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Help Identifying Sword...Real or Fake???


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I received this sword when my father died.  Not sure when they started making fakes but I remember it being around when I was a kid 30 yrs ago. I think is it a type 95 NCO sword, early 1940?  I was wondering about the black paint (color) on the saya and am looking for general info and care instructions.  I just started getting into Japanese kitchen knives and remembered I had this...moved it from my garage to the gun safe.  Any info would be appreciated.  

 

Thanks.

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Cliff,

Nice Type 95 you have there!  Good call on the date, though Shamsy and/or Stegel will likely refine that for you (I'm usually off by a year every time I guess).

 

You should start reading up on these at Ohmura's website: Non-commissioned officers Gunto.  A wealth of info there.

 

The black on the saya looks like a bad post-war Bubba-job, but I've been terribly wrong about my own gunto regarding paint, so don't put much weight on what I just said.  These are being discussed HERE.

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Yes, good call on the date, i put it at April 1940.

Have a read of the link Bruce gave you, it should get you familiarised with this model.

I can't tell from your photos but does there appear to be any different paint under the rather rough appearing black ?

The drag looks like it has a coating of rust, with perhaps some remains of a brown??

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I think I'm with Bruce on post war repaint, maybe in an effort to stop rust since it seems pretty heavy on the drag? The period black paint is badly done, usually over the unstripped original brown/green, but the way your paint is... textured? bubbling? is not something I've seen. If you removed a little of the black, I suspect you might find some original paint underneath, the brown colour Stegel can see on the drag. It's entirely up to you what you want to do with the saya and doing nothing is a perfectly valid option.

 

After seeing many examples and documenting them in the thread, I think the period black repaints are all an emergency protective measure, probably field application as the saya are never stripped. The smooth, well applied black I suspect to be post war, probably after the black was labelled as 'rare' in a popular book. Nick was very clear that black was never an approved colour for 95s and cannot find mention in any archival records of it being officially allowed, hence why I think it was a field emergency measure and not part of production or refurbishment. I have yet to see any real evidence that the sayas ever started out black, while I find more examples of repainted but period black saya.

 

I don't mind at all if anyone disagrees with my theory. It's only a theory after all. I'll continue to add examples to my thread when I find them (and try not be be slack about it).

 

Just so it is clear, I apply this to Type 95, because some late war 98s were definitely originally painted black.

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Thanks for all the great information.  I asked my mom and it was actually her father who brought home the sword after he returned from WW2.  She was born in '44 and she remembers the sword being in the cellar from when she was about 5-6 years old and that the saya had always been painted black.  I feel pretty comfortable that the black paint is not original to the sword but is period to the war.    Apparently at some point (after moving to Texas) the sword was wrapped in a sheet and left in the garage.  In the summer heat the paint melted and the sheet had to be "pulled" off or forcibly removed from the saya leading the bubbling texture.  As the saya was painted black when the sword was obtained I think I will leave it in as is condition.   

 

Just a few more questions... I was wondering about storage.  It has been hanging by the suspension ring in the garage.  is it better to keep it hanging or lie it flat and obviously storing it somewhere with better humidity control than the garage will be done.  Also for insurance purposes what is the value of these swords.  I have a weapons (firearm) policy with state farm and would like to add this to that policy.  

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Your sword was made by Suya under the supervision of Kokura Arsenal.  Here is a link to a basic overview of the Type 95.

IJA Type 95 NCO Sword Info

 

Type 95s do show up with black painted scabbards.  The black paint on yours is old and showing signs of age.  The bubbling could indicate exposure to heat over a period of time and/or just a chemical breakdown of the paint from age.

 

Below is a link to an article about Japanese sword care.  At the bottom of the page there is an orange link to download a PDF copy.

Japanese Sword Care and Etiquette


 

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2 hours ago, Clifford said:

In the summer heat the paint melted and the sheet had to be "pulled" off or forcibly removed f

Texas has some pretty hot summers, and with the green-house effect of an outdoor garage , whew!  I wouldn't store it in a garage at all.  Steel needs controlled humidity (42-7%, if memory serves me), or protection from it.  I live in Colorado, so I don't even have to worry about it, but your climate demands some maintenance to preserve your blade. 

 

The links above will walk you through cleaning and oiling.  It should be done on some sort of regular basis (quarterly, semi-annually, etc).  I keep mine in their saya, standing up in a gun cabinet.  The Japanese keep them horizontally in drawer cabinets.  And there are a hundred other ways guys use.  Your blade looks good, so there's likely no rust inside the saya.  I've disassembled mine and cleaned with copper-wool due to rust and stains.   The wooden liners can hold rust and stains from having water inside during the war.

 

Here is a thread discussing display ideas: Show us your Gunto Display

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4 hours ago, Clifford said:

 I feel pretty comfortable that the black paint is not original to the sword but is period to the war.    Apparently at some point (after moving to Texas) the sword was wrapped in a sheet and left in the garage.  In the summer heat the paint melted and the sheet had to be "pulled" off or forcibly removed from the saya leading the bubbling texture.  As the saya was painted black when the sword was obtained I think I will leave it in as is condition.    

 

Excellent, thank you for sharing because it's always better to get that information up front than have to speculate. I'll add this one to my thread of examples, noting the damage from heat. Good call on leaving as is too. Original as obtained is better.

 

Storage is pretty straightforward or as complicated as you'd like. I store in a display case with a moisture absorbing cup. I wear cotton gloves when handling so as not to further deteriorate the paint or invite rust via sweat. Twice a year I pull out swords and wipe blades clean and then oil the blade with only with a VERY lightly oiled cloth. I lie them flat as I have yet to get around to building stands. Flat means any excess oil is less likely to run and pool (though there shouldn't be enough for that).

 

That's all that's needed unless you live in a humid environment or near salt water. I'm quite ignorant of Texas, but my understanding is it is typically like Australian climate. Extremes of heat and dry. If that's the case, a twice yearly oil to only the blade will do. I do recommend gloves though. Human handling will deteriorate old metal pretty quickly.

 

Insurance value, I'd slap on $1,000. That'll cover it for the next decade I think. 

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The brown i see at the drag is what i believe to be 'rust'. It hasn't been confirmed as paint or anything else at the moment. I DID NOT see Brown paint.
Here i will quote myself from post#3, where i was asking the question:

On 3/16/2021 at 3:43 PM, Stegel said:

I can't tell from your photos but does there appear to be any different paint under the rather rough appearing black ?

The drag looks like it has a coating of rust, with perhaps some remains of a brown??

 

Clifford is lucky in having providence via family history and has confirmed that the sword had a black saya from about 1949/50. This is from his Mothers recollections.

Now Three possibilities exist:
1-Genuine Black saya from Arsenal.
2-Period War repaint, either at Arsenal, or in the Field of battle (which is generally more obvious as such.)
3-Post War repaint  - (upto 1949/50)possibly done by his grandfather for reasons unknown, but not a common practice so soon after the war i would think, but not unreasonable.
Not one of these has yet been proven, but more to the point, neither have any been disproven.

 

Now with the question of Black paint being used on Scabbards.
Firstly it was used on the type32 production, and is found on Type98 and 97's, so why is it a definite NO for type95's?????

Now i know everyone has a view on this, but in fairness lets be honest and not misquote to further our cause.

On 3/16/2021 at 6:36 PM, Shamsy said:

 

Nick was very clear that black was never an approved colour for 95s and cannot find mention in any archival records of it being officially allowed, hence why I think it was a field emergency measure and not part of production or refurbishment.

I have yet to see any real evidence that the sayas ever started out black, while I find more examples of repainted but period black saya.

 

I don't mind at all if anyone disagrees with my theory. It's only a theory after all. I'll continue to add examples to my thread when I find them (and try not be be slack about it).

 


 

Here's the 1943 weapons Camouflage manual thread posted by Nick at Warrelics, which is the main source of this:

Japanese-armys-1943-weapons-camouflage-manual

 

In post #10, i asked about black being used for camouflage purposes, his response in post#11 was NO, the manual denies this possibility, but this is in reference to 'Camouflage' only.
This statement rather only denies possibility 2 -in the field, at the time of the manuals release.  The option of an Arsenal produced  black scabbard is not part of the scope of the document.

 

Then in relation to provisional launch documentation of 1935, he only uncovered that issues existed with the actual paint finish itself (black was not specified here) The level of Gloss and general paint durability inparticular, made them think about scabbard covers as an alternative solution, and he goes on to say-'

Quote

So the development mandate for the scabbard paint was a matte finish that was durable.
Glossy black would have been out of the question at that time.

This is in 1935.

 

Yet observations of type 95 swords (which began production in 1937, 2yrs after the initial mandate) show that the Tokyo Arsenal, used a matte black whereas, Nagoya after 1943 had used a gloss black in some limited production, both used other colors of course. These observations include all three of the possibilities mentioned prior.


Nagoya's use of Gloss, contradicts the manual, however, it's worth noting that one is a production environment, while the other being the manual, refers to the field environment with camouflage only in mind.
It's also worth noting that Option 3 - post war repaint, particularly one which targets Nagoya swords ONLY, is highly unlikely.

 

Care must be taken not have a conclusion by hand picking data which suits, but to consider all data before making any conclusions.

 

Back to the original sword in this post.
The texture of the paint is interesting and understandable now.
If it is not too much trouble Clifford, could you please post some close up photos of the scabbard drag, its sides and around the throat/hanger area please.
A great piece of family history you have!

 

 

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I re-looked at the pictures and I would like to point out that the bottom of the scabbard has been sanded down.  This was possibly done to address the rust issue in this area.

 

Another comment while I am at it, one can distinguish between spray paint and regular paint with a simple test.  Just take a q-tip and soak it in strong alcohol and dab it on the paint in an area that you are not concerned about.  Spray paint will easily come off while regular paint will be more resistant.  I say this based upon personal experience.

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Very well put Stegel and bravo on expanding on my snippets by providing the more exact extracts of that conversation with Nick. My memory is not perfect and it is important that they are provided in the correct context, which I failed to do.

 

6 hours ago, Stegel said:

The drag looks like it has a coating of rust, with perhaps some remains of a brown??

 

As is often the case with written word, I did and still do read that as a statement as very deliberately separating the 'remains of a brown' from the aforementioed 'rust', suggesting to me you were referring to something other than rust, hence my assumption of that being paint. A simple, incorrect deduction which I am glad you have cleared up.

 

I am still of the opinion that the black paint on Type 95 saya is limited to a crude protective measure, as any examples I have seen that has a more professional appearance (all original paint properly stripped) have ended up being fairly obviously post-war work. I sadly wasted a fair penny buying and then selling these on at a discount (and yes, I always stated that they were repainted in my opinion when selling). I would like to see a (for want of a better term springing to mind) professionally painted black saya with an age appropriate patina to support the idea that they may have come from an arsenal. Better yet, any kind of documentation or photography that might indicate that there were Type 95 saya leaving an arsenal at any time with black painted saya, though I doubt any examples of these are known at this time to collectors and researchers.

 

6 hours ago, Stegel said:

Now Three possibilities exist:
1-Genuine Black saya from Arsenal.
2-Period War repaint, either at Arsenal, or in the Field of battle (which is generally more obvious as such.)
3-Post War repaint  - (upto 1949/50)possibly done by his grandfather for reasons unknown, but not a common practice so soon after the war i would think, but not unreasonable.
Not one of these has yet been proven, but more to the point, neither have any been disproven.

 

I agree wholeheartedly. I think it is now important for you not to misquote me either.

 

6 hours ago, Stegel said:

why is it a definite NO for type95's?????

 

On 3/16/2021 at 6:36 PM, Shamsy said:

After seeing many examples and documenting them in the thread, I think the period black repaints are all an emergency protective measure

 

I think.

 

On 3/16/2021 at 6:36 PM, Shamsy said:

The smooth, well applied black I suspect to be post war,

 

I suspect. 

 

On 3/16/2021 at 6:36 PM, Shamsy said:

I don't mind at all if anyone disagrees with my theory. It's only a theory after all.

 

My theory.

 

I have expressed my *opinion* and every time been very careful to state that it is my opinion or theory. A theory has yet to be proven and is therefore not a fact. I don't think I can be much clearer than that? (Only one question mark necessary). I have not categorically denied that there may be arsenal painted black saya. My concern is that I see little to no evidence of this and I see a lot more evidence that black saya seem to be frequently encountered with traces of original brown/green paint under or around the black. Yes, I acknowledge that it is subjective to try and determine whether a painted object exhibits genuine patina or not and I have never minded disagreement in this regard when we have discussed examples. As already stated though, that leads me to question whether there are genuinely original, arsenal black saya for 95s.

 

Stegel, I know you have at least one example of black saya, so it would be good to see some detailed photographs of that. You know the spots to focus on for patina. Better if you can take the throat out and photograph that too, but I understand that you may be as reluctant to take them apart as I am.

 

6 hours ago, Stegel said:

If it is not too much trouble Clifford, could you please post some close up photos of the scabbard drag, its sides and around the throat/hanger area please.

 

That would be great if you could. Better photographs will go a long way towards trying to determine which category this sword falls into.

 

Let me conclude that I very much respect your opinion when it comes to Type 95s, Stegel. You taught me a great deal about them in the early days when my enthusiasm started to grow and I began to focus on a more specialised area of collecting. That doesn't mean we will always agree (perhaps in the case of black saya for now at least), but I do enjoy the discussions, as I hope you do. I would prefer you not call me dishonest though, as the necessary intent to deceive is not there. Likewise, I have no 'cause' beyond enjoying and researching Type 95s and sharing those observations with other collectors. 

 

Quick edit: wanted to add that I would greatly welcome and appreciate participation in the Black Saya thread. Since this is an open topic for discussion and we have different views, it would be good to see some evidence for arsenal painted saya provided. Your extensive collection of photographs of 95s over the years should provide a number of good examples that we can discuss and compare.

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3 hours ago, Kiipu said:

I re-looked at the pictures and I would like to point out that the bottom of the scabbard has been sanded down.  This was possibly done to address the rust issue in this area.

 

Another comment while I am at it, one can distinguish between spray paint and regular paint with a simple test.  Just take a q-tip and soak it in strong alcohol and dab it on the paint in an area that you are not concerned about.  Spray paint will easily come off while regular paint will be more resistant.  I say this based upon personal experience.

 

Sanded or perhaps wiped when the paint was still melting from the heat? Either way, the streak marks are very obvious. 

 

Could you be a little more specific with the strong alcohol, Thomas? Methylated spirits is quite an aggressive paint stripper (I use it as such on a regular basis). Is there a less aggressive option you are thinking about? That would make a good test for the swords that look to be post-war stripped and painted by spray can and might even help resolve the disagreement we have when these swords are posted. I remember at one time someone talking about the type of paint (lead based or otherwise) allowing some sort of test/stripping method that could be safely applied to post-war painted swords, but that was years ago.

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I have found (after being tipped in that direction from someone) that acetone is a good test.  Modern paint comes off with less rubbing than does the war era paint.  In fact, the one time I tried removing the mottled-green, I gave up and used a dremmel wire brush.  But with my late-war 95, with bad gold paint, it came off with the acetone.

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On 3/17/2021 at 9:03 PM, Shamsy said:

Could you be a little more specific with the strong alcohol, Thomas? Methylated spirits is quite an aggressive paint stripper (I use it as such on a regular basis). Is there a less aggressive option you are thinking about? That would make a good test for the swords that look to be post-war stripped and painted by spray can and might even help resolve the disagreement we have when these swords are posted.

 

Your "methylated spirits" is called "denatured alcohol" in the United States and is also used as a fuel over here.  The "strong alcohol" I was referring to is called "industrial alcohol" and was sold in a 1 quart metal can.  In the States, the average home garage would also have paint thinner, lacquer thinner, and as Bruce mentioned, acetone.  I myself never used acetone, instead preferring lacquer thinner for stripping.  I also used 91% rubbing alcohol for certain purposes, such as removing ballpoint pen ink and permanent marker.  For removing adhesives, like those paper back price stickers, I used coal tar oil, better known as lighter fluid.

 

Spray paint just melts away upon contact with alcohol.  It can literally to wiped away with a towel or cloth.  It is really that fast, hence my comment about a cotton swab test.

 

My one experience with Japanese black paint was on a trainer.  My reason for wanting to remove the paint in the first place was because I thought it was possibly a postwar job.  It did not take long for me to learn the errors of my way.  My experience mirrored Bruce's, the black paint was difficult to remove, even with a short-bristle brush.  The paint they used would soften up a little, tacky to the touch, but did not want to go away in a friendly sort of way. In the end, I decided to just leave well enough alone.

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