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Army Purchase Civilian Swords Of Wwii?


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#1 george trotter

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 10:23 AM

Hi all, Merry Christmas!

Just to add some spice to Christmas I thought I'd take a post by Raymond Singer ('Show Us Your High Class Gunto' page 6 post #180 in Mil. Swords of Japan page), and maybe expand on it.

Ray shows us pictures of a favourite sword of his (sorry, I don;t know how to link to it).

It is a signed shinto? blade in Type 98 mounts on which all parts, including the habaki are numbered in kanji or western numbers. It has quality type 98 fittings including a sukashi tsuba, 8 seppa and a mon. Even the tsuka is numbered in ink..

 

Well, I have one identical...even has a mon...although mine is mumei and probably is a late shinshinto blade or early Meiji copy of a mumei osuriage Momoyama Mino-den blade:

Mine is also top quality Type 98 mounts with sukashi tsuba and 8 seppa and has all parts numbered in kanji numbers 0314 with habaki (like Ray's,) marked in western numbers. My tsuka mouth is marked in black ink with its number and also a word? in katakana which I can't make out. The side of the tsuka (at mouth) is marked in red ink '30 something'. It also has the Japanese number repeated on the aluminium scabbard under the saya-guchi. So...essentially identical to Rays also in that both have pre-Showa blades and both have been mounted to the same high standard.

I think it is interesting that both blades and mounts conform to an identical standard...this makes me think that maybe Ray and I have both chanced upon swords that are part of a  'distinct ' group?  What makes me think this is the uniformity of the blade types, and the uniformity of the fittings and their markings. I wonder if it is possible that Ray and I have acquired swords puchased from the public through the "Appeal" for civilian swords announced by the Army in Feb. 1942 as discovered by Nick Komiya and mentioned in his recent 'War Relics' post on

 

http://www.warrelics...s-gunto-688110/

 

This document states that the Army would purchase blades as short as 54.5 cm (mine is 59 cm).

I was wondering if this is worth a discussion? Maybe some other members have swords/fittings/markings that show a "pattern" here?

 

Regards,

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George Trotter

#2 Brian

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 10:43 AM

George,
Based on the research and the fact that this program is confirmed, it seems highly likely that this is exactly where yours and Ray's swords come from.


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#3 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:57 AM

Here's one I suspect is part of this program, nice mounts with Mon, aluminium Saya, Sukashi Tsuba and 8 marked Seppa. The blade is an old O-Suriage Koto example, still razor sharp. I couldn't get the handle off but from memory the Seppa were all marked in western numbers.

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#4 george trotter

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 11:19 AM

Interesting John...looks and sounds right.

Brian, I think so too, but always wise to have a conversation about it. Would be nice if a number turned up with all the "signs" mentioned above. Maybe at last we will make folks think a bit deeper before saying "oh, it's a his family blade that he had mounted and took to war"...maybe more likely it was one of the civilian purchase blades re-mounted by the Army for sale to officers at the Officer's Club shop.

Regards,

 

Edit to add...hope Morita san can read those ink writings?


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#5 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:35 PM

George, interesting idea. I wonder, though, why the military or a contractor buying these blades would go to the trouble of placing mon on them?

#6 Brian

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 08:04 PM

The blades were purchased for the war effort. Officers could purchase them, and have them mounted as they required..hence the mon.


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#7 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:45 PM

Ok, sure. I just thought George was implying that all the similarities, including the mon, indicated that a common shop was fitting them out.

#8 george trotter

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 04:25 AM

Hi Bruce,

Sorry for the confusion...no, I'm sure that officers had  their mon  put on themselves. I just mentioned the mon as both swords had them, Possibly this is "connected" to the purchased swords as the price of the swords would certainly have been higher than buying a showato and possibly/probably higher than RJT etc...so maybe the officers who bought them were a bit better off financially and so also spent a bit extra on "personalising" their purchased sword as, after all, they were carrying "national heritage" samurai swords into battle. Just a thought.

Regards,


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George Trotter

#9 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 07:14 AM

Just like today there is something very appealing & special about these old swords being used again for war, whether they are family blades, from the Appeal program or otherwise mounted.


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#10 Dave R

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 01:44 PM

 A lot would depend on the quality of the blade bought in. The original appeal made it clear that the very best would not be taken in, but sent back to be preserved for posterity.

 
"Swords suitable as Gunto, coming with a minimum blade length of 54.5 centimetres (21.5") will be bought up at fair prices. However, please understand that those valued at more than 500 Yen and naturally those that reveal themselves to be of national treasure class or of particular historical value in the preliminary acceptance Shinsa screening will need to be excluded, and we ask that they be kept in your custody to be preserved on behalf of the nation. Please be sure to clearly tag with name and address the blades you submit" 
 

There would also be a lot of "bundle swords" kaza uchi mono brought to the buyers, and Shinto and Shin Shinto blades of no great quality but decent enough for war time use. I have reason to believe that one of my own falls into that category, an old mumei, possibly Koto blade, that arrived in a wreck of a Shin Gunto koshirae. I have little doubt that the selling price to an officer would reflect the adjudged quality of the blade. 


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#11 george trotter

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 05:59 AM

oops, posted John's post #9 by mistake. It was Brian's post #6 I meant to add here...Brian said .... the army purchased the swords, the officers bought them and had them mounted themselves.

 

 

 

Brian I'm sure in many cases you are correct , but the reason I made this post is that my 'purchased sword' and sword fittings above and Ray Singers 'purchased sword' and sword fittings in his post are virtually identical. This made me think...either it is just a coincidence that they "match" or they were both mounted by the same sword mounting shop. Since they both contain what are certainly? civilian purchase blades, I thought maybe the army not only purchased the blades, but mounted them also, for sale in their Army Club outlets. I'm not suggesting these were all done in one army fittings shop, (although this may be true) but probably by army contracted mounting shops in several large cities (parts supplied by the army with instructions on what price-range swords to put them on?) and the higher level of swords got this higher level of fittings and would naturally have a higher price. After purchasing the mounted sword of his choice, the officer had the mon  put on  like you say.

So...I thought that if members who have this "set" of fittings/swords would post them we maybe could see if there is a distinct "group" of gunto with old blades and identical high-end mounts - all army supplied ready for sale in their shops....or maybe we just have a random coincidence here. 

 

Being the worlds worst sword hamon photographer, I attach a couple of "slightly better" photos of this mumei Mino-den sword's hamon. Being mainly interested in RJT swords for the last 30 years I had forgotten just how good Mino gonome midare hamon can be. I also attach a closeup of the tsuka showing the large nodule same...all in all a quality sword in a quality mounting IMHO.

Regards,

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George Trotter

#12 Brian

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 11:25 AM

George,
I think I was unclear in what I meant. I think there can be little doubt that the shops/army mounted the swords. But what I meant was that you ordered your sword, and then possibly/probably ordered it mounted as you requested. You could probably order it in standard mounts, or if you had money, could ask for better quality fittings, mon, etc.


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#13 Yukihiro

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 06:19 PM

Brian,
Pardon my question, which must have been answered somewhere else on the forum already, but is it possible to know whether a gunto was mounted in a shop or directly by the army and, as a subsidiary question, have these shops been documented in any way - number of such shops, typical mounting styles of some of these shops as opposed to others?
Regards,
Didier
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#14 Brian

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 07:08 PM

I think others are far more qualified to answer that. But from my understanding, the 'shops' would have been part of the army...officer's club? Not a private shop that you walked into and bought a sword or mounting. I'm sure there was an army program for this. But hopefully someone will have more info on that. Maybe someone can ask Nick Komiya if he has any info.


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#15 Yukihiro

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 07:18 PM

That is an interesting subject, because these "shops" do come up regularly in the conversations we have on here although there is no clear definition of what they were in actual fact.

Yes, I think you are right : if somebody knows more about them, it has to be Nick Komiya.


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#16 raymondsinger

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 02:06 AM

Sorry, I missed this post earlier. Please see below for a link. Photos of the koshirae and habaki are attached.

 

http://www.militaria...e-6#entry269199

 

Hi all, Merry Christmas!

Just to add some spice to Christmas I thought I'd take a post by Raymond Singer ('Show Us Your High Class Gunto' page 6 post #180 in Mil. Swords of Japan page), and maybe expand on it.

Ray shows us pictures of a favourite sword of his (sorry, I don;t know how to link to it).

 

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#17 george trotter

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 05:30 AM

George,
I think I was unclear in what I meant. I think there can be little doubt that the shops/army mounted the swords. But what I meant was that you ordered your sword, and then possibly/probably ordered it mounted as you requested. You could probably order it in standard mounts, or if you had money, could ask for better quality fittings, mon, etc.

Oh yes. I see what you mean Brian...that's a strong likelihood , I hadn't thought of the system working  like that....Walking in, choosing a blade and a level of mountings for it and even a mon and having the shop system put them all together... makes a lot of sense...I had thought more of the Officers Club shop having shelves of already mounted swords (low end - middle end - high end). the officer made his choice and either the shop organised a mon or the officer organised it himself.

 

Nick Komiya has been mentioned. Yes he sure has done some good research. While he is mostly into firearms etc, he has sure provided some good info on the Rinji Seishiki Gunto history (we used to call it Type 3 or Type 0) and he said in his last post a year ago on the Civilian Purchase Sword Program that there is heaps of info on all aspects of the WWII military sword stuff in the Japanese Archives waiting to be researched...I sure wish he would take some time and do it. Just to take one topic, think how many copies he could sell of a "History of the RJT Sword Program, its Smiths and their Output" ...I know I would buy one!  Someone suggest it to him please...I'm getting older...

 

Ray, thanks for posting your pics, makes two good examples now (with mine) for members to see and maybe add to. It would be interesting to see if these do make up a "group".

 

Regards,


George Trotter

#18 vajo

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 07:45 AM

Exists a picture of a wartime swordshop?

#19 Brian

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 09:06 AM

http://www.japanswor...p/military.html
Perhaps an email to them might clarify how things worked during the war, as I am sure they were an active shop at that time.


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#20 IJASWORDS

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 11:46 AM

I tried two emails some time ago to ask some questions on WW2 swords with no replies. Hope you have better luck. 


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#21 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 01:43 PM

I had the same negative response as Neil when writing to them. I even had someone write my letter in Japanese.

#22 vajo

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 08:16 PM

I found this picture.

 kanagawa-kamakura-s-sankai-do-a-100-year


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#23 george trotter

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 04:30 AM

Maybe a job for Nick Komiya?


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#24 vajo

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 10:12 AM

This where a good idea.




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