Original WWII Japanese Army Officer P-1944 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KATSUNORI with Capture Tag - Dated 1945
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased recently at a large military auction, this is a very nice late war style mid grade Japanese officer Katana, with an arsenal-made blade. It is in the standard 1944 pattern fittings, officially known as the 臨時正式 (Rinji Seikishi) or "Special Contingency" version of the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting.
These fittings, while often called the P-1944, were in fact designed in 1938, but didn't really see much use until 1940. They were designed to be more robust than the regular Type 98 fittings, as well as less expensive and time consuming to produce. However the standard Type 98 fittings continued to be produced concurrently until almost the end of the war.
A Shin-Guntō (新軍刀, new military sword) is a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Army between the years of 1935 and 1945. These are not made as carefully or to as high of a standard as the earlier blades, which makes them a very economical way to get into Japanese sword collecting. This is a very nice example, and appears to have seen very little use in combat. It is signed and dated 1945 on the blade tang by the smith who made it, KATSUNORI.
The katana itself measures 37 1/2 inches overall, with a 26 1/8 inch arsenal-made blade. The blade is most likely not traditionally made, as it does not show any lamination lines or grain, and does not have the correct polish for a hand-made blade. It has a standard bright finish to it, with a faux hamon (temper line) on the majority of the blade. It looks as if this late war sword was used in the field, but then was not cleaned or oiled properly, causing some oxidation on 11 inches of the blade closest to the tip. We usually see this only on blades used in actual combat, though more than likely it was used to cut through brush, and not the enemy.
One side of the tang bears the Mei, or signature, of the smith it was made by: 勝 則, which is read as KATSU NORI. This smith's real name was 北川 勝一 - Kitagawa Katsuichi, and their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939. They were active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国), who stamped the blade with a very small arsenal proof 昭 (Showa) above the top peg hole.
The other side of the tang bears the date when the blade was produced, in the standard long form indicating years into the current emperor's reign: 昭 和 二 十 年 二 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Ni-Juu Nen (20th year of reign - 1945) Ni-Gatsu (2nd Month - February).
The tang of the blade (nakago) is the typical futsu (普通 normal) shape of the period, with a Irayamagata (symmetrically pointed) tip, with the usual file marks (yasuri-me), which help the tang stay secure in the handle. The two hole tang is also typical of this period's arsenal forged blades.
The blade mountings are the typical Pattern 1944 era Army style. Round iron tsuba (cross guard) with no decorations, a brass habaki (blade collar), with an iron fuchi (grip collar). There are two seppa (spacers) surrounding the tsuba, properly inlet for the scabbard lock, which is present and partly functional. The tsuka (handle) has magnetic Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and an unadorned black Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap). The Tsuka (handle) has an excellent faux stingray (Sa-Me) grip panels, covered with complete Ito (cloth binding), which is in excellent condition, but not wrapped traditionally, which is typical on the P1944 Setting. At some point during the war, for some reason the tsuba was peened in place on the bottom, so it can no longer be removed. There is a single peg in the handle, but it looks to be a post war replacement.
The scabbard for this katana is in very good condition, with the correct original brown paint and late war blacked steel fittings. It matches and locks into the handle, and is of the correct 1944 pattern style. There are a few dents and scratches, and some minor oxidation, but those just add to the lovely patina! There is also a tattered "capture tag" attached to the hanger ring, which was added when it was turned in after WWII. It is in somewhat delicate condition, but should still be legible.
A great chance to pick up a real Japanese WWII Shin-Gunto with a signed and dated blade, ready to display!
Blade Length: 26 1/8"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 1/2“
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"
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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