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painted marks on tang

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Does anyone know the significance of the painted characters on the tangs of ww2 swords.I have noted reds ,blues,yellows ;are they fitters marks and do the colours signify better quality,would be glad to know anything about them different arsenals.Thanks if anyone can shed any light on this.regards.ianb.

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Ian,

Usually thought to be arsenal and rack numbers of no real consequence. I don't think the colours mean anything.

 

Brian

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Hi Ian.

 

Usually they are referred to as assembly numbers, lots of swords have Arabic numerals stamped on the tsuba, fuchi, seppa and other places which would make it easy to keep track of the set of fittings as they went onto a sword. The lacquer colour has no meaning that I am aware of and, come to think of it I am not even sure if the assembly number on the nakago matches the Arabic numerals on the other fittings. Must go and have a look at that.

 

All the best.

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Re-visiting an old thread -

A recent post online brought this to mind. Do we know any more today than we did in 2013 about the painted numbers on Showato? Is it confirmed that the numbers always match those stamped into the fittings? Do we have any ideas about which arsenal (s) might have employed them? Any help appreciated,

-t

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8 hours ago, Toryu2020 said:

Any help appreciated,

We would all appreciate some official form of help on this, too.  To my knowledge, we do not know any more than before.  The practice of painting numbers, in my brief years of observation, seem to span all of the arsenals, all of Japan's wartime sword production.  A great many of the examples match the stamped numbers on the various fittings, but not all do.  I personally believe the non-matching sets are simply due to post-production replacement parts and/or post-war replacements due to missing parts from bring-home gunto in poor condition. 

 

I have just begun examining my files to see how many blades have both stamped AND painted numbers on nakago.  This example provided by @george trotter on THIS THREAD  has non-matching stamped and painted numbers - and none on the seppa/tsuba!  It's my guess that the blade was originally made for a Type 98 (only one mekugi ana) and stamped with numbers, but later re-fitted with Rinji-seishiki fittings, with the painted numbers done by the second fitter shop.  But that's pure speculation.

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While I believe most numbers are fitting shop numbers, some are really challenging.  The few examples of matching numbers on Mantetsu are a good example of fitting shops using the existing serial numbers on blades as numbers for their metal parts.  Similar examples exist on RJT blades stamped with matching numbers on both blade and fittings.

 

Yet there are two examples in my survey of RJT blades with numbers on the blades that do not match the fitting numbers.  Both are from the same prefecture - Niigata - and have the kana/number system:

1943 Akimitsu (RJT) 2138-nakago; イ536-fittings

1943 Munetoshi (RJT) 松 1080-nakago; イ403-fittings

 

Yet I have a:

1942 Masakazu (RJT) 1129-nakago; ニ1129-fittings

But he is from Fukushima.  So I don't know if the difference is simply shop practice differences or if the nakago numbers are serial numbers and the shop in Fukushima simply used the existing number for their fittings.  The non-matching numbers of the Niigata shop seem to support the idea.  But it's still just a mystery.

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Ok, these will blow your head up:

 

1943 Hiromasa (RJT) Date side - stamped 61, paint - "60"; mei side - paint "19" [fittings unknown]

1944 Kanemitsu (RJT but no star) stamped 24, paint "22"; and "1" on tsuba/seppa

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Thanks Bruce - at least we know a little more since your compiling examples - thats data that will clearly lead us to an answer and it is better than just saying "assembly numbers" and forget about it. A question that will someday be answered...

-t

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