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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 12:38 am    Post subject: Katana: More Information Wanted         Reply with quote

I recently bought a katana in Hong Kong. Since my knowledge and main interest really lies with medieval and early Renaissance European swords, I was wondering if anyone could give me more information about this weapon.











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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 2:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know little as well, but that won't stop me from voicing my opinion.

I don't think it is a katana, or at least a katana in the truest sense. The overall feel is that of a katana-like sword, which is not that uncommon, as other Asian cultures imitated the Japanese katana. The Vietnamese for example, have a katana-like sword called the "dai dao" (I think it translates to "two-handed saber").

In any event, one thing that suggests this to me is the scabbard. Most Japanese scabbards are coated with lacquer, not covered with skin or whatever that is. Nor do they have rings set into them for suspension, instead using cords and wrapping to secure the thing.

As for the sword itself, note that the two holes commonly found in the guard to allow the knives or whatever the samurai usually put there are not present. The overall proportions are a little strange too. And the tassel on the end? I've never seen its like.

So, I'm not an expert and could very easily be wrong, but I suspect others more knowledgable will still say much the same.

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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks like a fake to me. One of the tale-telling clue was the inscription was mentioning about its time was in WWII but it didn't fit in the theme of gunto or any traditional made katana. Besides, the blade geometry looked strange as well.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At the very least it's very clearly not a katana in the strict meaning of the word, nor any other sort of authentic historical Japanese sword, based on everything from blade geometry to all the furniture.

My first guess would be a modern Chinese decorative reproduction loosely inspired by WWII-era shin gunto (that, or older Chinese swords of similar style), but I could be wrong.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings


Last edited by Mikko Kuusirati on Mon 11 Oct, 2010 3:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing that is worth noting is that the sword does not, to me, feel like a decorative sword or a wall-hanger. There is a definite balance to it- it's not a clumsy weapon. Also, the leather on the scabbard looks like it's fairly old and worn. True, it could have easily been a modern reproduction that was just not well cared for or perhaps deliberately made to look older, but it doesn't look to me like it was made in the last 30 years.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 5:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, but you have the unfair advantage of the thing itself in your hand! Ceci n'est pas une pipe and all that. Razz

The fittings look like brass, is that right? The guard at least seems cast, complete with flash left uncleaned... Also note the fairly loose fit of the blade to the guard, and the absence of a collar. And is that a locking mechanism of some sort I see protruding through the guard on one side of the base of the blade, in the next to last picture?

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Ushio Kawana




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Craig Peters Happy

This sword seems to be sold in an antique shop in China...
It is not a historical Japanese Katana... Probably it is souvenir or something.



Showa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh%C5%8Dwa_period

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the etching, it claims to be a WW2 era sword (and not even a late war sword, when some rather poor materials and workmanship were used for some swords).

From the fittings, it isn't. It doesn't have a properly-shaped handle. It doesn't have a proper grip wrapping. It doesn't have a proper tassel. It might not have a proper pommel cap (kashira).

Superficially, it's a fake - a sword claiming to be what it isn't. It's such a poor fake - it doesn't really look much like what it claims to be - that it might not be a fake intended to deceive, but just a tourist piece. It isn't one of the common types of fakes that are out there (most are closer copies of the various WW2 military katanas, or shrine swords).

Many, many, many fake katanas out there, especially gunto/shin-gunto (i.e., Japanese army swords). If it looks suspect, it's probably fake. If it's being sold in a Chinese/Hong Kong antique store, it's probably fake. If it's being sold on ebay, it's probably fake. Some are complete garbage, some are quite good quality. Some of them, if they weren't being sold as authentic (and thus fakes) would be excellent modern reproductions. One thing that's lacking on many fakes is decent heat treatment. You could test for hardness if you feel so inclined.

As for balance etc., I don't know. The better fakes are pieces of steel of about the same length, width, and thickness (thus way ahead of lots of the "decorator" $10-for-set-of-3 katana/ninja SLOs). So, the weight and balance must be sword-like, yes? But you can read what serious martial artists have to say about balance and weight of modern reproduction katanas - much of it isn't very favourable at all (and often accompanied by suggestions that the smiths would benefit from handling some authentic examples!). So it depends on your standards.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Ushio Kawana




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Happy

At first... My English is poor... Sad
There is Chinese blog and Japanese blog who bought same this sword... Eek!
I think this katana is some kind of souvenir. So I think that it is "a souvenir/imitation" not "a fake"...
I have a bad image from the word "fake". Sad
Of course it is vicious if somebody sells "a replica Katana" as "a historical Japanese Katana". Evil Evil Evil
However, as for me, this sword seems not to have been made for the purpose of deceiving somebody...
I think that it was made as some kind of memory or a souvenir/imitation in those days...
Of course it may have been made for the purpose of deceiving somebody except the Japanese... Evil
I cannot express it well... The Japanese feels this sword unnaturally...

p.s.
Of course you know...
Even if the katana is a work of art, it is a weapon. Exclamation
Therefore, permission is necessary for possession in Japan.
And the Katana is expensive. Many of cheap katanas are imitations...

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 6:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
I know little as well, but that won't stop me from voicing my opinion.

I don't think it is a katana, or at least a katana in the truest sense. The overall feel is that of a katana-like sword, which is not that uncommon, as other Asian cultures imitated the Japanese katana. The Vietnamese for example, have a katana-like sword called the "dai dao" (I think it translates to "two-handed saber")


I think you'll find that the Katana itself was imitated from the Chinese culture, somewhere around the Han Dynasty.

This could originally have been intended for use in Korean Kumdo (I've seen tassels on swords in dojangs), or as a Miaodao for Chinese Martial Arts. It's almost certainly not a Japanese sword.

It could still very well be a decent sword. It is unfortunate that the seller claimed it to be Japanese, though. If it really is a war-era sword, it could have been used by forces fighting against the Japanese, which still might give it some sort of value, perhaps?

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It wasn't said whether the seller described it as a katana, or Japanese, or WW2, or antique.

The etching labels it as Japanese of WW2 era.

Bearing a fake label suggests it is recent, rather than of WW2 era. No historical value. Perhaps of decorative or curiosity value, depending on taste. Functional value would depend on tang and heat treatment.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Let me provide some more information. The guy who was selling it was in a store that claimed to sell antiques, along with wood carvings. He said that the sword was made circa 1910 and was one of the Japanese swords left behind in Hong Kong in World War II. Not knowing really anything about katanas, this did not seem implausible to me. However, the price that he sold it for was really low- too low. At the time when I bought it, I figured "Best case scenario, it really is a Japanese katana from 1910; worst case scenario, I've bought a somewhat old sword that feels fairly nice in hand, and has a cool scabbard." While I am sad that it's not what the seller claimed it was, I'm not really surprised, either.
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 3:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those blades were rather popular on fakes during the 2000s. It's an ethnographic weapon that attests to the continuous interest of western buyers in japanese-looking swords during that periode.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guess I should have done more research. Wink
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now that the authenticity issue is sort of settled how good as a sword does it seem to be ? Heat treat, sharpness, handling, cutting ...... or just an interesting wall hanger ?

One shouldn't expect much at the low low price but sometimes one can be surprised by what comes out of small shops if the makers take pride in their work or have experience making good tools i.e. have the skills to properly heat treat steel and have skills learned making stuff not destined for the tourist market: They would have little reason to put any real quality in a wallhanger meant for tourists but professional pride might still make them do good work ?

Just a theory if it turns out much better quality as a user than one would normally expect.

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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey, if it handles well and takes a reasonable edge without breaking, score! If nothing else, it could make an interesting project blade. Happy

The leather on the scabbard actually looks like a later addition to me. If it was original it should go under the metal furniture, not over them. I have seen roughly similar leather covers on all-steel scabbards, also after-the-fact additions to protect the bright steel when not on parade (and if this is original it was likely meant to imitate those), but not on wooden ones with separate metal fixtures... or is that undyed leather instead of exposed wood, that light tan area right below the scabbard throat in the last picture?

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leather scabbard covers were standard for military swords. Metal suspension rings were standard on military swords. So we should see these on any half-decent fake. (Well, not necessarily the leather cover, since that's for the field, not the parade ground).

Civilian swords were also mounted for military use, with a metal suspension ring added, and a leather cover fitted, over the original wood-and-lacquer scabbard. If you see one with a kurikata (the attachment for the sageo cord), which isn't on the standard military scabbard, this is what it is (or a fake).

Wooden scabbard isn't enough to diagnose a civilian sword in military dress; some pure military late-war swords had wooden scabbards. Sometimes covered in canvas and painted.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Karl Schlesien





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 2:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo, very well put. And absolutely correct! I have owned dozens of katana and ko- wakizashi done like this for the war.

Quote:
``Leather scabbard covers were standard for military swords. Metal suspension rings were standard on military swords. So we should see these on any half-decent fake. (Well, not necessarily the leather cover, since that's for the field, not the parade ground).

Civilian swords were also mounted for military use, with a metal suspension ring added, and a leather cover fitted, over the original wood-and-lacquer scabbard. If you see one with a kurikata (the attachment for the sageo cord), which isn't on the standard military scabbard, this is what it is (or a fake).

Wooden scabbard isn't enough to diagnose a civilian sword in military dress; some pure military late-war swords had wooden scabbards. Sometimes covered in canvas and painted.``


You should perhaps add references from where you found this information, or this discussion could go on for a very very long time, I think.
Often people will not want to believe if they can not see it in a book for themselves. Sad but true.

Tschüß!
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Civilian swords were also mounted for military use, with a metal suspension ring added, and a leather cover fitted, over the original wood-and-lacquer scabbard. If you see one with a kurikata (the attachment for the sageo cord), which isn't on the standard military scabbard, this is what it is (or a fake).

Neat, there's one thing I hadn't thought of before. Thanks. Happy

Karl Schlesien wrote:
Often people will not want to believe if they can not see it in a book for themselves. Sad but true.

Tschüß!

What's sad about wanting proof or corroboration? It's the fundamental basis of the whole scientific method. Without citations and references all this stuff we talk about here would be nothing but rumor and hearsay with no educational value of any kind.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Karl Schlesien





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko, no you missunderstand, what I mean to say is that there are a large number of people that will not believe fact presented to them unless they can read it for themselves. You can explain it to them untill you fall down out of breath and they will still not believe you So you have to provvide reffernces for them to see. Or they do not take the time to read and think about what is printed.

``You should perhaps add references from where you found this information, or this discussion could go on for a very very long time, I think.
Often people will not want to believe if they can not see it in a book for themselves. Sad but true.

You should have quoted the entire paragraph, now does it work?.
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