Personally, I think the old adage “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is” is being ignored time and time again with the typical ebay sword sellers. I think we want to believe that we will get gold for a nickle but the truth is that deception, or at least colorfully stretching the truth, is the order of business for many of the Longquan ebay sellers. We, the very few who know more than a couple of things about swords, are a tiny percentage of the sales these guys make. They sell many, many swords to people who either don’t know any better or don’t care and if they occasionally have one buyer call their bluff and have to make a refund, there are 10 more who buy their swords anyway.
I for one have gone lightly on them when there were minor issues in fear of being blown off and never receiving my sword or money or because I would want to try again at some point. This is part of the price we pay when buying from an obscure seller in China and not a more trusted and established vendor like KOA, SnA or SBG, who have excellent and worry-free cs. Really, the only thing that would temporarily hurt them when they pull this kind of crap is to give negative feedback. This still wouldn’t do much in the long run though because they’d probably just start up with a new name anyway.
Positive reviews by people that don’t really know what they’re reviewing hurt the rest of the sword buying communities in my opinion. I’ve seen countless video reviews on youtube of people saying great things about what are essentially pieces of junk or at least clearly average. “I asked for red ito with the shiny gold tsuba and a black shiny saya. and I got everything I dreamed of, the sword is perfect!” Well, close to that anyway. Just from watching the vid for a few seconds I can see the sword they got is worth about $80 at most and definitely not perfect by any means. I’ve also seen people posting pics on fb of very cheap swords, some with obvious fake hamon and all kinds of red flags and people saying “beautiful”, “amazing” and so on.
So what’s the big deal if they are happy with it? Nothing I guess since many watching the review would be just as happy with the same thing. On the other hand, the market gets flooded with these mediocre swords and they become the new standard, hurting the larger manufacturers and vendors in the long run.
I also buy from China. As of now I only buy from one seller and I only buy what I believe they can make well and so far I have not had any big disappointments. They day I get something faked or the quality drops sharply, it’s over for them. I’m also careful to ask only for things that are reasonable from this type of seller and within their capabilities to pull off well. I know their limitations, which are many, and when I stay within these limitations, I am usually satisfied with the end product. If I ever asked for anything over the top, I would not be surprised at all if it came out wrong. Basically, I buy with realistic expectations.
I’m ranting here but I guess the point is don’t be surprised if the thing that seemed to good to be selling for that low price turns out to be a sham or if the ebay seller with a bad rep turns out to be selling you something you didn’t want. There are hopefuls out there but then there are just those that can’t take a hint or flat out ignore obvious warnings. Sanmai, honsanmai, kobuse, shihozume and any other simple or complex lamination is possible, and in some cases not too difficult to pull off but we are seeing more faked laminations than authentic ones lately.
The truth might be that it’s easier and cheaper for them to sell someone a folded steel blade with a carefully and deceptively polished edge to simulate a mono core steel than it is to really find or make a real one. Just be more aware of what you are actually paying for. Do some research, find out what a decent sword should feature for the money, try to minimize your risk and buy from the sellers with a better reputation.
Good luck out there