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Bruce Pennington

Attention Mantetsu Owners: A Survey

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Calling all Mantetsu Owners:

 

I'm doing a very informal survey of serial numbers on Mantetsu blades. I'd like to see if there is a progression of the katakana from year to year, or if they are randomly scattered throughout the years. If you own one, please post the year and serial number below. I seem to recall a woman on this forum that had collected one from each year of production! If you read this PLEASE post your dates and numbers.

 

Thanks to all who help out!

 

Mine:

Spring 1941 - "Na" 184

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Bruce, you are welcome to go to my website and the ones from there.

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Thanks Neil! This is already revealing something. You and I both have blades marked with "NA". Yours from 1939, number 124, and mine from '41, numbered 184. Only 60 blades were made in 2 YEARS under this "contract line" if I can call it that. Mantetsu was making 400 blades PER MONTH (Ohmura's site). In reading the stories of some various smith's it is said that a smith could crank out up to 80 swords PER MONTH. So my idea that Mantetsu started a series of blades, like "A" 1, and ran that series out a certain amount, then began with "KA" 1, and so on through the katakana alphabet - is not likely. Even if a single Mantetsu smith was assigned a number series, like Smith Bruce makes blades using "A", "KA", "SA", "TA", it seems to me that he'd run through more than 60 blades under one kanji in 2 years time. Making just 60 blades per month, Smith Bruce would run through 12 Katakana lines in just one year!

 

More collecting, and analyzing to be done!

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Yeow! Look what just showed up on the Military Swords of Japan FB page (and it's brought in from a fleabay sale).

 

Spring '44, SE 2340!

 

OMG! That's the first 4-digit number I've ever seen! SE 2340! It's about time, though. Ohmura states that Mantetsu was making 400 PER MONTH, so in a single year there would be 4,800 blades made. Nine years of production - (assuming the production rates was steady) 43,200 blades. There were 50 Katakana "letters", so if they were used uniformly, there should be 864 blades pere katakana. So this blade shows the kanji were not used evenly.

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Hi John, try rubbing a bit of chalk into it to maybe highlight it. Some times works. But you raised a good issue, I have knocked back many Koa's because of terrible rust on the tang, may be they are more susceptible to rust than other sword steels. 

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Hi Bruce,

 

A good endeavour, so here's my Mantetsu for the record. Apologies for the way it's facing. Uploading from my phone can rotate pictures and I'm not able to correct them.

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Hello.

        Bruce...Pictures attached of my Mantetsu dated 1942 with assembly markings of "RA" 934....

        Chris....Get one,I'm sure you will be impressed by the quality of these swords....This is one of my favourites in my humble collection...

               Regards,

                             Paul...

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                               

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Bruce could explain the significance of the use of A, KA, SA, TA, RA, SE, NA...etc As prefixes. How many other prefixes are used? 

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Hi Bruce,

 

A good endeavour, so here's my Mantetsu for the record. Apologies for the way it's facing. Uploading from my phone can rotate pictures and I'm not able to correct them.

Steve,

 

Spring 1941; “TA” 181

 

Thanks!

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Hi John, try rubbing a bit of chalk into it to maybe highlight it. Some times works. But you raised a good issue, I have knocked back many Koa's because of terrible rust on the tang, may be they are more susceptible to rust than other sword steels. 

All but the first and last character of the Zodiac date is gone, however there was another character on the Mune under some gunk, the full inscription reads:

 

 

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All but the first and last character of the Zodiac date is gone, however there was another character on the Mune under some gunk, the full inscription reads:

 

 

John, thanks, that's "SE" 72

 

Is the nakago too rusty to get the date?

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Bruce could explain the significance of the use of A, KA, SA, TA, RA, SE, NA...etc As prefixes. How many other prefixes are used?

 

Neil,

 

So far, I have 14 blades and the following katakana in use: Ka,Sa, Ta, Na, Ra, Wa; Hi; Se; Ro.

 

I have blades from '38, '39, '40, '41, '42, '43, '44 missing '37 and '45.

 

Numbers range from 41 to 2340, but they aren't sequential by year as I thought they would be. The HI 41 was made in 1943! and there is a SA 520 from 1940.

 

Haven't heard back from Morita-san as to whether he's collected Mantetsu numbers.

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John, thanks, that's "SE" 72

 

Is the nakago too rusty to get the date?

I will have a look again tonight at the characters that are visible, the rust is quite severe. It does have the "Koa Isshin" mei, so it was before the signature change in 1943.

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Hi Bruce,

 

I have a Mantetsu. Spring 43. With 505 on mine.

 

It also has three file scratches above 505 but I have never identified these marks.

 

Edward S

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Hi Bruce,

 

I have a Mantetsu. Spring 43. With 505 on mine.

 

It also has three file scratches above 505 but I have never identified these marks.

 

Edward S

Edward, those scratches are a katakana kanji. Any chance you could give me a pic of that? It's actually the part of the serial number that I'm interested in the most! If a picture is difficult, maybe you could look at this chart and tell me which one is yours.

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Edward, those scratches are a katakana kanji. Any chance you could give me a pic of that? It's actually the part of the serial number that I'm interested in the most! If a picture is difficult, maybe you could look at this chart and tell me which one is yours.

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Bruce,

 

I can’t upload pic for some reason. The three scratches appear to be ‘mi’ from your chart.

 

If you want pics, perhaps the administrator can give me a steer on uploading.

 

Edward S

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Bruce,

 

I can’t upload pic for some reason. The three scratches appear to be ‘mi’ from your chart.

 

If you want pics, perhaps the administrator can give me a steer on uploading.

 

Edward S

Thanks Ed, that’s what I was thinking also. No pictures necessary.

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Update: 37 Mantetsu blades with dates & serial number (4 more w/o date; 1 w/o katakana)

 

Interesting development: 2 blades from 1938 used Alpha numeric serial numbers. Litterally C30 and N206, not katakana, and numbers are English. Appearantly the katakana and Japanese numbering began in 1939 (unless we discover a '38 blade marked in Japanese).

 

While the sample is still extremely small compared to total production, so far, half the numbers fall in the "A" line of katakana. Yet, it seems all 50 kanji were started simultaneously as they are scattered throughout the years. For example you'll see a NA and a HO - both at far ends of the chart from each other - in '39. One mystery is the SA 520, made in '40 and the SA 459 made in '43 - meaning these blades were not made in sequential order, unless another explanation can be put forth.

 

Only 2 blades have been found, so far, with 4 digit serial numbers: SE 2340 and HI 1155, both made in '44.

 

No blades yet from '37, '38, or '45.

 

Charts attached. Maybe someone who works with numbers and patterns may see something useful. If so, let us know!

Mantetsu Serial Numbers.docx

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