Original Japanese WWII Army Company Grade Officer's 1886 Pattern Kyu-Gunto Sword with Arsenal 7 Marked Blade & Scabbard
Original Item: Only One Available. The first standard sword of the Japanese military was known as the kyu-gunto (旧軍刀, old military sword). Murata Tsuneyoshi (1838-1921), a Japanese general who previously made guns, started making what was probably the first mass-produced substitute for traditionally made samurai swords. These swords are referred to as "Murata-to" and they were used in both the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905).
The kyu gunto was used from 1875 until 1934, it closely resembled European and American swords of the time, with a wraparound hand guard (also known as a D-Guard) and chrome plated scabbard (saya), the steel scabbard is said to have been introduced around 1900.
Prior to 1945, many kyū guntō were distributed to commissioned officers to fill a demand for swords to Japan's expanding military officer classes. To distinguish individuality, wealth or craftsmanship, many swords were produced in batches as small as 1–25 to maintain the legacy of sword culture. Styles varied greatly, with inspirations drawn from swords of early periods, familial crests, and experimental artistic forms that the Meiji Restoration period had begun to introduce. Some examples have included European style silverworking, jade, cloisonné, or metalwork and paint for artistic relief.
Kyu-gunto swords, also called Russo-Japanese swords, were used by Army, Cavalry and Naval officers during the Russo-Japanese War and WWII. This style of mounting was used from 1883 until 1945. Like shin-gunto, a great variety of quality in both blades, traditional and machine made, and mounts is seen in kyu-gunto swords. Many variations are found in the scabbards of kyu-gunto swords including chromed metal, lacquered wood or leather covered wood with brass fixtures. Any style scabbard may have a leather field cover. Those swords with elongated hilts and mekugi (peg for holding blade into hilt) are more likely to have hand forged blades, while the swords lacking mekugi generally are machine made and may have chromed blades. The backstraps of naval kyu-gunto swords have no side pieces while army kyu-gunto and colonial swords have side pieces with various emblems on the backstrap.
This is a nice example of an high grade Army Company Officer Kyu-Gunto, complete with the original nickel-plated scabbard. This sword was produced prior to WWII or during the early war period, before the fittings were switched to aluminum, and construction simplified. It was made for an arsenal forged Katana blade, which requires the older 1886 pattern fittings, which were designed around traditionally made blades. This differs from later versions with the much smaller bent handle. These were real swords, sturdily built for actual use. We very rarely see Kyu-gunto swords from the WWII era with forged blades, making this a real treat. We pulled the handle on this example, and the blade tang is stamped 造 兵 廠 七, which translates roughly to "Arsenal 7".
Offered in very good lightly used condition, the blade is still relatively sharp and looks great. The edge of the blade is dent and nick free, however there has been some oxidation along the edge in areas, so it is a bit rough. There has also been some staining on other areas of the blade, but not any major rust, and there have been no attempts made to polish out the rust. Blade length is approximately 26 7/8 inches and overall length 33 1/2 inches.
The katana has an arsenal forged blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with an haagari (asymetricaly rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has the typical shinogi-zukuri shape used on katanas, along with a bo'hi fuller. It is not nickel plated, and is very similar to the blade used on P-1944 Shin-Gunto and Type 95 NCO swords.
The hilt is an ornate multi-piece brass example, with excellent pebbling on the back strap and collar. The metal originally fully gilt, and it still retains this very well, with only minor wear in areas. It has the standard 10-petal Cherry Blossom emblem jutting out from the back strap, indicating Imperial Japanese Army use. It has a very elongated European style guard, to allow for the longer grip on the 1886 pattern hilt. When we pulled the blade, we noted that various parts are stamped with the number 22, meaning they are a matched set made for this blade.
The grip is fully wrapped in lovely polished stingray skin shagreen (Sa-Me), which is in excellent condition, and still retains the original brass wire binding. The guard does not fold down, as some do, and has a functional scabbard lock. There is very little play in the fittings, making this a great example. There is an two part brass mekugi (peg) that screws together, which is definitely original.
The scabbard (saya) is nickel-plated steel with a wood interior, and in very good condition, with no major dents or other damage from service. The nickel plating is almost fully intact, though it definitely shows speckled oxidation and patination overall, with a bit of wear through on the upper reverse. It is a very simple design scabbard, patterned after European swords of the 19th century. Both hanger rings are still present on their bolsters, and the scabbard locks correctly onto the hilt. Definitely a very nice example with a lovely patina.
Overall this is a really nice example of this type of sword, and was definitely an upmarket version, probably owned by a member of a distinguished and wealthy family. This would make a worthy addition to any Japanese military collection. Ready to display!
Blade Length: 26 7/8"
Blade Style: Shinogi-Zukuri Katana with Bo'hi Fuller
Overall length: 33 1/2“
Guard: 4”W x 6 1/4”L
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"
It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.
Each hand-made Samurai sword is unique because it is forged from folded steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.
The Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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