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James M Martin




Location: OHIO
Joined: 04 Oct 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Need HELP identifing an old katana!         Reply with quote

Purchased this katana from a guy who was selling off his grandfathers sword collection, he had some very nice stuff in his collection (mid 1800's mostly). upon looking at it i quickly realised it was old, and it was real... Other than that ive been racking my brain trying to find someone who could help identify the age... The mei appears to be on the blade itself and not on the tang.The brass fittings all appear hand made.. as a matter of fact im not seeing any evidence of machining used on any of it.. but then again im no expert. ANY help would be appericiated!

links to images:

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2irxh0h&s=6

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=rizp08&s=6

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2wpqemh&s=6

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=i21w0x&s=6

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=671bvb&s=6
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Gene W




Location: The South Of England
Joined: 01 Dec 2010

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James,

Not good news I'm afraid.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that your sword is a modern Chinese made sword and not a genuine nihonto.
These are coming out of China at an alarming rate at the moment. They are artificially aged.

The blade is 'pattern welded' or some call it mechanical damascus steel. However the 'pattern' is really just there to show that the blade is layered steel. The blade has then been masked so that the 'inscription' resists and acid etched to show the layers in the steel.
This is a completely incorrect process for genuine Japanes swords.

The collar at the top of the blade is called a 'Habaki'. Part of the purpose of this collar is to provide a seal between the sword and scabbard (saya). The Habaki on yours is crudely made with none of the exact angles that one would associate with the Japanes swordsmith.

Similarly the Guard (Tsuba) and the spacers (seppa) are crudely cast and lack the distincive exactness of Japanese work.
The location of the peg hole in the tang is wrong, the handle is completely wrong.....
I could go on, but I'm afraid there is no doubt in my mind.
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James M Martin




Location: OHIO
Joined: 04 Oct 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene W wrote:
Hi James,

Not good news I'm afraid.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that your sword is a modern Chinese made sword and not a genuine nihonto.
These are coming out of China at an alarming rate at the moment. They are artificially aged.

The blade is 'pattern welded' or some call it mechanical damascus steel. However the 'pattern' is really just there to show that the blade is layered steel. The blade has then been masked so that the 'inscription' resists and acid etched to show the layers in the steel.
This is a completely incorrect process for genuine Japanes swords.

The collar at the top of the blade is called a 'Habaki'. Part of the purpose of this collar is to provide a seal between the sword and scabbard (saya). The Habaki on yours is crudely made with none of the exact angles that one would associate with the Japanes swordsmith.

Similarly the Guard (Tsuba) and the spacers (seppa) are crudely cast and lack the distincive exactness of Japanese work.
The location of the peg hole in the tang is wrong, the handle is completely wrong.....
I could go on, but I'm afraid there is no doubt in my mind.








The pattern of the damascus does not stop at the writing, it can be seen in it also.
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Gene W




Location: The South Of England
Joined: 01 Dec 2010

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James,
yes, a mild etch all over and a deep etch to create the inscription.
The art of p0lishing nihonto doesn't include etching to reveal layering.

Whats the edge like?


Last edited by Gene W on Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:19 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Gene W




Location: The South Of England
Joined: 01 Dec 2010

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you want a second opinion you could register over at SFI and post it in their nihon-to section.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/forumdisplay...n-to-Forum
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Apart from the etching as noted above, just in general appearance it looks far more like a modern Chinese fake than a real nihonto. It's worth spending some time looking at genuine Japanese swords to get a feel for what they look like, and then it becomes easy to spot fakes like these. It's also fairly easy to recognise modern cheap Chinese katana (sold as new swords, not fake antiques), even though they look a lot more like Japanese swords than the low-quality fakes.

A couple of good books on Japanese swords with lots of pictures will be wise investment before buying, if looking for real Japanese swords. 20th century military swords and samurai swords (i.e., Edo and earlier, swords as used by actual samurai) tend to be covered by different books. A reasonable web start is the external links on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_sword#External_links

Sometimes fakes like these have OK blades, but very often they're not heat treated. Unless it's really cheap, a modern Chinese sold-as-new katana is probably a better deal if you're after a cheap katana (or somewhat katana-like sword, a purist might say).

"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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James M Martin




Location: OHIO
Joined: 04 Oct 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene W wrote:
If you want a second opinion you could register over at SFI and post it in their nihon-to section.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/forumdisplay...n-to-Forum



i appericiate all your help guys, the one thing i did want to point out is that its definetly not a new fake, it has to be a old one as the gentlemen who had it prior to me has had it for a good number of years (30+). it sucks to hear i have a pos lol but such is life. My area of expertiese has never been in swords , I'm more of a military collecter myself.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I haven't seen any in this style that old. The fake katana of that age that I've seen have been from Indonesia or elsewhere in SE Asia, and are somewhat different. This one is Chinese - some very much like this are still available on ebay (but not as many as there used to be - perhaps a sign that it's an older style of fake). Definitely around in the 1990s, so earlier is reasonable.

Is the end of the handle (i.e., above the metal band 2/3 of the way up the handle) a hidden knife? Some of the swords in this style have such a hidden knife, while others just have a solid handle with that metal band. (This is also seen on some "decorative" modern swords; googling for "katana with hidden tanto" should find some examples.)

"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




Location: Japan
Joined: 17 Aug 2008

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Thu 04 Oct, 2012 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all Happy

ummmmm... saddly... this sword isn't Japanese katana... Sad
(My knowledge of katana is very poor... But I'm a Japanese...)



These 4 letters are Japanese kanji. And the first 2 letters means era name...
This era word has two readings:
* Showa: Japan's era name (1312-1317)
* Seiwa: Vietnam's era name (1680-1705)

Of course I think that this era name means Japan's...
But it is steange... Question
"Showa" is 1312-1317(6years)... So "Showa 7 year(1318)" doesn't exist... Question

ummmmmmm... Question Question Question

Thanks ^^

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





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

Posts: 321

PostPosted: Fri 05 Oct, 2012 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In *no* way would I consider myself at all knowledgeable in Japanese weapons..but maybe folks will correct me if I'm wrong ? But as far as I was aware, pretty well every reference work I've seen or read shows that any lettering on a genuine Japanese blade was incised with a chisel..not etched like this one seems to be..and not on the visible blade surface either, rather they were cut into the tang ? Some blades may have had *Designs* on the blade..but not writing. Sad

I'd pretty well guarantee this one was made for the tourist market..don't forget..tourists have visited Japan for pretty well all of the 20th Centuary, except for a brief period during WW2. So, despite this blade being in the family for many years, that doesn't make it a 'real' Japanese weapon, regardless of where it was made somewhere in East Asia or Japan itself.
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James M Martin




Location: OHIO
Joined: 04 Oct 2012

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri 05 Oct, 2012 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, everyone on here is incredibly helpful! Thanks for the translation as that was one of my questions... I knew it said showa era but was unaware that the 7th year didn't exist. Even know I am not much of a sword guy I must admit , before knowing it was a fake there is somthing very cool about possibly holding a very old peice of japanese history... I have a couple newer katanas that I've probibly overspent on just because I loved the quality... but I have yet to find a pre ww2 blade.. where's the best place to fimd a deal on one?
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,229

PostPosted: Fri 05 Oct, 2012 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BKS have two old ones on their "ready to ship" page (sroll down): http://imakeswords.com/readytoship.htm
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Ushio Kawana




Location: Japan
Joined: 17 Aug 2008

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Fri 05 Oct, 2012 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all Happy

I translated the letters of the other side...



The first 2 letters:
It read "kisshin" in Japanese.
And this word means "lucky day" or "auspicious".

The 3rd and 4th letters:
It read "Nagawa" or "Nakawa" in Japanese.
It is a proper noun.

Thanks ^^

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