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Ancestral blades in gunto mounts

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I was recently offered a katana looks shinto mumei in gunto mounts. 

The tsuka was unusually nice quality and had a silver family mon on the kashira as well as a pierced gunto tsuba with loads of seppa of different styles, colours and size. Leather combat cover, tassel etc. 

If I was interested in the blade, would there be any interest in the mounts at all? 

Would it be a no no to separate them? 

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Why would you separate them? Something that has been together for over 70 years to make a quick buck? You may as well melt down the sword for the trace elements of precious metals as well.....

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46 minutes ago, PNSSHOGUN said:

Why would you separate them? Something that has been together for over 70 years to make a quick buck? You may as well melt down the sword for the trace elements of precious metals as well.....

Not at all, its because I want the blade that spent the 250 years before WWII back in its samurai mounts. 

Making a quick buck is not the reason at all. 

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So you want to change the mounts to modern made replicas with no historical connection to the sword as opposed to keeping the last true mounts used for war in our lifetime? Given the quality of the mounts and family Mon it would not be stretch to theorize this was a family blade given to the son for war service. 

 

Type 98 in original condition are now being papered for both blade & mounts by the NTHK, mainly due to idiots unceremoniously dumping the koshirae off to put them in low quality modern "samurai" mounts. If you must make a koshirae for them at least retain the mounts so the real history of the sword remains. 

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I 100% agree with John here. It is better to preserve the history as it is, rather than try to whiteout and correct it to what you think it might be. Without the mounts it had prior to its gunto mounts in hand, it is all conjecture and disrespectful to the history of the blade. I have a 650+ year old uchigatana in gunto mounts and while I will be someday getting a shirasaya for it after its been polished, it will remain displayed with its gunto mounts and if ever sold, sold in the gunto mounts.

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You are in the military swords section so you’re going to mostly get folks telling you to keep it together. It’s viewed here like someone sporterizing a nice matching wwii k98.

 

i personally like to keep them together and know other military collectors do as well. At the end of the day it’s your sword and you can do whatever you please with it. 

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Well, I have a Shingunto with a circa 1650 katana by the Hizen Nidai Tadahiro.  The blade has been polished in Japan and gained Tokubetsu Hozon and resides in a gorgeous Tora Honoki shirasaya with a gold foiled silver habaki.  The koshirae has a tsunagi with the original habaki and resides in a splendid bag that I bought off a Board member.   When I curl up my toes the blade and koshirae will go to its new custodian together, along with the letter from the Japanese Colonel who owned it to the Australian major who took it in surrender.

 

It might not be widely known that the Shingunto koshirae is modelled on a circa 1400 tachi koshirae and therefore represents the most recent "fit out" for war.  Given that any katana with considerable age has no doubt had many koshirae refits in its lifetime - including "fashion" changes eg., the New Year koshirae - it is absolutely pointless and a historical heresy to take a blade out of its Shingunto koshirae and put it in an ersatz mockup, for that's what it is even with antique fittings.

 

A case in point.  I was at a gun show 2,000 miles from my home town going through a dealer's stock of swords when I picked up a sword in "civilian" (i.e., dealer's homemade) koshirae.  It just didn't look right - they never do, Adam - but imagine my surprise when I pulled the blade and recognised it instantly.  It had belonged to a friend of mine who had passed it off in a trade some considerable time before.  When I first saw it the blade was in a very respectable Shingunto koshirae with an interesting blanco handle.  All very nice and eminently collectable.  I can imagine the koshirae was broken up into component parts and sold off as "spares" to maximise return on the Holy Dollar.  The salient point is that the "homemade" (dealer) koshirae did absolutely nothing for the sword, nothing at all.

 

So I am most certainly with John and Chris.  Make a koshirae for it if you have to Adam, but to someone who has sensibilities it will be instantly recognisable for what it is, an insufficient copy.  At the same time, make a tsunagi for the Shingunto koshirae and keep it with the sword for the next custodian who might break up your creation and reunite the blade with its Shingunto koshirae.  Unless, of course, you have the blade professionally polished and that of course is another kettle of fish!!!

 

BaZZa.

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Hi guys!  If I'm missing something, let me know and I'll butt out, but I checked the original post and even back-tracked some of Adam's inquiries in the For Sale forum, and I don't see where the idea came from that he intends to put the blade in home-made, or Bubba-job fittings.  If I understand correctly, his intent is to get period fittings from the era of the blade for a re-fit.

 

As a WWII enthusiast and shingunto collector, MY preference is to keep the gunto in WWII period correct fittings, but even at that, I've re-fitted some of my gunto that were missing parts.  I've "modified" the condition of the gunto from it's arriving condition into my hands.  

 

If you are determined to re-fit, Adam, I would keep the WWII fittings along with the re-fitted blade, just as everyone does when they put a blade in shirasaya.  That way the "story" of the blade can travel with it down the line.  But even after saying that, I realize that all the fittings this blade wore over 250 years aren't traveling with it today, are they?  None of the original owners would have thought that way when the blade was re-fitted.  We think that way now because we are historians as well as collectors and are trying to preserve the history.

 

Also Adam, we have all seen the horrors that certain "dealers" (to use that term loosely) have done to wonderful blades and gunto.  So, none of us want to see that happen.  If you re-fit, and intend to sell, your owe it to future owners, as well as to the blade, to tell the whole story of it's fittings.

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Bruce and Bazza are of course correct, at least keep the shingunto koshirae for the next owners. Together they are more valuable to collectors,  both financially and historically. 

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I have period koshirae as Bruce has correctly surmised. Lots. 

I'm not sure why anyone would make the assumption that I would even touch modern mounts. I had a set on inspection a couple of months ago and sent it back. Pictures passable in hand awful nasty quality. 

 

I will, if I buy this gunto, offer up the WWII mounts and you can tell me if you think them a set or a mish mash as it may already be a frankensteins monster. 

I would have kept the WWII mounts in a sword bag as I am not a gunto enthusiast. I appreciate older blades with a less recent history. I have two friends local to me wax lyrical about gunto Andy has approx a dozen, Ted around 30 I think. 

I like them but I lean towards a decent set of fittings as the finishing touch to a sword... WWII stuff... it's all to my untrained eyes a bit "the same"  let's call it regimental. 

No offence guys n gals beauty is in the eye and all that. 

I have no history to the sword itself, the mounts... for all I know held a Gendaito Nobufusa and the shinto blades the swapped out part. Someone kept the gendaito. 

 

Yes I've had a "papered" Gendaito Nobufusa with a wonderful oshigata and that was in shirasaya, So this obviously happens. 

Thank you for your advice as always but please ask questions before making assumptions it turns a request for advice into a conflict or battle unnecessarily. 

Adam. 

 

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 Other people have said it all. My main contribution is to point out that the last "working owner" of the blade would not have seen it as in any way inferior, in fact as a mount officialy approved of by the (god) Emperor and taken to serve the same, he would have seen it as the swords best ever avatar.

 

 On another note, I buy bare blades, usually nihonto  and remount them, if I get one in the original saya I am delighted. I use antique tosugo, real Honoki, and Ito imported from Japan, and genuine Same. I even use Washi for hishigame ....... It is still a "replica" set of mounts! When selling on, I am clear to the buyer what he is getting.

 

 I have two blades, one a Gunto and one a late Edo Wakizashi in original untouched antique mounts, I have no intention of "improving" them, ever.

 

 

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Thank you for your interest and responce.

I don't have any replica sets of Koshirae and I have never suggested the gunto mounts were inferior. I am well aware of the evolution of sword mounts I have Kamakura blades that don't have mounts older than Edo period.

Adding things like "inferior” just leads the next reader to assume that I have said this which I clearly have not.

Just like earlier when someone suggested I knock up a set of mounts out of spare parts and the next post jumped right in top if that assumption and on we went into the realms of utter fabrication about modern home made mounts.

Perhaps this is once again my fault I've not obviously been very clear.

I'll get the sword on approval this weekend .

Thank you all for your interest and advice .

 

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