Original Japanese WWII British-Captured Katana Samurai Sword and Helmets - 17th Century Handmade Blade

Item Description

Original Items: One of a Kind Set. Purchased directly collector in the UK, this is a wonderful WW2 Bring Back set, consisting of a nice condition Katana with a 17th Century Handmade Signed Blade, and an untouched condition Japanese Imperial Army "Tetsu-bo" Steel Helmet. These were brought back by Captain George Martin, who was with the Indian Army's Jat Regiment, which was 9th in the regimental hierarchy of the Indian Army.  This set was kept together for decades, and had previously been sold at auction previously as a lot 437 to the private collector we acquired it from.

The helmet is in a good "untouched" condition, with some rust on the outside, as well as the inside. The liner appears to have some damage, most likely from some time ago as it was sitting in the field before being picked up. However, it is still mostly intact, and has Japanese markings on one panel that are definitely worthy of research. The leather itself is solid but dried out. The chinstrap is very worn, and in very delicate condition. We found some additional pieces of it under the liner, but it appears that not much is missing.

The katana in this set is a great sword with some honest wear, and the fittings have a lot of features that are not typical for WW2 issued sword. The blade is definitely quite old, most likely a family blade that was re-set into modern fittings for WWII. It was expertly hand-crafted by a master sword maker, which we can tell due to a few tell tale characteristics that include:

- Single-hole tang signed by the maker

- Holes in tang are punch not drilled. Tang shows significant age.

- Folded steel blade: fold lines are evident on the spine and body of blade. 

- Clear Grain (hada) in the blade body

Offered in good condition, the blade is still  sharp and does not have any nicks in the edge. Blade length is approximately 24" and overall length 35". The blade is hand made, with multiple fold lines clearly visible, as well as the blade grain. Unfortunately this sword was field sharpened and cleaned, so the original polish is all but gone, and there are lines on the sword indicating sharpening. The tang is of the "normal" (futsu) style with an asymmetrically pointed (kengyo) style end. This is a typical classic design for the tang (nakago), and it has wear, rust and patina indicating that it is quite old.

According to research of the markings, this blade was made by a member the Tanbu Kami Yoshi Michi school, sword smiths who worked throughout the 17th century in Osaka and Kyoto. The Mei is not completely legible, so we are unfortunately not able to research further.

The blade does have several flaws, known as kizu or "wounds" in the blade. These are from delamination of the folded steel, caused by air-bubbles during the forging process. They are somewhat common, and proof that the blade is hand-made. The lines are known as "splits" (ware), and there are also several "blisters" (fukure). These can clearly be seen on the "blade flat" (shinogi-ji) as well as on the blade body (ji) mixed in with the grain of the blade. The blade does have some old patches of light pitting, which appear to have been polished down slightly while in service.

The fittings on this katana are brass and copper, with a heavy rectangular tsuba (cross guard) with brass menuki (grip decoration), and a nice kabuto-gane (pommel Cap), one bamboo securing peg still present. The Tsuba has the usual cherry blossom decorations, though the other fittings are more plain. Excellent faux stingray Sa-Me (grip) with a mostly complete Ito (cloth binding), though the binding is worn and has deteriorated in some areas. Overall the handle (tsuka) is well-fitting, with only a little bit of play. The blade collar (habaki) is copper, which is typical of blades made 19th century and earlier. By the 20th century brass was the norm. The blade has several seppa (spacers), which are copper and brass.

The Scabbard (saya) was original black lacquered wood, complete with the standard kukirkata (knob) where a sageo (hanger cord) would be attached. However, a steel hanger (ashi) in the 20th century military style was added, and there is now a black leather field cover on the scabbard, which we have not tried to remove completely, as it is adhered to the scabbard. We can see from the outside however that the scabbard also has a sayajiri (scabbard tip) and semegane (scabbard ring) which were also added.

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. Together with the helmet, it makes a great start to a any Pacific WW2 collection.

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