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Captured WWII Sword


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#1 Virginian

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:32 AM

My grandfather captured 2 swords on Bougainville during WWII. This one is a military sword he took from a Japanese Captain. My grandfather was somewhat famous in the Corps for starting the Marine sniper program and he retired as a Brigidier General. He was awarded the Navy Cross at Bougainville and was nicknamed "The Beast" by his Marines. I don't think this sword is worth much, but it was captured by a true warrior.
George VO

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#2 IJASWORDS

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 04:17 AM

Great family heirloom, make sure it is documented for future  generations of your family. While it is probably not a national treasure, it is worth preserving as is as a great WW2  artifact. Some members on this forum will ask you to pull it apart to show other details, just be careful, it is already fragile.  


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#3 ROKUJURO

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 04:35 AM

George,

as far as the photos allow an assessment, it looks like a civilian sword wilth a military cloth protection cover for the SAYA. It is obviously quite neglected, but here on NMB you will find lots of information about how to handle these items and how to prevent further damage. Besides its value as a war trophy, it may have some market value, and it would be a pity to see that being lost.


Regards,

Jean C.

#4 vajo

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 06:30 AM

Oil the blade and never touch it with bare hands.

#5 Yukihiro

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 08:21 AM

Thank you for sharing, George! I would bet your sword was made long before WWII. The fact that the seppa (washers) overlap the hole in the sword guard (kogai hitsu-ana) is also of particular interest to me, as it is also the case on my WWII gunto, which is fitted with an older civilian tsuba.
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#6 IJASWORDS

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 08:45 AM

Big difference, George has a "fully" civilian mounted sword, tsuba, seppa and tzuka, and looks original in all respects. No spacers on this one. 


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#7 Yukihiro

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:07 AM

Yes, of course - my point was only that such a configuration IS possible :)
Didier

#8 IJASWORDS

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:11 AM

I agree. Of course, any thing is possible, especially in the high pressure nature of war time.


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#9 Yukihiro

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:25 AM

George's sword is interesting in many respects, among other things as a testimony to the use by Japanese officers of fully civilian-mounted swords during WWII with only minimal adaptation - here, the canvas saya-cover. I would be interested to know whether there ever was a tassel on this one, as (to my point of view) no army or navy sword would ever be worn without the corresponding tassel.

I have read somewhere that NCO leather tassels were no longer available by the end of the war - could that also have been the case for officer tassels?
Didier

#10 IJASWORDS

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:12 AM

It would probably had a blue/brown tassel, I think I can see a hole at the top of tzuka  for a sarute. The canvas cover was often used, finding good examples these days not so easy.  

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#11 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:16 AM

From what I've seen in many wartime photos the civilian mounted swords were often seen with NCO's and lower ranks, especially in Manchuria.


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#12 Virginian

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:43 PM

I appreciate all the info guys... you are a wealth of knowledge. I'd like to get both of my swords in front of an expert one of these days. I travel the country in an RV from time to time; maybe I'll take them with me on the next trip when I'm going near an authority on them.

Thanks,

George VO



#13 Brian

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:48 PM

Your grandfather was a great man.
https://en.wikipedia...ge_O._Van_Orden


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#14 Virginian

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 11:53 PM

Thanks Brian. My grandfather was a true warrior, from a warrior family. His father was a known Marine fighter that joined the Corps in the 1890's. His son was a Marine officer who served two tours in Nam and was National Champion High Power Rifle Champion in '79. I am the 4th of 4 consecutive generations of the same name in the Marine's, but I am nowhere near the man my forefathers were. Here is an article that was originally in Leatherneck magazine: https://www.ssusa.or...orge-van-orden/  

 

Take care,

George VO


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#15 Redhorse

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 02:41 PM

I see from the pic that your grandfather was a Distinguished Rifleman.  If your father was HP champ in 79, I assume he was also?  Do you compete?


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#16 Virginian

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 03:42 PM

Mike, We are the only family to have 3 consecutive generations of Distinguished Shooters. Even though I earned the badge, I wasn't near the level my father was. I rarely compete now. For awhile, I shot vintage high power with R. Lee Ermey and another Marine buddy, but I don't have much interest in it now.

 

Take care,

George VO


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#17 Redhorse

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 04:42 PM

3 generations is amazing!  I'm the first DR in my family and probably the last since my son doesn't have any interest in shooting.  I shoot a lot of CMP Games stuff, but I love Service Rifle.  I still shoot EIC matches since my wife is trying to get points.  She's getting close to getting a leg!


Mike Judd


#18 Virginian

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 07:06 PM

Congrats on earning the Distinguished Badge. The CMP games matches are a lot of fun. I've competed in Butner, NC with the Gunny and my buddy Dennis DeMille. DeMille worked at Creedmoor Sports until recently when he moved to Virginia to partner up with me in my survival kit company. Depending on where you've shot, we may have competed together. If you've been to any of the big matches, like the east, west, or nationals, I'm sure you've shot with DeMille.
Take care,
George VO

#19 Redhorse

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 09:24 PM

I went to the D-day match at Talladega and saw Dennis when I visited Creedmoor.  I was surprised to hear he left.  I've only been shooting in matches since 2014.  I went to Perry in 2015 and 2016 and I shoot at Talladega a few times a year.  I stopped going to the December Talladega match a couple of years ago after trying to shoot the M1 Carbine match when it was 23 degrees!


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#20 george trotter

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 02:27 PM

Hi George VO,

Not to hijack the thread but I have a bit of experience with Bougainville Islnd and swords. I spent 18 months there in mining in 1976-77. Our mine was at Panguna on the top of the Crown Prince Range and we looked down on Torakina on the coast to our N-W. There were no roads on that side of the island so we couldn't get down there. Torakina is where your grandfather and US forces landed and made a bridgehead. The Aussies took over from them in 1944 and split the island into two halves and steadily pushed the Japanese back to each end of the island. The Yanks shot down Admiral Yamamoto here at Buin and I saw the wreck of his plane.

One of the older members of the our Panguna mining admin staff had served here during the war and came back in the post-war period. He showed me a sword he had recovered from a Japanese soldier he and his mates had ambushed on a jungle trail and wiped out. When he turned the lead soldier over he had a katana strapped to his back (I have seen one other mounted this way). The sword he showed me was like yours (in better condition).. A civilian blade in leather combat cover...fantastic quality shakudo with real gold shishi etc inlet into them, it was signed by 'Kawauchi no Kami Kunisuke" ni-dai. Great sword. I saw plenty of war relics all over the place including two other swords. One was being used to slash cane grass on the side of the road by a local (showato) and the other was shown to me after it had been found in a dugout...just a rusted lump.

Thanks to this board I can share info like this about the place your grandfather fought, so its now a small world George...seems like we can even share a name, haha.

Regards,


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George Trotter

#21 Virginian

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 07:00 PM

Thanks for taking the time to share that info George. You and the rest of these guys are gentlemen and scholars.

 

Take care,

George VO



#22 Virginian

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 01:41 AM

Here are pictures of the name under the handle of this particular sword. Not great pics obviously, but maybe someone can figure it out.
Thanks, George VanOrden

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#23 SteveM

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 03:18 AM

Looks like

 

宗忠

Munetada


Steve M

#24 David Flynn

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 03:57 AM

I would like to make a point here.  Many officers had more than one sword. Some were mounted for parades, some were mounted, Gunto and some were civilian mounted. If the officer is from a wealthy or notable family, then having more than one sword would be fairly normal.

A good point, is when it comes to Generals.  Most Generals swords, are classed as the one surrended.


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#25 Virginian

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 02:21 AM

Thanks guys. I can't see the Munetada comparison at all, but I defer to the experts.



#26 Gakusee

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:39 PM

Dear George
I do not want to raise hope or expectations, especially as we have seen only tiny snippets of the sword and not the entire bare blade (stripped of handle, metal collar, hand protector etc) and also close-ups of the pointed tip and the sides of the blade. I am deliberately avoiding more specialist language but can go into that as necessary.

Now, there were various older/ancient Bizen smiths who signed Munetada. The shape of the tang is indeed an ancient shape and could either indicate a very old age or a later smith emulating old, historic shapes. The tang does seem to have some old age to it, evidenced by not really visible file marks on the tang and the patina but needs a close inspection in hand as an original tang on a sword is a great indicator of age.

There were some of those Bizen smiths called Ichimonji and ko-Ichimonji. They had a hardened edge (hamon) which was narrow but quite active. Here I cannot see the hamon well to judge. Also, Ichimonji had an interesting feature like a shadow on the blade surface called utsuri. The older Bizen smiths had something called jifu utsuri (fingerprint like whitish spots above the hamon).
I think I can see some of that but not sure if what I see is an artefact of lighting or just staining due to lack of good polish.

However, on the balance of things - older looking tang, signature on that side of the tang (tachi mei), possibly older surface grain (jihada), I strongly recommend you have this looked at by someone experienced. It is not unusual for senior officers (such as your grandfather) to receive hereditary swords from similarly senior commanding Japanese officers (which generals’ swords sometimes were not machine produced but were in fact old).

To go a bit further: below I attach images of very highly rated historic swords bearing the signature of Fukuoka Ichimonji Munetada.
There are some similarities in the “tada” characters to your sword and also note how one of the images has the same shape tang as yours and in fact even one of the (probably original) retaining peg holes is in a similar position vis-a-vis the signature and the bend in the tang. There are some differences in the “mune” character, but I have noticed that even in the documented examples I have there are differences among them.

All of this is making me even more curious to see the entire blade and look at closeups to check whether you indeed you might have a very valuable blade. Things to examine carefully are the signature chiselling (upturned edges or time-smoothed lines, patina in the signature grooves), the tang patina, the blade surface (jihada and shinogi-ji), the blade tip (kissaki) with its edge hardening (boshi), the presence of lack of that shadowy surface hardening (utsuri), etc.

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#27 Virginian

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 05:47 PM

Michael, Thanks so much for taking the time to write such an informative message. I have ZERO knowledge of actual terms, so I appreciate you breaking it down to an understandable form. I still don't have any idea of what age you are speaking of, but one of the pictures you posted looks exactly like what I have. The swords that my grandfather brought back fro the war in the Pacific were taken from soldiers that he had killed. The sword in this photo is a lot less substantial than the other one he brought back. I always assumed this sword was a mass produced military sword. You can see photos of the other sword if you search my past posts. I have not removed the handle from that sword and would prefer a professional did that.

 

I will take more pictures this afternoon and post them for you and others to see. Please let me know if there are any specific areas you need to see.

 

I'm not getting my hopes up, but what is a general value of the swords you mention made by Munetada?

 

Thanks again,

George VO



#28 Stephen

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 06:02 PM

This needs to be combined with other post. Thanks Michael for the pix...the sword in question needs futher study as a possible rare find. Looking forward to where this is going.

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#29 Virginian

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 06:22 PM

Is there a way to combine it? Please don't rely on my skills!

Thanks, George VO



#30 Gakusee

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 07:41 PM

Well, George and others. I am very intrigued as the nakago and the smooth-looking edges of the mei/signature seem to indicate age and possibly even Koto era (George this would be 13c-14c) but again - with these pictures one cannot tell. Frankly, I do not think the polish is good enough at the moment to judge the finer details but an overview of the bare blade shape and closeups of the surface (jihada) and tip (boshi and kissaski) and also sideways lengthwise photos with tip pointing towards a single light source to show the forging and shadow (utsuri) would help.

George - if this is a genuine Fukuoka Ichimonji Munetada (again, please do not raise hopes just yet but some of the indications are there), this will be a very valuable blade (several tens of thousands of US dollars) as that smith is rather rare. There are some very highly rated swords by him (Juyo Bujitsuhin and Juyo Bunkazai - these are ratings denoting historically important blades).
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