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Dave R

Black painted tsuba.

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No arms fairs in my area currently, so I am buying from the internet. My latest purchase purports to be  a  full koshirae of type 98 in field mounts. I doubt it, but it's a nice traditional saya with some age, and the rest is type 98. The tsuba is a nice one, under the black paint it still has a lot of the gilding, and is burnished to a glitter in the right places..... But it has been painted black over most of the surface. What I would like to know is if this is most likely a post war jobby to make it look more like a traditional one, or if there were circumstances where this would have been a legitimate wartime practice. If the latter, I will keep it as is, otherwise off comes the paint.

The price was right, and it looks quite handsome mounted on a tsunagi  and in the rack.

 

 

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Dave,

I agree with you, that the saya is original (small chip shows bare wood underneath), but the rest is likely post-war.  While some Rinji rigs had black-lacquered tsuka, I, personally, have never seen a 98 tsuka or tsuba painted black.  The tsuba is correct for a civil blade refitted for the war (hole for retention strap), so the set may have been together in the war.  I just can't see it as a wartime job.

 

Having said that, you've probably seen the thread on the multi-colored green painted Type 95 saya.  I was convinced it was post-war and stripped it.  Shortly afterward, Steve (Shamsy) came up with 2 more!  Same paint-scheme!  And I had to admit, the paint didn't come off with acetone like post-war paint does.  I has to drimmel brush it off.  Also, our ongoing discussion of black-painted 95s is leaning toward - not factory original, but a wartime paint by the soldiers.

 

One way to test would be to take a rag and acetone to the backside of one of the seppa or the face of the fuchi, and see if it comes off or if it really resists removal.  Wartime paint will not come off without a fight.

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Only the tsuba is painted. Everything else is as expected, brown ito, copper coloured fittings and etc.

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Dave,

I would say there is a high probability it is war time paint. Below is a Kai gunto with black paint as per late war regulation. The other is a Type 32 Otsu also painted black.

I'm fairly sure both are war and pre-war paint. I've seen many type 32 painted black. Black paint seemed fairly common war and pre-war.

 

However, I think it was Shamsy (Steve) that once said "the only certainty is uncertainty."

 

Dave M.

 

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The "same" is a bit odd, and the fuchi might not belong and might be iron or steel. Like I say, a put together or assemblage, which is what I thought when I bought it. It's the tsuba I am concerned with though, under the paint it's a cracker, really nice... but I don't want to strip it if the paint is legit wartime.

 The Ito is nice and tight and the knots well defined, an expert job. Looking at the same again, it is very like sandpaper, which we know was used late war. The kabutogane fits very tight and well. I think late war, but done as well as was possible at the time.

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Hi Dave.  I'm of the opinion the tsuba is likely later painted. The regulations are pretty clear and I cannot see why an officer would so badly deface their symbol of office. The only plausible theory is to avoid the metal reflecting, but that is so flimsy. The 95 saya were painted black purely as a protective measure I believe, and a crude, rushed one at that. Brass does not need the same protection as steel. Iron tsuba were painted black out of necessity , not trend.

 

As to the never say never, my crude late was sword which was painted all black has a brass tsuba, though it is absolutely spartan without any decoration at all.

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Japanese navy often used black paint in addition to bluing to protect metal. This includes type 99 naval special rifles & bayonets.

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Well, all good points about paint origin. One thing I hope we all can agree on though , the tsuba wasn't painted yesterday, it looks very much like it could have been painted 75 yrs. ago. Too me, it just appears so much like the paint type and wear on my Type 32. This is simply one of those situation which is the fun and yet frustration of the Japanese sword collecting. The inability (sometimes) to be 100% sure...

 

Dave M.

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56 minutes ago, dwmc said:

the tsuba wasn't painted yesterday,

And this is something gets overlooked sometimes in our "academic"-level discussions.  How does it look in hand?

From the (poorly lit!!!) picture, it does have that old, worn look.  In zooming in, the habaki had been painted and mostly worn off.  The seppa look to me to have a brown paint, like to dull the shine that would come from brass fittings.

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Seppa and habaki are unpainted copper, natural oxide surface. I need to do better pics!

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Remember that all brass was coated with some sort of brown, protective coating from the factory. Polished brass is honest wear or ignorant meddling from people who want shiny. Ultimately though, I'd expect to see more examples of painted tsuba if it was even remotely common. And no, not iron or plain tsuba obviously, I'm talking about decorative patterned tsuba. I guess it's up to you, Dave, whether you clean it off and get it back to spec or leave it as a curiosity and a point of discussion. 

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Dave, the only paint I have seen on original WW2 Tsuba, is the brick red colour. I think Ohmura's site also has pictures of the red paint on Gunto fittings. When intact, it looks quite beautiful. 

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Seen more than a few black painted tsuba. I just always fig it was field done to make sure sun did not cause a wink and give away position.

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Well it's getting more interesting. The Same on the tsuka is Same not sandpaper, but very fine scaled rather than the  larger nodules normally seen., possibly Dogfish? The Fuchi is ferrous, iron or steel, as are the menuki and the kabutogane,  the menuki gilded and the kabutogane plated, possibly with copper. The fuchi heavily corroded but the usual pattern just about visible, the floor-plate pierced for a retaining clip, but not the side, and so never had a clip. This really looks like it is a late war type 98 tsuka.

 

I tried the paint on the tsuba with acetone, it didn't shift at all, so it looks to be wartime paint. I will be leaving it as is for now, and possibly the future.

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That is very interesting Dave! I think you may be right about it being late war. Like we have learned about the late war Navy, the army no doubt, must have had some late war stuff too.

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12 hours ago, IJASWORDS said:

Dave, the only paint I have seen on original WW2 Tsuba, is the brick red colour. I think Ohmura's site also has pictures of the red paint on Gunto fittings. When intact, it looks quite beautiful. 

 

There's also a whitish colour in the same area Neil, i had one a while back.

 

Let's not forget that Commissioned Officers could choose the fittings and schemes that they liked, personally tailored, so to speak.

If the officer liked the 'look', then why couldn't he get black? as long as the overall finished product meets the basic Army requirements.

Remember that fittings come in all sorts, from shiny brass, painted and even darkened/silvered styles, we don't get too excited and immediately say that its been tampered with post war, (unless it's blatantly obvious) like we seem to do with black.

 

It's your call on what to do Dave, but i've always been of the 'leave it as found' thought when i come across these things. If i wanted the general  'text' book example, then i'd get one.

Interesting Same by the way, i haven't seen one quite like that before.

 

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7 hours ago, Stegel said:

It's your call on what to do Dave, but i've always been of the 'leave it as found' thought when i come across these things. If i wanted the general  'text' book example, then i'd get one.

Interesting Same by the way, i haven't seen one quite like that before.

 

 

 The problem with these "Koshirae" is that without the blade you can only guess how long they have been together. I used an old tsunagi I had knocking around to mount the pieces up and from the alterations   I had to do and proportions resulting I think the saya and tsuka match up. It was an old blade (short nakago) mounted up late in the war, and the leather cover and haikan lost to time.

The tsuba I am not so sure, it's very nice under the paint, and is gilded brass with burnishing, so you get both matt and bright areas. Those 94 - 98 tsuba are very handsome when it good condition as opposed to the sad plain brass that we usually see after 70 years of wear and polishing, late war they tended to be plated cast iron. No matter though, it's what it is.

 Regarding the same, I did think it might be sandpaper as seen on some late war stuff, but inspection under a lens confirms it to be shark of one sort or another. I have an Edo period tsuka with similar, but smoothed down and  lacquered over  all. Good quality same is and was an import to Japan from further South.

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