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1883 navy swords


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Greetings from France,

 

My very first contribution to this website, here are three 1883 navy swords with different levels of finishes.

 

Up to down :

-          Unidentified maker (<N> stamp already seen on this website). As I already saw, this maker often made higher quality swords, even if machine-made blades. This one has a wooden scabbard covered by rayskin, bronze hilt, Japanese style blade with sepa and habaki.

-          Intermediate sword by Nakano workshop in Tokyo (Ǝ stamp), and also Toyokawa arsenal stamp. Lacquered leather scabbard, still machine-made Japanese style blade, but without habaki.

-          Cheaper sword by Suya company in Tokyo, also stamped by Toyokawa arsenal. Simple leather scabbard and european style blade. Sword knot is probably a recent one but didn’t remove it yet.

 

Have a good day

 

Alban

 

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I enjoyed the analysis of the variation in quality.  Have you seen enough of each to say whether this was true of all the work of each shop, or could the quality difference come from the amount of money a buyer was willing to pay?  In other words.  The lower quality Suya gunto may have been "standard", but a buyer with some money to spend might have been able to get upgrades and better quality work.  Just curious.

 

Also, I would LOVE to get photos of that Nakano stamp!

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Hi Bruce,

Following what I had the opportunity to see, « <N> stamp company » produced the major part of higher quality swords I have seen (if we don’t consider traditional blades of course !). These swords don’t wear arsenal stamps, they were probably private orders. It seems this company also produced some standard swords with european blades delivered to Toyokawa arsenal, but I have only seen one.

 

I haven’t seen enough from Nakano to have any idea of their average production quality.

 

It seems Suya company only produced swords with european style blades, and delivered most of Toyokawa stamped swords,. Nearly all of Suya swords I could see are standard production like this one. But I have also seen Suya stamp on a higher quality sword for flag officer (still european blade).

 

I assume that Suya was the main supplier for Navy (seems logic as it was already working in the 1870s) but there were also official orders for standard swords to other shops.

Each of these shops may have given opportunity of private orders for higher quality swords. Same principe as it was in France at that time, and I guess in every country : you could be delivered a standard sword by arsenal, or buy an upgraded one directly to the producer.

 

And here is Nakano stamp with Toyokawa stamp, please feel free to use this photo if you want !

 

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13 hours ago, Alban035 said:

 <N> stamp company » produced the major part of higher quality swords I have seen

That's a super photo Alban, thank you!  I've got a Nakano and I've got a Toyokawa, but this is the first I've seen with both.  Excellent!

 

On the <N> .... it's a shame we still don't know the name of the company, especially in light of your observation of the quality of their work.

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4 hours ago, Bruce Pennington said:

On the <N> .... it's a shame we still don't know the name of the company, especially in light of your observation of the quality of their work.

 

For sure it is… I hope too we will find out someday !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good morning,

 

Here is the link to a discussion we had on warrelics forum about these 1883 swords, getting very precise on regulations thanks to Nick Komiya and Thomas :

https://www.warrelics.eu/forum/Japanese-militaria/1883-series-naval-swords-800328/#post2190172

 

And below a presentation of this sword with documents and items of same period

 

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does anyone know the significance of the number stamped inside the rectangular cutout under the guard of an 1883 naval officer's dirk? I'm looking at one that has a 68/98, depending on how you view it.

 

Any help would be most appreciated! I tried attaching a photo but it doesn't seem to wotk.

 

 

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I've never seen a number stamped on dirk seppa.  But then I haven't seen that many dirk sepp either!  We have someone at NMB that has quite a collection (don't remember who that is), maybe he could comment.  The numbers on swords are to keep all the custom fitted pieces together as the blade goes through the production process.  But if there are no other pieces on the dirk with that number, I don't see the purpose. 

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Hi Norman,

Like Bruce just said, this was to keep all pieces together during production. Japanese applied same processes we already had in Europe, here are numbers stamped on every single piece (brass or wooden) of a chinese sword made in UK. As you can see those numbers can be found on very intricate places, maybe inside the handle or pommel. This is very helpful today in verifying the sword has not been modified !

 

You may find another number somewhere else. If not this may also be a sepa produced for another sword, these pieces can be changed easily.

 

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fantastic, thank you! While I'm at it, I understand this symbol may denote it was made during WWII? Again it's under the guard. Does anyone know more? It has the Imperial naval insignia on the other side (anchor in a cherry blossom)

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The anchor in cherry blossom on the other side is the Toyokawa arsenal stamp. 

 

Also Bruce, I have seen 2 or 3 examples of 1883 naval swords with a "SA" stamp. I will try to find photos.

 

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14 hours ago, Alban L said:

The anchor in cherry blossom on the other side is the Toyokawa arsenal stamp.

 

Alban, it is an unknown company or association logo.  Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (豊川海軍工廠) was not established until December 1939, long after all these early swords were made.

 

14 hours ago, Alban L said:

I have seen 2 or 3 examples of 1883 naval swords with a "SA" stamp. I will try to find photos.

 

I have several SA stamped swords & dirks recorded and below is a link to a typical example.

*Japanese Naval Dirk, Look! *

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20 hours ago, Kiipu said:

 

Alban, it is an unknown company or association logo.  Toyokawa Naval Arsenal (豊川海軍工廠) was not established until December 1939, long after all these early swords were made.

 

Thanks Thomas, I thought that was Toyokawa arsenal stamp based on several sources, like this one :

 

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But seems you're right about Toyokawa arsenal activity begining in the 1930's. Anyway, if not Toyokawa I still believe this stamp to be a naval inspection stamp as it is often seen along with producers stamps, and quite always on standard production swords. 

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14 minutes ago, Bruce Pennington said:

What stamp are we talking about guys?

This one?

If so, that is the Toyokawa Navy Arsenal stamp.  Why is that in doubt?  If not, which stamp?

 

Yes it is about this one, I was quite confident about it but seeing Thomas message I checked and I saw too the Toyokawa arsenal was only established in the late 1930s (https://www.city.toyokawa.lg.jp/smph/saijibunka/bunka/bunkazai/kaigunkousyouiseki.html)

I still think that's a navy arsenal stamp, but probably another navy yard.

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Alban, the other logo (xvi), the encircled anchor, also does not belong to Toyokawa Naval Arsenal.  Japanese sources describe this as being used alongside the large Seki 関 stamp, except it was used for sword blades destined for the navy.  However, I think it could also have been used by a naval inspector assigned to the Seki area?  Of course, your learned opinion or anyone else's for that matter is just as valid as mine.

"Showa" or "Dept of Interior" stamp?

 

Toyokawa Naval Arsenal used several different marking methods depending upon the size of the manufactured item.  For example, on large items, the kanji characters 豊川海軍工廠 were stamped or printed onto the item. On smaller items, a stylized anchor mark was used that was not encircled or in a cherry blossom.  This is the logo, number (vi), depicted in the table above, that is coming from Fuller & Gregory (F&G).  On the smallest items, such as cartridge case headstamps, Toyokawa used either a single kanji character 豊 or a katakana character ト to denote manufacture by them.  To date, none of these markings have been reported on Japanese naval swords.

 

Hope this helps in your studies of naval swords and I look forward to your next missive about them.

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2 hours ago, Kiipu said:

Alban, the other logo (xvi), the encircled anchor, also does not belong to Toyokawa Naval Arsenal.  Japanese sources describe this as being used alongside the large Seki 関 stamp, except it was used for sword blades destined for the navy. 

Thomas,

The link provided was mostly discussing the Showa/Seki stamps.  Are you referencing Nick's linked documents on Navy Acceptance Marking Regulations?

 

This is significant information. Are you able to share the "Japanese sources" that describe it as comparable to the Seki stamp?

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@Alban L, below is a link to two of the Toyokawa markings I mentioned above, the anchor and 豊.  Note that the primer also has the same markings.

Photos of Japanese WWII Navy Shell Casing, Toyokawa arsenal

 

The ト marking for smaller cartridges can be seen over at the IAA Forum link below.  See post #8.

.303 IJN headstamps

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Note the statement by a wartime polisher that the anchor mark is an acceptance stamp used by naval authorities.

 

Quote

The swordsmith received individual orders also but rest of them were made into a bundle, and brought them to the Military warehouse.  You will see a cherry flower mark and an anchor mark on the tang.  That the blade has passed examination and had been stamped by army and naval authorities.  The officers were able to purchase the Gunto at the KAIKO SHA the army club, or SUIKO SHA the naval club, both clubs were located in Tokyo.

Attention Mantetsu Owners: A Survey

 

 Ohmura is somewhat confusing at times but does state Seki provided blades to the navy via the Seki guild.

 

Quote

豊川海軍工廠から供給される海軍刀身には、工廠内部で生作されたものと、近隣の関の刀匠(関刃物工業組合管轄)が作刀して銘を切り、関刃物工業組合経由で工廠に納入されたものの二種類があったとみられる。

海軍太刀型軍刀 (4)

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On 9/2/2021 at 3:08 PM, Kiipu said:

anchor mark is an acceptance stamp used by naval authorities.

Hmmmm.  This also fits a witness interview about the RJT blades that were collected, inspected and stamped.  Interesting development, indeed.  So, the implication is that these "acceptance" inspectors were Army & Navy, possibly independent of any arsenal?  All 23 of my circled anchor stamped blades are not dated.  It is my theory that the majority of non-dated blades were made before the Army took control of the sword industry in 1942.  So, these stamped blades, along with the multitude of non-dated Showa and Seki blades could very well have been stamped by an inspection/acceptance stamping system broader or independant of individual arsenals.  In 1943, all three of these almost disappear and blades are stamped by arsenals mostly.

 

I had always just assumed that these inspectors were from the arsenals, and therefore the stamps were arsenal stamps.  We learned clearly that the Seki stamp was not military, and was leaning to the Showa being civil as well.  But in light of the witness, is sounds like the Showa and Circled Anchor very well could have been the Army and Navy inspectors referenced by the polisher.

 

Hmmmmm

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