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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 11:00 am    Post subject: Help with Incomplete Vintage Katana         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone,

This is the fourth katana I have come across that I would like to know a little about. Any information is greatly appreciated, but I am most interested in finding out roughly where and when it was made, whether all the (remaining) parts are original, and translations for the mei inscriptions on the tang. Here is a link to the gallery:
http://www.imgur.com/a/AwjaL
I received this from a young man who inherited it from his deceased father, but since the son did not even know his father owned the sword nor was there any paperwork regarding the piece left behind, I do not have any other personal history about the katana besides that.

My main immediate concern was that this sword was definitely modified. The tsuba seems to be missing between 2 to 4 pieces, you can see the two remaining spacers and handguard itself. All pieces of the tsuba are exactly as pictured, there are no vague serials or markings. The same goes for the habaki collar and "working-length" of the blade.

I can't say much about the tsuka handle, it appears to be wrapped in the traditional cotton fabric, and I could not tell you whether the material underneath is shark or stingray skin, resin, plastic, etc.
Both mekugi pegs came out in two halves instead of one solid piece. I will probably replace those. I did the best I could to take detailed pictures of the exposed tang. I would really appreciate translations for the mei inscriptions, that would definitely shine light on the blade's origins.

The scabbard is painted steel, and the part that is supposed to be secured by the scabbard lock on the katana is damaged, the lock is now useless.

This is all I know about the katana at this time, if you have any other questions or need pictures of a specific part I overlooked, let me know. I will also update this thread with any interesting information (if there is any) I get from my friends and colleagues for anyone interested. The katana is extremely rough and incomplete, but it still intrigues me nonetheless.

Link To Gallery: http://www.imgur.com/a/AwjaL

Thank You!
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 2:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Help with Incomplete Vintage Katana         Reply with quote

Hello,

A few quick observations:

This sword has a scabbard (saya) that reproduces a metal shin-gunto (20th century military sword) scabbard. So initial thoughts are to credit it as a military sword.

However, the fittings are all wrong for a gunto.

Specifically, the tsuba is the wrong shape; gunto tsuba were more like a square with a floral pattern that was accentuated by the shape of the seppa. The end-cap of the handle (tsuka) is also the wrong form, rounded rather than rectangular, and never mind the style of the wrapping. Also, traditional wrap would have been silk, not cotton (although cotton was occasionally used).

I am less well versed on the blade, however it doesn't look that great to me. The lines are somewhat soft. This could certainly be a matter of its age, though. The writing on the tang also doesn't look good to me, but I am not an expert.

I strongly advocate that you post this upon a forum specifically for Japanese blades.

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/

They will know much more than us. Good luck.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will note that apparently the swords of non commissioned officers (sergeant and so forth) were fitted differently, and as such this may have received some 'personalization'. So again... I encourage you to refer it to someone a little more experienced Happy
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 2:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Help with Incomplete Vintage Katana         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Hello,

A few quick observations:

This sword has a scabbard (saya) that reproduces a metal shin-gunto (20th century military sword) scabbard. So initial thoughts are to credit it as a military sword.

However, the fittings are all wrong for a gunto.

Specifically, the tsuba is the wrong shape; gunto tsuba were more like a square with a floral pattern that was accentuated by the shape of the seppa. The end-cap of the handle (tsuka) is also the wrong form, rounded rather than rectangular, and never mind the style of the wrapping. Also, traditional wrap would have been silk, not cotton (although cotton was occasionally used).

I am less well versed on the blade, however it doesn't look that great to me. The lines are somewhat soft. This could certainly be a matter of its age, though. The writing on the tang also doesn't look good to me, but I am not an expert.

I strongly advocate that you post this upon a forum specifically for Japanese blades.

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/

They will know much more than us. Good luck.

I will note that apparently the swords of non commissioned officers (sergeant and so forth) were fitted differently, and as such this may have received some 'personalization'. So again... I encourage you to refer it to someone a little more experienced Happy


I agree that this sword was definitely modified or "personalized" as you said. I actually used to own a Shin-Gunto sword where the blade was replaced completely, but the rest was original in the manner that you described, so I know these "custom jobs" were not unusual. It's too bad time seems to have been particularly rough to this one...

I really appreciate the reference to the Nihonto board; the myArmoury community has been superb in regards with informing me about the katanas I come across, but it can't hurt to post in a forum dedicated to Japanese weaponry.
Thanks a lot for your honest input; I am not expecting this to be Hirohito's side sword, but I think despite it's condition and discrepancies it's an interesting piece worth the time. My objective now is to get the tang translated, we'll see how that goes.

Thanks Again!
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2015 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luckily the fittings are of essentially no matter on any katana that isn't a museum piece. The seppa, mekugi, and to a lesser extent tsuba, tsuka and the entirety of the handle and saya are not essential to the sword and may have been swapped for more fashionable or practical pieces at any point during its life without impacting its value in any meaningful way if it didn't start life as a gunto. It does however make tracing its history a little trickier.

It's really all about the steel.
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2015 3:20 pm    Post subject: UPDATE         Reply with quote

Thanks to Jeff's reference, I got confirmation from multiple users on the Nihonto board what the kanji translates to, here it is:
昭和十八年十二月 - Showa 18th year (AKA 1943), December
兼定 - Kanesada (Swordsmith)

Based off this and the Nihonto board users' input, we know now this is a early production of this particular variant of the factory mass produced shingunto, the Type 3.

Not the prettiest sword nor was there practically any human effort put into the forging and assembling of this gunto, but there you have it.

Tyler Jordan wrote:
Luckily the fittings are of essentially no matter on any katana that isn't a museum piece. The seppa, mekugi, and to a lesser extent tsuba, tsuka and the entirety of the handle and saya are not essential to the sword and may have been swapped for more fashionable or practical pieces at any point during its life without impacting its value in any meaningful way if it didn't start life as a gunto. It does however make tracing its history a little trickier.

It's really all about the steel.


I agree, and I was not for a single second convinced that this piece is of any significant antiquarian value due to its manner of production and condition, but I would rather know everything I can about this piece than to have never known at all. In any case, I'm glad only the mekugi need replacing.
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