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My First Gunto


ChrisW
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This is a blade I haven't shown before, its also my first proper gunto/katana. I've had it sitting a while in a glass case with some other important blades of mine and I only get them out to inspect/change their oils. (Much like a garaged classic car)

 

I do not know who signed it or from what arsenal its from. It does have a hamon, though its difficult to see. Geometry is intact, but it has several nail catchers along the length of the blade. Nothing that wouldn't come out with a fresh polish and thankfully there are not any hagire that I can detect. The tsukamaki is definitely silk and it has rather nice quality ray underneath. There is a number inside the tsuka (2 for those that care to know) and there is what appears to be an '8' stamped on the obverse side of the nakago. On the mei side, there is also what appears to be a tiny plus ( + ) at the very end of the nakago. I have been unable to find any other numbers/markings on the blade or parts. It does have the remnants of a leather washer of some kind. I am unsure if the saya is original though it definitely has consistent age with the rest of it. The portopee is definitely not original, its just one I found to display with it. The meguki is not original either, but a nice piece of dark wood that fits nicely (could be horn?) One last quirk to note is that I am unable to remove the habaki, it seems firmly stuck on and I'd rather not risk damage just to remove it.

 

Anyways, I just wanted to show this one. I started my collection of katana with it and its my second nihonto (my first is a scraggly wak that is likely beyond saving). I'd love to know who made it and from where it originates, and if it belongs to a possible school/manufactory.

 

 

*Bonus picture of my blades in the fancy wall-case I have included. Pardon my mess with the stuff in the bottom!

 

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Thanks Steve! I finally have a name to put to this blade. Could I be a bother and ask people for information about this guy? I searched the site and there's precious little information on him, only one thread from 2012.

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Hello Chris,

I'm afraid I don't know anything about this smith. I only know how to read the name, and I know he appears on the list of Seki smiths compiled by the indispensable Jinsoo Kim, who is an occasional poster on this board. Maybe he will notice this and will chime in with any information he has. 

 

http://www.jp-sword.com/files/seki/gendaito.html

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Chris,

Don't know how much you know about the fittings, so forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know! Like already said, the Seki stamp most likely means the blade was made during the war in a non-traditional way (big debates on this as some own gendaito with Seki stamps), but the look of the blade backs that up. SO, why would it be mounted in a tachi-styled, dual hanger, saya?

 

It is possible this blade was bought up by the govt from a non-army factory and fitted out for the war. There actually were blades made during the war, and bought by civilians. This could be the case here. The standard look for a bought-up civilian blade is the army tsuka and wooden saya covered in leather, often with civilian fuchi and/or tsuba. Your leather cover is gone, but the hangers are made for it.

 

But why tachi style and double hangers? I've never seen that before. I'm off into speculating now, but the all brown tassle is now known to be used by the Army civilian force, Gunzoku. Nick Komiya, at warrelics uncovered an imperial order that lays this out. (http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/Japanese-militaria/what-were-regulations-army-civilian-employees-carry-swords-701783/)

Could it be that the Gunzoku official "personalized" his gunto by having it fitted out this way? Seems possible to me.

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Thanks for the input Bruce!

 

I did state earlier though, that the tassel is not original to it. I just had it laying about and display it with this as its the only gunto I have that can be displayed with it. Forgive me for that, I should have left it out of the picture. As for the second hanger, I did notice that it slides right off and nothing is actually securing it but pressure so it may not be original either... however the top hanger is much the same way. Perhaps the previous owner had a spare hanger and simply slid it on? I've no idea on that.

 

Or it could be personalized by the official that owned it originally.

 

And I know next to nothing about wartime fittings, so anything you can share is very much appreciated! It would be a crazy coincidence that I actually found and put a proper tassel on it. Honestly, I just thought it looked nice and had put it on there.

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Ok, the looseness might explain the "upside down", or tachi as I was calling it, of the ashi. If they are that loose, the past owner/owners might removed them one day, and put them back on upside down. I'd say they are both original, as it's highly unlikely that it came with 1 and someone added an identical one later post-war. Like John said, the first version of the army shingunto, Type 94, started in 1934 with 2 hangers, so this may simply be the answer. In 1938, the Type 98 came out with only 1 hanger and most today are found that way.

 

Whether you flip them or not is really up to you. Many guys prefer to leave a gunto the way it came as we don't really know it's story, but it won't hurt anything if you switch them.

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