Original WWII Japanese Navy Officer P1937 Kai-Gunto Katana Sword with Handmade Blade by NOBUMITSU

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased recently from a private auction, this is a very nice wartime High Grade Japanese Naval officer Katana in the Pattern 1937 Kai-Gunto setting. A Kai-Guntō (海軍刀, naval sword) is a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the WWII Period. This is a very nice example, and shows only mild use, without much damage or wear. It still has the original brown tassel, which was used for all Naval officer grades.

The blade is very good condition with some minor scuffing, and it does look to have done some cutting. However there are no nicks or major damage. Blade length is 24 1/2 inches and overall length 36 inches. Unlike most Kai-Gunto swords we see, this example has a hand-made traditionally made blade, complete with a vibrant water temper line (hamon).  It features a Futsu 普通 (regular) shaped Nakago (Tang) with an Irayamagata Nakago-jiri (Asymmetrical Pointed Tip). There are two punched holes in the tang, so the blade may have been shortened at some point and remounted. The Yasurime (File Marks) are visible but softened as a result of cleaning.

The tang itself is marked by a known smith who worked at the Arsenal located at SEKI (関 市) in Mino Province (美濃国). The blade is signed 佐光信光 - SAKO NOBUMITSU, who used several different signature types during the WWII era. There are also examples with additional characters before and after, but this is a complete and correct MEI for this smith.

The blade retains most of the original factory finish, and has a true hamon (wave), or temper line, which is clearly visible near the edge of the blade. The shape is SUGU (straight) type, and is very attractive. The blade nagasa (edge) is almost completely free of nicks and/or dents. There are some areas of cloudiness and light oxidation, but the kissaki (tip) still shows a clear yokote with visible Boshi (tip temper line).

Japanese Kai-Gunto naval officers swords are somewhat rare, given that they usually went down with the ships. This particular example is definitely high grade, with a hand made blade, and very nice fittings. Interestingly, instead of the usual sharksin, rayskin, or oilcloth we have seen, this looks to have some type of reptile skin on the handle.

It has a heavy brass tsuba (cross guard) and the large brass Seppa (spacers) and O-Seppa (Large spacers) around the tsuba are large and highly stylized. The tsuka (handle) has two gold highlighted steel Cherry-Blossom menuki (grip decorations), and a nice gold highlighted Kabuto-Gane (End Cap), with the wooden securing peg still present. Excellent reptile skin with complete olive green-colored Ito (cloth binding) with fine decorative collar. The original brass loop on the end of the tsuka is still present.

Condition of the blade, scabbard and fittings is very good, indicating light use, though the wrapping does show some dirt and staining. There also is some light oxidation on the various metal fittings. As typical of the pattern, Cherry Blossom motifs appear on many of the fittings. The handle is tight to the blade, with secure spacers and just a little wobble in the tsuba.

The Wood scabbard (saya) is the standard black enameled wood, and is in very good condition. It also has plated brass fittings, which are still quite bright, with only a bit of plating loss. They are all a bit loose, due to the wood shrinking over time. Two hanging loops are present, and the condition is very good, with only a few dents and no splitting of the scabbard glue line. Really a great scabbard here!

Really an excellent example of a Imperial Japanese Navy Kai-Gunto, handmade by a known smith. These are getting hard to find in any condition.

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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