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Shin Gunto with Attitude


Austus
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This one is a Viper.   No Apologies, No Remorse.  In person, it's downright scary.

 

Said to be a battlefield pickup, there's plenty of damage here. But the tip and edge are sound. And very sharp.  The ito is partly gone, along with a menuki.  Malcolm says this mon is "quite rare."  Pierced tsuba, matching numbers, #95. 

It has been shortened more than once, and has been heavily polished over time, making it light and very fast. I shudder to think what this one has been through. There are a bunch of scratches and habaki damage that suggest heavy use. But to call this Nihonto "tired" doesn't do it justice. It could still ruin your day.

 

There are no stamps or any signs of a mei. But I bet y'all can read this like a book. Any and all comments are appreciated. Nakago pics will follow.

 

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They are drilled. That and the sugata make me think late Shinto. On the other hand, I’m not to sure about the sugata since the blade is laid down, I’m not to sure about the tapering. In some picture I’d swear late Shinto, in others, well older.

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It's thicker than the rest of the sword; but not unusual. The habaki would not go all the way off. Must be the camera angle. 

 

I tried hard to get the hamon to show. Have been trying to find something comparable for a long time. It doesn't look like suguha to me; but I have trouble in that department, as you might know. Hoping someone will recognize the truth with what is here.  No way to take a picture of its presence. But you sure can feel it. 

 

Thanks for asking, Bruce!

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Hey, David.   Thanks for asking; but that habaki isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Since it was so loose that it went up over the munemachi, I did a Hillbilly repair that worked like a charm. (Please don't make me confess about the details.)  I will say that the munemachi had been moved forward about a half an inch, probably for the wartime fittings.

 

Is there anything else I can do to help?  I do appreciate your time.

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Yes, put the blade on a stand and make a picture of the whole naked blade from the front, not with the blade lying down as it skews perspectives.

 

And yes, from what I can see, I agree with Suguha based on ko choji/midare with nezumi ashi. And unfortunately, no, not a Muramasa! :)

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Cool, Man.   You ought to show us some more of your collection!

Austus,

 

Here's where I brought the old blade, mounted in Kaigunto fittings, to the forum for evaluation:

 

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/20630-kai-gunto-with-koto-blade/

 

It was early in my collecting days, and I was looking for my first kaigunto. A dealer was selling this one for TWICE the price of a normal kai. All the gold gilding was gone and the saya showed considerable wear and delapidation. So and asked why the price? 1. The sharskin saya, 2. The Fujiwara mon, and 3. the old blade. I got interetsted and bought it. After all these years of learning, I realized I still paid too much, but I'm glad I have it.

 

The blade is mumei and was likely made during a period of much warring, so it was probably as mass-produced as blades could be back then. I'm still honored to have a blade that went through that much time, and possibly battle, and still be here today.

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David - I understand. Let me see what I can do about that. With the habaki being affixed, it might not be easy. And with the munemachi having been moved forward; that might defeat the purpose. Will get back to you on that!

 

JP - I can do that. Didn't know that lying down was inexact; had hoped the yardstick would reflect the sori well enough.  Almost glad it's not a Muramasa... I like to get it out and adsmire it. Glad that doesn't cost any blood!  I treat this one a slightly different, with a little more respect; due partly to the history that Bruce mentioned; and a little bit like what you said one time about Nihonto being alive. I try not to imagine what this blade has seen.  Viper is its name for a reason.

 

Bruce - That's a real nice sword. Interesting menuki, and I love those sharkskin saya. Don't have one, yet.  You can't pay too much for something you love!

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Austus,

 

Thanks for the new pic. I wasn’t as much looking for the sori as I was interesting in seeing the tapering toward the kissaki. With this picture, I see what is a fairly uniform blade with an elongated kissaki verging towards Ō-kissaki. This shape is common to both late Edo and Momoyama periods. I’m tempted to say late Shinto, early Shinshinto, but I could be entirely wrong.

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And you could be right!  There were many people who had the opportunity to argue, but didn't.    Thank You, JP, for the time and expertise. 

 

David, Thank You for being willing to help!  Sorry I can't get a better shot of that munemachi; but the shortening forward probably erased much evidence. I understand that the hamachi can disappear after much polish. But it was moved forward, too. There is a lot of steel missing from polishing, leaving a "tired" but wicked blade.  I'd sure hate to be on the wrong end of it.

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Final Thoughts:   This Shin Gunto has little or no collector value.  Not sure who would have bought it but me. When I found it in a pawn shop, it was greasy and dirty and heavily damaged. But it was the perfect candidate for the Personal Sword Project that I had in mind. It was the right length, the right weight, And clearly a deadly blade. It was damaged enough to possibly justify re-purposing; and I got a good price on it.  But while I was carving a mahogany handle for it; I was researching the Pacific Campaign, and reading about Quantum Physics. That, plus the presence it has, changed my mind. It's more than a survivor, or direct connection to the past. It's a Viper, and I'm glad it's mine.

 

Many thanks to all who responded and any who shared interest in this specimen.

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 There is a sort of consensus in my collector group, which includes two museum curators, that when a blade is marked but not worth a polish, you Uchiko the hell out of it. I will improve the look, possibly bring up a little more detail, and you are not doing anything that was not done to it during it's working life. 

 

 Use the word as a search term on this forum and you will find a lot of conversation about the stuff.

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Hey, Dave, Thanks for the tip. I have read some conflicting opinions in the forum about Uchiko. Do think it will be useful on occasion; but worried that this one has already seen too much polish. I do want to try and rewrap that tsuka some day!

 

Steve, I hope you're right about the age. It doesn't seem to have a peacetime design. Mike Tyson would say that this blade definitely has "Bad Intentions".  I still have reason to research and compare with other eras; but with the reduced lines and my inexperience, it could be a long and fruitless effort.  It is what it is; I just don't know what that is.

The habaki was loose enough to slide up over the machi  about a quarter inch. That won't be happening anymore. Thanks for the feedback!

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 Hiya Austus, Uchiko is not a polish, it's a clean up.  A polish involves stones and removing metal, Uchiko is more like removal of surface crap and the amount of metal removed is infinitesimal, about what a normal metal polish/shine would do... but in a traditional Japanese way.

 Not to be done on a blade in good polish/condition.

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