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New and dumb to Japanese swords. Help me with Wakazashi

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#1 kncook

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 02:57 AM

Hello all. I am brand new to this and had recently posted this right before the board went down and deleted the last post and info. I am an antique auction and estate/property auction buyer in the SE US and have recently acquired a Japanese Wakazashi in a bulk property sale with other unrelated items. I am somewhat familiar with war time European blades but am a novice with Japanese blades. I know very little. Can anyone tell me anything about the blade and markings I have? It is a Wakazashi I’m told and it’ has 17.5” of cutting edge. Klay C.

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K. Cook

#2 SteveM

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 07:42 AM

Hello Klay,

 

Wakizashi (脇指) is any Japanese sword with a blade length between about 30 and 60 centimeters, so your blade at nearly 44.5 cms makes this a wakizashi. The inscription reads

越前国住兼囗

Echizen kuni jū, Kane- (cut off)

 

Echizen-kuni is a province of old Japan. The part after that (Kane-) is the name of the smith, but the second half of the name has been cut off. Swords were often cut or shortened depending upon the needs or the laws of the time, or the whim of the owner. I don't know how many smiths from Echizen province had the name of Kane-something, but there was a smith called Kanenori (兼法) who signed this way, and I would guess that this was the signature that was on your sword before it was shortened. But there are many forgeries in the sword world so there is no guarantee your sword is an authentic Kanenori sword. 


Steve M

#3 kncook

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 02:20 PM

Thanks SteveM. How would one go about authenticating or appraising a sword of this type and does anything make this sword stand out as unique? Is there a specific timeframe this sword could have been made during? Do the grip parts appear original for the blade or at least the period? Could it have been cut down centuries ago or was this a more recent cut down (if even possible to tell)?
K. Cook

#4 ggil

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 03:06 PM

I wonder if the habaki is original to the blade


Grant G.


#5 paulb

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 05:12 PM

Klay

Some approximate answers to your questions without resorting to references

1. I am guessing the easiest way to have the signature authenticated would be to take it to The Florida show when the NTHK are running a shinsa. You can sbmit the sword to their panel of appraisers who can tell you if they think the signature is genuine.

2. Approximate date of sword anywhere between 1650 and 1800 at a guess I would say 1650 to 1700 most likely

3. It was shortenned some time ago I think certainly before 1900.

4. The koshirae (fittings) are not likely to be original to the blade. Over time saya and tsuka wear out and are replaced, or the owner just wants something different on their blade so blades rarely have original koshirae unless they belonged to very important people and weren't greatly used.



#6 16k

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 05:41 PM

I’d place it too around Kanbun Shinto.
Hard to say much as the Hamon and the Hada don’t really show on your pictures. Seems to be a tight Hada and. There are quite a few ware forging defects.
As Paul said, probably not the original mountings and like Grant, I have serious doubts about the Habaki being made for that sword.
Jean-Pierre, but everybody calls me JP

#7 Grey Doffin

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:18 PM

Hi Klay,

The habaki is a replacement; not made for this blade.  Given the number of defects on the blade there is little to be gained by having the sword authenticated.  Doubtful it would get a paper and you won't learn much other than the cost of submitting a badly defected sword to shinsa (about $150).  Defects like these are often found on retempered swords, swords that have been in a fire and re hardened so they can be used again or sold to an unsuspecting buyer.

Grey


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#8 kncook

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:29 PM

Well that’s disheartening. So it’s a junk sword but possibly authentic just reworked a lot?
IF the blade is real what would an estimate value range be?
K. Cook

#9 16k

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:47 PM

The blade is real for sure. And don’t get dispirited, I did far worse with my first sword. It’s not a beauty but it has some age and it’s a good start as any. It’s NOT a junk sword, just an entry level sword. Prices can be crazy but being a waki with defect, I would personally put no more than $6/700 in it. Still, I wouldn’t sell it if I were you. It’s your first sword and it’s always special. Oil it and keep it well!
Jean-Pierre, but everybody calls me JP

#10 SteveM

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:49 PM

No, not junk. Not a museum piece, but still an authentic, traditionally made Japanese sword from the samurai era. This is something, and it is collectible and admirable in its own way. Many people unknowingly buy fake antique swords. Rarely a week goes by without some person, new to the hobby, posting pictures of his/her newly-found sword, asking us for a rough appraisal, and we have to break the bad news that the sword is a worthless fake.  

 

Yours looks authentic. I can't say whether the signature is authentic (but it might be...and that is also something). It is a nice piece of history, so treat it well. The koshirae (scabbard, etc.) is also from the 19th century or earlier, and represents a certain level of skill and craftsmanship from the many people required to make all those various bits. 

 

So if you were hoping for a Masamune or some other treasure, the news may be disappointing, but the sword is not junk and you can use this as a springboard to learn more about swords. 


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Steve M

#11 kncook

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:57 PM

Thanks guys for all your help. I’ll have to ponder what I’ll end up doing with it. I’m a firearms collector and jumping into these swords can be just as pricey if not more lol.
K. Cook

#12 barnejp

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 12:59 AM

Klay,

 

Most, if not all of us, have been in your shoes.

As you have noticed from your first post, we are all here to help and inform each other. 

When, I first joined, I asked many questions. And always received great responses.

It appears you have an authentic blade and not junk.

On that note: The most important thing to be aware of is to be super careful of fakes..they are all over the place.

 

Cheers,

Greg


Greg





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