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The Mysterious "w" Stamp!


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#1 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 08:07 PM

{My apologies to all who prowl multiple Forum sites! I'm posting this same search on all 5 that I frequent}

I would very much like to track down the origin of the "W" stamp on Japanese WWII gunto (although I've recently come across someone with a W stamp on a training rifle as well - ah the plot thickens!)

Fuller & Gregory says calls the stamp "unidentified...noted only on blades by the smith Takehisa (one dated 1943) but was used three thimes on each. Possibly the Chigusa Factory of the Nagoy Arsenal." I recently saw a pic of an officer gunto with 3 W stamps on the nakago, just as F&G says. BUT, I have 2 NCO gunto with the W stamp and both are Tokyo Kokura arsenal, not Nagoya. I recently chatted with a gentleman who's parade sword that had a W stamp too.

So, I would like to gather all W stamped weapons (since it's already clear that it appears on other weapons than just the sword) and see if we can trace the origins of this stamp. I will post my pics. Please post yours, and if anyone knows more than the bit we have from F&G, please chime in!

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#2 Brian

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 08:46 PM

http://www.militaria...arsenal-stamps/

Especially page 2. Noted a few times. But no resolution as to exactly what it is.

 

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#3 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 11:12 PM

http://www.militaria...arsenal-stamps/
Especially page 2. Noted a few times. But no resolution as to exactly what it is.

Brian


Thanks Brian!
So we have them on Yosiharu and Mantetsu blades as well as the Takehisa mentioned in F&G. All three of those are officer gunto. But it establishes the fact that it's probably not tied to a particular smith or arsenal.

#4 Ed Harbulak

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 03:35 AM

Bruce,

Look on page 96 of Slough's "Modern Japanese Swordsmiths" for some information on the W stamp. If I recall, without taking the time to look for it now, there's also an explanation somewhere in the same book relating the W stamp to a particular temple that some smiths were working near, thus making the W stamp an appeal to the temple for assistance in the war effort. There are a couple swords in Slough's book with the W stamp. 

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#5 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 07:47 AM

Thanks Ed. Looks like my next book purchase will have to be the Slough book! That's an interesting tip! Anyone have more about that, since I don't have a Slough yet?

#6 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 05:27 PM

An interesting update from Nick Komiya from War Relics: "Thank you for the PM asking whether I could add anything to your subject of the W mark.
I am not a swordsman, so I had no knowledge of this marking until you brought it up.
The short answer is that I have no answer to your quest.

Markings like these are not part of official specs, so generally speaking, chances of official documents revealing the identity is slim, which is similar to the situation of alphabetical hallmarks used by artisans on medals and orders.

Another problem is that it appears to be a sub-level marking, not of a contractor, but possibly a subcontractor or an inspector mark, which are even less likely to appear in any records.

It would not have been difficult if it were an official company trademark. For example, I was once asked by a collector about a rare 5th mystery contractor trademark that appeared on type 95 swords. This was not such a tall order, as it was only a matter of checking Army contractor lists by product. It turned out that the Kokura arsenal brought in a new contractor named Mizuno for a short while in 1942 and had them produce type 95s. However, the October report from Kokura Arsenal on production capacities of its contractors reported that they now decided to drop Mizuno due to poor results.

By the way, the same October report says as of September of that year (1942) all Type 95 sword contractors were transferred away from Kokura to the jurisdiction of other arsenals (Suya, Iijima and Kobe were taken over by Tokyo, and Seki went to Nagoya arsenal). I just mention this as someone was wondering how the same marking could appear in connection with different arsenals.

Mr. Ohmura, also states in his site that the purpose of the W mark is unknown to him. If he ended up totally empty handed, it is nothing that an outsider like me would want to undertake.

One should have the integrity of clearly stating unknowns as unknowns instead of throwing around irresponsible theories and speculations that just hinder future breakthroughs.

One last comment that I could add is that it is a fairly sure bet that the W stands for a name of a company or a person, like the W in a diamond for Wakase Gunto Manufacturing Co. Though theoretically it could stand for any name starting with Wa, Wi, Wu, We and Wo, luckily “Wa” is the only valid combination in the Japanese language. So listing up all the names starting with Wa in the Japanese alphabet listings of suppliers and contractors may be worthwhile. Though it may only be a subcontractor to a sword company, it may also appear as a contractor in its own right. There are many such lists in the archives, but a 1942 list I have only has 1 entry under Wa, a Wakatsu Steel Company in Fukuoka under the supervision of the Kokura Arsenal.


My experience is that unanswered questions in one field tend to get answered when I am researching in some totally different field. So I will keep it in mind when I go about other research subjects."
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#7 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 03:57 PM

Found W stamps on just a few smiths, so far: Takehisa, Yoshiharu, and Yoshitani. (F&G, and JapaneseSwordIndex - http://www.japaneses...x.com/showa.htm

Seems to be a pretty small group of blade manufacturers. Possibly the same inspector stamping the officer gunto of the smiths above was somehow invovled with some of the NCO production line as well.

#8 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 11:01 PM

I thought I might try to narrow down the district or province these smiths worked. It might add to the search for the origin of the W stamp. Here's the first hint I've found:

"Stephen
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Posted 04 August 2009 - 11:20 AM
Is that from a early F&G

he may be from the Yoshichika group

Yoshichika Ke (良近)

The following smiths are members of the Yoshichika group:
1. Yoshichika (良近)
1.1. Nidai Yoshichika (良近)
1.2. Sukeyuki (介之)
1.3. Kiyonosuke (神之助)
1.4. Yoshiharu (義治)
above from the Tokyo Kindai tosho index"

Is it safe to say, assuming this is the same Yohiharu, that he was operating in the Tokyo area?

#9 Ed Harbulak

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 12:50 AM

Bruce,

I mentioned I recalled a reference to the W stamp with a connection to a temple a few posts further back. I said "if I recall" but, it seems I recalled wrong, which sometimes happens. The relationship with the temple that I recalled is for the TAI stamp that appears on late war blades made by swordsmiths associated with the Izumo Seiko steel works located in Shimane prefecture which is near the Izumo Taisha shrine. By 1945 with the war going badly for Japan the need of divine assistance was needed so the Tai stamp was placed on swords to endow them with the divine spirits of the Taisha. On p. 96 of Slough it mentions that the W stamp appears on blades made by Takehisa, as you have already mentioned and also Haruhisa as well as on a 1942 Mantetsu. The problem with Mantetsu blades is that some were made in Japan as well as Manchuria. Hope this helps your search a little bit or at least prevents some confusion.

Ed


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#10 Stegel

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 03:40 AM

Not wanting to steal Bills thunder, but i just noticed this one on his web site, a 1943 mantetsu, also has the 'w' stamp at the end of the tang.

Thought i'd add it here to your collection of 'w' stamped pieces.

Link to Bills site: http://artswords.com

 

The description that goes with it:

 

Manchurian railway sword.  It is signed Mantetsu Kitae Tsukuru Kore and is dated Mizunnoto Hitsuji (1943).   The top of the nakago bares the Nanman Army Arsenal inspection mark. 

 

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#11 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 05:37 AM

Thanks Stegel! I added that to my collection. I have seen 2 or 3 Mantetsu's with W's but that's a good one to save! Fuller commented in his book that he thought it was struck in error, but I'm starting to see several of these, so it was clearly intentional.

What I'd like to do next, is see if it's possible to get the locale, province or city the three known smiths were working in. Unfortunately, from the start, Fuller says they were unlisted. (actually there were four - Takehisa, Yoshiharu, Yoshitoni and (dang, I can't find it. His name started with an M, but I can't find the refernce)

#12 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 07:51 PM

Thanks Stegel! I added that to my collection. I have seen 2 or 3 Mantetsu's with W's but that's a good one to save! Fuller commented in his book that he thought it was struck in error, but I'm starting to see several of these, so it was clearly intentional.
What I'd like to do next, is see if it's possible to get the locale, province or city the three known smiths were working in. Unfortunately, from the start, Fuller says they were unlisted. (actually there were four - Takehisa, Yoshiharu, Yoshitoni and (dang, I can't find it. His name started with an M, but I can't find the refernce)

Ok, found it - the last one is Haruhisu. Haven't personnally seen one from that smith, though.

and a correction to my reference to F&G above - that page came from Slough.

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#13 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 12:41 AM

Update: Just got a Type 95, ver 2, with a "W" stamp on the nakago! That makes 3 NCO gunto. The ver 1 and 2 are both made by the Ijima Tōken Seisakusho contractor. Unfortunately, the 2a has a steel fuchi, so I don't know who made it. Any bets it was Ijima?!

The ver 1 has a Kokura Arsenal stamp, and the 2 has a Tokyo First, but they both have Ijima in common.

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#14 Sporkkaji

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 06:45 AM

Found one more example.

 

I just received the two blades that I recently inquired about in this thread http://www.militaria...th-two-blades/#and upon inspection I saw that the 'Tenshin' blade has W-stamps on both sides of the nakago. I was about to ask about them when I noticed that the topic had already been brought up.

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#15 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 01:40 PM

Thanks Cory! Does anyone know what province Tenshin worked in?

#16 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 03:12 AM

Found one on a Kojima Kanenori:

http://www.wehrmacht...d=1#post7703278

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#17 David Flynn

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 06:42 AM

It appears that these swords are from various areas.  Yoshiharu, Tokyo.  Kojima Kanenori, Seki.  Also, there are two different Yoshiharu.  Which one has the W stamp?


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