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Bruce Pennington

The Mysterious "w" Stamp!

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Vlad,

 

Thanks for that update! I think you're right - it was a Tokyo Arsenal (Kokura in early years) inspector. I was about to argue about the Kanenori as a Seki smith, but remembered Seki was under Kokura prior to 1942. I'm still puzzled by the Matesu blades with it, but your proposal may explain it.

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Update:

 

Got a great piece of information from Nick Komiya, Warrelics, on a production order to the Dalian Mantetsu factory. They were to supply 5,500 unfinished blades to the Tokyo 1st Arsenal for finishing. It is likely how the W stamp got onto Mantetsu blades. They may have been doing this other years as well, but this was a 1944 document.

 

 

"I have released these figures already once, but here is the 1944 production plan for Kou-A-Isshinn Swords. They were to produce at a rate of 6500 swords/year of which 500 were to cover the shortfall at the Tokyo Arsenal. A further 5500 partially completed blades were also to be supplied to the Tokyo arsenal."post-3487-0-40938900-1543246174_thumb.jpg

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Update:

 

From my collecting serial numbers, I have checked and found "W" stamps on 4 '42s, 3 '43s, and one '44. So, if Nick's document dictating the supply of unfinished blades to the Tokyo arsenal explains the origin of the stamp on Mantetsu blades, the practice was in place before '44.

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There are actually two "W" stamps on this one, there is another on at the bottom of the nakago.

I have found that to be true on many of these, including the Mantetsu. Another mystery! Off hand, I can't think of any other inspector stamps that are marked twice on the side of a nakago. I've seen Na and Seki stamps on the face and mune, but not on the same side of the face, twice. Hmmmm...

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First of all, I'd like to point to page 152 of Jim Dawson's Swords of Imperial Japan, Cyclopedia Edition. This photo shows an officer holding a shin gunto; and the caption mentions the service badge over his pocket that looks just like the stamp on my sword... except that it's "upside down." the badge is explained as an artillery officer or a JAG officer. 

I have shin gunto #45, matching numbers, unpierced tsuba, with a stunning tachi blade. The tsuka is so clean, that JAG thing makes good sense. Its tang has one stamp only. However, the signature was filed off long before WW2, I believe, leaving behind what looks like traces of gold leaf. Even if I'm not correct that this is a Shinto-era period forgery: this ain't no gunto.  After much research plus that photo, I had surmised that the stamp is indeed an inspector's mark. That jives with what I'm reading in this fascinating forum. It would also explain why the stamp appears on different types and sources of blades; and leaves room for everybody to be right. Except for that upside down thing.

Got one question: Is there any historical precedent for a complete nakago to be covered with gold leaf? Kinda looks like this one was.

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The "M" breast patch you mention was branch of army service. They were color coded differently for artiliary, infantry, aviation etc. Have no bearing/relationship to metal proof

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Thanks for the reply. Don't understand "metal proof."

Once again, Dawson's book said artillery and JAG... is that part of the army?  And are you saying the stamp is not a inspector's mark? There are no other marks. 

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After re-reading this forum, I didn't see any swords that weren't showa. The only way this blade could be showa is if it were one of the forgeries near the start of WW2 that got some smiths jailed; which might be why the mei has been filed away; but I think that was done 400 years ago.   When I checked for Takehisa blades, I didn't see anything resembling the outrageous hamon on this blade: and he would definitely have signed this beauty. Plus this is a tachi, not the robust katanas that Taehisa made.  Each branch of service had to inspect blades before issue or re-mounting. I'm still holding out on this being a JAG officer's sword because it has never seen combat or even bad weather. If it truly is Shinto, it should shake up the "W" discussion.

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Thanks, I think.  I had to look that one up. Still don't quite understand the suggestion. 

My assumptions are based on research and logic. But I don't have clear answers. That's why I am putting this out there. I don't have anything to gain except knowledge. Got any?

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You are making some very large leaps based on very limited information, we all have been excited about the possibilities of a sword but you must also learn to take everything with a grain of salt. The "W" stamp is firmly a WW2 era phenomenon, anything you suggest without photos we cannot take seriously until we see it before our eyes. I'd be interested to see photos of the sword as it sounds like a nice example.

 

Please also sign with your real name as per the board rules.

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I'll try to take some good photos. Would love to learn as much as possible about this sword. It really is a beauty.

 

Austus is my real name.

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No worries, don't want to scare you off, just bring you back down to earth a little  :thumbsup:  We've all been caught up in some wild possibilities over the years, easy to get far, far ahead of ones self if you're not careful.

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Nice sword!

 

I don’t know that mark, but it doesn’t look like the mysterious W to me, more like a 3.

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I still think the stamp on this tang looks like the service badge on page 152 of the Dawson book. Which might make it an "M"?

And I still think this is an old blade. You can see parts of the mei; but it looks like it's been gone for a long time. Why would anybody do that? It doesn't look like it's been shortened; and it's pretty light. Plus it's so gorgeous I don't really think it was made for combat.

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Well, signatures are often removed when a sword is found to be Gimei (which I personally find a stupid move because, Gimei or not, the signature is part of that sword history).

 

As for the age, hard to say from the picture. We need to see Hada, close up of the Hamon and the whole sugata. One thing is sure, the Ana is drilled, not punched, suggesting no older than Edo, the sword is ubu and the nakago looks pretty clean for an old sword. But that may be the light.

 

EDIT: BTW, you should replace that mekugi before an accident happen! :)

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Well, JP, after going back and clicking on the thumbnails, I must agree with you. It looks more like the badge than the W.  I haven't had the tsuka off since I bought the sword, and hadn't gone back to my old Mac to look at these photos until I wanted to attach them.  Whoops. Sorry I didn't help this discussion any. I would like to know if there's any feedback on that tang, however, because it's still a question mark. 

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Yes, it was probably Gimei, the only other reason I could come up with is that it was stolen long ago!  I did consider the possibility that it was faked before the war, as mentioned earlier, but needed to be used. 

It was helpful to know about the Ana. That's clear and indisputable. Edo period makes sense for several reasons. If better pictures will tell more; I'd love to know. But now I'm in the wrong discussion! 

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Austus, something’s occurred to me. I have a feeling about your sword, which I won’t say now because I have zero proof and am not the best qualified expert here, faaaar from it.

 

So, a question: is there an unsharpened part (ubu-ba) near the habaki?

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Well, I don't know. The reason I haven't taken the tsuka off in 2 years is it was so hard to get off the first time. I would like to repeat something I wrote earlier, that it almost looked like the entire nakago had been covered with gold leaf at one time: perhaps a reason to file the surface, and there seems to be remnants all around. But I haven't seen it in two years. That's the other reason I haven't removed the tsuka. But wait. Which side of the habaki do you mean? If you're talking about the blade part, then I think I remember that it was. From what I understand, many wartime swords weren't sharpened all the way down. I'll fetch the blade and await your reply.

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Sorry, I explained myself not very clearly. You don’t have to remove the tsuka. You need to look at the edge of the blade near the habaki. It should give you another clue as to the age.

 

If there are a few centimeters that are unsharpened and thicker than the edge, then it would be the clue for a blade no older than Shinshinto.

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I checked it out, and the ha is very sharp to wthin an inch or so, where it's kinda sharp. I have a couple of guntos that are much duller down there; but this one is a little sharper. 

There's not much fumbari on this blade. It's light and thin. The color is bright, and there's no grain. The entire yakiba glows golden when you turn it into the light. It fits so close to the early 1600s descriptions that I gave up looking. But I do want to know. 

Thank You for the help. I'll do what I can to learn more. 

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Sending you a PM as I think were hijacking the thread with this conversation.

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Is that what you call it? What's a PM? Sorry, I'm New.  I did mention that I was now in the wrong discussion; but you were very helpful. Thank You. I'll just blissfully go on thinking that I know what this lovely blade is; and refrain from any further engagement. There's lots to be learned here even as a spectator.

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A PM is a Personal Message. Check your inbox. :)

 

I’d be happy to continue this conversation, but maybe through PMs or in a dedicated thread where more knowledgeable people than me can intervene.

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Austus that looks every bit like a Showa era made sword. No idea why the mei has been removed but what remains looks typical of the chippy style of mei used on most Showa-To swords. The modified Tsuba looks a little suspicious as well, where did you acquire this sword from, if I may ask?

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