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Japanese sword identification

Article about: My name is Ralph Messer and I am the webmaster and senior researcher for the Livingston County War Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. A couple of years ago we had a Japanese sword donated to the m

  1. #1

    Default Japanese sword identification

    My name is Ralph Messer and I am the webmaster and senior researcher for the Livingston County War Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. A couple of years ago we had a Japanese sword donated to the museum, but we cannot definitively identify the type or age of the sword. I have several pics of the tang markings but they are very hard to read.
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    The sword was donated along with a Type 99 "Last Ditch" rifle. We were told by the family that donated it that the sword and rifle were taken from the body of a dead Japanese soldier in the closing weeks of the war. Any help in identification and possible history of the sword would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. Our website URL is <livingstoncountywarmuseum.com>
    Ralph Messer

  2. #2
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    Hello and welcome. You've come to the right place.
    Off hand, I'd suggest you take some close-ups and better pics in maybe natural lighting or have semi-pro studio pics taken, as that will expedite the translation of the lettering considerably. Close-ups of the wrap would be nice as well.
    Good luck. Look forward to the verdict of the experts.

  3. #3

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    You may be in luck as the writing on one side of the tang is a date. Assuming that the signature and date are not forgeries, I will be able to give you information on what you have. I will need photographic close ups of the kanji presented in the correct direction, not sideways as they are presently. The tang should be photographed with the end towards the cutting edge being up and the butt of the tang be the bottom. Hopefully, the rust will not be too bad as to obleterate some of the kanji. From what I see, the blade is from the Late Muromachi period(16th century)and likely a blade from Bizen.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  4. #4

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    天保三年九月日
    Tenpo San Nen Ku-Gatsu Jitsu*
    Tenpo 3rd Year [1832], 9th Month, a Day (i.e., "[Forged] in 1832 on a day in September".)

    [*note: I do not know how 日 is pronounced as a stand-alone; there are many pronunciations for the amature to choose from! Nichi, jitsu, nitsu, hi, bi, ~ka, etc.]



    Swordsmith:

    備中国住 ....


    Bichu [no] Kuni Juu ....
    Resident of Bitchū Country [Western Okayama, Japan] ... I cannot read the last two kanji that are the smith's name.

    --Guy
    Last edited by ghp95134; 08-29-2013 at 06:33 PM. Reason: change Roman 9 to Japanese 九

  5. #5
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    Try rubbing some dry chalk into the writing on the tang, and then wipe off excess.
    This will hopefully highlight the writing.

    Gary J.

  6. #6

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    thank you everyone. i'll try to get some better pics and add them in a day or two.
    rm

  7. #7

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    i took a few pics with and without flash. i tried to clean the pics up as much as possible so i hope they are good enough for a good identification. thank you all.
    rm

  8. #8

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    Welll ....... if I squint my eyes almost closed ... and look at the screen on an oblique angle ....

    則宗
    Norimune

    But this is really a non-scientific wild-@$$-guess.

    --Guy

  9. #9

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    Still squinting ....

    助宗
    Sukemune

    I think the first character is closer to this one -- but utilizing a longer "2nd stroke" that extends beyond the 5th stroke.

    Hopefully some of our sword experts can see if my guesses are a good departure point for their research.

    Example of a readable Sukemune [name only, no residence location]


    --Guy

  10. #10

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    Guy-
    In my opinion, this blade shows too much nakago patination to be a late Edo period blade. I still can not read much of either the swordsmith mei or date except for the kanji Ten. My thinking is the date is either Tenmon(1532) or Tensho(1573). The lightly chiseled signature is very indicative of the style seen on the Late Muromachi Period in Bishu, which incorporate Bizen, Bingo and Bitchu. My thoughts for what they are worth.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

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