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Should I leave my leather gunto cover alone or rip it off?


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Hi all


I recent saw a "WW2 sword" listed and saw the leather cover saya looking rather different. The ashi looked like one from a tachi and there are more bumps on the leather than just the ashi and semegane.




So I thought there may be an old sword inside and the price was very good, I took it.


Got the sword just the other day, from what I can see, the top of the second ashi was cut down but the rest of the fittings were there. I cleaned up the exposed parts with just oil and cloth (not sure if the gold inlay will stay with ivory rubbing) and they looked rather well done to me:






I think they may be old but then the theme is cherry blossom so it has a gunto feel to it so I might be wrong. I am a bit concerned about the the iron fittings rusting away and thinking of removing the leather.


The way I see it, I have to cut the stitching off to the the leather off (it is very dry and stiff). Or maybe I can wet and try to stretch it? Or should I actually leave it alone?


Oh BTW that's the blade, I don't think it is koto old, maybe shinshinto, so maybe the tachi fittings don't even belong to the blade, although the nakago/fuchi/tsuka fit each other well and the saya fits well.


http://i791.photobucket.com/albums/yy19 ... nakago.jpg

http://i791.photobucket.com/albums/yy19 ... 1653-1.jpg

http://i791.photobucket.com/albums/yy19 ... 37/tip.jpg

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Hello Jon,

if it were mine I would remove the leather cover.The fittings look very nice to my novice eyes and I would not be able to resist the temptation of finding out what lies beneath.The kojiri and ashi may match the top fittings after all.

Just my opinion.


If you choose to do so;please let us know what you find :)

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depends if you value it as a "military relic" if so then leave it as it represents the way it was carried. If you value the sword as an antique samuria item then removing it is an option, i would first carefully undo just a small section and see if it has a nice lacquered saya and if so then remove it

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I'm with Mark. You should be able to take a hobby razor knife and just cut the thread along the seam of the leather.

See what you have under there. personal, I would have to see the fittings. But I don't care at all about the ww2ness of it.


If you take care along the seams you may be able to return the leather, although in my experience, the leather is usualy dry rotted beyond saving.


Do not ivory rub the fittings! That could be very bad.

Looks like a nice get.

Mark G

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So, I couldn't resist.... and I opened a length of 1cm to see if there was a lacquered saya.... well..... .....




:shock: Lacquered bristle inlay!!!!


So I opened the whole thing as quick as I could without damaging the saya. 7.jpg


I think it used to be a Han-dachi saya, not tachi






BUT the two Ashi are way cheaper looking than the rest of the saya, it looks like export kitchen steel tachi....




My theory is that when the owner went to war, he had the ashi added to the saya so that it would look like a very old sword under the leather. Kinda like why people put wheel covers on car to make them look like mag wheels.... BTW funny how the ashi ring was attached to the body of the ashi... it was just tied on with strings.... doesn't seem too strong to me.....


Anyway, the ashi are loose so I think I will try to get them off (the other fittings are in the way so i can't slide them off, any suggestions?) and put a Kurigata back on..... I have to say I am a very happy camper... Now I must just hunt for a iron kabutogane to fit the theme.... ahhhhhhhhhhhh it's gonna take a while :D

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Jon, Congratulations. What you have discovered is a very nice koshirae under that leather cover. I would not be too rushed into getting the ashi off. Whilst they do not match the other fittings, they were not put on for the war - they were added much earlier. It was quite normal in the war to knock off the kurikata and fit a modern ashi over the gap that was left, but this has two ashi, the lower one having no function in a WWII context. They appear to be real tachi ashi and can only have been added before the other mounts because of the taper of the saya. What I think you have is a handachi that somebody has decided to have converted into a tachi. Along comes the war and the sword is dragged out of the kura, the suspension loop of the lower ashi is taken off whilst that on the upper ashi is retained for suspension in the approved military fashion. If it were mine, I would consider re-attaching the loop on the top ashi and getting a new one made for the lower one.

Ian bottomley

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