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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 04 Feb, 2014 2:59 pm    Post subject: Help with Possible Japanese Type 98 NCO Sword         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone,

I have another Japanese blade in my possession, here is the link to the picture gallery: http://www.imgur.com/a/JDxTY#0

I am largely convinced this is a WWII era Type 98 Shin Gunto based off of it's appearance. According to the original owner, it was most likely acquired from one of the Japanese occupied Pacific islands, but may have been acquired as far west as mainland China. It has the same locking mechanism, color scheme, handle and buttcap embellishments/ornaments, etc, that I've seen on other 98's. There are no markings anywhere to be found on it, including the blade collar and blade itself. Since pictures tend to do more/less justice than seeing it in person, I would say it's in the "Good" to "Great" condition range, the main offender being the material on the handle cracking in some places.

You will notice I do not have any pictures (at the time of this post) of the sword in a dismantled state, which brings me to my first question. From what I see online and on this piece, there seems to only be one pin, which I have removed. However, whenever I try to pull apart the handle from the blade, it seems to be still held on by something above the removed pin ("above" being towards the blade end) that is still holding holding the handle to the blade. It does pull out about 1/8th of an inch, but no more. I believe it may have something to do with the locking mechanism, seeing as it goes through the collar, guard, AND spacer.

So, is it possible to remove the handle from the rest of the sword? If so, what is preventing me from removing the handle? I really don't want to damage this piece since it's a bit more complicated than a traditional katana.

I also would appreciate any information you can give me on the blade based on what I have said and have pictured in the gallery. On a unrelated note, I would also like to know what exactly that bubbly, ivory-colored material is on the handle. I've read it would be shark skin, but I don't know if that's likely for a mass produced sword.

I will update the gallery with more pictures if I can figure out how to remove the handle.
Again, here is the link to the gallery: http://www.imgur.com/a/JDxTY#0

Thank You,
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Tue 04 Feb, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's probably just a tight fit. The locking button shouldn't interfere at all.
Once you pop out the mekugi, hold the sword upright in one hand, blade facing away from you, and tap the back of that hand with a bottom fist strike from the other hand. Once you feel the blade jump a bit in the grip you will know it's loose. Then wrap a cloth around the blade and ease it out.

Looks like good shin-gunto furniture (though that may or may not be original to the blade), to my eye the handle looks re-wrapped but that's probably not a big deal.
Is the saya laquered wood or metal?
It's notable that the habaki is steel instead of brass, and that there is no fuller/groove along the blade.

I'd say it's pretty likely an NCO gunto, but once you have the handle off it should be more obvious.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,901

PostPosted: Tue 04 Feb, 2014 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/military.htm

It will be worth your while to see the nakago.

Stein's site is just a start point but there is a lot of information to soak up before checking out all he lists as links.

Cheers

GC
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 805

PostPosted: Tue 04 Feb, 2014 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This would not be called "nco", an nco is completely different. https://www.google.com/search?q=nco+japanese+sword&safe=off&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS460US460&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=tevxUuTcOsaIygHum4CgAQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1530&bih=815
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
Joined: 14 Jan 2010

Posts: 268

PostPosted: Wed 05 Feb, 2014 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a type 98 Officers sword. As pointed out the NCO version had different fitting. Looks like a nice traditionally made blade as well. Take a look at this compendium http://ohmura-study.net/934.html

As to why you can't remove the tsuka... its probably been in there for 60 plus years so you will need a tool called a nakago nuki and someone who knows how to use it without damaging the sword.
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed 05 Feb, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Pictures of Dismantled T98         Reply with quote

Thanks for your input everyone; I have dismantled the katana entirely, so here is a new picture gallery: http://www.imgur.com/a/n1b6K#0

Before I get into that, I want to address a few things.

Eric S wrote:
This would not be called "nco", an nco is completely different.

You're right, I didn't realize that the "wrappings" on the NCO swords are generally copper, brass, aluminum, etc, and the swords themselves are of generally lower quality, from what I can tell. I initially thought "Type 98" and "NCO sword" was interchangeable.

Tyler Jordan wrote:
Is the saya laquered wood or metal?

The exterior of it is solid metal covered in brown/blackspotted paint, but the interior of the saya is wooden.

Tyler Jordan wrote:
It's notable that the habaki is steel instead of brass, and that there is no fuller/groove along the blade.

Yes, I can confirm the habaki is steel. I know the lighting in my pictures aren't 100% natural, just in case anyone was wondering.

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/military.htm
Stein's site is just a start point but there is a lot of information to soak up before checking out all he lists as links.
GC

The website is very informative, it even answered my un-asked question of what the colors of the tassels mean (company grade officer), even though I'm unsure at this point if the wrappings or tassels are original.

Christopher Treichel wrote:
Take a look at this compendium http://ohmura-study.net/934.html


Thanks for the link, Chris, it's very informative

Anyway, the sword is now dismantled, it was very difficult! Yesterday, I loosened the blade by using the traditional form Tyler Jordan mentioned, but gave up after a good 50 or so hits, so I began to wonder if there was something preventing me from dismantling it. But today, about 20 more hits finished the job and the handle finally came off. It was just extremely tight from how long it's been together, like Christopher Treichel said.

As you can see in the pictures in the new gallery, the tang is completely devoid of any kind of mei. However, every spacer piece and the handguard have the serial "286". The blade collar is blank, though. I think the pictures speak for anything else I would have to say about the pieces and tang.

Can anything else be deduced from the dismantled sword? I'd hope that the serial might indicate the approximate year this sword was made, or possibly even the manufacturer it was produced by. I would also like to get more opinions on whether or not the tassels or wrapping are likely to be original. The blue and brown tassels are especially vibrant and in great condition.

Here is the link again for the latest gallery: http://www.imgur.com/a/n1b6K#0
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Wed 05 Feb, 2014 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the look of things, you got a pretty good sword there.

It may have been re-wrapped, but all the hardware appears original to the set, so it's possible it's just that well preserved.

Can you check and see if the blade is carbon or stainless? The steel habaki, lack of any mei and lack of a fuller says to me 'expediency' but the form of the blade and its fittings are quite good in contrast.
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Thu 06 Feb, 2014 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler Jordan wrote:
Can you check and see if the blade is carbon or stainless?

It is most likely stainless; it has a mirror sheen typical of stainless steel and there is no rust to be found anywhere on it. It's also VERY easy to get fingerprints on, I've noticed carbon steel is a bit harder to visibly smudge.
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 805

PostPosted: Thu 06 Feb, 2014 3:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Pictures of Dismantled T98         Reply with quote

Steven Biernacki wrote:
, every spacer piece and the handguard have the serial "286".
Those are assembly numbers used to keep all of the parts together I believe, not actual serial numbers, no information to be gained from them other than knowing that all of the parts are original and go together.
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Jussi Ekholm




Location: Tampere, Finland
Joined: 16 Jun 2004
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Mon 10 Feb, 2014 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm thinking it's oil quenched showato.
Jussi Ekholm
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 11 Feb, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Pictures of Dismantled T98         Reply with quote

(In regards to the spacer serial numbers)
Eric S wrote:
Those are assembly numbers used to keep all of the parts together I believe, not actual serial numbers, no information to be gained from them other than knowing that all of the parts are original and go together.

That's too bad, it's probably going to be impossible then to identify the factory or even year of this katana
Jussi Ekholm wrote:
I'm thinking it's oil quenched showato.

How can you tell it's oil quenched? What visually sets this apart from a water quenched or air hardened katana?
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Jussi Ekholm




Location: Tampere, Finland
Joined: 16 Jun 2004
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Wed 12 Feb, 2014 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First let me start by saying that online identification from pictures is always going to be tricky. And novices like myself can give advice that might not be entirely correct. Happy

As I see you live in Chicago, I believe there are lots of nihonto collectors around that area. For example you have Midwest Token Kai coming in April: http://www.chicagoswordshow.com/ You could show the sword to some very experienced people there, and receive the correct information after their hands on inspection of the sword.

I believe there are also nihonto study groups in Chicago area, I don't know them directly but you might try to ask JSSUS about them, they could most likely point you to right direction.

About the quick identification that I gave, I'll try to explain now.

I do not see any hada (grain) on this sword, and the hamon (tempering line) looks to me as if it was brought out with acid. Of course the polish is in bad condition so it's quite difficult to say much from the pictures.

The nakago would indicate to me that this sword is quite new as there is not much patina on it. Unfortunately the sword is mumei, so that doesn't give any indicators.

I believe you should also find ububa on this sword. I'm guessing this sword has small unsharpened portion in front of habaki.

All these things combined are pointing me towards showato. Of course I may be wrong, as this is just novice identification from pics. Happy

I would advice not touching the sword with bare fingers, and try to remove the fingerprints on the blade with rubbing alcohol.

Jussi Ekholm
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Chris Father





Joined: 06 Jan 2014

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed 12 Feb, 2014 11:30 am    Post subject: Re: Pictures of Dismantled T98         Reply with quote

[quote="Steven Biernacki"](In regards to the spacer serial numbers)
Eric S wrote:
Those are assembly numbers used to keep all of the parts together I believe, not actual serial numbers, no information to be gained from them other than knowing that all of the parts are original and go together, other than that, I don't think more information can be obtained from them.
That's too bad, it's probably going to be impossible then to identify the factory or even year of this katana. If it were possible, that would be awesome.
Jussi Ekholm wrote:
I'm thinking it's oil quenched showato.

How can you tell it's oil quenched? What visually sets this apart from a water quenched or air hardened katana?



Hello,

I am also interested in know how you can tell it's oil quenched?


Last edited by Chris Father on Sat 15 Feb, 2014 5:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jussi Ekholm




Location: Tampere, Finland
Joined: 16 Jun 2004
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Wed 12 Feb, 2014 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Generally oil quenched blades should have lesser activity than water quenched blades. At least that's what I've been reading. As the sword does not seem to have hada (or it's very tight), there is a large chance that would indicate non-traditional blade, which might indicate oil quench is a greater possibility.

I'm not sure if there is nie to be seen in one of those pics? Trying to look my screen at various angles, but I can't say for sure. And to my eye the hamon looks dull.

That is the problem when trying identification from the pictures, but as you have good nihonto circles in Chicago area, it should be easy to get an informed opinion from experienced collectors. I know very well how difficult capturing the fine details in photos is with limited equipment.

My gut feeling would put this as oil quenched showato, but as a novice I might very well be totally wrong. And swords of this era do not generally intrest me, but there are many collectors who focus at swords of this era and could instantly give better educated answer.

Jussi Ekholm
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jussi Ekholm wrote:
My gut feeling would put this as oil quenched showato, but as a novice I might very well be totally wrong. And swords of this era do not generally interest me, but there are many collectors who focus at swords of this era and could instantly give better educated answer.

I really appreciate your input on how this sword was quenched, even if you are not absolutely certain from the pictures. If I show this sword to friends, I don't want to mislead anyone by saying it was manufactured with traditional methods if the signs point to the fact that it was more likely oil quenched.
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