the wording of what he had said. When I asked if he knew 330mate it got a rise out of him. He didn't seem to fond of him.
  16. Dcaddo

    Dcaddo Moderator Emeritus

    I haven't had any personal experiences with this seller, but based on what you guys are saying I wouldn't buy a shoe lace from him. I'd be surprised if it's 330mate.
  17. David,

    I feel that way to, but I did buy before I knew this and he was giving me killer deals. I am very torn. The stones even though he may have no real idea are actually extremely nice stones. Well at least the ones I picked. I even sent one to Alex he wanted to test from how it looked. It turned out to be an excellent old Nakayama. Only it was sold with an Ohira stamp that was rubbish. Guess I made out in that deal though. I don't think it is 330 this guy really hated him. I don't mean to sound bad here either. I just want to share what I have figured out with this community so they will know what they are getting into. Stones always came free shipping packed very well and never any issues. Just very shady.
  18. Ha, cool so my tomae stones therefore are sunashi. Last I knew is suita strata well 3 suita stratas. To me sunashi is a term reserved for very special suita stones
  19. Yeah I tried to understand what he was talking about and tell him my understanding of the terms, here is what he responded. Sunashi is a type of whetstone (yes, and You are right - it's Suita without Su), Sunashi can also be Kiita (this is color), and Nashiji (pear-skin) is pattern (maybe even on Asagi stones / there are exhibitsin Museum of the Kyoto Association Toishi)
    Sunashi is Suita without Su, but Sunashi is Sunashi, and Suita is Suita. Many unscrupulous sellers write Sunashi Suita - it's "at the root" is not true! Sunashi - can have pattern Nashiji - it's not uncommon.

    I don't know if it was a language thing or a Japanese thing where something can mean many things or if he just has no idea. I think it maybe the later. The fact that he names strata that don't have Suita as suita tells me a bit. I really was only asking him because I was wondering if some of the stones were suita since he called them Sunashi, but he kept describing it as pear-shaped spots related to the picture of 巣なし Sunashi. That to me say Nashiji.

    Maybe it is just our western thinking. I have come to a point where I have to stop thinking and looking at all the terms and stamps. I want to understand them, but in the end it means little. I would like to know if I am buying suita though.

Share This Page