Original Japanese WWII Army Officer Katana Samurai Sword with Handmade Signed Blade by KANETSUGU c.1944
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased from a collector in the UK, this is a very nice wartime production Japanese officer Katana (Shin-Gunto). The blade bears a post-1940 Showa arsenal stamp, and is signed by the Noshu Seki swordsmith Kanetsugu. From what we know about this smith, the blade was most likely made around 1944, and is of very high original quality. Included is a small tag with research information and references. The blade is hand-made and tempered, indicated by a few tell tale characteristics that include:
- Single hole tang with original file marks present.
- Tang is signed 濃 州 関 兼 継 作 - NOSHU SEKI (JU) KANETSUGU SAKU - made by Kanetsugu in Noshu province at Seki arsenal. This name is listed among the 209 swordsmiths listed as working in the Seki area in 1944. See Yoshiara & Kapp for reference. There is also a 昭 (SHOWA) arsenal stamp on the tang.
- Holes in tang are punch not drilled
- Visible Temper line (hamon) on the blade - Faint but quite striking - TOURAN billowing shape.
- Grain texture (hada) visible in the blade body.
Offered in good condition with a clean mostly bright blade, this sword has definitely seen use, as indicated by blade and handle condition. There is some past light oxidation on the blade, but no pitting. It has since been cleaned lightly. The cutting edge is still sharp, though there are some very small nicks on the point (kissaki), and the polish of the blade has been worn a bit, but the touran (billowing) shaped hamon can be seen in the light, and is quite attractive. There does not appear to have been any post-war sharpening of the blade however, and it is still sharp. Blade is somewhat heavy and the length is approximately 26 and overall length 37 1/2".
The blade mountings are the classic late WW2 era Army style. Brass Habaki (blade collar) with a rounded brass tsuba (cross guard) is of the typical army type, with cherry blossom decorations, while the fuchi (hilt collar) is brass but is plain. The tsuka (handle) has brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and also has a nice Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), but it is unadorned, typical of late war. The Single bamboo securing peg is still present. Excellent stingray Sa-Me (grip) with complete Ito (cloth binding), though the cloth is definitely worn from use. Overall the hilt is very tight fitting, and there are two seppa (spacers) that keep the crossguard, hilt, and blade tight. Unfortunately, at some time the sword must have been dropped, and the blade edge cut into the habaki, which was crushed somewhat (the back is split open). Due to this the tsuba and seppa are loose.
The Scabbard (saya) is black lacquered wood, and is missing the usual field cover one would see on this type of scabbard. It has a brass hanging loop, as well as a wooden kurikata (knob). The scabbard is in good condition, but it definitely has seen use.
Overall a great display piece with a lot of history and totally honest and correct.
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 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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