Original Japanese WWII High-quality Navy Officer Kyu-Gunto Sword with Chrome Plated Blade

Item Description

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 Navy Officer Kyu-Gunto, complete with the original scabbard. This sword was produced prior to WWII or during the early war period, before the fittings were switched to aluminum, and construction simplified. The blade on this example is machine-made, and has the typical chrome plating, which is still over 95% intact, with a few small areas of corrosion where the plating has been lost. The plating also has a lovely imitation hamon (wave) on the blade, which looks like the temper line on a hand-forged and polished blade. Overall it is very attractive.

The hilt is an ornate cast brass example, with intricate engraving on the back strap and guard. It looks to have been plated originally, but a lot of that has flaked or worn off. It has the standard European-style "D" guard, as well as a very nice stingray skin (same) grip, with the original brass wire binding fully intact. Blade has no play at all in the grip. Part of the guard folds down to lock onto the scabbard pin, though it does not line up correctly anymore.

The scabbard (saya) is wood, and covered with black lacquered shark skin. The shark skin is fully intact, but the lacquer has flaked off in places. The fittings are ornate plated brass, as with the hilt. They have a fine pebbled texture, along with the "cherry blossom" logo. Both hanging rings are intact, ready for an original or reproduction hanger.

Overall this is a really nice example of this type of sword, and was definitely an upmarket version. Later variations were much less ornate, and eventually went to steel scabbards. This would make a worthy addition to any Japanese military collection. Ready to display!

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