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Information on Sword my Grandfather brought back from WW2


Andrew G
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Can you help me identify this sword? I never knew my grandfather but I was told he took this off of a dead Japanese soldier in Okinawa Japan. He brought it back when he came home and it has been with our family ever since. Here are some photos:

 

https://imgur.com/a/B3rHENZ

 

https://imgur.com/gallery/1JGkyrl

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Hello, you have an older blade from the Shinto period, the mounts are traditional as opposed to military, unfortunately both are in very poor condition. While I cannot translate the Mei for you it does appear to have a cutting test inscribed which could make it quite valuable if authentic.

 

You can go a few directions with this depending on your circumstances:

 

-have it appraised by a professional and potentially polished and papered

-Sell it

-Keep as is (worst option)

 

Having it appraised/polished will be expensive but it will become a family heirloom.

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Hi, name please,

Here is a short paper on care and maintenance that will show you how to properly handle and protect your sword.

http://nbthk-ab.org/cleaning-maintenance.php

Nothing has to be done to your sword now; it will be fine if left alone with maybe just a fine coat of oil (as explained in the paper).  I don't think you want to go to the expense of a polish unless you plan to become a collector of Japanese swords or, at the very least, until you have learned more about the sword and know how to care for the polish so it isn't messed up shortly after you've paid for it.  You should be looking for someone knowledgeable and honest who can see the sword in hand and tell you more about it and please stay from polishers who don't have the proper training (99% of those in the US who claim to know how to polish Japanese swords).

Grey

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Thank you all for the help. I added my name. I would like to find out more about the swordsmith and possibly the owner. If we can find a credible source for the last owners family we would return it to them.

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Hi Andrew,

Unless something about the last owner is written on the tang (nakago), which would be highly unusual, there will be no way to identify the last owner.  If you don't want to keep the sword you should research the reasonable retail value and sell it to someone who will appreciate and care for it.

Grey

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Thank you all for the help. I added my name. I would like to find out more about the swordsmith and possibly the owner. If we can find a credible source for the last owners family we would return it to them.

 

I'm out here  :)

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Not everyone can show the sword that his grandfather brought from the war .... for you, in theory, it should be an invaluable treasure, a family heirloom. And if you still have photos of your grandfather from the war, then that would be great. And in this case, its historical value is not comparable with the material assessment. Put it in order - if there is such a possibility, no - put oil on the blade and enjoy what you have ...

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Andrew, in its current condition, the blade has little value, to be bluntly honest. Your job right now is to keep the active red tust from getting any worse, by coating the cutting part with a light oil, while skipping the handle.

 

After that, my personal recommendation is for you to get in contact with Woody Hall, who does professional polishing out of Las Vegas. His e-mail is <hawaii.togishi@yahoo.com>, & he can help you decide what to do with your blade.

 

The cutting test is what adds some value, but not until it is in much better condition -- & it won't be cheap.

 

Welcome to NMB.

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Thank you all for the help. I added my name. I would like to find out more about the swordsmith and possibly the owner. If we can find a credible source for the last owners family we would return it to them.

 

 You have no chance of finding the last (Japanese) owner, and frankly on the rare occasion when it has been possible it has not always gone well. Japan has strict laws on swords and treats them as weapons, even antiques need to be judged and licensed, and most Japanese do not like to be reminded about family involvement in WW2.

 

 Do not use abrasive paper or abrasive cloth on any part of the sword, give it a wipe down with oil and leave it. If you want to take it further get your hands on some Uchiko powder and rub it down with that. It won't polish the blade, but it should remove loose rust, and you will be doing nothing that had not been done to it in its working life. Have a look for sword care links on this site.

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Hello all,

 

It seems to me that the signature/cutting test should have the same amount of aged rust accumulation as the rest of the Nakago, but it distinctly looks like it was chiseled over top of existing aged rust?

 

Maybe just the lighting in the pictures, but the edges of the signature/cutting test seem way too crisp compared to the surrounding area. Maybe dust accumulated in the actual signature/cutting test chisel marks is throwing off my perspective?

 

Mark

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Hello all,

 

It seems to me that the signature/cutting test should have the same amount of aged rust accumulation as the rest of the Nakago, but it distinctly looks like it was chiseled over top of existing aged rust?

 

Maybe just the lighting in the pictures, but the edges of the signature/cutting test seem way too crisp compared to the surrounding area. Maybe dust accumulated in the actual signature/cutting test chisel marks is throwing off my perspective?

 

Mark

 

 As I understand it, sword tests can be done at any stage in a swords "life", even some considerable time after they were made. I don't have a linkable reference but I have been told there is at least one old blade that had a test inscription applied during the 1930's, relating to the  China campaign.

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Andrew G,  what you want to do is something really great!!!!   To return the sword is something  great , a truly a noble gesture. A world with people like you would be a better world.  If you can not find the old owner, you could return to a Japanese museum for preservation of Japanese swords.

 

Although  it will be a great remember….most people forget that those swords were not gifts, but they were stolen to people. Those swords for them were more than just art or collection pieces....  

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Andrew G,  what you want to do is something really great!!!!   To return the sword is something  great , a truly a noble gesture. A world with people like you would be a better world.  If you can not find the old owner, you could return to a Japanese museum for preservation of Japanese swords.

 

Although  it will be a great remember….most people forget that those swords were not gifts, but they were stolen to people. Those swords for them were more than just art or collection pieces....  

 

Ouchh!

You forget that these people sell thier swords on ebay  :laughing:

Not one family in Japan wants these sword back!

 

Is this sword a Japanese treasure sword? No. Is it a masterpiece - i think no. It is a Japanese sword the will look nice after restoring. What is the situation right now with that sword. Nobody has cared for this family heireloom over decades. The owner put it on the ground and the condition is terrible. At the end the only care is how much $$$ will i get for it. 

 

Edit: If someone feels offend from my writing thats not my intention. Its only the experience i made by collecting swords. The most people didn't care about culture artefacts and preserving it. The would never spent $1 for restoration. Maybe he wants to hold it. But i didn't think he will spent $2000 in restoration.

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I don't think $2000 would even scratch(no pun intended) the surface for the needed restoration cost that this particular sword needs. It could probably be saved from it's current condition, but not for much longer.

 

I humbly offered to purchase the sword as  big gamble "work-in-progress" project sword....but never heard a peep from the gentleman.

 

So unfortunately I'm afraid this sword will be put away in a box/closet/attic and forgotten about until it deteriorates to the point of being hopeless and valueless.

 

It's a shame really, I would at least have given it some much needed attention.

 

Mark :{

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I don't think $2000 would even scratch(no pun intended) the surface for the needed restoration cost that this particular sword needs. It could probably be saved from it's current condition, but not for much longer.

 

I humbly offered to purchase the sword as big gamble "work-in-progress" project sword....but never heard a peep from the gentleman.

 

So unfortunately I'm afraid this sword will be put away in a box/closet/attic and forgotten about until it deteriorates to the point of being hopeless and valueless.

 

It's a shame really, I would at least have given it some much needed attention.

 

Mark :{

 

You seem really upset I wouldn’t sell you my family heirloom. So sad

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No Andrew not upset at all, sorry it came across that way to you.

 

My comment was simply based on a learned historical observation, from 45 years of collecting knives, guns, classic cars and antique furniture.

 

It has been my experience that old things past down thru the families over the years usually fall into 2 categories,

1. Cherished and coveted and eagerly eyed by each new generation {few and far between}.

2. Casually left by the wayside by the original owner, until someone in the family tree finally comes into possession of it, and thinks it has value to sell {most cases}.

 

However, I hope you fall into a more obscure category, of the one that never knew of the object, and is now fascinated enough to cherish and protect it for the next generation to come.

 

For what it's worth, beware of "past down family stories" most prove to be somewhat elaborated upon, hints around the edges of facts maybe, but that's generally as close as they get. 

 

Mark

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Yes,

 

This was my plan, let me know your suggestions. I was going to have it polished (still trying to find the right person). Possibly apply new furniture and keep the old worn our furniture. Display the polished blade on a mount with a framed letter from my grandfather explaining how he obtained it. Another framed piece describing its history and the translation of the handle. And the old furniture displayed mounted below in a plexiglass case.

 

I can’t control the future of it beyond my ownership, but if I can make it a nice display piece it will be useful for future generations and adding the documentation will hopefully keep the history straight. I don’t mind putting some money into it to make it a priceless family piece.

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