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Jamie321

Some Help Required On A Recent Purchase Please

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I wondered if I could have some views on a sword I brought recently at auction.  In the catalog it was described as in fine condition, when I inspected it at home it became evident that it is a piece which has been put together from a series of original parts.  The Tuba has been recently machined to fit the blade etc and the locking mechanism is absent in the tuska but evident in the shirasaya - I also thought it was sharp practice to describe this as in fine condition and suggest it in anyway had provence to a general, it being showa-to and there being nothing but a book on Japanese generals accompanying the sword with a hand written note suggesting same.

 

I know many people will think I've been dim in not reviewing the piece before bidding, but I just wondered if people think the piece in any way stands up to inspection - photos attached.

 

 

Signed Yesaka Yoshikuni saku

The blade with one mekugi-ana, midare hamon, in full military pattern mounts, and in fine condition overall (2) 
66.7 cm. blade
  • Provenance
    Believed to have been the sword of General Shimoto, Commander of the 9th Artillery Command, and offered with Richard Fuller, Shokan-Hirohito's Generals, 1991

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Link please???  And please sign with a name (beat the usual crowd handlers to it!!!)

 

BaZZa.

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I think for them to suggest ownership without any proof at all is highly irregular and misleading. Not sure if a general would have carried a Showato either. Is there an arsenal mark on the nakago?

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Dear Jamie.

 

I am sorry that you are disappointed by the sword.  I can't see quite clearly from your photos but the tsuba looks to have been attacked with a round file to make it fit.  I assume that the fittings do not have matching numbers?  How is the fit overall of the blade in the tsuka and saya?  You mention that there is evidence of a locking catch in the shirasaya, which I assume to mean the wooden liner for the steel saya.  Is there a suitable cutout in the metal fitting for the scabbard mouth?  I am clutching at straws but if all the other parts are a good fit then it night be that a replacement tsuba has been added to an otherwise associated koshirae.  

 

If all this is not the case and you want to contact the auction house then the catalogue description is a problem.  They made no claim for the provenance other than what it is so not much to go on there.  As for the description of the sword they itemised the blade and described it as in fine condition overall which it seems to be.  I am very much afraid that they would say that the description was correct.  I have never tried to return anything to Bonhams and one would hope that they would give yo u a sympathetic hearing but I would not hold out too much hope I am sorry to say.

 

I do hope that this does not put you off completely.  Next time buy from one of the more respected dealers of the For Sale section here.

 

All the best.

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Just added pics to the original post - also please note the officers knot is mine added after purchase - note the machining on the Tuba!

looks like it's from a dremel tool  IMHO.   Fitting were added Im sure.  With out rock solid documentation its just a story. Buy the item not the story. Sword with no story might be 1k usd on a good day.

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Hello Jamie,

 

Allow me to give you a somewhat contrarian opinion on this sword. First, forget about the back story for a minute. Also, forget about the fittings and just worry about the sword. I know these are bothering you as they raise the possibility you got cheated, but put these deadweights down for a second and look at the sword as objectively as possible.

 

As a WW2 artifact, the sword you have seems to be a fine, Yoshikuni-inscribed, Seki-stamped sword. It is no medieval masterpiece, but then again it isn't masquerading as one. It is an imperial Japanese arsenal sword with an arsenal stamp, and with the signature of a recognized-smith who oversaw its manufacture sometime between 1942 and 1945. If you were looking to buy a vintage WW2 artifact, it looks to me like you got the real deal. Many unscrupulous people are flogging their drop-forged and counterfeited crap as authentic war relics, and there is no shortage of people who get suckered in by this and end up losing a lot of money buying garbage. I think you have dodged that bullet.

 

Now for the fittings: these parts are factory-made and meant to be replaceable. In fact, they often are replaced during the process of restoration. A vintage WW2-era sword with a damaged tsuba shouldn't freak anyone out too much. Replacement tsubas are fairly easy to come by, and the tsuba on this piece can be replaced with another Type 98 tsuba if the rough filing job bothers you. If the fit of the tsuba is so poor that there is a huge gap between the tang and tsuba (causing the tsuba to clank around loosely), or if the grinding job is visible even when the tsuba is in place, you can get rid of the tsuba and search the internet for a replacement. Actually I think the bigger worry is ending up with a cheaply made copy of a WW2 tsuba - whereas yours looks authentic to me. The locking clasp can also be easily replaced. There is one on ebay for about $20. 

 

If the sword, tsuba, seppa, habaki and scabbard all fit together, you have a decent artifact on your hands, even if the parts may have been assembled separately.

 

The only problem is overcoming the fact that the auction house may have ripped you off. I have to agree with Geraint above - they are selling the sword and the mounts, and overall the sword and the mounts seem fine. The story is prefaced by "Believed to have been..." which gives them a legal escape hatch concerning the provenance. Be that as it may, I dug around for some information on this mysterious General Shimoto. It's an odd name, and the English spelling doesn't suggest how it might be spelled in Japanese. -moto leaves me thinking maybe it was a misspelling of Hashimoto, but there is no General Hashimoto from the 8th Area Army. To make a long story short, it turns out that Mr. Shimoto isn't a General, but a Captain. Captain Kōtarō Shimotō (下遠甲太郎大佐), who was in charge of the 7th Field Heavy Artillery Regiment, which was part of the 9th Artillery Command, which was part of the 8th Area Army under Lieutenant General Imamura. The 8th Army was sent to the South Pacific after the start of World War 2. The 8th Army, and presumably Captain Shimotō and his sword, surrendered at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in September 1945. I would be keen to see the surrender tag, if there is one.

 

 

 

 

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I read a book recently about the Australians fighting in the new Guinea campaign.... A Bastard of a Place by Peter Brune....that was a series of very rough battles, and the fact that Captain Shimoto made it out alive to surrender with his sword (if this is correct) is of some note and makes this a very interesting artifact.

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