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Bryce last won the day on July 29

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    Bryce Davies

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  1. Bryce

    The Gassan Habaki

    G'day Guys, A particular style of habaki is associated with the Gassan smiths. There are several variations of this style, but it consists of roundish bare patches within a cat-scratch background. The bare patches are arranged in lines. These habaki can be found in silver foil, gold foil, solid silver, silver gilt and possibly solid gold. I have been doing some research into the origins and symbolism of this design, but haven't got very far. The design seems to have originated with Gassan Sadakatsu. Gassan Sadakazu's blades aren't found with this style of habaki, except perhaps towards the end of his life when Sadakatsu was thought to have been making his blades. Here are some shots of my silver gilt example from 1940. Can anybody shed any more light on this subject? Cheers, Bryce
  2. G'day Bob, It is definitely a pattern favoured by the Gassan smiths. There are different variations of it, but it consists, of a series of bare patches within a cat-scratch background, arranged in lines. Here is my silver gilt, Gassan Sadakatsu habaki. Does any one know what this pattern represents or how it came about? Cheers, Bryce
  3. G'day Guys, Here is a closeup of the habaki. You can see it is actually gold foil, identical to the AOIJapan example above. Cheers, Bryce
  4. G'day Guys, Here is another one that AOIJapan had last year. John, this is Sadakatsu's soshu style hada. It sort of resembles a mix of his masame and ayasugi. As with all of his hada, he made different versions, some with very fine layers and some with thick layers like this example. I don't think this example can be gimei. It must just be the poor quality photos which make both the nakago jiri and his kao look odd. Cheers, Bryce
  5. G'day Guys, Just as an aside, that habaki is probably silver gilt rather than solid gold. The patination suggests this as well. Solid gold Gassan habakis are very, very rare. The photos of the nakago aren't very clear, but the nakago jiri is very unusual for Sadakatsu. I am not crying gimei, especially with such low res photos, but I guess this just highlights the variation you can get in these features. Cheers, Bryce
  6. G'day Guys, So far I have identified 53 examples of Gassan Sadakatsu katana from the net. This looks like it may be about as far as I can go without more help. Here are a couple of extra things I have picked up. The average length of his blades is 68.0cm with the shortest being 64cm and longest 72.7cm. All, but a handful are signed with his kao. Of these with no kao, two are star stamped. As a general rule, those without a kao, don't seem to be quite as good as his kao'd blades. I have only found two star stamped examples, both made in 1943. I have found only six kogarasu examples. Of these, three were made with steel smelted by the Japan Iron Sand Steel Industry Company. It almost seems as if he set out to make a blade in every style he knew to see how they would turn out using this new steel. Or perhaps he was commissioned by the company to do this, although there is no mention of this in the company history. Cheers, Bryce
  7. G'day Stephen, I have a mumei shinshinto katana with what looks like similar hada and hamon. I have always thought I would love to find a gunto with a beautiful blade like that and guess what, you have beaten me to it! Look forward to some more photos of the blade. Cheers, Bryce
  8. G'day Guys, I have been putting together a database of Gassan Sadakatsu long blades that I have found on the net. So far I have documented 48 examples. Some interesting stats that have come out of this are: - 60% signed katana-mei vs 40% tachi-mei. Almost seems to be random. - Ayasugi is the most common style followed by masame and soshu in the ratio 4:2:1 - Kogarasu-maru examples are very rare. So far I have found only five, three of which are these Japan Iron Sand Steel Company examples. - I have found 6 examples made in 1933 to commemorate the birth of Crown Prince Akihito. Unlike the Japan Iron Sand Steel Company examples these are all identical shinogi zukuri, signed katana-mei and done in ayasugi. If anyone has an example in their possession I would love it if you could pm me with the details of your sword such as form, year, mei, nagasa other details etc. Cheers, Bryce
  9. G'day John, I think it may be just a fancier option. The normal chuso button is also a sakura, just not as flashy. Cheers, Bryce
  10. G'day Mike, As others have said there is a very good chance it will turn up again. I have had similar things happen to me on several occasions now and in all cases the swords did eventually get to me. I once had a sword disappear off tracking for 6 months, before turning up again. Cheers, Bryce
  11. G'day Guys, Here is my 1940 Gassan Sadakatsu made with steel smelted by the Japan Iron Sand Steel Industry Company. Beautiful tight masame hada. Cheers, Bryce
  12. G'day Guys, Below is a summary of everything I have learned about the company from the 40 year history. The company was formed in 1934 as the Japan Iron Sand Industry Company. Its aim was to mine iron sand and manufacture vanadium steel and titanium oxide. Although it was able to extract vanadium from iron sand and manufacture vanadium steel, it struggled to smelt iron sand profitably. This all changed in 1938 when the rotary kiln method of producing sponge iron from iron sand was introduced. In February 1940 the company changed its name to the Japan Iron Sand Steel Industry Company to better reflect its status as an industrial steel manufacturer. In 1940 it also completed construction of a new factory in Hachinohe to complement the existing one at Takasago. By this stage it was producing sponge iron, vanadium, titanium oxide, ordinary steel stock, shaped steel and a range of special steels such as vanadium steel. It was also manufacturing a range of tools such as drill bits and saw blades form the specialty steels it produced. At the time, it was the only Japanese industrial steel manufacturer using iron sand as the base ore. Cheers, Bryce
  13. On the other hand, they were certainly manufacturing tools such as drill bits and saw blades using the vanadium steel they produced and were designated a munitions company by the military. It isn't much of a stretch to imagine they could have been producing bayonets and sword blades as well, although I am yet to come upon any other specific references to this. Cheers, Bryce
  14. G'day Steve, It is an account of the construction of the Hachinohe factory by Shinichi Mizoguchi who was transferred there from the original Takasago factory. The first stage was the construction of the vanadium factory, followed by the rotary kilns for producing sponge iron and then the steel plant. The factory was also going to produce titanium, but this wasn't achieved before the end of the war. There is an earlier reference to the steel being used for weapons production, but it isn't clear to me if this means that weapons were manufactured at this factory or the steel was sent to other factories to produce weapons. Cheers, Bryce
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