Original WWII Japanese Navy Officer P1937 Kai-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by KANEHARU with Scabbard and Tassel
Original Item: Only One Available. Acquired directly from a collector, this is an excellent condition rare 1937 Pattern Kai-Gunto Naval Officer katana, with an even rarer handmade signed blade. It is one of the better Japanese Navy Officer sword we have had, and is sure to make a worthy addition to any collection it becomes a part of. It even comes complete with a brown officer's tassel, which was the Naval color for any officer below Admiral grade.
This particular example has the higher grade 1937 Pattern fittings with the lacquered sharkskin wrapped scabbard, indicating this may have been made for a front line naval officers. This fact makes finding them difficult, as often they would be lost with the ship the officer was stationed on. Due to the salt spray involved, many of these swords were fitted with machine-made stainless steel blades, but this particular example has a genuine traditionally made folded steel blade, with a beautiful undulating temper line!
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by an ancient master sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Double Hole tang, indicating blade has been re-set at least once before.
- Six Character Signature (Mei) indicating the swordsmith who produced the blade.
- Holes in the tang are punch and not drilled.
- Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the spine and body of blade)
- Visible temper line ("hamon"), with crystallization visible at the edge (Nie and Nioi)
- Clear grain (hada) on the blade, with lamination lines visible.
Offered in great condition, the blade is still sharp and has just a few small areas of oxidation and scuffing. Overall the polish on the blade is excellent, with just a bit of light staining from oxidation in places. Blade length is approximately 26 inches and overall length 37 inches. This handmade blade has an asymmetrically pointed (iriyamagate/katayama) nakago-jiri (tang tip). This style of tang is typical of the traditionally made blades being made in large quantities in the pre-WWII Period. The tip of the blade has a proper geometric yokote (tip).
The tang is signed 濃 州 住 兼 春 作 - NOSHU JU KANEHARU SAKU, which translates to "Kaneharu made this in Mino Province". This smith is listed in Kurihara Hikosaburo's 1942 listing of Wartime Japanese swordsmiths (tosho). He reported about 400 gunto tosho's ranking at the Tosho Banzuke (刀匠番附), and classified these into 7 ranks. NAGAMITSU is listed as a 中作 (CHU SAKU) level smith, which is the 5th rank out of 7, an "above average" level smith.
The temper line (hamon) is highly visible, and is of the NOTARE, or wave type. Probably one of the more attractive temper lines we have sever seen. Grain on blade is visible, along with some blade inclusions typically seen in handmade blades. These include mostly Ware (horizontal weld lines).
The grip features a heavy brass tsuba (cross guard) with gold highlighted menuki (grip decoration), and a nice gold highlighted Kashira (End Cap), which matches the cap on the scabbard. The blade collar (habaki) is the usual brass alloy seen on 20th century settings. The six Seppa (spacers) around the tsuba are large and highly stylized. Excellent lacquered ray skin (Sa-Me) grip with complete brown-colored Ito (cloth binding) with fine decorative collar (fuchi). There is a bit of wear / staining on the grip, indicating that it did see some handling, however the blade does not have any indication of combat. The Wood scabbard is wrapped in lacquered sharkskin, and has brass copper and gold highlights. Two hanging loops are present, and the condition is excellent, with just a few spots of missing lacquer, and no splitting of the sharkskin.
The crossguard, all 6 spacers, crossguard (tsuba), and fuchi (grip collar) are all marked with western number 9, indicating a matched set made for this specific blade. The top of the handle also has a faint "9" as well as 九 (kyu), the japanese numeral for 9. There may have been markings on the tang (nakago) and scabbard (saya), but they are faded. They all require hand fitting, and this setting fits like a glove, and is very tight on the tang. The lock up with the scabbard is also very good.
Overall a great example of a rare Japanese Naval Kai-Gunto, with an excellent signed hand-forged blade. Ready to display and cherish!
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 folded 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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