100 Masterpieces from the Collection of Dr. Walter A. Compton

Published by Christie’s and edited by Sebastian Izzard in 1992. This well-known reference of important blades and kodogu features the 100 best pieces from the famous Compton sale at Christie’s Auction House. It features a glossary and essays on the subject matter. Both color and b&w plates with descriptions in both English and Japanese. Clothbound with dust jacket and slip case, 10 ¼ x 14 ½”, 321 pages, 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Excellent condition.

For additional information on both this historic sale and Dr. Compton, please read the article below regarding the sale.

$100 plus S/H



Record Prices at Christie's For Japanese Swords
Published: April 1, 1992

Buyers -- most of them Japanese -- paid record prices yesterday at Christie's in New York for swords and fittings collected by an Indiana physician and businessman. The first day's sale of the Japanese sword collection of Dr. Walter Ames Compton, described by the auction house as the most important ever held in the West, totaled $8 million, a record figure for a sale of Japanese works and within the auction house's expectations of $7 million to $10 million.

"It's the best private collection in the world," the president of the Japanese Sword Company of Tokyo, Tomihiko Inami, said before the sale. "The quality and the quantity is extraordinary. A Japanese cannot keep such a collection."

Mr. Inami outbid all competitors to acquire a 19th-century magnolia-decorated sword guard, called a tsuba, for $88,000 and a 17th-century small auxiliary sword, called a kozuka, embellished with an image of Mount Fuji, for $104,500. Both prices were records. He also bought some of the most important larger swords in the sale, including a 13th-century Kamakura long sword, or tachi, for $340,000; a 14th-century dagger, or tanto, for $154,000, and a 15th-century long sword for $132,000. Interest Began in His Youth

The most expensive sword at yesterday's sale was a 13th-century Kamakura blade that was sold for $418,000 to a European collector who was not identified.

Dr. Compton's interest in Japanese swords began when he read about them in a boy's magazine when he was 14 years old. While a student at Princeton University in the early 1930's he bought his first samurai blade for $6 in a Chinatown laundry in New York. He collected Japanese swords for 50 years while he worked at and eventually headed, as president and later chairman, Miles Laboratories of Elkhart, Ind. He continued to buy swords until shortly before his death in 1990 at the age of 79.

The cream of Dr. Compton's collection was exhibited in 1976 at the Japan House Galleries in New York. The show included the first registered National Treasure lent by Japan for exhibition abroad: a 13th-century sword Dr. Compton had acquired in the United States and identified as a registered missing rarity, which had been taken from a shrine in Kagoshima Prefecture by a member of the United States armed forces after World War II. In 1963, he returned it as a gift to Japan and in later years made six other such gifts. The Compton family gave two important daggers to Japan last month when Christie's exhibited the swords in Tokyo. The Previous Record

Although most of the buying was by Japanese bidders, European and American collectors and dealers were present at the sale or bid by telephone.

The previous record at auction for a Japanese sword was $132,000, a sum paid in 1986 at Christie's in New York for a signed 13th-century weapon once owned by the Duke of Windsor.

Yesterday's sale was the first in a three-part auction the Compton collection of 1,100 swords and fittings that continues in October and ends in December. The collection was originally estimated to bring $15 million to $20 million, but Sebastian Izzard, who heads Christie's Japanese art sales, said he now expects the collection to total about $15 million.