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Arsenal Mark on RJT sword Fittings


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2 minutes ago, Kiipu said:

 

It is a Nagoya 名 inspection mark.

Ok, I can see it.  The bottom is left off or poorly struck and corroded.  *sigh of relief!*  Because the only other Wa marked blades were Masakazu from Fukushima, and Seki isn't anywhere near there.

 

Thanks Thomas!

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On 4/28/2021 at 12:27 AM, Bruce Pennington said:

Alright! Got a hit searching Yamagata prefecture RJT smiths - a Dec 1943 Naohisa, star, "Ma" 664:

 

That gives us 2 "MA", both from Yamagata:

431 Star Munemitsu No date

マ 664 Star Naohisa  Dec 1943

Might be my old eyes, but those pics seem to show Naomasa  number Ma 554? (but yes, might also be 664?

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On 4/27/2021 at 9:37 AM, Bruce Pennington said:

Morinobu.thumb.jpg.d386af71dcbda5e1592099e24336549e.jpg

 

Make that three. A "star" stamped 源盛延 [Minamoto Morinobu] dated September 1942 with number 94.  This sword also uses this number as a subassembly number. Note that the nakago mune is marked twice with ホホ.

Star stamped blade

 

I also found another Morinobu with a double marked ホホ nakago mune which is dated August 1942.  This one does not seem to have a number stamped on the tang.

Minamoto Morinobu Gendaito In Gunto Koshirae

 

Maybe vajo could check his Morinobu to see what markings it has.

(Minamoto) Morinobu

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Neil,

I don't see Yasunori on the RJT list.  Are the blades star-stamped?  It is a good example, though, that certain smiths may have had a particular shop fitting their blades.

20 hours ago, Kiipu said:

September 1942 with number 94.

Thanks Thomas!  How cool - blades 94 and 95

Edit: After searching the files for the "95", I don't seem to have any record of it.  Searching the NMB pages I see the 94 was noted on this Tread about Marks on Fittings.  I may have miss-typed the 94, into 95 on the chart.

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Kokura Arsenal had oversight of "NCO" sword production up until September 1942.  Could this Kokura Arsenal oversight have applied to officer's swords as well during this same time period?  It is known that with the advent of the Type 100, that arsenal inspections were carried out by the army.  I am thinking that maybe prior to the RJT program and the September 1942 relinquishing of control that the officer's swords were sent to the 1st Factory and from there forwarded as necessary.  One last final comment is that the 1st Factory of Kokura Arsenal also made a small batch of Type 95 sword blades during the copper, technically bronze, tsuka time period and were marked accordingly.

 

Quote

Also of note is the switching in arsenal jurisdictions that occurred in Sept. 1942, which would have changed markings, too.

Short Development History of Type 95 Gunto, Post #20

 

Quote

2. To be subjected to arsenal inspection but to be sold by Kaikoh-sha and Gunjinkaikan.

Legally rebutting the existence of a Type 3 Army Officer's Sword, Post #5

 

On 1/7/2021 at 10:37 PM, Stegel said:

Here's a photo of the tang on one of mine to compare with the original swords tang.

Another copper NCO, Post #31

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Thomas,

I lean in the same direction about the arsenal overseeing officer blade production, as you propose.  That same production chart from 1944 would support the idea.  I have very little photo evidence to back it, but what I have is 3 Kokura (stacked cannonballs) stamped officer blades and 1 copper-handled NCO:

2 Masayasu (provided by the Malcolm Cox Survey, citing Fuller & Gregory)

2043604219_KokuraMasayoshi.thumb.jpg.1b4863726134c57be3809ef669aa47b1.jpg

and 1 from Ohmura's site (unknown mei)

 

This one is on the nakago of the Type 95 Copper (provided by @Stegel)

s-l1600.thumb.jpg.89c76e34e998c0cac32d884a6f33f555.jpg

 

The "KO" shows up (again very limited data) both in 1935 and in 1943:

1263594342_Kochart.thumb.jpg.12b8e1609d8988ea25f43b2151741e5d.jpg

 

And the "HO" is spread throughout my charts.  I haven't made a consolidated chart just for them.  Roughly speaking they are seen with other arsenal stamps in 1935, 1941, 1942.  Then they are seen by themselves (usually "Ho  Ho", double stamped) in 1943, 1944.

 

So I think this all backs your idea in rough terms.

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Wanted to pass along something from Leon Kapp, of "Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths" Kapp, Kapp, & Yoshihara (I'm not pushing the bookstore, just posting the book).  It reinforces what we've already learned about star-stamped blades being made traditionally:

 

" I just finished polishing a star stamped blade for Leo.

 

The mei is (star stamp) Chikuzen ju Kajiwara Hiromitsu saku, and the date is August of 1943.

It is a well made sword and about 26.25 inches or 2.2 shaku (which seems to be a popular length for gunto). I bet that this smith is related to the Kajiwara polisher. Chikuzen is the Fukuoka area where the polisher is too.

  I am sure this is a tama hagane blade for several reasons.

1)   Very hard steel

2)   Forging patterns are visible in the ji

3)   The hamon has a good clear and complex nioi guchi

 

  First of all, the blade is hard. There were a few hakobore or small chips which had to be removed, so I know the blade is very hard. I have polished some Seki stamped (RR track) swords, and they are much softer. Modern gendaito are hard and similar to this one.

 

  Second, there are patterns visible in the blade and I think they are from forging and folding the steel. You can see what looks like some fine itame hada in most parts of the blade. The steel’s appearance looks like a typical gunto from the 1930s to 1945. The RR track blades have no patterns, but do have occasional small marks in random places in the steel which I think are areas where the steel was compressed locally by the hammering to shape the blade and edge. Occasionally there are traces of a short single straight hada line which could easily come from the RR track puddled steel. The steel does look rather different. This looks very different from the RR track type steel. The color is good.

 

Third, there is the hamon. This hamon has good clear and strong nioi. It forms irregular shaped gunome all over the hamon, and there are ashi, irregular gunome and the strong nioi area is very wide. Generally, with RR track steel, the nioiguchi is narrow and the active part of the hamon is restricted to a narrow band. In addition, the nioi guchi is generally much weaker. This type of hamon looks like it was made with tama hagane steel.

 

   So, in conclusion, I am very sure this star stamped blade is made from tama hagane. I’m sorry I didn’t get better photos and need to make some kind of small photo setup to get decent images of hamon and jihada. The hamon photos show the strong nioiguchi and a lot of activity. The jigane photos show the tight but visible pattern in most of the blade. The mei is there to show the star stamp." ..... ". I now have a Seki stamped blade and another star stamped blade here to be polished, so we can look at this with more samples soon. I also have other blades waiting so it will be a bit of time before I can get to those polishes. I am very sure this star stamped blade is tama hagane. I mentioned that the star stamped blade is much harder and similar to good tama hagane gunto. That is a subjective observation but a very clear thing to experience when you polish them first hand."

 

 

hamon 1.jpg

hamon 2 - Copy.jpg

hamon 3.jpg

mei and star.jpg

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Thank you for that Bruce. Are you saying that Leon Kapp polished this sword or that this is a correspondence between his polisher and Leon Kapp?

I thank you for sharing...very interesting.

Speaking as a RJT collector this is very satisfying. A nice piece of work.

Firstly, it verifies the quality of RJT swords, RJT tamahagane and RJT smith's talent.

Secondly, that there are still some polishers out there that can polish in sashikomi.

Great stuff Bruce.

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20 hours ago, george trotter said:

Are you saying that Leon Kapp polished this sword or that this is a correspondence between his polisher and Leon Kapp?

George, Leon is a togishi!  

I was taught by yoshindo’s favorite polisher, Takaiwa Setsuo in Tokyo. He also helped get good stones for me and I bring polished items to Japan for his comments. Moses Becerra taught me how to do a sashi komi finish and some other things. Those two taught me everything, but it still took about 5 or 6 years before my polishes became satisfactory.”

 

Another tidbit about stamping: 

Another point based on what Yoshindo said. He said that the star stamped blades were inspected by Kuniie who stamped them if they met with his approval. So I think that means that the star stamped blades went to Kuniie who checked them and stamped them if they met his standards. They were from smiths who were given tama hagane too. So I wonder if the army’s long list of inspection conditions boiled down to a simple quick visual inspection of the finished blades by Kuniie.”

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5 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

So I wonder if the army's long list of inspection conditions boiled down to a simple quick visual inspection of the finished blade by Kuniie".

 

Gawd...imagine if CNN gets hold of this quote....it will mean the end of RJT collecting!

 

I think this is something we should investigate.

Maybe Chris Bowen and some others who knew some of these smiths and how the system worked etc should be asked about it.

 

My keyboard finger is trembling, I think I will have to go out on the verandah for a nerve-settling rum and Coke!!!

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I realize my post of quotes from Leon Kapp was a bit confusing.  They came from email conversations about star-stamped RJT blades and Leon's observations after polishing one.  I listed his book so guys would know who he was, but the quotes weren't from the book. Sorry for any confusion!

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Oh, good. Thanks for that clarification Bruce. I've been busy elsewhere for a few days, so nice to come back to your up-date.

I agree with Stephen, the quotes (without clarification) could lead to confusion.

While Kuniie was certainly an inspector, there must have been others - an RJT study Gunto Kumia Shimatsu (Gunto Assoc. Management) Rikugun Jumei Tosho no Shuen (The World of the RJT) pub. 1994 by Aizu Bunkazai Chosa Kenkyu Kai in Fukushima shows that the average RJT smith made an average of 10 swords per month (...that means c.370 RJT smiths would make 3700 per month...you would need more than one inspector to check these out to RJT standards.).. Over the years we have accumulated evidence of the stringent rules  for making, signing, dating, testing,, stamping etc, etc.

While it is possible to come across a RJT blade with the odd 'quirk' in one of these rules, (and I think Bazza has said he's seen RJT with kizu), I think we are pretty sure of the high standards of the RJT system to feel comfortable that an RJT blade is high standard gendaito....whether we like that particular blade or not is a personal taste matter.

 So, I think we are safe to say that RJT blades were made to high requirements out of tamahagane, pine charcoal and water quenching and are in fact the upper level of the last nihonto made for battlefield use (i.e. not art...although some are very high quality artistic pieces).

What we really need is for some of our upper level members to pester the Japanese sword authors to write the "book" on RJT swords/smiths/history......we who respect and collect RJT work really need a good archive sourced, un-arguable book on the actual history of RJT.

(Brian...please get our people on to this...Stephen and I are getting older...).

Regards,

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/5/2021 at 10:09 PM, george trotter said:

Rikugun Jumei Tosho no Shuen (The World of the RJT) pub. 1994 by Aizu Bunkazai Chosa Kenkyu Kai in Fukushima

George,

Did this document have an RJT smith list?  I've got 44 RJT Star-stamped smiths (60blades) filed now, but 3 of them aren't on the Japaneseswordindex RJT Page.

Masashige

Tomonari

Zuiho

 

Hoping to get some confirmation about them.  All 3 are dated 1943, 1944, so it's possible they joined the program after the lists we have were published.  So, not a big deal, just something I'm chasing.

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Bruce

I just want to remind you and everyone that my site is now 25 years old and hasn't been updated in years. So please don't anyone take it as the final authority or any authority on any thing ! It's caused so much problems that I'm asking Brian to take it offline.

 

Rich

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Problems? I can count any problems with it on one finger...or less than a finger. I've repeatedly told Rich how valuable the site is, and maybe you guys need to speak up now.

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10 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

George,

Did this document have an RJT smith list?  I've got 44 RJT Star-stamped smiths (60blades) filed now, but 3 of them aren't on the Japaneseswordindex RJT Page.

Masashige

Tomonari

Zuiho

 

Hoping to get some confirmation about them.  All 3 are dated 1943, 1944, so it's possible they joined the program after the lists we have were published.  So, not a big deal, just something I'm chasing.

Bruce, the book is a history of the RJT scheme in Fukushima prefecture and only lists the 10 RJT smiths working there.

Regards,

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The RJT smiths were an "approved" list of Army sword smiths. If these RJT smiths used the tamahagane and red pine charcoal supplied to them to make swords in the traditional way, those swords were given the 'star stamp'. These swords were inspected and entered the supply chain for distribution to officers. The star stamp being the guarantee of being traditionally made, using traditional materials, but not necessarily quality.   

Other swords could be made by an RJT swordsmith. These could be "knock-outs" or "special-orders" that did not use the tamahagane which needed to be accounted for by the RJT system, hence no star stamp. 

Other swords made in the traditional way, such as YASUKUNI and MINATOGAWA, did not receive star stamps as they used tamahagane from their own tatara, and did not use raw materials supplied under the RJT system.   

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  • 2 weeks later...

After running the issue by Chris Bowen, his objection to the stamp simply being an Army Material stamp, verifying the steel in the blade was Army supplied, is that it isn't seen on any other blades outside the RJT program.  I personally don't know enough about the Army's steel supply operation to know who else might have been supplied with their tamahagane, but I have come to the idea that regardless of the origins of the stamp (yes maybe it was invented and codified into the regs as a Material stamp), it seems to have been adopted by the RJT inspectors and therefore, it became a mark of the RJT program.  If no one else in sword-making-world was using the stamp other than RJT guys, then essentially, for swords, it is an RJT stamp.

 

On the issue of so many un-stamped blades by RJT qualified smiths, Chris proposed another option:

"Here is something else to think about: Yoshihara Kuniie was the inspector for the Kanto region. He was also the head smith/instructor at the Army’s Number 1 Tokyo arsenal, where several smiths made swords as RJT in house, so to speak. I have seen many of these blades, always signed Tokyo Number 1 Arsenal, without star stamps. I think I have several. If the star signified tamahagane usage, they should all be stamped. I have seen a few Kuniie (Nobutake) blades with a star, but the operating theory as to why only a few are found with the star is that these were most likely made at his home forge, rather than at the arsenal itself, and “inducted” into military service the same as all the blades made by RJT smiths working at their home forges across the country."

 

Yet, as I just re-read that, I can see it doesn't work for smiths in other prefectures.  This idea only works for the smiths in the Tokyo 1st area.  But it could still be one of several potential reasons for un-stamped blades by these smiths.  Like other areas we know of, there could very well be more than one answer to the question.

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Hi Bruce,

Yes, I agree. There are probably various details in RJT sword production and in RJT smith private sword production we are not currently aware of....but, I think it is safe to say that RJT/star blades are tamahagane/pine charcoal blades and the star stamp is good and reliable indicator or this. I also think it safe to say (although there are bound to be certain factors we don't yet know) that good gendaito made by RJT smiths after they became RJT smiths but not having a star stamp are 99.999% likely to be tamahagane/pine charcoal blades. We just don't know the details of the supply system etc. It is obvious we need a Japanese researcher to write a book on the system and the smiths.

On the point Chris makes about arsenal smiths having and not having a star....I think I remember seeing arsenal gendaito with a star but no date ), so that also should contradict the RJT rules. I think some of these Arsenal "anomalies" are likely to be blades that were made when the system was being established...made before mid/late 1941 when the RJT scheme was officially announced and started and the regional smiths recruited to it. So in this circle also there are 'discrepancies that need looking at...BUT, the most important standard to adhere to in investigating all these aspects of RJT blades is "look at the blade - the quality. That is what answers the most important question. The rest of these are "just" interesting history details...lots of fun though! (I also seem to remember undated? examples from Osaka arsenal ).

Regards,

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