Jump to content
george trotter

Arsenal Mark on RJT sword Fittings

Recommended Posts

Happy Easter everyone (here is a little marking matter  for Bruce to play with...).

I was just looking at an old 5th Sept. 2010 posting 'Arsenal Marks' when I noticed that Morita San's post #73 had the following arsenal stampings page from one of his books:

If you look at the page attached here you will see that his post is a page from a book showing  marks of the workshops/factories attached to the No. 1 Tokyo Arsenal and the No. 2 Tokyo Arsenal.

On the LH side of the page is some of the workshops/factories attached to the No. 2 Tokyo Arsenal, in particular the last one, the ITABASHI SEIZOJO. I don't know what the Itabashi workshop/factory did, but I have seen their inspection mark on Rinji mountings.

As shown on the page, this Itabashi mark is the phonetic katakana character  " i  ".

My high quality  'Type Rinji'  sword (Munetoshi, Niigata, 18/5, tang has 'matsu' 1080) has high quality lacquer fittings and ALL parts have this " i " mark with number 403 (rear of the habaki, sayaguchi, seppa, tsuba, fuchi etc)....From this ONE example, it looks like these arsenals had workshops that did mounting on RJT scheme blades sent in from their rural smiths.

I am now going to make a bit of a "leap" but I say it because another of my high quality lacquer  mounted 'Type Rinji'  RJT smith blades (no star Masakazu, Fukushima, 4/17 tang numbered 1129)  has the same type of arsenal stamp on all the fittings (same number as tang but has katakana " ni " stamp. I wonder if this too is one of the Tokyo? Arsenal's workshop inspection marks?

 

Maybe Morita San can check his book for us? (and post pics of the pages here?

Lets hope we can gain a little more knowledge of the RJT/Arsenal scheme here.

Regards...

NMB arsenal marks  5.9.2010  - morita post.jpg

munetoshi 2  i 403.jpg

munetoshi 2  i 403 close A.jpg

munetoshi 2 pi2.jpeg

 

masakazu fittings A.jpg

1054692718_masakazufittingsseppa2.jpg.a3d5261392a35657cb972586f215d2d0.jpg366139917_masakazudatesidenumber1129.thumb.jpg.ff58ae3d7c0bc06efe7628d865f91aab.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Japanese army arsenals used the iroha (いろは) poem ordering system and not the gojūon system for subassembly numbers.  They would start with イ1 and go up to イ999. After that, they would start with ロ1 and then go up to ロ999.  After using up all the katakana characters in the iroha poem, they would then switch over to hiragana characters and start all over again.  This back and forth between katakana and hiragana would continue until production ended.  In the 1930s, the army started using the last three digits of the serial number as the subassembly number.  Alas, officer swords were not serialized, hence the continued use of the iroha subassembly numbers.

 

This practice should not be confused with the iroha serial number prefixes as used by the army and Mantetsu, commonly called series marks in the States.  So one must carefully examine the object in question to determine if it is a serial number prefix or a subassembly number prefix.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Thomas, that is good information. 

We know that the IROHA system is the Japanese equivalent of our A  B C 

e.g.  A B C D E F G  =  I,  ro,  ha, ni, ho, ne, to   going through all 47 of the Japanese katakana "alphabet".

 

From the two swords I show here, we have " i " and " ni "....great stuff. Can we assume then that both were mounted at the same workshop, and these two marks are just part of their tally system? ...or are they possibly the tally mark from ANY workshop, because they all used them?

if so, why does Morita San's page show a different IROHA mark for each workshop...some in KANJI....why does Itabashi workshop show only " i " as their mark? ...wouldn't they show a "real" mark. I'm sorry, but I'm still a bit uncertain of the answer here.

 

Bruce and I have been noting some of these tang marks/numbers...another one (by Munetoshi of Niigata, star stamp, Rinji, 19/3 no matsu stamp) is marked on the tang tip "ta 2353". This must mean that it was mounted by the same workshop who has just moved further along the IROHA tally mark system...OR, since each of the workshops on Morita San's page have their own ID mark...is it by a different shop?,

 

 

This is good info Thomas, but my head hurts!.

(Hope I'm not ruining your Easter).

Regards,

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would think this system would have been used by several workshops.  It is just a subassembly number after all.  One last comment, these subassembly numbers should be showing up on more than one part, If not, one may be looking at something else.

 

The markings that Morita san illustrates are inspection marks and they are coming from a 1943 manual that was reprinted back in the 1990s.  Below is a brief explanation of the inspection procedure.

Short Development History of Type 95 Gunto, Post #144

 

Gotta run as it is late over here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Kiipu said:

I would think this system would have been used by several workshops.  It is just a subassembly number after all.  One last comment, these subassembly numbers should be showing up on more than one part, If not, one may be looking at something else.

 

Yes Thpmas,

Every metal part is marked/numbered according to this system (see pics above).

All sets of metal mounting parts are marked/numbered as a distinct matching set...sometimes the tang is marked/numbered the same as the parts, and sometimes the tang is marked/numbered differently to the parts.

Sorry if I seem a bit thick , but I am still not sure what this means....does this mean these are individual workshop ID katakana or just a general tally symbol used in every workshop?

Regards,

 

edit: forgot  to add.

That third sword (by Munetoshi, star, rinji, 19/3, no matsu stamp/number on tang) had the following on the tang tip " ta "2353. I don't know if these numbers are on the fittings, but it does raise a question....how can the katakana have 2353 next to it when the numbers are supposed to stop at katakana 999?

Also, if " ta " is the 16th katakana in IROHA (I think), how many swords were made to get to " ta "? 16 x  2353?....that would be 37,648.... and if the number goes higher than 2353 before the katakana changes, then we are talking big numbers...

I think we must have more to learn...

I found the pics...for sale by Montanairon in 2001.

2001dec01munetoshi-1.jpg

2001dec01munetoshi-5.jpg

2001dec01Munetoshistar1.jpg

2001dec01Munetoshistar2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/3/2021 at 9:37 PM, george trotter said:

If you look at the page attached here you will see that his post is a page from a book showing marks of the workshops/factories attached to the No. 1 Tokyo Arsenal and the No. 2 Tokyo Arsenal.

 

The page is question is coming from a 1943 manual.  The manual was reprinted in Japan back in 1998.

Japan. Rikugunshō 陸軍省 (War Ministry). Rikugun Heiki Gyōsei Honbu 陸軍兵器行政本部 (Army Ordnance Administration Headquarters). Ken’in oyobi hyōshiki kitei 檢印及標識規定 (Regulations for Inspection Marks and Signs). General Order 2389. 19 October 1943.

 

On 4/3/2021 at 9:37 PM, george trotter said:

I don't know what the Itabashi workshop/factory did, but I have seen their inspection mark on Rinji mountings.

 

The 板橋製造所 was an ammunition factory, specifically the production of smokeless powder.

 

On 4/3/2021 at 9:37 PM, george trotter said:

I wonder if this too is one of the Tokyo? Arsenal's workshop inspection marks?

 

In this case, no.  It is just one of several different methods for matching parts during manufacture.

 

On 4/3/2021 at 9:37 PM, george trotter said:

munetoshi 2 pi2.jpeg

 

In my opinion, the above marking is a civilian production number.  Possibly to keep track of production and orders, either by a smith, a shop, or a guild.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, george trotter said:

From the two swords I show here, we have " i " and " ni "....great stuff. Can we assume then that both were mounted at the same workshop, and these two marks are just part of their tally system? ...or are they possibly the tally mark from ANY workshop, because they all used them?

 

They could indeed be from the same shop or even from two different shops.  I think different sword companies used different methods for keeping parts together.  With over 50 sword companies assembling swords, one has over 50 different ways of going about it.

 

14 hours ago, george trotter said:

If so, why does Morita San's page show a different IROHA mark for each workshop...some in KANJI....why does Itabashi workshop show only " i " as their mark? ...wouldn't they show a "real" mark. I'm sorry, but I'm still a bit uncertain of the answer here.

 

Final inspection marks are usually kanji while factory inspection marks are usually katakana.  Factory inspection marks will usually be found on parts that have passed inspection while the final inspection mark will appear on the major components, such as the blade and scabbard.

 

15 hours ago, george trotter said:

Bruce and I have been noting some of these tang marks/numbers...another one (by Munetoshi of Niigata, star stamp, Rinji, 19/3 no matsu stamp) is marked on the tang tip "ta 2353". This must mean that it was mounted by the same workshop who has just moved further along the IROHA tally mark system...OR, since each of the workshops on Morita San's page have their own ID mark...is it by a different shop?

 

You would need to check with Bruce on that one.  How often does the marking occur and on what blades.  Do the numbers increase by date?  If so, it could be a production number like what appears on the encircled 松 blades.  This is not my area of expertise so all I can do is suggest possibilities.  Remember, you have far more hands on experience with these Type 100s than I do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that feedback Thomas. So the Itabashi workshop was for chemicals...so no chance then that seeing it on sword fittings connects the sword fittings to them.

Yes the 'matsu' stamp seems to be only on tangs from the Yamagami brothers of Niigata...their own marking.

As for these others...looks like maybe the katakana mark and the number on fittings and some sword tangs are not necessarily of great importance...maybe we should just regard them as "sword mounting shop marks". No real pattern to identify anything. Just "in-shop marks/numbers" that we shouldn't read too much into.

Thanks.

Regards...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from a long road-trip.  I'll re-read all this tomorrow, a bit fog-headed now. 

20 hours ago, george trotter said:

have 2353 next to it when the numbers are supposed to stop at katakana 999?

George,

I noticed the same thing happening with the Mantetsu numbers, beginning in 1942.  We have 4-digit numbers, both in the 1000 and 2000 ranges in '42-'44.  For a factory making 400 per month those serial numbers seem artificially high (even if they doubled their production numbers, it's still too high).  Nick Komiya uncovered an Army document ordering serial numbers (I think it involved all weapons, not just swords) to randomize the numbers to hide production capabilities from the Allies.  I suspect these large numbers might have been as a result of that order.  It's significant, to me, that they start showing up after the Army took control of sword production.

 

I am intrigued by your proposal that the list of forges are labeled with kana.  It would be cool if a link could be found.  To me, it would be impossible to prove with the limited amount of information we are working with, though.  Your example with fittings marked with the same katakana & number sure seems to point to a shop putting it on the blade and fittings.  I have seen shops match their fittings with the number on Mantetsu blades, but they didn't put the katakana on the fittings like this one.  Yet, like Thomas pointed out, there must have been dozens of different ways shops worked their numbering systems.  And this still doesn't eliminate the possibility that the  blades were numbered by the forge, or Army inspector, and the shops simply mimicked the numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, here's a couple to throw a monkey wrench in the issue:

Both provided by Tim Blackburne

1.  Akimitsu,1943, star-stamped, "Na" on mune, イ536 on all fittings ....... But 2128 on the blade

20210406_192927.thumb.jpg.eb9d47450cb5e306ae52c2905d5ec7ac.jpg20210406_193059.thumb.jpg.587ea859531b852f683478fd035b5047.jpg

 

and 2. Kanemitsu, 1944, no star, no stamps, "1" on fittings ..... But 24 on nakago

20210406_185239.thumb.jpg.6cce4d0fb8e919220a8d93f4f813b3c5.jpg20210406_185424.thumb.jpg.7906fd746a9e303fb40170bf0db363ad.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2021 at 1:56 AM, george trotter said:

That third sword (by Munetoshi, star, rinji, 19/3, no matsu stamp/number on tang) had the following on the tang tip " ta "2353. I don't know if these numbers are on the fittings, but it does raise a question....how can the katakana have 2353 next to it when the numbers are supposed to stop at katakana 999?

 

A Type 100 by Akimitsu that is pictured on pages 74 and 75 of Modern Japanese Swords: The Beginning of the Gendaito Era by Kapp & Monson.

Nakago Reverse

☆ 鉄収子昭光作之 タ1246

Nakago Obverse

昭和十八年八月日

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

George, I sent you a private message and it bounced. The message states: george trotter cannot receive messages.  Is your mailbox full by chance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Kiipu said:

George, I sent you a private message and it bounced and the message states: george trotter cannot receive messages.  Is your mailbox full by chance?


Oh yeah, btw...Gold Membership not only allows you to increase your private message limit to 500 messages, but I neglected to post that it also allows you to override the recipient's limit  ;-)
So if their mailbox is full, you as a gold member will still be able to send messages to them.
Just thought I'd mention it. lol

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Kiipu said:

Not much to work with; but, here is another one タ1399.

Arsenal Stamps., Post #160

 

That makes three so far; タ1246, タ1399, and タ2353.

I've written to @Bruno to see if he has pics of the mei and date on that タ1399 blade.  It should be an RJT smith.  1246 is Akimitsu and 2353 is Munitoshi.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2021 at 1:56 AM, george trotter said:

That third sword (by Munetoshi, star, rinji, 19/3, no matsu stamp/number on tang) had the following on the tang tip " ta "2353.

I found the pics...for sale by Montanairon in 2001.

 

I located the pictures of the 宗利 with the タ2353 marking and will post a link below.  It was an interesting website and I located several articles of interest and downloaded them.  I am sure others will like browsing the site too.

Katana - Munetoshi

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi guys, lots of interesting replies and new infos...keep it up.

Brian, I don't know if my email is full...I can't even figure out how to check...all greatly modernised since this new update site began....if you can empty all the old emails from my "bin" that would be fine.

 

Correct me if I'm not getting this, but so far...it seems that the katakana prefixes are "just that" - prefixes...do not necessarily mean a workshop ID.

 

I suppose one way to "sort of" work out if there is a link is to see if say 'ta' is only used on swords of smiths from region north of Tokyo and say 'na' from Osaka region etc, etc. That would mean recording all names/dates/rjt or not/fittings types? of GENDAITO makers betweem say 1941-1945....this might show a pattern that we can maybe follow up to see if they are regional based, date based, fittings shop based etc, etc. This seems like a long task for a "detective" type member....hmmm...wonder who...?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, george trotter said:

.hmmm...wonder who...?

George, you crack me up!  Love working with you!  Already on it.  But not much data to go by yet.  Here's what I have:

 

 

 

1943

Akimitsu (RJT)

1246

Kapp & Monson book

1943

Akimitsu (RJT)

2123 (536 fittings)

TimBlackburne, RS

1944, Jan

Kanetsugu (RJT)

306

Edward Mahle, NMB

1944, Feb

Kunishiro (RJT)

154

Star

ND

Masakazu (RJT)

37

Star

ND

Munemitsu

431 Star

Cillo, pg 119

ND

Nagamitsu (RJT)

313 on mune

Ooitame; NMB

1944, Feb

Kunishiro (RJT)

154, star

Trotter Survey

1944, Mar

Munetoshi (RJT)

2353 Type 98 star

Trotter Survey

1942-1945 (ND)

Masakazu (RJT)

37 RS star

IJASWORDS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

Already on it.  But not much data to go by yet.

 

I would also suggest including the nakago version, either 94/98 or 100, and if any inspection marks make an appearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kiipu said:

 

I would also suggest including the nakago version, either 94/98 or 100, and if any inspection marks make an appearance.

My annotation "RS" means it was a double-ana nakago, or was mounted in RS fittings.  I'm afraid I haven't standardized the location of the note, but it's either by the serial number or by the owners' name.  So, 2 of them in that list are RS nakago.  All others are 94/98 or unknown (often pictures don't include the full nakago).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Bruce, and all, mine is in RS type3/100 mounts, double release, at the bottom of the Koshirae (kojira??) has the bronze on the emblem in the center. Can not remember which year they said it should stop and be all painted.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Bruce (hehe, heh, you figured out who I meant).

just a couple of extra details:

 

18/5   Munetoshi      RJT                                     tang has private mark? matsu 1080        RS       'i' 403 on all fittings                      Trot. Coll                 (see pic post #1)

17/4   Masakazu      RJT smith but no star      tang numbered 1129                                  RS      'ni' 1129 on all fittings                   Trott Coll                (see pic post #1)

 

Hope this helps...

(Not sure why you have repeated KUNISHIRO and MASAKAZU details)?

 

Shouldn't we add the maker's province to the table, may help form a picture? (Munetoshi - Niigata, Masakazu  - Fukushima).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, george trotter said:

Hope this helps...

(Not sure why you have repeated KUNISHIRO and MASAKAZU details)?

 

Shouldn't we add the maker's province to the table, may help form a picture? (Munetoshi - Niigata, Masakazu  - Fukushima).

Yes, thanks George!  The repeats came from copying and pasting from 2 different sections of my charts, and didn't notice the repeat.

The province part is where someone else ... who could that be?! ... come in!

I'm posting the updated version of the chart above on this page, but I've attached my whole Stamps Survey charts as a Word Doc in case you'd like to use the charts to update with regions/provinces.  That's way out of my abilities, and I'd love to get your help on that.

 

The stamped numbers charts are at the bottom of the file. (well shoot!, messed up the copy/paste and can't delete the bottom part)

1942, Apr

Masakazu (RJT)

1129; “1” on mune

1129 on fittings

George Trotter, RS

1943

Akimitsu (RJT)

1246

Kapp & Monson book

1943

Akimitsu (RJT)

2123 (536 fittings)

TimBlackburne, RS

1943, May

Munetoshi (RJT)

1080 RS star

403 on fittings

Trotter Collection,

1944, Jan

Kanetsugu (RJT)

306

Edward Mahle, NMB

1944, Feb

Kunishiro (RJT)

154

Star

1944, Feb

Kunishiro (RJT)

154, star

Trotter Survey

1944, Mar

Munetoshi (RJT)

2353 Type 98 star

Trotter Survey

1942-1945 (ND)

Masakazu (RJT)

37 RS star

IJASWORDS

ND

Masakazu (RJT)

37 star

 

ND

Munemitsu

431 Star

Cillo, pg 119

ND

Nagamitsu (RJT)

313 on mune

Ooitame; NMB, RS

       
       
       
     

 

stamp survey (1).docx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Bruce, I walked into that one didn't I?

Looking up Slough:, these are those RJT smiths and their home areas:

p.20 - IGARASHI Akimitsu of Niigata RJT smith but RJT tang not shown

p.71 - IMAI Kanetsugu of Gunma/Gumma RJT / star / 19/1 / "ku" 306

p.119 - YUKI Munemitsu of Yamagata RJT / star / date side not given / "ma" 431

p.123 - ENDO Nagamitsu of Fukuoka RJT / star / 1943

 

You already know the YAMAGAMI Munetoshi of Niigata RJT details, the NAGAO Kunishiro of Aomori RJT details  and the TSUKAMOTO Masakazu of Fukushima RJT details.

Hope this helps... 

 

PS...I had a look at your stamp survey doc...hmmm...looks like compiling the  location addition etc. is a lot of work...maybe tooo muuch woork for moi!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, george trotter said:

had a look at your stamp survey

You know, most of those charts don’t need location information for the Smiths, as each stamp pretty much shows where the Smith was working. If a guy was going to try it, I would just focus on the charts of stamped numbers with emphasis on the numbers that have katakana.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Bruce,

I had a look through and  it is apparent that most swords with a star/katakana and number are only in single examples....BUT... I did find ONE  prefecture pair that had two different smiths that shared the 'code' so our "theory" of a katakana allocated to each prefecture MAY have some support.

These two "sharing" are:

Igarashi      Akimitsu      NIIGATA  star      1943   'ta' 1246

Yamagami Munetoshi* NIIGATA  star  3/1944    'ta' 2353    (*his later mune mei kanji)  and BTW, don't know where the error crept in, but its  fittings are not Type 98, they are Type Rinji (see montanairon pics above).

 

I think the na, ha, ho stamps etc on the mune of some blades may be a different matter.

I also think that as these katakana/numbers are also seen on fittings (but not the tang) that we really don't know whether they are mounting shop marks, RJT admin marks ...or...?

I think it will take a few more years of you collecting lists before any kind of real picture emerges...we'll just have to match any new ones (only RJT star tangs) to your list and if a prefectural pair we can add it to this prefectural pair shown here?

Keep up the good work Bruce

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, george trotter said:

I think it will take a few more years

Good work yourself, George!  Thanks for looking into it. 

 

I'll start thinking up ways to search for these.  Since they seem to be on RJT blades, a search of known RJT smiths by name might be a place to start.  Maybe if you could give me a name or 2 of other RJT smiths in the same area as the single ones we already have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bruce, lotsa fun.

These are what I have found for NIIGATA so far...RJT noted with '*' and some not identified...will check further later. Maybe  "Murata Matsuhana" in first list here is actually a misprint for "Tamura Akitaka" down in bottom list?

 

Looking at The 1942 "Dai Nihon Token Shoko Meikan" p.289 - 290 which is the list of swordsmiths working in Niigata Prefecture then, we have the following 12 smiths listed  (hope my readings are OK)... In the prize seats listed in Slough pp.213-225 there are 5 more for Niigata.. These sources give us 17 WWII smiths in Niigata...of these I have found that  7 are RJT....maybe more study will identify more?

 

Imai Sadaroku  *  2nd seat

Iguchi Sadakazu  2nd seat

Watanabe (Genji)?  (found as Watanabe Sadatsugu   1940 NIIGATA  Hawley SAD 760)

Uemura Sadakiyo  * special noted seat  ( Jap. Sw. Index RJT list names him Kamimura)

Tanaka Yoshimitsu  *  4th seat

Nakabayashi Sadamune   3rd seat

Murata Matsuhana - (personal name?)...see bottom of bottom list)

Yamagami Munetoshi  *

Yamagami Akihisa  *  special noted seat 

Endo Mitsuoki (not listed as RJT)

Ikarashi Akimitsu  * 2nd seat

Sato Kiyokatsu  *  2nd seat

--------------------------------------------------------

Slough prize seats list lists 5 more Niigata smiths for WWII

 

Uemura Sadatoshi  4th seat 

Enui Mitsutada    5th seat 

Oguro Munehiro  5th seat 

Sato Sadaaki  5th seat 

Yamazaki Sadatomo  5th seat 

 

Ohmura lists (in Japanese) smiths of 1942/44/45, called  'chosen/appointed swordsmith' has:

Tamura Akitaka  (Kurihara school)      he is listed as Showa, Niigata  in Hawley AKI 70.

 

maybe this is the above Murata smith?

 

Have fun...

Niigata smiths WWII A.jpeg

Niigata smiths WWII  B.jpeg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...