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Old Antique Japanese Samurai Officers sword, WW2, Kai Gunto, Bizen Sukesada


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Hi I bought this sword from a gentleman I saw who had been listed on EBay a while back It was showed it had ended !  I reached out to if he still had it and he did! 2 concerns 2 places of ware  but not on the cutting edge side or that matters? All in all it’s a beautiful polished old sword signature from the koto era, and is made by the Bizen smith Sukesada, in Pristine mounts so it says !Regardless of its flaws I fell in love with it I paid 2777 I believe it was a fair price I wanted to see it’s value so I know what price to ask when I sell it

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Steve,

Hopefully someone can expound on your ware question!  But yes, it's a beauty!  I paid 2400 years ago for a near pristine kai and it only had a showato blade in it, so you did quite well.  Kaigunto are always more expensive than army gunto (assuming matching qualities).  The market has definitely recovered from the COVID slump.

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Looks late Koto for me. Its a nice sword. Didn't see that crack you talking about in your pictures so i think there is no fatal flaw on it. 

The Kai Gunto Mountings look nice. Mostely the scabbard is damaged on Kai Gunto, but yours looks in good condtion. Overall a nice package for a wartime koto.

I dont judge the price. If the price is good for you - why not?

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5 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

Steve,

Hopefully someone can expound on your ware question!  But yes, it's a beauty!  I paid 2400 years ago for a near pristine kai and it only had a showato blade in it, so you did quite well.  Kaigunto are always more expensive than army gunto (assuming matching qualities).  The market has definitely recovered from the COVID slump.

 

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Thanks for all your feed back I just realize this swords been on this form before and who ever bought it didn’t like the negative feed back and was returned to the seller ! so I guess I’m the second owner ! My concerns I believe there were 60 smiths that used his name sukesada most were faked and his swords were mass produced? Is there any way to tell where my sword falls in by looking at the kaji? is one of the crap swords I hear about ? To me It was a family hierloom mounted in Navy hardware and used by a desk jockey officer whitch would explain the pristine mounts ? that I can live with I paid 2700 and Hope I didn’t do too bad??

any feed back about any of this would be greatly appreciated 

 

steve j

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Lots of Sukesada indeed, not many jishin mei as it appears to me from the photo (if authentic, so don't quote me). Definitely not a 'crap sword' (don't even know what that means!).

 

My take is - traditionally forged nihonto is extremely undervalued to begin with!!!

 

 Just imagine - prayers, 1+ month of heavy labor (usually 2+ people working at a time), polishing by highly ranked togishi (an extra week of hard labor), fittings (lots of time to make as well), shirasaya etc. And then the age  !

 

So I suggest, preserve it, paper it and restore it! 

 

Cheers

 

 

John

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Darkcon said:

not many jishin mei as it appears to me from the photo

Good to hear some positive feed

 

4 hours ago, Darkcon said:

not many jishin mei as it appears to me from the photo

H i It’s good to hear something positive I’m new to the sword world so not sure what you mean

Dose it take one month 2 people to make a only one sword another week for polish I’m assuming they used Tara ovens to make tamahagane and the Navy mounts took time to fit  this sword good information Thanks 

 

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26 minutes ago, Swords said:

Good to hear some positive feed

 

H i It’s good to hear something positive I’m new to the sword world so not sure what you mean

Dose it take one month 2 people to make a only one sword another week for polish I’m assuming they used Tara ovens to make tamahagane and the Navy mounts took time to fit  this sword good information Thanks 

 

I have one, possibly older. Beautiful in every aspect nonetheless ! Old blade :)

 

 

Cheers

 

John

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18 hours ago, Darkcon said:

 

Lots of Sukesada indeed, not many jishin mei as it appears to me from the photo (if authentic, so don't quote me).

 

Hi no sure what that means can you explain? Also you said my sword was under value I’m guessing it’s worth more than 2700 what I paid even with the ware and one small nick and a rough spot however it’s 500 years old and been polished? Can anyone elaborate of mass produced fake signatures etc where dose my sword fall into I would think is still a good handmade sword 

 

steve

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19 hours ago, Darkcon said:

I have one, possibly older. Beautiful in every aspect nonetheless ! Old blade :)

 

 

Cheers

 

John

Good to hear good things rather bad to me it’s a 500 year old sword in good polish and pristine navy mounts to me it would be hard pressed to find another despite the negatives 

 

steve

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So what I hinted at are few Personal opinions and those should be taken with a grain of salt! It is only a perspective, not trying to debate with anyone. I'd try to give you my stream of thought and if others are ready to correct me or add to what I have written, I welcome it with an open heart!

 

In my Personal opinion nihonto is waaaay underpriced because nobody counts of all it goes in it to be made. For me this is a recent hobby and I don't know much although I try to educate myself as good as possible and this forum and its members have been the next level for me so ... thank you But ..opinions opinions..

 

.. but I still don't know why 500 years old blade can be worth only 2k - would anyone work all that physicial/mental process for such A long time to collect 2k? Think about my angle, I am sure there's much more to it, but some blades were appraised by Fujishiro (among others) for hundreds of gold coins and in the millions of yen. Why the hefty reduction in price? Also, how could a recent made katana is asking the upwards of $20000 but it's centuries old predecessor is only $2k. It is nonsense.

 

 

Regarding, the so called 'crap blades' - the violent wars of 1500s increased the demand for nihonto tenfold so many reputable experts have named Some of the blades 'inferior' in quality of the regularly produced as the smiths didn't have time to keep up with the demand. I am sure many arguments have arisen about the kazu-uchi mono, I am not there yet to state anything but that I own a few and I don't see anything wrong with their similar counterparts! 

 

So be it as it may , I like your sukesada wakizashi and once I get home I will supply a photo of the signature on my blade just for comparison (mine is papered so no doubts there) 😊

 

 

Cheers

 

 

John

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Hi John,

The price or value of any antique is a function of three things: age, rarity and condition. Fortunately, or unfortunately there are lots of low grade (when comparing to the standards of Japanese swords in general - I'm not dissing yours or Steve's blades) swords around from the 16th century because there were lots of Samurai who needed at least one blade and didn't have lots of disposable income for good quality blades and the daimyo had their own armouries to loan out swords in case of emergencies. These "loan swords" weren't of particularly high quality. So if a Masamune daito is the peak of the pyramid, the base is composed of these "low grade" swords and it's fairly broad.

 

Some other observations: the workshops of the late 16th century operated on a kind of production line process. So the head smith (or together with a senior student or students) would be the one(s) who would produce custom order blades whilst there were a lot of other guys knocking out swords that would perhaps have his name put to them, perhaps by someone employed to do the signing as happened with WW2 blades. So the mass-produced blades might not be made by the best smith in the shop and, whilst they might contain some tamahagane which would be a high grade material, they might also contain a higher proportion of scrap steel, "oroshigane", made up of old tool steel, nails or anything they could recycle. It's for these reasons and perhaps a greater tendency towards delaminitions (or greater probability that they have had more use and polishes) that "kazu uchi mono" or "tabagatana" (bundle swords) have a worse reputation in spite of their age.

 

As regards signatures, it's a bit of a generalisation but typically the longer the signature and the more information added to the tang, the more likely a blade is to be custom made. In the case of Bizen swords at this time the form of the signature on a custom blade often takes the form of name of province, followed by family name and then art name and dated on the other side of the tang. Also, there is some theories at play around whether the province is written Bishu or Bizen and the placement of the "kuni" is an indicator of a better blade or simply done to wrong-foot forgers or both. That yours and Steve's blades have a two character signature suggests that they probably weren't the very bottom of the pile which I suspect would go unsigned and also a two character "Sukesada" as a gimei is unlikely given the quantity of smiths with this name. If you wanted to make some money from adding dodgy signatures to blades you would go for a bigger name, who stood out from the crowd rather than blend in with the mass of guys signing this way when the better smiths from this line were known to sign with the long form signature described above. So, for me, there's no reason to suspect that these blades are gimei.

 

I hope you both enjoy your swords!

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Yes very informative not sure what gimei stands for myself is also new to the sword world and the more I hear about my sword the less I like it ! I guess the scrap metal nails etc did it for me! I had high hopes buying an older sword and with pristine mounts!  But now I’m thinking maybe not!! I did read about being mass produced but also read they were wrong wouldnt break and sought after ?regardless of it’s negatives Having been polished 500 year old sword with pristine navy mounts I would think it was a good price 

Now I just might return the dam thing and start over again 

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30 minutes ago, Shugyosha said:

Sorry Steve, I was trying to be encouraging and explain away some of the negative perceptions rather than reinforce them. I guess I’ll never have a career selling used cars. 

If it becomes like that, I am selling my whole collection 😛

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John I thought you said it was a great sword ? As you said regardless of it being low grade. I’m also new but have bought some sold some And and I know there’s a lots to learn so 

what my take for what it’s worth It’s a 500 year handmade sword that took time to make and more time to polish ! Next added Pristine navy mounts Fake signature yes but I’m sure many were faked to drive up the prices. I’m guessing it was family heirloom had custom made to fit navy hardware added for war. I believe the officer who had it took great care of it !

It’s not a massed produced  stainless or other late war traditional made with defects but a handmade with tamahagane regardless of inferior metal s If any body wants to add additional information or dosnt believe any of this to be un true please let me know !

John you have a nice signature older sword with paper to me is much nicer than a later low grade traditional or arsenal made sword 

 

Steve

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22 minutes ago, Swords said:

John I thought you said it was a great sword ? As you said regardless of it being low grade. I’m also new but have bought some sold some And and I know there’s a lots to learn so 

what my take for what it’s worth It’s a 500 year handmade sword that took time to make and more time to polish ! Next added Pristine navy mounts Fake signature yes but I’m sure many were faked to drive up the prices. I’m guessing it was family heirloom had custom made to fit navy hardware added for war. I believe the officer who had it took great care of it !

It’s not a massed produced  stainless or other late war traditional made with defects but a handmade with tamahagane regardless of inferior metal s If any body wants to add additional information or dosnt believe any of this to be un true please let me know !

John you have a nice signature older sword with paper to me is much nicer than a later low grade traditional or arsenal made sword 

 

Steve

I took a photo of mine as it looks like yours' "chicken scratched signature" . It wasn't a competition or a show off by any means. 

 

i like it, it is nice (it needs some restoration, a reputable sword polisher would know better than me), But, if you are not having a good feeling currently or second thoughts then why keep it?? Now, I know ot sucks for the seller (should you decide to return it) as he has to re-advertise it etc., But the sooner you decide, the better.. unless it is too late. In any event I think it is a good wakizashi fitted in nice officer mounts. I hope that what you feel matters the most. As I mentioned- it is all an opinion, not an advice. 

 

Cheers

 

John 

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9 hours ago, Shugyosha said:

Also, there is some theories at play around whether the province is written Bishu or Bizen and the placement of the "kuni" is an indicator of a better blade or simply done to wrong-foot forgers or both. That yours and Steve's blades have a two character signature suggests that they probably weren't the very bottom of the pile which I suspect would go unsigned and also a two character "Sukesada" as a gimei is unlikely given the quantity of smiths with this name. If you wanted to make some money from adding dodgy signatures to blades you would go for a bigger name, who stood out from the crowd rather than blend in with the mass of guys signing this way when the better smiths from this line were known to sign with the long form signature described above. So, for me, there's no reason to suspect that these blades are gimei.

Hi John I know you were trying to play down the negatives whith I appreciate but I aim a little confused regarding this paragraph if you don’t mind elaborate a little more about sukesada as gimei 

 

Steve 

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3 minutes ago, Swords said:

Hi John I know you were trying to play down the negatives whith I appreciate but I aim a little confused regarding this paragraph if you don’t mind elaborate a little more about sukesada as gimei 

 

Steve 

So this was written by another member who is possibly more experienced/knowledgeable than me but I'll try to answer as best as I can.

 

Basically, the era when yours was made (I have several Sukesada from the period) was known for mass production and drop in quality, however based on what I see with yours I doubt it was an inferior blade as it has an elaborate hamon and nice jigane. 

 

Gimei means fake signature and is an extremely common occurrence in this field, be it because someone was so good or nearly as good as the principle 'sukesada' (as in our case) so decided to make a blade/s by faking the signature of the principle ... The reasons for that are numerous - who knows... whether it was more rice or gold/silver .. 

 

Regarding the Bizen VS Bishu I think it was explained perfectly in his reply. Technically, translation of Bishu No Kuni Ju VS Bishu Ju No Kuni gives an immediate 'flag' sho-shin or gimei!

 

It is a lot of information but the terminology is the same. I'd try to input as much as I could and I hope others will kick in but basically Shugyosha explained everything perfectly. 

 

 

Cheers 

 

 

John

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John Got it I was trying to see gimme was used to fake sukesada which was on in my case!  You are right Its a lot to take in!  Who’s sword were  you talking about 

because the hamon and was elaborate and jigane not a inferior  blade?

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1 minute ago, Swords said:

John Got it I was trying to see gimme was used to fake sukesada which was on in my case!  You are right Its a lot to take in!  Who’s sword were  you talking about 

because the hamon and was elaborate and jigane not a inferior  blade?

Based on the photos you have provided I firmly believe this is a well forged blade judging by the 'body' and the 'temper'. There are many other factors that play a significant role in such opinion but I m comfortable saying it appears as a well done blade, barring the signature since I am Not an expert!

 

 

Cheers

 

John

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Hi Steve, 

The other John has gone a long way to clearing this up, but: 

 

I don’t think yours is a fake signature as it’s not a signature that suggests it was done to deceive - a fake Sukesada signature would have aimed at the big name, so I think you’re safe with a two character signature. IMHO. 
 

Apologies if I confused you - I was trying to add some information to set what I was saying in context and not trying to run your blade down. I was writing before my third coffee so my brain was not at its best. 
 

If it helps, you did way better than me with your first blade  - mine was a very tired Bizen blade with an acid polish in a put-together set of fittings. I loved it and there’s no reason not to love yours. 😬

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40 minutes ago, Shugyosha said:

Hi Steve, 

The other John has gone a long way to clearing this up, but: 

 

I don’t think yours is a fake signature as it’s not a signature that suggests it was done to deceive - a fake Sukesada signature would have aimed at the big name, so I think you’re safe with a two character signature. IMHO. 
 

Apologies if I confused you - I was trying to add some information to set what I was saying in context and not trying to run your blade down. I was writing before my third coffee so my brain was not at its best. 
 

If it helps, you did way better than me with your first blade  - mine was a very tired Bizen blade with an acid polish in a put-together set of fittings. I loved it and there’s no reason not to love yours. 😬

I hope my attempt is/was based mostly on facts 😁

 

 

Cheers

 

 

John

 

 

 

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