Item:
ON5511

Original Japanese WWII Katana Samurai Sword in Early 20th Century Fittings - 19th Century Handmade Signed Blade

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly collector in the UK, this is a nice condition katana, most likely used in the early 20th century, and into WW2. This is a great sword with some honest wear, with real signs of field use, and the fittings have a lot of features we haven't seen before. The blade is handmade and expertly crafted by a master sword maker due to a few tell tale characteristics that include:

- Single-hole tang

- Tang is signed by the maker (mei) on both sides!

- Holes in tang are punch not drilled.

- Folded steel blade: fold lines are evident with some blade inclusions.

- Visible temper line (hamon) at the edge of the blade

- Clear Grain (hada) in the blade body

Offered in very good condition with some small areas of discoloration, the blade is still  sharp and only has a few tiny nicks on the edge. Blade length is approximately 25" and overall length 37". The blade is hand made, with fold lines and inclusions visible, and a clear "wave" (hamon) temper line. The wave is near the edge, indicating this blade was probably re-polished in Japan during service. The Yokote, the line indicating where the tempered tip (boshi) starts, is visible, but somewhat worn. Overall polish is good, making this a very attractive blade.  The tang is of the "normal" (futsu) style with an asymmetrical rounded end (haagari), though it is only slightly round, and almost asymmetrical pointed (iriyamagate). This is the typical classic design for the tang (nakago), and it has patina indicating that it is quite old.

The tang is signed by the maker on both sides, but we unfortunately have not been able to translate them. Usually one side would be the date, but there were many different dating systems used, so we are not able to tell the exact era the blade was forged during.

The blade does have several flaws, known as kizu or "wounds" in the blade. These come from the traditional method of forging. They are somewhat common, and proof that the blade is hand-made. The small pits are known as "blisters" (fukure), and are from carbon inclusions in the blade that have been exposed. The carbon was polished out but the pits remain. 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 a few small areas of staining, but is otherwise corrosion free.

The handle (tsuka) is well-fitting, with only a little bit of play, and has very ornate brass Dragon menuki (grip decorations), and a nice Kashira (End Cap), with the wooden securing peg still present. It also has an excellent faux stingray Sa-Me (grip) with complete Ito (cloth binding), with only minor wear and discoloration.  The fittings on this katana are iron, brass and copper, with a heavy round iron tsuba (cross guard). The blade collar (habaki) is copper, which is typical of 19th century and early blades. By the 20th century brass was the norm. The blade has two seppa (spacers), which appear to be blacked brass.

The Scabbard (saya) is wood, but it has a copper in the 20th century military style. The scabbard is covered in a sewn-on leather field cover, which has a snap to attach to the handle (tsuka). There is a leather collar on the handle fuchi (throat), which originally had a leather strap that would attach to the scabbard, which is unfortunately missing. The condition of the field cover definitely shows some wear, especially around the hanger. This is traditionally where a soldier would hold the scabbard has he was ready to draw the katana for use. Many Japanese would even hold the sword the traditional way, edge up, which was the quickest way to draw the sword and have it ready to strike.

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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