Original WWII Japanese Navy Officer P1937 Kai-Gunto Katana Sword with Sharkskin Scabbard - Matched Numbers
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased recently at a military show, this is a very nice wartime production 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, complete with scabbard, and shows only mild use, without much damage or wear.
The blade is excellent condition, with a nick free edge, which is still quite sharp. It just has a tiny bit of a light bend around the middle on the edge, and a few very light scuffs on the surface. Blade length is 25 1/8 inches and overall length 36 1/4 inches. It has a factory forged steel blade, with a single mounting hole in the standard Futsu 普通 (regular) tang, and a haagari (asymmetrically rounded) nakago-jiri. The tang itself is marked a Naval ANCHOR stamp, indicating manufacture at Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (豊川海軍工廠, Toyokawa kaigun kōshō). There is no signature (MEI), as is usual for later war pieces.
The blade retains most of the original factory finish, with a simulated temper line. With the near total absence of rust, even on the tang, we are fairly certain that this is a stainless steel blade, but we have not been able to verify this. Japanese Kai-Gunto naval officers swords are somewhat rare, given that they usually went down with the ships. This particular example has the higher grade 1937 Pattern fittings with the lacquered sharkskin shagreen wrapped scabbard, indicating this may have been made for a front line naval officer.
It has a heavy brass tsuba (cross guard) and the brass Seppa (spacers) and the brass plated steel O-Seppa (Large spacers) around the tsuba are large and highly stylized. The tsuka (handle) has two brass Cherry-Blossom menuki (grip decorations), and a nice brass Kabuto-Gane (End Cap), with a rope loop through it. It has an excellent condition black stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip with complete brown-colored Ito (cloth binding) with fine decorative collar (fuchi).
Condition of the blade, scabbard and fittings is very good, indicating light use, though the grip wrapping is somewhat dirty from sweat and oil. There is some plating loss on the various metal fittings due to age. As typical of the pattern, Cherry Blossom motifs appear on many of the fittings. There is a brass pin in place of the usual wooden or bamboo peg (mekugi), which does not allow the handle to slide all the way on, so the crossguard has some wobble. It could easily be replaced, but it looks to have been with the katana for some time.
The Wood scabbard (saya) is wrapped in multiple pieces of lacquered sharkskin shagreen, and has all brass fittings, with traces of plating. This scabbard is a bit special, and has an adjustable upper hanger ring, retained with a set screw. Unfortunately, it does look to have been exposed to moisture at some point during its life, as the sharkskin wrapping is somewhat degraded, especially on the lower portion of the scabbard. The seams have lifted, some of the lacquer has flaked off, and portions of the wood are now showing.
The fuchi, tsuba, and all four spacers are all marked with matching number 〇 495, which is also present on the end inside of the Saya. This indicates that this set of KOSHIRAE (fittings) are a matched set, all made for this specific blade.
Really a great example of a Imperial Japanese Navy Kai-Gunto with a lovely Stainless Steel blade and high grade fittings, ready to display!
Blade Length: 25 1/8"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 36 1/4“
Scabbard Length: 27 3/4"
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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