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Kai Gunto... Incognito

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Umm... maybe. Those were about as good as i can do; and I hve only removed the tsuka twice in two years. The numbers show up fairly well. I can see the 102 on the fuchi in the second set of photos. Let me add that there was some green corrosion on the (now) blacker spots on the tsuba and seppas; and when I lightly cleaned them with baking soda, the blackening below was left. 

 

Before I disassemble it again, could you let me in on what your theory might be?  I definitely respect your opinions; and am curious.

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Sure, Bruce, I'm happy to share. Hope these pictures are good enough; I don't do macro.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.

 

I took the opportunity to compare these with Neil's, and got mixed results. My sword does not have any of those mid-sized seppas, and they look pretty cool. I think my little seppas look the same, though.  The main thing I was looking at, was if the stamped numbers were consistent. I'm satisfied with them.  What do you think?

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Too bad you didn't buy it, David. That is a nice sword! I noticed that it also has twisted ito like mine; whereas all of the ones that Neil posted were not. His are all obviously top quality, though. I still think my tsuka looks a lot like the Minatogawa sword in Dawson's book. Haven't noticed another with the same characteristics, yet.

 

There's gotta be more steel seppas  out there on Kai Guntos!

 

I just checked, and all of the Kai-Gunto we've dealt with, around 7, had twisted ITO. Some had the oil cloth under it, while others had actual shark skin.  Probably handled around 7 Kai Gunto, and then a bunch of the later war Navy Swords with simplified Koshirae.

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Well shoot. With my bad eyes and those original pics, I mistook the "0" for a shop stamp. Sorry, but much better pics, BTW!

 

I can see what you mean about the original black tsuba being overcoated with the copper finish. Odd.

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Thanks for the clarification, David.  How strange, statistically, that you were 7 for 7 with twisted ito; and Neil was 7 for 7 with non-twisted ito. What are those odds??

 

I'm being a bit facetious when buddying up to those Minatogawa swords. No way is this in that class, even though there are some quality parts here.  Come to think of it, they're all on the tsuka.

 

You did just point to something I haven't considered: what's under the ito.  That's sharkskin on mine, right? If so, that helps place it earlier rather than later. The lack of stamps was the main reason I thought it was early, since the blade doesn't look traditional.  The evidence is contradictory yet entwined. What a weird sword.

 

Just curious... who's "We"?  Sounds like you sell swords for work. Are you listed in the commercial menus? Don't reply if it's a problem.

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Thank you, Bruce.  Sharkskin is flatter and more like snakeskin? I've seen it, yeah. So is this rayskin an indicator that the sword - or at least the tsuka - is earlier?  I'm still confused on the age.  With the seppa situation, I was beginning to think that the sword was late war; but the lack of stamps has always been an issue. Now I'm looking at the tsuka and wondering where that leaves the sword if it was the replacement part at some point. Without the original saya, that could stay a mystery.

 

There's still a big elephant in the room: the UN-sharpened blade.  Has anyone ever heard of a katana that wasn't sharp except at the point?   

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Guess that's why all of Neil's looked like that.   Gorgeous specimens, there. Thanks for sharing them, John.  Sure would like to see the blades, too!

 

Seems like the twisted ito would hold up and perform better. So I'm surprised that the untwisted is preferred. But glad to know it.

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Snakeskin is quite different, see the pic below.

 

Hard to date a tsuba. There is a "late-war" canvas found in late-war navy tsuba, but not all tsuba made at the end of the war had them.

 

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I got a good laugh out of that one! I grew up catching snakes, and that is one pitiful snakeskin.  You gotta think that any soldier carrying that sword knew the war was already lost.

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Guess that's why all of Neil's looked like that.   Gorgeous specimens, there. Thanks for sharing them, John.  Sure would like to see the blades, too!

 

Seems like the twisted ito would hold up and perform better. So I'm surprised that the untwisted is preferred. But glad to know it.

Hira-maki is the style of Tsuka-Ito found on old Tachi, which the Shin & Kai Gunto were based on. It's not often seen on Shin Gunto, have noticed only a handful of examples and at least two had General grade tassels. Some Shin Gunto will have the normal Ito with a Hira-maki transition over the Menuki, it's often a sign of good overall quality.

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Thanks for the clarification, David.  How strange, statistically, that you were 7 for 7 with twisted ito; and Neil was 7 for 7 with non-twisted ito. What are those odds??

 

I'm being a bit facetious when buddying up to those Minatogawa swords. No way is this in that class, even though there are some quality parts here.  Come to think of it, they're all on the tsuka.

 

You did just point to something I haven't considered: what's under the ito.  That's sharkskin on mine, right? If so, that helps place it earlier rather than later. The lack of stamps was the main reason I thought it was early, since the blade doesn't look traditional.  The evidence is contradictory yet entwined. What a weird sword.

 

Just curious... who's "We"?  Sounds like you sell swords for work. Are you listed in the commercial menus? Don't reply if it's a problem.

 

This is a Kai-Gunto I dealt with which definitely has sharkskin under the ito. I think one or two had the blackened Ray skin, and the others the black oil cloth type things. Yours definitely has black Ray Skin, though the question is whether it's real or simulated, which was used on many Gunto.  The worst is when a chemically unstable plastic was chosen for the faux Ray skin, and it can change the color of the ito, and even corrode the blade.

 

Looking back, I think almost all of the military swords I've had pass by me had twisted Ito.  Definitely all the arsenal made Shin-Gunto swords. All the "late war" arsenal made Navy Katanas with the Anchor Stamp all had the oil cloth under the ito, with a plain black lacquered scabbard.

 

I work for a company called IMA, and we deal with LOTS of bring back items from WWII, all fronts. I also have a deep appreciation for Japanese culture, and love to read about swords, and the process of making them.

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Thanks, David, for the photos. Another nice specimen for comparison. And now I know the difference.

That sounds like a very interesting job you have.  How much do you have to pay to work there?

 

Well, I didn't get many definitive answers as to why my sword is so unusual; but it sure was educational and fun trying! At least now I know what a good Kai Gunto SHOULD look like. There's much more variety than expected.  THANK YOU to all the respondents for their time and expertise, and for sharing their beautiful specimens!

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 Dredging things up from the depths of my memory... But I remember reading about the different virtues of the various styles of Tsuka Maki. One point made was that the style and quality of the Same had a lot to do with what would and would not work on the tsuka. I think it might have been somewhere here, which is a good place to peruse anyway. http://www.tsukamaki.net/tsuka/

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Thanks, Dave, I clicked on that and it is tempting. Had considered buying that book before (I have 3 damaged tsukas); but read that it does not teach how to do any wrapping. If you are recommending this book, I will buy it. Looks like it could be enlightening. And clearly, I have a lot to learn on this subject. 

 

Whenever I look at the damage on swords in my meager collection; I realize that if they hadn't been damaged, I would never had had the opportunity to purchase them, they would have already been gone. And if it's "honest damage," sometimes that adds to the aura.  I'm all about the blade. As long as it is sound, I can handle the rest. But when I see some of the wonderful examples found on these pages... I'm glad they're in the right hands. 

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 I put the link up because there is a lot of information on the site if you follow up on the links from it. I have had a look at the book and it's reviews, but not bought a copy myself.

 

 I have used the information from the pdf' accessible here to repair and redo the ito on a couple of my own swords. I have also had a lot of information from the gallery. It's just a very useful and educational  site in general. 

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Sounds like that book will make a good addition to my library. Have bought just about every other book on Japanese swords that I could find. And yet, I have learned quite a bit from this site in a short time, even in areas that were specific to my personal interests.  Plus, there are scholars like you in every corner that are happy to share their vast knowledge.  This site is amazing!

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I would describe myself as an enthusiast and a collector, rather than a scholar, though there are scholars here indeed.

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Both you and JP and many others here are way too modest.  I'm now one of very many that respect and admire you "enthusiasts."  And by the way, I should have capitalized "Scholar." 

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FYI: just had another P-37 Kai Gunto show up. Green twisted Ito, Oil Cloth under the Ito. The TSUBA is DEFINITELY Magnetic. So, They may have been brass-plated steel, which is then blacked. I'll know more when I get to pull the TSUKA.

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That's a very exciting development, David.  I'll hold my questions; but can not wait to hear more about that sword.  And see lots of pictures? 

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That's a very exciting development, David.  I'll hold my questions; but can not wait to hear more about that sword.  And see lots of pictures? 

 

Here's a few . It's got a nice olive green ITO, but there is a bit of rust on the Koshirae. It would appear that the fittings are almost ENTIRELY magnetic. The Kanuto-Gane, the menuki, the top of the Fuchi, ALL of the Seppa, O-Seppa, and The Tsuba are magnetic. The Habaki definitely is not magnetic.

 

On the Saya, the Ashi, Senegane, and Ishizuke are magnetic as well. The Koiguchi however is not. Definitely not what I was expecting at all.

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Regarding the defect on the tsuba, to my eyes it looks like a possible bullet strike.

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Thanks, Steve and Tom; I bet one of you is right! No way of knowing if that's the reason for the loss and/or replacement of the habaki and saya; but that's what I think. 

 

The sword that David posted may provide the closest thing to an answer that we might get. I'm hoping that someone else can come up with some of those steel fittings before finally giving up. Will sum up the evidence soon, one way or the other!

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It seems that the above posted sword has answered many questions about my unusual Kai Gunto. It probably should be featured in a thread of its own, as a possible late-war survivor like no other. Those steel fittings would not have lasted long; which is probably why mine were plated. 

 

Once again, I thank all who shared with and viewed this thread. It has been educational and fun!  But now I think we have:   Kai Gunto… Finito

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