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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
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Posts: 456

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 11:58 am    Post subject: sword ID help, 1800s Katana?         Reply with quote

A friend posted this on Facebook and I thought she would appreciate any information about it. It's the only picture but I can ask for more.
Thanks!



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"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
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Posts: 641

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well it's hard to make any kind of good judgement based on the koshirae (fittings) alone, so try to get a few pictures of the blade and the tsuba (guard).

One primary way of judging the age would be to see what the tang looks like. But someone who doesn't know how to remove the hilt properly might damage it.

That is the hollyhock emblem of Tokugawa family all across the koshirae, but I highly doubt that it is connected to the family. As a whole it looks more recent and probably not Japanese. Because the Tokugawa family was so powerful and well-known, it would be an easy emblem to use to try to show a Japanese origin, like using a fleur-de-lis for french sword or US for civil war sword I guess.

The koshirae actually looks metal or metal embossed, which is not really something you see until a later type of fittings, (gunto, or early 20th century). I can't think of any historical examples with a metal handle like that, from any time. There are some strange and wonderful tanto fittings, but this looks like a katana-length sword.

If it were a gunto I'd expect to see some type of hanging strap because they were hung from a belt, rather than the earlier style of thrust in a kimono belt.

These are all pretty general observations. There are other people here who know far more than I do, but hey, thought I'd start it off. At this point I would be surprised to find out it is genuine, but perhaps it is hiding a great blade...

Try to get pictures of the blade and the guard, and find out what material the scabbard is made of. From here the guard doesn't look genuine.

Here's a link to a simple google image search for "Hollyhock Emblem". They are called Mon and represent a family, clan, tribe, what-have-you. https://www.google.com/search?q=hollyhock+emblem&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=qTTIVMvtG4KWONSCgIgO&ved=0CB0QsAQ
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
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Posts: 456

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The lore is that it was given to Rear Admiral Nehemiah Mayo Dyer by the Emperor of Japan. It can be seen in "admirals and their swords". Those are Ginko leaves, also according to the owner.


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"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds like she knows more about it than me then! Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud


Edited to add, Look, if it is really possible that it was given by an Emperor, then please have her take it to a specialist and take care of it accordingly. The advice from here for such a sword is worth exactly what was paid for.
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword owners mom chimed in!
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 30 pages

Posts: 641

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 8:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well barring any other crucial information that may appear later, I would say that if the sword was given to the Rear Admiral, it might make a little sense that the kissaki and the handle, and the ornate fittings all of which don't look very traditionally martial at all, would go to a non-japanese not expected to use the sword for any real purpose. I certainly don't know anything about ceremonial swords.

A cursory wiki search on the rear-admiral says that he was in Honolulu and Hong Kong, but not that he served in Japan. He could have picked it up somewhere close by, or gifted in some role not attested to by Wikipedia (easy possibility.)

It's still a hollyhock leaf kamon though. Gingko leaf mon looks like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=ginko+kamon&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=BWPIVO2lK8bbPY_DgNgL&ved=0CB8QsAQ#tbm=isch&q=ginkgo+kamon&spell=1

Hollyhock kamon might lend support that it was a gift from someone important, but not likely the imperial family. Rear-Admiral Dyer served in the general time-period of both the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the beginning of the Meiji Emperor's time. Perhaps someone is confused about which ruler gave it to him. The Imperial kamon is a different flower altogether, the chrysanthemum.

At any rate, you could try the nihonto message board, which is a bit more specialized and see what they say. But there are some very knowledgeable people here. I would be interested to hear more about the sword if you or the owner finds out anything. It's certainly an interesting case and thanks for posting it!

I thought for a minute there, it was a new game on myArmoury.com: "Wallhanger or Treasure?" wherein a low-level hobbyist is suckered into pontificating and then given completely different but relevant information. I can see a game show where Nathan Robinson or Peter Johnsson pops out with a weapon. If it's a bad guess, off with our heads.
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Jussi Ekholm




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

Posts: 92

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I checked who this Admiral was, as I really don't know American history.

I think the mounts are cheaply made Meiji era tachi koshirae (could also be Chinese copy of them, but assuming the story about origin is true then it would rule out Chinese copies). Mounts have lost both ashi it seems, and the blade is rusted. Personally I have very strong dislike to mounts like these. You can see quite similar koshirae here: http://nihon-no-katchu.proboards.com/thread/722

You need to remove the pin that is holding the hilt to the tang, after seeing that and a lot more focused pictures of the blade we can possibly say more. High quality pictures and lots of them are a must when attempting online identifications.

However I do not believe that the Emperor of Japan would gift out swords in koshirae like this, I would believe that all gifts at that level were/are much higher quality. It could be gifted to him by some Japanese person. Here you can see a gift from Emperor of Japan to British Minister Sir Harry Parks: http://masterpieces.asemus.museum/masterpiece...ctId=11046

Unfortunately I do not know any nihonto persons in Massachusetts on top of my head. If you get into New York there are clubs. Someone in JSSUS will probably know the collectors in MA area. Someone with knowledge and seeing the sword in hand could tell you a lot more than us in online forum can. Once you get better pics then it would be wise to also post to NMB as there are plenty of folks with knowledge.

Jussi Ekholm
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 8:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, man! I Wasn't trying to mess with you guys! Ha! Just passing on information as I get it!

I searched for the book, didn't find anything. She said it was "admirals and their swords, or something like that." So might be a different title.

Worried

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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