The dimensions are 82.5mm x 81.9mm. Centre thickness 4.8mm, mimi 5.2mm.
The dark rich purple/red patina is excellent with the colour verging on black in incandescent light. Under the sun its true colours shine. With the slightly broader than normal seppa dai 切羽台 and slightly broader hitsu ana 櫃穴 as well as the bold feel to the overall sukashi, this tsuba has somewhat of an Owari feel to it but the texture of the iron is soft and quite homogenous, which it typical of Kyōto works.
The motif would be described as Myōga Kari Kai Zu 茗荷雁繋図 and includes Karigane 雁金 (Wild geese), Myōga 茗荷 (Japanese ginger) and Fundo 分銅 (Japanese weights). The Myōga are carved in slight relief with simple Kebori 毛彫. All 3 of these items, enveloped in and including the kiku gata mimi are an elegant element of classic design. Karigane and Myōga are also winter elements and may allude to both travel and the higher society lifestyles of Kyōto at the time. The Kiku in various guises was the emblem of the emperor and weights would have been used for, amongst other things, the counting of gold and so could also allude to the affluence of the place and time. Together as a group, these 4 elements display a feeling of prosperity, movement and health.
Fundo are often seen in sukashi tsuba and I would expect a theme common amongst samurai in charge of or working with castle finances and book keeping. This could also apply to merchants who were later in the Edō period, allowed to wear wakizashi.
Kyō Sukashi tsuba were named after Kyōto which was at one time the capital city of Japan. These tsuba were also called Heianjō Sukashi by some authors because Heian was this cities earlier name. Kyōto at the time would have been an affluent and vibrant metropolis and these tsuba, with their fine carving and elegant designs, Kyō Sukashi tsuba (as would Owari sukashi and Ko ShōamI) would have been worn equally with the more opulent styles of Mino bori, Gotō bori and Ko Kinko bori which would have sat more in line with the heavily decorate wardrobes of that time.
The tsuba has an old green NBTHK Neiteisho – Tokubetsu Keicho designating it Kyō Sukashi.
Thank you for reading.
江戸時代に両替商が用いた後藤分銅 Edō Jidai Fundo used by the Gotō family for money exchange.
Sources include Wikipedia and Jim Gilbert’s Tsuba website.