Original Japanese WWII Navy Officer Model 1883 Kyu-Gunto Sword with Steel Field 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 a Navy Officer Kyu-Gunto, complete with the original steel "field" scabbard. Like their western counterparts, officer's swords such as these were produced with a more ornate "parade" scabbard, and a steel "field" 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 nickel plating, which is still over 95% intact, with a few small areas of corrosion where the plating has been lost.
The hand and crossguard have some traces of gilding left, with some slight patina apparent on the top of the hand guard. Standard chrysanthemum quality stamp is apparent near the inside of the finial. 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. The blade has some play in the hilt, not uncommon after 70+ years.
The blade had been covered in cosmoline but shows no staining from it. Clean throughout, with some slight noticeable wear towards the top third near the tip with no serious grooves or scratching.
Another fine example of WWII Japanese edge weapon!
Overall length: 34”
Blade length: 28 11/16”
Scabbard length: 28 11/16”
Hand guard: 4” width x 5 ¾” length
Weight: 1 lb. 11 ¾ oz.
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