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Wakizashi Blades In Gunto Koshirae


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#1 Dave R

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:34 PM

 Something that I have seen several examples of,... Nihonto Wakizashi in Shin Gunto mounts. Not just the wood and leather field Saya variants aka "crew gunto", but the full size metal Saya  and full size Tsuka with a clip . Sometimes very professional expedients are used to make the pieces fit, and on high quality pieces with a known history, and so not some makeshift engaged in for  quick sale of bits. Does anyone have any ideas as to why this was done, other than a shortage of blades during the latter part of the War. There are several examples of this in this very  section of NMB and good swords they are as well, so I do not see them as "shotgun" pieces in the pejorative sense of the word.


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#2 Geraint

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:52 PM

Dear Dave,

 

I have just checked the two examples that I have that fir your criteria, both are wakizashi in full gunto mounts, one Kaigunto and one Shingunto.  Both are absolutely as mounted, no swapping bits, all matching numbers.  Both koshirae are a little smaller than my normal Shingunto but in both cases the blades are shorter than the koshirae would suggest.  (Pictures attached.)

 

I have no definitive answer but I have always assumed that length was dictated by the stature of the officer.  I have been given to understand that the correct length for a katana is such that when at arms length the tip should clear the floor when the hand is grasping next to the tsuba, if this is the case then it would be logical that shorter officers would have shorter swords.

 

All the best

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#3 Shamsy

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 09:17 AM

I had a wakizashi with civilian mounts and a leather combat cover with a brass shoe. The interesting thing about this sword is that there was a false extension within the combat cover that made it look closer to full katana length. I also have a tanto in naval mounts, properly proportional to the blade. A true crew sword. The real waks and crew certainly exist, but there are plenty of put - together swords and cut down gunto claiming to be 'crew' swords to. They've been flooding fleabay the last year.

I imagine that wakizashi were mounted if they were family blades. Remembering that katana were samurai swords, but wakizashi were far less restricted. Why wouldn't a family mount a blade they've had for years between generations? Is there any clear evidence a shorter sword was shameful or looked down upon? As far as I can tell pretty much any sword could pass muster for an officer. In terms of crew swords, some may have been size consideration, but what I've read suggested that a full sized gunto was still commonly taken, so who can say.

This is a topic that's been discussed a few times but it seems to mostly be conjecture. The fact is that wakizashi were mounted in army and navy mounts and carried to war. Could be any reason, could be stature, sword training (or lack thereof) or a multitude of reasons.
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#4 J Reid

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 05:54 PM

Well here's my 2 cent:

We know that wakizashi went to war, but that the standard was a katana. We know that some wakizashi were custom fitted with properly proportioned koshirae. We know that some soldiers had money, and others did not. The variation in sword quality, and components, clearly displays that. ...My guess is that these wakizashi in not proper mounts are solider put togethers.. Family wakizashi with standard Gunto koshirae purchased pre made (probably cheaper than having your "uncommon" wakizashi custom mounted at the time).
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#5 reeder

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 12:15 AM

Not all were necessarily truly "family blades." Some could have been purchased for the war rather than purchasing other blades. also, height, tastes, money, and preference all had a role in choosing a sword I imagine.

I have 2 Wakizashi in gunto mounts and just sold a third I decided against polishing. All have had standard length tsukas, maybe a hair shorter than what is seen on katana length gunto. 1 has a tsuba with a loop/latch (mumei blade). 1 had pierced tsuba (mumei blade). And the other has a solid tsuba (signed muneyoshi iirc). 2 have metal gunto scabbards that are slightly shorter than normal, 2 (or 3) had mon, 1 had a wooden scabbard with type 98 throat, ashi, etc. seen a few others. Even heard of a Kao Isshin mantetsu Wakizashi, but did not get to see it.
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#6 Kai-Gunto

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 10:57 AM

I got this wakizashi in Kaigunto mounts.
Its saya is normal length and with all kaigunto fittings, fits only this blade length inside.
The tsuka is shorter in length than normal.
These mounts was made by Gunto Sei Saku Jo, located in Tokyo.

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#7 Shamsy

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 11:22 AM

A small extract from a letter between Ron Gregory and Yoshinobu Sugiyama:

"There was no standard length and curvature on the gunto blades. Length of the blade was decided by stature of each individual, therefore short man used wakizashi to make gunto which is about 57cm long, or tall man used long one about 70cm long. However, standard length was about 63.5cm to 66.5cm. They were able to use any kind of blade as their gunto."
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#8 IJASWORDS

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 11:24 AM

Hi, by the way great photo of stamps on SEPPA Kai Gunto of Scandinavia. Got a Lt General sword (see pictures), with provenance. It has a 22 inch blade in a 28 inch SAYA. The blade is old UJIFUSA OWARI, and sticking a probe down the SAYA shows it was made for this blade. My only comment is that it is a treasured family blade, and mounting it in a SAYA to suit the length would look silly on an officer (too short). Sword length (certainly SAYA length) may well have been a status symbol amongst officers. All this said, I also have a number of 21-22 inch blades in short SAYA to suit. So is it regulation or vanity? Neil.

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#9 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 05:01 PM

Wow, Neil, what a gem! Mind telling how you came into this one?

#10 IJASWORDS

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 01:27 AM

Hi Bruce, good question. Been colleting swords for a while, and found out three things years ago, firstly, I was ALWAYS disappointed with what I got on auction sites, secondly, it is best to get pieces from your trusted network, buddies tend not to BS each other, and thirdly, those with the fattest wallets get the best pieces (just look at some crazy prices lately!). I certainly don't have a fat wallet, so I hunt down and target what I want, to the point of reserving my cash for some thing I really want. Some times unfortunately this means passing on some great pieces that are not on your "hit list". Some pretty good stuff comes out of the wood work here in OZZ occasionally. OH WELL, cant have everything!! Neil.

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#11 Flying Dutchman

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:47 AM

I post this odd gunto in this topic.
Because I think this is a Wakizashi in full size gunto mounts.
Please exam and give your opinion.

Is this a Kai gunto? It hasnt got a black sharkskin Saya.
Also the Ray skin of the tsuka isn't black and has very big spots.
Bigger then mine other swords.image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg

Its late, maby better pictures in the morning.
Good night,
Gert

#12 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 03:02 AM

Gert,

 

Beautiful Kaigunto, and yes, it is Navy!  Everything has the look, to me, of someone with money, custom fitting an old, treasured blade.  I could be wrong about the blade, but the fittings are nice.  Sharkskin saya cover was an expensive upgrade to the standard saya, which is what you have there.  The only odd-ball thing is the white, army style, rayskin (same').  I don't know what to think about that.  It is possible the tsuka was re-wrapped (ito looks almost untouched) and the person used un-laquered rayskin, but I don't know why someone would do that.

 

The longer I study gunto, the more variations I see.  It is possible the original officer ordered it this way, but it seems unlikely.



#13 tokashikibob

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 03:14 AM

Hi Gert,

    I believe you have a very nice old sword in Navy fittings.   The tsuka looks like the faux samegawa that some koshirae outfitters used.  Maybe the officer requested the faux samegawa or maybe the real skin was not available.   Rayskin saya was a upgrade too, probably cost quite a bit more than the lacquered wood at the local Navy sword shop during WW2.

 

Best Regards,

  Bob


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#14 tokashikibob

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 03:15 AM

Beat me to the punch Bruce!  We must have been typing at the same time! :)


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#15 SwordGuyJoe

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 03:43 AM

Mei looks like sukesada to me.

#16 Shamsy

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 11:22 AM

The longer I study gunto, the more variations I see.  It is possible the original officer ordered it this way, but it seems unlikely.


While that is certainly true Bruce, the numbers of mismatched put-togethers is also increasing, so watch that these are not mistaken for something new.
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#17 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 08:14 PM

Gert,

 

I just re-read your original post - waki in full sized mounts!  Can you give us the cutting edge length?  It does look short.



#18 Bencld

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 07:05 AM

Hello all. I have this wakizashi that is a showato with seki stamp in half civillian half gunto mounts that are the same proportion as the blade. It looks like te whole set shrunk in the wash ! I would hazard a guess at a fairly short officer who took this to war !

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Chris D.

#19 Shamsy

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 09:45 AM

Hi Chris,

Nice to see my old wak found a good home. Someone has cleaned the blade though, so I hope they didn't totally obscure the hamon. It was a funny sword with the Seki stamp, because the traditional fittings had suggested to me I would have found an ancestral blade. It must have been made specifically for the officer. A surprising number of aussie on the board. Nice to see.
Steve
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#20 Dave R

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:38 AM

While that is certainly true Bruce, the numbers of mismatched put-togethers is also increasing, so watch that these are not mistaken for something new.

 It is a bit of a quandary. Due to limited funds (champagne tastes and a ginger beer income) I buy what I can afford, which usually means "projects". I then complete the "project" with such original parts as I can get, which is one reason I collected a photo-file of original variations so as to avoid producing fantasy swords.

 Would it be "Purer" to leave these blades in relic condition? Traditionally mounted Nihonto are, and were during their working life, frequently remounted to reflect the taste and income of their owner and  stored in shirasaya. Many swords bought from dealers, gunto and nihonto have been mixed and matched long before they reach the table. Documented Shin-Gunto are seen with very varied mounts indeed.

 I think an "all original and as was" sword is the most desirable, and worthy of a higher price, and there is also a place for the repaired and renovated. What is anathema is the "variation" produced with the intent to deceive, and sold as a rarity!


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Dave


#21 Shamsy

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:55 AM

Well said Dave
Steve
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