Registered as a Juyo Token [Important Sword] no. 2576, issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai [Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword] at the 49th Juyo Shinsa in 2003.
The tanto is by Awataguchi Kunimitsu, dated to 1288, although the two characters 'Ko' and 'An' are not clear. Kunimitsu is believed to have been the son or pupil of Norikuni, who was the son of Kunitomo, one of the six great smiths of the Awataguchi school of Kyoto in the 13th century and brother of Awataguchi Kuniyasu (see lot 235). There are few extant blades by this smith, but among them are two Juyo Bunkazai tachi and a ken signed Sahei no jo, a name he shared with his brother Kuniyoshi, the father of Awataguchi Yoshimitsu. This tanto, being signed and dated is a most valuable historic reference piece. The two-character signature Kunimitsu on this blade matches the signatures on the two tachi, making the Koan era inscription an important reference for dating those swords
Although considerably depleted by polishing the blade is perfectly healthy and of the finest quality. It may be compared with the slightly later work of the two great makers of tanto in the mid Kamakura period, Awataguchi Yoshimitsu (see lot 222) and Shintogo Kunimitsu. The text in the Juyo Token record states that this blade is 'without precedent'.