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Alex Sangster




Location: UK
Joined: 04 Dec 2014

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 9:22 am    Post subject: Amateur needing help - wakizashi authenticity?         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I have been browsing the forums for a few months now, but this is my first post.

I am looking to purchase a first Japanese sword (wakizashi) and require your worldly assistance in determining it's origin (or as close as possible). Being my first purchase I have reservations just based on trusting myself, as well as the limited information provided by the seller. It is listed as a "19th century peice, copper fittings and a rattan weave scabbard."

The lack of description leaves me questioning the authenticity. I have attached a few images below. I know it is not a brilliant peice, some muppet has half killed the blade by a very crude attempt at sharpening it, however for a cheap, first purchase to see if is something I would be interested in collecting more seriously, I feel it is a pretty good choice.

The blade has no active Hamon, is not signed and I cannot decide if the wrapping is a bit to modern...

So with all of that in mind, if anyone could help me identify the authenticity of the peice, that would be great!

Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for your help in advance Big Grin

P.S - Apologies I cannot get any close up pictures of the blade.



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Daniel Sullivan




Location: California
Joined: 02 Apr 2004
Likes: 11 pages

Posts: 206

PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex,

The lack of Hamon is a good clue, but there are a few other red flags. The surface is a bit too "chrome" like, should be more of a satin. The ridge where the Shinogi-ji (flat side of the blade) changes to the Mune (top of the blade) should be a very distinct, an abrupt "knife edge" transition; as well for the very top ridge of the Mune. From the photos it appears this has been buffed or over polished. The Habki (collar) looks a bit new, as well as the lacing on the handle. All in all the piece appears to be relatively new.

Although, I collected these things many years ago, my expertise has always lacked a bit, and now I'm rusty.

*Please wait for more opinions from others on this site.*

Cheers,
Dan
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In addition to what Daniel said, if there are no pictures of the tang, that is also a bad sign in itself. The tang is one of the best ways to verify a Japanese sword's authenticity. If the seller is willing to send pictures of the tang, go for it.

I do find the overall form of the blade curious, especially the kissaki (the bevel of the point). It's particularly obtuse compared to most modern blades. That suggests that this may indeed have some age to it-- or it could simply have been made that way with incautious sharpening.

I would ignore the age of the fittings and simply assume most of them are new. That's one of the things about Japanese blades, the fittings can be changed in and out, and it's not uncommon to find older blades with more modern fittings. Mind you, if it's a genuinely old blade, then it's somewhat questionable to try and stick cheap fittings from a later period upon it. Generally one should exercise more discretion than that.

Two possibilities come to mind: One, that this is an old blade that has been enthusiastically cleaned, perhaps with a wire-brush or abrasive, and then re-polished without much care for the correct shape. In this case the tang should reveal its age. Secondly, and more likely, it's a modern blade that someone is trying to pass off as an antique.

Edit to add: I can see that there *appears* to be a hamon on the bottom photograph of the blade. That is a net positive. A highly active hamon does not prove authenticity and in fact can be a blatant sign of a fake. Some periods in Japanese swordmaking did not seek active hamons, pursuing rather simply a functional blade with a hard edge. I am not saying that this is an authentic blade by any means, but I do see what appears to be a hamon. It could well be acid-etched, or it could be real. It's impossible to know without better photographs or an in-person verification.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,028

PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 1:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Amateur needing help - wakizashi authenticity?         Reply with quote

Alex Sangster wrote:
P.S - Apologies I cannot get any close up pictures of the blade.

That is a bit of a problem, to be honest.

Typically, the fastest way to spot a fake is a close look at the geometry of the tip. Hamon can actually be very hard to make out, polish can always be screwed up, hilt components can be and frequently were/are replaced, but you can't fake good geometry. Nor cover up poor geometry, for that matter, except with misleading photography. Likewise, a close look at the patina and markings on the tang is pretty much required to reliably identify an old blade.

The ito material and the shape of the tsuka look very modern to me, but even if they are that doesn't necessarily say anything about the blade (and with Japanese swords, the blade is the sword). In the first photo the blade looks like it has the sort of glittery, powdery texture of an aluminum alloy iaito, but that could be due to a combination of the botched "polish" and the blurred image. The shape of the kissaki looks a bit suspicious in the third photo, but that could also be due to the reflections on the blade. The extremely washed out geometry of the back of the blade also looks worrisome, but again, a combination of poor photography and clueless but enthusiastic "polishing" with power tools could explain that...

All in all, I couldn't outright call it a fake without a much better view - and the absence of a better view could certainly be taken as a warning sign! - but personally, judging by these photos, I wouldn't spend any amount of money on it, no matter how little.

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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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 98

PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreement with the others here, there's several warning signs.

Blade way too chrome in appearance
wrapping is nontraditional and honestly weird.
tip geometry is way off

it really looks like a modern $30 wall-hangar with some artificial aging that is strangely just limited to the saya.

Would not touch this without at least seeing the tang, and even then probably not.
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Alex Sangster




Location: UK
Joined: 04 Dec 2014

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2014 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all of the replies.

What you have all said makes sense, and thanks for developing my knowledge of warning signs of this type of sword.

Coming back to the fact I am looking to start collecting Japanese swords, can I ask if you have any suggestions of good places to look for reasonably priced Japanese swords with some history, although I am not looking for something 500 years old etc.

Ideally something maybe around the turn of the 1900s, just to start my collection that shows traditional characteristics?

Cheers Happy
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Eric S




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

Posts: 805

PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2014 4:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Sangster wrote:
Thanks for all of the replies.

What you have all said makes sense, and thanks for developing my knowledge of warning signs of this type of sword.

Coming back to the fact I am looking to start collecting Japanese swords, can I ask if you have any suggestions of good places to look for reasonably priced Japanese swords with some history, although I am not looking for something 500 years old etc.

Ideally something maybe around the turn of the 1900s, just to start my collection that shows traditional characteristics?

Cheers Happy
http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/viewforum.php?...12297016ca
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